Mrs. Sell's Blog of Household Management

Fall roundup 2015: Maxwell House pumpkin spice latte instant coffee mix

maxwell house instant latte mix pumpkin spice

This stuff is tasty. When I was a teenager I used to love the decaf, no-sugar version of this stuff (why I was drinking decaf, I have no idea), and this is a nice throwback. I also love being able to boil some water in our electric kettle and just dump in about a tablespoon of this stuff for an instant caffeine shot. This one is pretty high in caffeine, but it goes down easy, so I have to be careful.

If you hate instant coffee, definitely don’t get this. But if you’re in a hurry for caffeine, there are much worse things. (Like Starbucks.)


Fall roundup 2015: Pumpkin Pie Spice scone mix

archer farms pumpkin pie spice scone mix

These came out really well. Nice and light, with a very mild flavor; most of the sweetness and spices were in the glaze mix. I didn’t wait for them to cool completely before adding the glaze, so it all melted:


But they were good nonetheless. I don’t usually make scones from mixes (I rarely make scones period), but these were fun as a treat, especially with pumpkin spice chai tea latte mix.

Fall roundup 2015: Pumpkin Spice baking morsels

toll house pumpkin spice morsels

I got these last year, and just finally got around to trying them. They’re okay; they’re kinda like the original pumpkin spice M&M’s in that they’re basically a bunch of oil with flavoring. I made the Pumpkin Spice Molasses Cookies recipe on the back of the bag, and it was pretty good, although I think you could substitute white baking morsels, or even nuts or something, and they would be even better.

Fall roundup 2015: Pillsbury Ready-to-Bake Pumpkin Cookies


I have to start this by saying that I am not generally a fan of pre-made chilled cookie dough, or cookies, or whatever “cookie” products they have in the refrigerator section. To be honest, I usually don’t make cookies from boxed mixes, either. Cakes and brownies yes, cookies no. Why do that when cookies are so much better made from scratch?

But these were not too bad. I was definitely skeptical initially:


“Food product” was not what leapt immediately to mind when I opened them.

And the preparation process, um, wasn’t a process.


They turned out okay, though.


I baked them for the longest recommended amount, because I’m not used to making this kind of cookie, so they came out pretty crunchy. I don’t know if that’s just the way they are, or if I just baked them too long.

But the flavor was actually pretty good. Well-balanced pumpkin spice flavor, not too chemically. Spicy in a good way.

So if you want to bake cookies, but you don’t want to bake cookies, you could buy these and put them in your oven and then there would be cookies…

Fall roundup 2015: Pumpkin Spice Waffles

pumpkin spice waffles

I got these last year, and they were really good! Of course, it had been years since I’d had frozen waffles of any kind, but I was still very happy with these. Nice light pumpkin spice flavor in a tasty waffle! (At least, as tasty as frozen waffles get.) Like the Pop-Tarts, I don’t normally buy these products, but I will make an exception for the pumpkin spice version.

Boston in the fall

Destination: Boston, October 24, 2015

Kenji starts off his book with the declaration, “I am a nerd, and I’m proud of it.” So I’m going to start this post off the same way:

I am a book nerd.

I can take or leave sports, most dramatic productions, musicians, politicians, and various other celebrities. But tell me that one of my favorite writers is going to be within a two-hour radius, and I will start hyperventilating.

And so it was that on Saturday morning, I blithely threw my schedule to the wind, and headed for Boston.


(For the record, I had never been to Boston before, despite its proximity, mainly because I HATE driving in big cities and will go to some lengths to avoid it.)

I took the I-95 up, and it took about two hours. I had been that direction before, as far as T.F. Green airport just south of Providence, but from there north it was all new to me. I was soon reminded of driving in San Diego, so I bravely risked death to take a picture:


I followed the Google maps directions, and it turned out surprisingly well; including taking an exit in a tunnel, which I had never done before. I was able to easily find the Old South Church, where Kenji’s event was being held, and just as easily find a convenient parking place.

This was probably the nicest parking garage I've ever been in.

The Boston Book Festival was held in and around Copley Square, and this wonderful parking garage was just a few blocks away. It was convenient and not scary and the stairwell was the cleanest I’ve ever seen in a public space. They didn’t have rates posted, but I hate parking in big cities and didn’t care what they charged me, so long as it was convenient.

The Boston Public Library is right across the street from Copley Square and the Old South Church.


And the whole area is replete with beautiful historic buildings:


(Which, admittedly, are probably shown to better advantage when there’s not a small tent city in the middle of them.)

The Roxy’s Grilled Cheese food truck was there; Kenji is having an event at their brick/mortar location tonight.


And then it was time to see Kenji!


