Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tis Autumn, Tis Autumn! Oh Joy, Oh Joy!


I’m ashamed to say that I wrote this last weekend and just never got around to downloading the photos off my camera. I mean it all still happened the way I say it happened, honest! But it just didn’t happen today. Today it’s going to be about 91 degrees and autumn seems to have disappeared. I’m going to pretend that it’s still autumn though and hopefully by reading the below you’ll also feel all autumny, autumny…is that even a word? Well whatev, let’s fly to last weeks beautiful weekend.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” --George Eliot

Autumn has arrived in Shafter!! This morning the sun arose to a crisp, clean, clear beautiful day! I opened all the doors and windows and let the fresh breeze just take all those summertime air conditioned airs away!

Fall has also made us more ambitious. Only last weekend I said I was only a Foodie, but this weekend, both my sister and I were cooks…well maybe more like bakers. We both decided it would be a good day to bake.

I decided to bake some pumpkin bread from a recipe from For the Love of Cooking. On my way to the store I called my sis and she told me she was baking Empanada’s. I think she’s a bit more ambitious than me because I’ve never made those and they are way more time consuming.

Here's a picture of her empanadas. Sorry the picture was so blurry, but I suck at photography that way. Trust me, she's a much better baker than I am a photographer...they were really good. She wasn't thrilled with her crust, but I loved it! She's likes crispy crust and it was chewy and breadlike, how I prefer it. She bakes like a real baker, she just throws ingredients in...she doesn't use a recipe!

Right now as I write, the aroma of pumpkin bread fills the air. A fresh breeze is coming in through my kitchen windows and I hear Aerosmith and whistling from outside where my son is cleaning the garage. Pumpkin bread and a clean garage…does life get any better? Well let me tell you…it doesn’t!

Here’s the recipe for the pumpkin bread. It’s really easy to make, especially for like an office potluck, of which I have one on Halloween Day, now I know what to take.

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups of white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup walnut pieces

I only added one little thing that wasn’t in the original recipe and that was a teaspoon of vanilla because I love the taste and smell of vanilla.

Here are the directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and sugar and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger; stir into the pumpkin mixture until well combined, add walnuts and mix. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake in the oven for 55-65 minutes or until a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf. My oven took 65 minutes for it to finish.

This is a very nourishing, sweet but not too sweet, tasty bread. I’m a big fan of carrot cake, zucchini bread and banana nut bread, so this bread was right up my alley. Mmmm, this bread in the morning at my desk with a Venti Breve Latte with one Splenda from Starbucks!

Now here are some pretty pictures of the whole thing from start to finish.

1st picture is of the wet ingredients mixed together. What a beautiful color huh? And that's even with the bad lighting in my kitchen!

2nd picture are the dry ingredients...somehow they don't have the same pizazz as the wet ingredients, but there's lots on nutmeggy, clovey, cinnamony, gingery goodness going on in there, it smelled great. I could probably use it as a body powder for fall it smelled so darn good!

3rd picture...the magic happens! The wet and the dry mix together!

4th picture, all the dry is mixed into the wet ingredients bowl a little at a time. This smelled even better than just the dry ingredients alone.

5th picture. See that little gadget there with the gold top? I don't remember where I got this, it could have been my deceased ex-mother-in-law's or I could have bought it at a yardsale, don't know. But anyway, I love it. I always use it to chop nuts and sometime onions. I've had it forever. There's my nuts and I'm going to chop them in my manual food processer (the glass and gold thingy).6th picture. The nuts are chopped, even though it doesn't look like it. This gadget chops nuts up real fine, you'll see in the next picture, but it also leaves some big ones; almost like it knows they're going to look beautiful in the final picture.

7th picture, see how the nuts are chopped pretty finely but there are some bigguns in there too? My food processor is magical! Doesn't this look lovely?

8th picture, the final mixture. All pumpkiny and full of good spicefullness and nuttiness and sugariness and any other nesses you want to think of. I could just eat this with a spoon!

9th picture. My little pumpkin bread dough all tucked into his little bed ready for his little oven spa! In the next picture you can see upclose how good this looks. I thought about spreading the dough out, but wanted to see what it would look like with all the little swirls. Don't spread it flat, those swirls are amazing!

10th and final grouping of pictures...the finished product. Pumpkin bread. See how pretty those big chunks of nuts are in there? And see how pretty those swirls made the top of the bread look? Imma genius! Trust me, this bread is soooooo good and it feeds a lot of people. I had my sister take those first two slices when she brought me her empanadas. Then I cut about four slices for my mom, dad and daughter. Then I cut a couple of slices for me during the week and then I cut the rest up and took them to my mom's house the next day for a bar-b-que and shared with everyone else. They loved it as well. This would be a great Christmas present, or potluck food, or a neighbors gift. Enjoy!

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