I purchased these vintage Czech spice jars on ebay.  I love the clean lines and neat lettering.  I actually have quite a little collection of black and white Czech pottery, which I started collecting unintentionally about 15 years ago.  I’ll share it with you one of these days.  But today, three of these spice jars have my full attention:


These, along with cinnamon, are the spices that make up pumpkin pie spice, and are the inspiration for today’s recipe.

What’s that?  August is too early to be posting a recipe for pumpkin bread or thinking about fall?  Oh silly you, have you been living under a rock?  Here’s a photo I took at Michael’s on July 5:

Michael's fall

Pumpkins, pumpkins, and more pumpkins

Alright, I can cut Michael’s a little slack for jumping the gun.  After all, it is a craft store, and crafters do need to get working if they are going to have their creations ready for fall. (You haven’t started?  What are you waiting for?)

But how do you explain this photo taken at Randall’s grocery store on July 29?

Randall's pumpkins

Scary to see jack o’ lanterns in July

Yes, like a cheap pair of underwear, pumpkin spice season is slowly creeping up on us.  I’ve already seen articles about how we will be introduced to pumpkin spice Peeps this season, and Starbucks is going to use — wait for it — REAL pumpkin in its Pumpkin Spice Lattes, along with removing the caramel coloring and artificial flavors. (Starbucks is largely credited with creating the pumpkin spice craze when it introduced the now-famous pumpkin spice latte, or PSL, in 2003).  In fact, it was pretty much a full-blown assault at the grocery stores this weekend, where I saw everything from pumpkin spice room freshener to pumpkin spice whipped cream in a can (keep in mind Labor Day is still two weeks away).

Keep calm

Last year my friends (real and virtual) got a laugh out of poking fun at pumpkin spice mania, and they sent me lots of photos of products — some intriguing, some gross. Hunting down pumpkin spice flavored or scented things became almost like sport.  This year, starting in September, Tag Sale Tastes is going to have its own Pumpkinpalooza, with  reviews of pumpkin spice products, recipes, and other pumpkin-related things.  I’ll be trying out the products on friends, family, and co-workers.  So be on the lookout — let me know if you see something that merits review or mockery.  :)

Maybe you’re wondering how I have the audacity to post a recipe for pumpkin spice bread, after making fun of all things pumpkin spice.  Because I want to be FIRST!!  You know what I mean, right?  Urban Dictionary defines “first” as a word that is said when you are the first one to post a comment on a video, picture, or article on the internet.  I want to be like all those obnoxious people on Facebook who wish you happy birthday the day before your birthday, just so they can be FIRST!  So here’s to beating out all the other bloggers in the whole world this year with what I hope is the FIRST! pumpkin spice bread recipe of Fall 2015.

Inspired by the Czech ginger, cloves, and nutmeg jars, here is a great recipe for Pumpkin Ginger Bread.  This is a favorite recipe of my family’s — moist, and dense, and spicy. Although I usually disregard the advice from people like Martha Stewart who say to replace your spices every 6 months (what am I, made out of money?), this time of year you would do yourself a favor to buy, if nothing else, a fresh jar of ginger and cinnamon — it really makes a difference in your holiday baking (no, I don’t mean Labor Day).  As the loaves bake, your whole house will smell like a pumpkin spice candle (just kidding).

Recipe type: Breads an.)d Muffins
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 16-ounce can pumpkin
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, or two loaf pans.
  2. Place eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly add oil and continue beating until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Add dry mixture to egg mixture alternately with water. Beat in pumpkin. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake approximately 1 hour, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool in pan at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. (If necessary, run a knife between the edge of the bread and the pan, in order to loosen it.)



Mmmmm — the house smells just like pumpkin spice candles, or is it air freshener?


Y’all will fall for this pumpkin bread



I found this biscuit barrel at an estate sale.   This definition of biscuit barrel from the Collins English Dictionary sums it up pretty concisely: “an airtight container of circular section equipped with a lid and used  for storing biscuits.”  The same source offers this use of the term in a sentence:  “She looked with favour at the contents of his biscuit barrel.”  (Snicker.)  I’ve got quite a few biscuit barrels that I’ve picked up at estate sales, in cut crystal, oak, and silver-plate.  Most of them are in my kids’ rooms, where they hold “collections” of all sorts, including glass buttons, miniature Pokemon figures, ribbons, and coins.  I bet “she” would not look “with favour” at these contents.  About the only thing we don’t store in them are biscuits.

Recently my daughter and I treated ourselves to one of the giant biscuits with jam and crème fraiche at Blacksmith:


Biscuits aren’t something we indulge in very often, and that big biscuit, with its fluffy interior and craggy exterior was worth the calorie splurge.  Inspired by the biscuit barrel and the monster creation at Blacksmith, I thought I’d surprise my daughter by making homemade biscuits for breakfast.  I looked at a bunch of recipes, in search of one that would be suitably tender inside and craggy outside.  Tips for biscuit success include using well-chilled butter, working quickly to keep the butter from softening, not overworking the dough (to prevent tough biscuits), and baking at 400 degrees or higher (for high-rising biscuits).

The recipe I wound up working from was billed as the “best, fluffy, flakey, buttery biscuits ever.”  I want to stop here and say that I chose the recipe because the picture with it looked like what I was looking for, and NOT because someone declared these the “best ever.”  Don’t you find it obnoxious when someone declares something the “best ever?”  How about just saying your family or your guests loved these, or they disappeared quickly, or you like them best of all the recipes you’ve ever tried in your whole life?  But “best ever?”  No.

The same is true for “amazing,” one of the most overused words around.  How is your coffee?  Amazing?  Really?  A-ma-zing?  I noticed a while back that “super” had slipped into our vocabulary, as in “super cute” and “super fun” and “super easy.”  What does “super” add, other than the impression that you are perhaps 12 years old?  And yet, there are apparently some things that even “super” won’t adequately describe, and lately I’ve been seeing “beyond” replacing it, as in “that outfit is beyond cute” or “I am beyond blessed.”  Like “super,” tacking on “beyond” adds nothing, and is best saved for describing that area of the bed and bath store that doesn’t neatly fit into either the bed or bath category.

So were these the best, fluffy, flakey, buttery biscuits ever?  I have no idea.  But I did think they were really good, although perhaps not beyond amazing (wink), and slathered with butter and jam, warm out of the oven, they made a pretty indulgent breakfast.  “She” would look with “favour” at these.  :)

Recipe type: Breads and Muffins
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ⅔ cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Place flour, baking powder, salt, and cream of tartar in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add butter and pulse until pea-sized. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the milk and honey, and stir until a shaggy dough is formed.
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface and knead several times. Pat dough into a circle about ¾" high. Cut out biscuits using a 2" biscuit cutter. Transfer biscuits to a baking sheet, spacing them approximately 2" apart. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, until tops are golden brown. In the last minute of baking, brush tops of biscuits with melted butter. Remove to serving platter and serve warm.

 IMG_5911Biscuits on the rise

A brush with butter is better than a brush with danger


 Big ol’ biscuits with butter and jam 

butterWe used this Hand Rolled Butter, which has been showing up in grocery stores lately (including Kroger).  Not sure why hand-rolling is special, but the butter was sweet and creamy had a smoother texture than the sticks we usually buy.