The other day while grocery shopping I came across some Planters Pumpkin Spiced Almonds and was extremely close to buying them. I had never seen such a thing. Pumpkin lattes, sure; pumpkin candy, whatever; pumpkin cereal, oatmeal, eggnog; this is all commonplace to me now. But pumpkin nuts? Never before. However, a battle raged inside me, and frugality won. It is tough for me to shell out $10 for 20 ounces of nuts, no matter what flavor they are, when I can buy 3 plain pounds for $14. This is why I always have trouble in the snack aisle at Target – Archer Farms was made to make me rue my own poorness, I’m sure of it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m nuts about nuts, I just prefer satiating my obsession in a cheaper way. I figured making my own Pumpkin Almonds shouldn’t be too hard and I was oh-so-right about that.
Isn’t it great how you can see something you want and make it yourself? I never realized this as a kid. I figured some things just weren’t possible. For instance, it came as a great epiphany that there was such a thing as pasta makers, because until the time I was about 20 I had the naive assumption that the only way to produce pasta was by a huge shiny machine, one I had not quite thought out the technicalities of, but just stopped at that. I haven’t yet obtained my own pasta press, but it is a dream I hope to one day realize.
Another big one was homemade bread. Once in a while when I was a kid, my mom would make bread in the bread machine (these were always the best days, the yeasty richness of a fresh loaf permeating every corner of our tiny home), but more often than not this bread came from a box mix, and more often than that we just ate the Great Value wheat bread (which is pretty good, but doesn’t come close to the deliciousness of homemade). So basically I grew up thinking: 1) the only easy way of making bread yourself was via bread machine, and 2) bread came in a box mix, and without that failure is inevitable. It was a wonderful day, the day my lovely Nana gave me her old bread machine. At last, I thought to myself. Homemade bread once more! I quickly realized with help from my awesome elementary math skills that buying box mix yeast bread was darn expensive and there were a ton of recipes for bread machine bread that were easy as 1-2-3. So I started experimenting, making my own recipes, etc, etc and life was a glorious compendium of fresh bread smells and carb overload. But then the bread machine broke. (Sweet lamentation!) My love for homemade bread had swiftly become an obsession, so I was forced into simply making bread by hand, a task I had long feared. It was something about the kneading that set my nerves aquiver. But I have come to realize that making bread by hand is a simple undertaking, and as long as your yeast is fresh and you don’t mind a thin dusting of flour over every surface of your kitchen, it produces a fantastic result. I don’t even buy store made bread anymore.
This is a long tangent I know. But just think of how enslaved we Americans are to industry. We have our loyalties to brands such that they have become staples to our pantries. Campbells soup has a distinct metallic aftertaste, did you know? It sits in a can for who-knows-how long, like food meant for a future apocalypse, and then we eat it and think it good. This is the same for all canned soup, veggies, fruit. Why not just whip up some homemade soup with the things in your fridge?? Do people not realize how easy it is??? I will never eat Kraft macaroni and cheese again, because it doesn’t even blink to macaroni and cheese I could make from scratch. But kids don’t dare eat Mac-n-Cheese unless it’s bright orange (and this is a proven fact, experimentation resulting in a pot full of uneaten Parmesan and Cheddar Macaroni, scorned by the four and eight-year-old kids I was nannying due to its pale color. The 14-month-old ate it, though, only further proving how as Americans we are raised to accept only the streamlined and mass produced). The list is endless: individually packaged Quaker oatmeal, Swiss Miss hot cocoa, Betty Crocker cake mix, etc etc etc.
Now, if any of you actually read this monstrosity of a post, I apologize for how far I strayed from Pumpkin Spice Almonds. And all this came to be due to the frustration I sometimes experience at my lack of funds to buy expensive, name brand things (or is that just prudence?). But really, these homemade Pumpkin Spice Almonds are delicious. I may never know how they compare to Planters, but maybe that’s a good thing.
Pumpkin Spice Almonds
1 cup raw unsalted almonds
1 tbsp pureed pumpkin
1 tbsp pure maple
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix maple, pumpkin, spices, and salt. Mix in almonds and stir until coated evenly.
2. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool completely before eating or you’ll burn your tongue off (nuts magically retain heat for a reeeaaaalllly long time. Yes, I learned this the hard way).