The panel was called “The Science of Food,” and included a moderator, a nice lady who had written a book about the military influence on processed food, and Kenji. The nice lady made a very nice speech, which went on and on while the whole audience wished that she would finish and sit down so that we could listen to Kenji. Also, we were afraid that she was going to make some egregious food science error and Kenji was going to have to contradict her, which would have been embarrassing. But she finally wrapped it up, and it was Kenji’s turn!


He talked for a few minutes, about the book and steaks and science and showed us where on the cow a steak comes from (a la Julia Child):

IMG_2221And there was something about a trim saw? Perhaps we should be scared…

And afterwards, I got to meet him and have him sign my book!


I only wish that I could have made it to one of his events that lasted longer. I was so mad last year when we moved from San Diego to Connecticut at the same time he was moving from New York to San Francisco! But at least I got this chance! And hopefully when the second volume of The Food Lab is released, he’ll come through again.


The rest of my trip to Boston:

While I was there, I took advantage of a couple of things that I don’t have in Boondocks, Connecticut:

The Vibram Store


I’ve been wanting to visit this place ever since it opened, when I lived in SoCal and thought that I would never, ever in a million years get to. It’s the only Vibram store in the US, and they occasionally have things that are hard to find (like the limited-edition Classics for the Olympics). I didn’t buy anything (because I’ve maxed out my toed-shoe budget for the year), but it was wonderful to make a contact with the company that has allowed me to walk pain-free for the last several years.



I got spoiled in SoCal; there were Cheesecake Factories in several of the malls, so going there for the occasional slice of cheesecake was no problem. Now, it’s a major ordeal, so I picked up several slices to make up for the deprivation. (I finally tried the Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake! It is exactly how you think it would be.)

And then I went home!

All in all, it was a great trip; there were no major snafus, and I got to walk around a big city (which I like doing almost as much as I hate driving in them). The weather was chilly and overcast, so it was great walking weather, but not so cold that it was miserable and you had to huddle inside various shops to thaw out.

I would definitely go to Boston again, and probably park in the same place. I didn’t do any of the historical things, which are definitely on my list before we get transferred, but this was a great trip to scope out the streets and parking. And next time I’ll do some research and try to find some good restaurants before I go! (RIP, Serious Eats Talk…)

Fall roundup 2015: Pumpkin Spice bagels

thomas pumpkin spice bagels

These are good. Like the Swirl Bread, they have chunks of pumpkin in them, and there’s a good amount of pumpkin spice flavor. I like these, but don’t always get them because I have a hard time eating through that many gigantic bagels in pumpkin season.

The one thing that I will always get when I can, is, of course, Einstein Bros. Pumpkin Bagel, only available in the fall. It is pure, delicious, bagel goodness, combining Einstein’s perfect bagel crumb and crust with a light pumpkin spice flavor. Oh, now I’m craving one of those… Excuse me, I have to go see if there’s an Einstein Bros. within driving distance.

Fall roundup 2015: Ben and Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream

ben and jerry's pumpkin cheesecake

This is a winner! Tangy, spicy pumpkin cheesecake ice cream with a buttery graham cracker crumb swirl… This is a pumpkin item that I get every fall, and look forward to it the whole rest of the year! If you’ve had the Strawberry Cheesecake, it’s basically the same thing with pumpkin instead of strawberry. So… good…

Fall roundup 2015: The Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake

cheesecake factory pumpkin cheesecake

Oh, my gosh, yes. This is when I’m going to miss living near multiple Cheesecake Factories… Heck, I don’t even have a Barnes & Noble to get my fix!

This is one of the highlights of my year: the annual trip to the Cheesecake Factory for the sole purpose of getting a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake. Like all cheesecake (and everything else) at The Cheesecake Factory, it is utterly amazing.

They make another one, too, that I haven’t tried yet: The Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake:

cheesecake factory pumpkin pecan cheesecake

It looks like basically a layer of pumpkin cheesecake on top of a layer of pecan pie filling… If I can get to Cheesecake Factory this year, I’ll try it and report back! The things I suffer to keep this blog up-to-date… 😉

Fall roundup 2015: Pumpkin Spice English muffins

pumpkin spice english muffins

These are solid: a great English muffin, with enough pumpkin and spices that you don’t need any toppings! I think I tried one with some cream cheese once, and it didn’t really need it. Maybe a little salted butter, melted down into the nooks and crannies… But otherwise, toast one of these up and you’re good to go!

UPDATE: It looks like Thomas is only doing the Apple Spice version of the English muffins and bagels this year… *sadness*

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Nope, they’re totally available this year! The Apple Spice version just came out WEEKS before the pumpkin ones, for some reason. So eat up!

Post Navigation