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Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. I love when the leaves start to turn colors on the vines and trees. Makes me miss my home state of Pennsylvania just a little bit. There is nothing more beautiful than the leaves changing color in the East this time of year.

When the leaves change I know that pumpkins, gourds and winter squash are ready to enjoy. Yippeee! I do believe that, after summer tomatoes, the fall and winter squashes are my next favorite vegetables to prepare.

It’s so easy to grab some squash and oven-roast it for a quick dinner, side dish or soup. But, of course, I will be giving you a great dessert recipe at the end of this article. I love to take ginger cookies and dunk them into this wonderful pumpkin dip. It is such a great go-to dessert for this time of year. This dip has attended many tailgaters, family parties and girls stay-in nights over the years.

The Napa Farmers’ Market is overflowing with beautiful pumpkins, gourds and squashes right now. Check out these vendors:

Gauchito Hill Farms is a certified organic grower and has many heirloom varieties of squash and pumpkin. Chat with Thea, the owner, about all the great varieties she grows.

Sun Tracker Farm is a certified organic grower with a lot of mini squash varieties. These are perfect for those times when you are making dinner for one or two. I just love miniature food.

Stone Tree Farm is only three miles from the Napa Farmers’ Market and brings lots of yummy squash to the market.

Big Ranch Farm is just about eight miles from the market. Growers Mark and Teresa are bringing tons of pumpkins, gourds and squash every week.

Ready to give back to your community? Don’t miss the final day of the market—Saturday, Oct. 29—when the 2016 Napa Valley Give!Guide debuts. Representatives from several Napa Valley nonprofits will be present to share what they do and request your support. In this season of giving, come show your appreciation for the important work of our local nonprofits. Pick up a Give!Guide Passport when you arrive. Each nonprofit table you visit will stamp your passport. Completed passports will be entered in a drawing for Napa Farmers’ Market merchandise, and the nonprofit with the most visits will receive a $100 donation.

Pumpkin Dip

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This sweet dip is delicious with ginger cookies.

3 pounds baking pumpkin, such as sugar pie pumpkin Kosher or sea salt 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 2 cups powdered sugar 2 tsp. ground cinnamon 1 tsp.ground ginger ½ tsp. ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the pumpkin in half through the stem end. Scoop out the seeds and strings with a large spoon. Sprinkle the interior with salt and lay the two halves, flesh side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until a paring knife slips in easily, 30 to 45 minutes.

Let the pumpkin cool for about 45 minutes. Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh and transfer it to a food processor. Process until smooth. You should have about 3 cups. Set aside 2 cups and refrigerate the remainder for another use (such as soup).

Beat the cream cheese in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add the 2 cups pumpkin puree and mix well. Add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and a pinch of salt and beat until smooth. Serve with ginger cookies. Store leftover dip in the refrigerator.

Makes about 3 cups

Annie Baker is Head Baker of Annie the Baker and and on the board of directors of the Napa Farmers’ Market.

The Napa Farmers Market takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., May through October, in the parking lot of the South Napa Century Center, 195 Gasser Drive, Napa. The third Tuesday of every month is Seniors’ Day at the market, with some vendors offering discounts to shoppers 65 and older. Ask about participating vendors at the information booth. For more market information and a schedule of upcoming events, visit