Life Roundtable: Favorite fall activity

Photo courtesy of author

Apple picking, leaf peeping, flannel sweaters and pumpkin spice everything. Fall is back and the Life Section couldn’t be more excited. With Wednesday marking the first official day of the fall season, our writers decided to share their favorite fall activities to help get in the spirit. 

Rebecca Friedman, CC 

Without a doubt, when I think of fall, I think of the Big E.  I was highly disappointed when the Big E was cancelled last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming to UConn as an out-of-stater from New Jersey, I had never heard of such a thing as the “Big E.” But when my sorority brought us there on a sisterhood retreat in the fall of 2018, it absolutely exceeded all my expectations.  

The best way to tackle the insane amount of food at the Big E is with a group of friends, so you can try more and eat less. My favorite, by far, will always be the loaded baked potato from the Maine exhibit. It is build-your-own, with an abundance of toppings that make my mouth water just thinking about it. For dessert, the bucket of apple cider mini donuts is the epitome of fall. I always love cleansing my palate at the end with a freshly squeezed frozen lemonade.  

The Big E is the perfect place to go if you want to experience the entirety of fall in just one day. You can get the best candid photos, taste endless fall foods and treats, listen to live performances and go shopping at numerous pop-up shops (with the best flannels). Not to mention, on the drive there, you can soak in the fall foliage around you. 

There are only two weekends left of the Big E, so make sure to grab some friends, a big appetite and buy your tickets ASAP! 

Joanne Biju, CC 

A variety of fall baked goods. Photo by Klayfe Rohden from Pexels

Now that it’s fall and I’m cooped up in a dorm, I am seriously craving a good baking sesh.  

Who doesn’t love pumpkin spice and everything nice?  

There are so many sweet treats that simply scream fall: apple pie, pumpkin spice bread, apple cider donuts, pumpkin cheesecake rolls… the list goes on and on. If you couldn’t tell, apples and pumpkins are clearly the stars of the season. But after having tried UConn Dining’s stellar cranberry muffins, I may have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to my go-to fall flavors.  

While it’s far easier to grab a frozen pie or a box of cake mix from the grocery store, there’s something so satisfying about doing it yourself. Instead of buying a can of pumpkin purée, give roasting a pumpkin a shot! Or go visit a local apple orchard for your next apple pie! 

There’s truly nothing like the scent of a spiced pumpkin pie wafting from the oven or licking the extra batter (despite what your mother says about contracting salmonella).  

As the weather grows colder, it’s only right to indulge in a freshly baked treat. Picture this: watching the latest season of “The Great British Baking Show” with a slice of pie and hot cider in hand. What more could you ask for?  

Joshua Devin, CC 

Autumn in New England is a sad affair indeed without the invigorating seasonal delight of pumpkin spice. My recipe for pumpkin spice syrup is easy to make at home and tastes perfect in lattes, on ice cream, drizzled over a slice of pumpkin pie or even on the French toast available in the dining halls. Students over 21 are encouraged to try it in a zesty vodka soda if they are ready to graduate from the basic “White Claw.” 

Start by combining 1 cup of demerara sugar (or raw sugar, or ⅔ white sugar and ⅓ brown sugar) with a cup of water in a saucepan and heat it on medium until all the sugar is dissolved. Add a couple cracked sticks of cinnamon, a few cloves and around a quarter teaspoon (or more, if you prefer) of ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice. A quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract goes a long way in this syrup, as do a few drops of almond extract. The especially ambitious can add a few cracked cardamom pods. Simmer these ingredients for about ten minutes before turning off the heat and letting the mixture sit for a couple hours. Strain out the solids, and if you have the time, use a coffee strainer to remove the finer sediment. This syrup will last a week in the fridge, or up to a month if a splash of vodka is used as a preservative. I’ve never made this syrup the same way twice, so feel free to adjust it to what autumn tastes like for you. Good luck! 

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