Fall is by far my favorite season. The changing of the leaves is the most gorgeous reason we have to look forward to cooler temperatures after the glory of the summer heat. But beyond the yellows, reds, oranges, and golds, we get even more reasons to love fall: pumpkins and squash, adorable little kid costumes during Trick-or-Treating, fall baked goods, hoodies, and possibly the best reason after those amazing leaves is the local fall festival. I live out in the country and we are inundated with them during the month of October. Hay rides, antique sales, and craft fairs are the staples of any fest, flesh it out with a carnival or possibly a tractor show and you have your Saturday planned out in rural NW Illinois.
You can start a great fall fest morning with a rampant increase in Garage/Yard sales to catch the crowds, the wonderful aroma of fresh apple cider doughnuts sold by the local Boy Scouts or Kiwanis group, and finally a tour of the craft show at the high school equipped with the ever present bake sale to help raise money for worthy group. This small town bake sale is where I got my inspiration to back up some yummy fall flavored cookies. While my husband and father were off perusing the finest farm tractors the 1930’s and 40’s had to offer I took in the crafts and baked goods. The craft fair had the normal offerings: Pampered Chef, booths full of knitted and crocheted items, smooshed wine bottles turned cheese trays, tied fleece blankets, and for some reason a guy who did custom paintings of sports figures, he did great work, but had a few to many Green Bay Packer Players displayed for a craft fair in Illinois. Go Bears!
There was a very nice quilt show tacked onto the craft fair. The organizers wanted each person to vote for their favorite and even gave you a latex glove if you wanted to touch the quilts, to turn them over and admire the back or delve deeper into the stich patterns. I voted for one that was an appealing mix of off white, a soft pink, and a sage green, the creator had named it “spumoni”. Anita had recently taught me how to paper piece a quilt block so this show turned out to be much more interesting than I had originally thought it would be. Seeing how I could manipulate the patterns in blocks to create a wondrous work of art proved quite the joyous adventure!
I had wandered a school full of pillow covers and handmade bird houses, I had admired hours of planning and stitching of fabric, I even managed to check out a few tractors in the ever present battle of red vs green, after all that I thought deserved a treat in the form of a bake sale goodie. This one was to benefit the marching band, and from the looks of things the every parent had brought the A game. Cakes and pies, brownies and cupcakes, popcorn balls and candies, snack mixes, and cookies of every kind all offered up by teenagers in ridiculously loud homemade band t-shirts. I did not know they still made puffy paint. We got some oatmeal raisin cookies and some small molasses buttons. I adore molasses cookies but I never think to make them, well after I ate one of those buttons I was sold. I was inspired to make a big chewy molasses cookie with lots of spice and fall flavor. This whole recipe mixes up in a sauce pan but makes three dozen cookies, saving you from having to get out the mixer. I added a candy corn to add a bit more fall feeling to the cookies, and because I love how cute candy corn is!Molasses Sugar Cookies
3/4 cup soft butter
1/3 cup of you favorite type of molasses
1 cup sugar
1 egg, or egg substitute equivalent
1/4-1/2 tsp ground cloves (1/2 tsp will be quite strong)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
Candy corn, optional