Even at my age, a soft spot remains in my heart for Halloween. The night of jack o’ lanterns, candy, and spooks also reminds me of how clever I tried to be when I was young and wondered what costume to wear in any kind of weather while running from door to door with kids in the neighborhood to houses where porchlights welcomed us. We rang door bells or knocked on doors hollering “Soap or Grub” that sounded more like soapergrub when the door opened. Since no one else in town seems to remember saying anything other than “Trick or Treat” unless they lived in my part of the East Side, I’ve often wondered who created that demand and why it wasn’t “Grub or Soap.” After all, it was the ultimatum if we didn’t get candy that someone would rub a bar of soap over a porch screen or window. With childhood innocence, it never dawned on us that maybe, just maybe, it was a dirty trick to play on the person who lived there, probably ran out of treats, and forgot to turn off the lights. A thought that still lingers today is what “tricks” meant in other neighborhoods.

While finding me in a pumpkin frame-of mind, I searched for the Oct. 25, 1995, column picturing my pajama clad boys, Mike, Bill and Bob, and their Halloween pumpkins when they were young. Attached was the Halloween goulash recipe I served with love before trick-or-treating many years before. Interested in pumpkin recipes, I reached for “The American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Book,” a wonderful cookbook published in 1987 bursting with 1,700 recipes, 16 using pumpkin, from 500 American Inns… and also served with love.

Starting with muffins, this was a favorite in Newport, Rhode Island at The Melville House, built about 1750 in the heart of the old hill section of Newport and where homemade muffins are served each morning in the breakfast room. These can be made 1 or 2 days before serving.

Chocolate chip pumpkin muffins

½ cup unblanched almonds, sliced

1 2⁄3 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup pumpkin (half of a 1-pound can)

½ cup butter (1 stick), melted

1 cup chocolate chips

Spread almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, just until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl thoroughly mix the flour, sugar, pie spice, soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl combine eggs, pumpkin and butter; whisk until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and almonds. Pour over dry ingredients and fold in with a spatula until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups. Bake in a 350 degree oven 20-25 minutes or until puffed and springy to the touch. Turn out onto a rack to cool. Wrap in a plastic bag and keep for 1 or 2 days. Reheat before serving.

Makes about 14 muffins.

If you’d rather avoid using chocolate chips, here is a simple muffin recipe from Fitger’s Inn and Restaurant on the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota. Housed in an old brewery, some buildings, which date back to the 1800s, were constructed by immigrant stone masons from native bluestone. Renovation completed in 1984 created a complex of many shops, a theater, specialty restaurants and the 48-room Fitger’s Inn complete with brewery tradition and an outstanding menu.

Pumpkin muffins

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cups sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup milk

½ cup canned pumpkin

¼ cup butter (½ stick), melted

1 egg

1 tablespoon sugar

Mix all ingredients except for the 1 tablespoon sugar. Pour batter into greased muffin pan. Sprinkle sugar over the batter in each cup. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.

Yields: 12 muffins

Who doesn’t enjoy cheesecake, especially one garnished with maple syrup and walnuts? Here is a delicious dessert from the Tulip Tree Inn in Chittenden, Vermont. Furnished with collectible antiques, the inn has 10 guest rooms, a room for chess or backgammon, relaxing in front of a stone fireplace or during the summer months lounging by the outdoor pool.

Pumpkin cheesecake

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese

1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed

5 eggs

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon salt

16-ounce can (2 cups) pumpkin puree

Maple syrup and walnuts for garnish

Butter a 9 or 10-inch springform pan. Beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients except maple syrup and walnuts. Pour into prepared pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours. Serve garnished with maple syrup and walnuts.

The Gingerbread Mansion in Ferndale, California is considered a visual masterpiece in one of Northern California’s most photographed buildings whose restored interior welcomes guests to a world of warmth, elegance and charm. It should be no surprise that one of their favorite recipes is pumpkin gingerbread.

Pumpkin gingerbread

3 cups sugar

1 cup oil

4 eggs

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

2⁄3 cup water

16-ounce can pumpkin

In large mixing bowl, mix together sugar, oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients and spices together. Add sifted ingredients and water alternately to the creamed mixture. Beat in the pumpkin. Pour batter into 2 greased 9x5-inch loaf pans. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until done.

Makes 2 loaves.

The Dunbar House, in Murphys, California is a location recognized as one of the best preserved and least changed of the early mining towns of Calaveras County and the Mother Lode. The house was built in 1880 and is described as a lovely example of Italianate style with beautiful gardens. Here is a perfect recipe to enjoy during autumn in Wisconsin.

Pumpkin apple cake

½ cup butter (1 stick)

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 medium apples, pared and diced (1 ½ cups)

1 cup canned pumpkin

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon ginger

2 teaspoons grated orange rind, optional

Confectioners’ sugar

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter; beat in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla, apples, and pumpkin. Blend in dry ingredients and orange rind. Turn into a greased and floured 9-inch bundt or angel cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out on a rack to cool. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar when cool.

Serves 16

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at greenbush4@aol.com.