Pumpkins and a Great Read

Start to finish.

A friend recommended a book to me that (honestly) I wasn’t sure I would really “get.”  Oh, I got it, and I really, really liked it.  It fit along with my whole, “I wish I was a prairie girl.”  Seriously, I was born in the wrong era.

The book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was written by Barbara Kingsolver and documents her family’s year of eating locavore (eating only locally produced food).  If you think it sounds like a strange book, it’s not.  I felt the same way until about 15 minutes into the book.   The book actually makes you think, really think, about those bananas in your fruit bowl and how the heck they showed up in your local supermarket when bananas don’t grow anywhere near your region.  It details the family’s struggles, their miracles (e.g., baby turkeys), some yummy recipes, and much more.  If you grow a garden; if you’ve ever dreamed of having chickens; if you wish your food tasted better; if you love visiting farmer’s markets—this book is for you.

With that in mind, here is my weekly contribution to eating locally.  I grew the above pumpkins in my garden.  I baked and froze the puree for the seasons when pumpkin is not available.  I then roasted the pumpkin seeds for snacking.  To finish the cycle, I tossed the pumpkin shells into our compost pile!  Start to finish pumpkins.  Good karma to my friend for the great book recommendation, to Barbara Kingsolver and her family, and every person who craves better food.

Pumpkin Pavlova

Should be Pumpkin PavLOVE

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the orange orb.  It’s also no secret (at least to Better Half) that I experiment a lot and sometimes things work and sometimes-well, not so much.

I was tweeting that I was thinking of making pumpkin pavlova for an upcoming dinner when Sandie of A Bloggable Life shared a recipe with me that she had obtained from Jen, blogger of The Fabled Needle.

I made the meringue portion and sat the poor naked thing on the counter for the day.  Better Half looked at the meringue.  And looked at it.  Looked at me, and turned his eyes back towards the meringue, watching it sink (as they do).  He looked again.  Looked at me.  I told him I was sure it would be okay.  He asked about a back-up plan.  I made him leave the kitchen.

What Better Half didn’t know, but what I knew, was that this Pavlova was going to rock our world; and boy did it!  I tweaked the recipe a bit, making a homemade pudding versus the instant pudding, and using fresh-roasted pumpkin from my garden (natch!).  I also made a homemade butterscotch sauce for drizzling.

Are you drooling?  Around the dinner table last night we were all moaning about how awesome it tasted.   Better Half, who does not hold his opinions back, gave it his seal of approval!  Now we have a new favorite dessert for Thanksgiving!

Thanks Sandie and Jen!

For The Love of Fall

You Gotta Love Fall

I love bonfires.  I love s’mores.  I love shivering and then warming up next to a fire with a glass of wine or champagne.  I love burnt hot dogs.  I love orange.  I love pumpkins.  I love the yellow and red leaves falling, ever so gently, from trees reluctant to part with their beauty.  I love seeing Better Half wearing flannel shirts and chopping wood.  I love sitting in my deer stand (yes, I really do!).  Wait; let me clarify that last statement.  I love sitting in my deer stand not shivering and not getting wet.  I love seeing deer grazing casually through the woods.  I love scampering squirrels gathering nuts.  I love that my cat gets to come inside and cuddle with me by the wood stove.  I love gathering and decorating with bittersweet.  I love going to Better Half’s home town and visiting with family and friends that I love so much.  I love chili and stew.

I love knitting pumpkins like that cute ‘lil pumpkin above.  For a free pattern, please visit This Cosy Life Patterns.

I love autumn.

Pumpkin cafe au lait

Oh yeah baby, let the pumpkin feast continue!  Better Half is probably grateful he’s away so he isn’t constantly subjected to my pumpkin love, but I just can’t help it.   I rarely drink coffee in the afternoon, but it was chilly and I was knitting (what, am I 90?) and it was a tad early for a hot toddy, so coffee it was!  Hum, pumpkin coffee.  Sure, those fancy-schmancy coffee shops sell pumpkin lattés, but just to be different (and add more calories), I decided a pumpkin café au lait would be so much better!  Mmm–it was!

Pumpkin café au lait

¾ cup hot strong-brewed French coffee
½ cup milk
⅓ cup half/half or heavy cream
3½ tablespoons puréed pumpkin
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
Dash cinnamon
Dash ground cloves
Dash nutmeg
1 tablespoon brown sugar (opt.-for sweet drink)

While coffee is brewing, stir remaining ingredients together in small saucepan and heat until hot (not boiling).  Mix coffee and milk mixture together.  FYI:  if you are not fond of spices loose in your drink, brew your coffee together with the spices.

Now if I just had a pumpkin beignet. . . .

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls w/ Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

Ahhhh, la, la, la  (I’m singing, can’t you tell?).  The weather is cool[er] and my pumpkins are off the vine, and this makes me happy, happy, joy, joy!

These little gems are my gift to you.  Well, not really, because I’m not up to sharing. . . .   But the recipe is my gift to you.  Bonus:  the pumpkin replaces most of the fat in the roll recipe without sacrificing flakiness or tastiness!  Thank you pumpkin!  Start puréeing those pumpkins kids and get busy.  Fall has arrived!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls w/ Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

3¼ teaspoons dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 cup milk, scalded
½ cup puréed pumpkin
⅓ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
4 to 5 cups all-purpose (unbleached) flour

Filling:

1 tablespoon water
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon
2-4 tablespoons milk or half/half

In measuring cup, mix yeast with water and allow to proof 10 minutes.

In large bowl (I used my trusty, beloved KitchenAid) mix milk with pumpkin, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Add yeast and egg.  Using kneading paddle, add flour, one cup at a time, mixing and then kneading for approximately 6 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.  Let dough rise, in an oiled bowl, until doubled in size (approx. 1½ hours).

Punch dough down and roll into a rectangle approx. 18″ x 14″.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  Sprinkle water on your hands and rub onto dough.  Sprinkle dough with sugar mixture.  Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the long side.

Cut into 12 pieces using scissors or string and place into a lightly greased 13″ x 9″ pan.  Cover with clean towel and let rolls rise for approximately 1½ hours.

Prepare frosting by mixing all ingredients together.  You can tweak the milk and sugar to reach the consistency you desire.  Set aside.

Preheat to 350° and bake approximately 20 minutes or until rolls are done.  Ice the rolls and let the fun begin!

Note: I tried putting the rolls, once sliced, into the refrigerator overnight for a rise in the morning.  I didn’t like what happened to the filling.  However, I also put slices in the freezer for a later time, and they froze beautifully.

As always, for more yeast love, check out: YeastSpotting!

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