Neat Stuff, But No Pumpkin

Confession: I haven’t carved a pumpkin yet.

And I might not. We don’t have a porch, you see, and we don’t have trick or treaters, and I don’t have a costume and I don’t really even like Halloween all that much and I don’t have adequate pumpkin carving tools.

Whew.

Well, we’ll see.

I’ve done some other neat things this weekend.

I went with G and his brother to the Seattle satellite of the Rally to Restore Sanity. It was cold and rainy, but an interesting event to attend. There were a lot of people of all ages. It combined local comedy and commentary with showing the live DC rally on a big screen.

There was a cute patriotic baby.

And balloons with a message.

You can see what the highlights were for me: babies and balloons.

But honestly, it was funny and thoughtful and thought-provoking by turns.

After the rally, we did a little shopping and then went home so I could warm up. I was chilled to the bone! Teeth chattering, wet feet, not fun.

And later that evening we went to see a Sufjan Stevens concert.

It was REALLY good! The Paramount is a beautiful theater, first of all. And the concert was wonderful -a real show. His music is really affecting -nearly brought me to tears at some points.

A fun weekend so far. Today should be a little more low-key. Grocery shopping, laundry, and house-cleaning.

And MAYBE carving a pumpkin.

 

 

Hallowe’en Greetings

Happy Halloween!

I got this darling happy little Halloween card in the mail yesterday. So nice! Just my style for Halloween. No fake blood, severed hands, or zombies please. I like my Halloween to be about pumpkins and candy. And sweet beribboned girls frolicking around a jack-o-lantern.

Is that a merciless, maniacal gleam in the jack-o-lantern’s dead eyes?

No.

Surely not.

Speaking of, I think I’m going to get a pumpkin and carve it tonight.

I carve very simple pumpkins. I’ll keep you posted.

Are you dressing up for Halloween?

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everything I need to know these days, I learn on Twitter.

It’s totally true! Breaking news stories? Twitter. Local food facts for work? Twitter. Deals in Seattle? Twitter. What to cook next? Twitter.

And sometimes Facebook.

I first heard tell of these cookies on Twitter, from a friend whose cookie judgement I trust. Then the recipe was shared on Facebook by another friend whose cookie judgement is likewise reliable. I really can’t think of too many people I know with faulty cookie judgement, come to think of it. Don’t surround myself with a bad cookie crowd.

Anyway, the original recipe comes from Make and Takes. I made some modifications. The original calls for butterscotch chips, which I didn’t have. Because my baking pantry is never fully stocked. You’re never fully stocked without an assortment of candy chips. Or a smile.

So, we have Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, because ’tis the season for pumpkin and ’tis always the season for chocolate.

Here’s what you need.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (speaking of not being properly stocked, I had to use bread flour for the 1/4 cup because I ran out of all-purpose. Turned out just fine, but don’t do this. Get all-purpose.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I didn’t have any vanilla. But you should use it!)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 3/4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Now, when I moved to Seattle, I either sold a lot of my cooking gear at a yard sale or left it at my parents’ house. This means I have no mixing bowls. Baking usually requires 2 bowls -one to mix your dry ingredients, another to mix the wet ingredients. I have a KitchenAid mixer -so the bowl of that is where I mix my wet ingredients, but what to do with my flour and baking soda?

Mason jar to the rescue!

I bought 12 of these the other day. They’re great for storing things, using as vases, and mixing up my dry ingredients!

Measure flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a wide mouthed Mason jar. Shake it until mixed.

Shake shake shake your sillies out.

Once you’ve mixed your dry ingredients, get rolling with the sugar and butter. Measure sugar and brown sugar into the bowl of your mixer along with butter chopped into chunks.

In goes the sugar.

And more sugar.

Beat sugar and butter together until creamy.

Add an egg (and vanilla, if you’re not lame).

Mix some more.

Now add the pumpkin and mix until combined.

It will be soupy.

Slowly add the flour mixture from the mason jar. Another perk of the mason jar method is it makes it easy to pour into the stand mixer’s bowl while the mixer is running. No flying flour!

Now, your dough will still be soupy. That’s ok.

Because now you add 3 cups of oats! You can just stir in the oats with a spoon.

Also, stir in your chocolate chips. I used milk chocolate chips.

That’s the cookie dough! And that’s a bowl of gourds in the background.

Now, this is a little weird. I greased the cookie sheet I baked these on. Often, you don’t have to do this because the cookies have enough oil/butter in them to keep them from sticking. But these are mostly pumpkin. So I Pammed the sheet. You could also line the baking sheet with parchment paper. But guess what? I didn’t have any of that either.

I’m telling you this so you know that you can make delicious cookies and impress your friends and family even if you are woefully unprepared.

Or maybe my friends are just too nice.

Hm.

No, they’re not. These cookies are just that good.

Ok, so you’ve lightly greased your baking sheet. Plop slightly-bigger-than-tablespoon-sized bits of cookie dough onto your cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 2 minutes. The cookies won’t come off the sheet nicely unless you let them sit.

Repeat! I didn’t regrease my  cookie sheet and all went well.

These are some seriously soft cookies.

You can eat them for breakfast! I just did.

Now I have to go consult Twitter to see what else I need to do today.

 

 

Weekend Planning on a Wednesday, Breakfast Edition

It’s not all cooking, all the time, ’round these parts.

I have to go out to eat too, you know.

It’s a good idea, going out to eat. Especially for breakfast. Breakfast is the best meal to eat at a restaurant.

Because you get things like Pumpkin Oat Pancakes with Cranberry Orange Compote.

Compote!

This glorious meal happened last Saturday at Glo’s, in Seattle. The food was good. The place is tiny, and was jammed. The servers were super nice.

G ate this. A bean omelette. The hashbrowns were great. Brown enough. Crunchy. Salty. I love hashbrowns.

G’s brother ate this. More delicious hashbrowns. I don’t even know what else is happening on this plate. I spy with my little eye a cabbage/grapefruit garnish. And jalapenos.

Everyone left happy. A late breakfast out is a great addition to any weekend.

That’s not really news, but it’s important to remember. Think about breakfast on this fine Wednesday, my friends. Think about the weekend to come. Plan where you’ll eat a late breakfast. The mere thought will get you through Thursday and Friday.

Pumpkin bread

Dreary, rainy, grey day in Seattle. It happens.

I took a walk anyway, in between rain clouds. Needed to visit the farmers market. We had no apples. It’s a crime to not have apples in your house during the month of October. A crime, I tell you!

That’s a rainy sidewalk.

But before I braved the rain, I decided I would feel better about a gloomy day if my apartment smelled like pumpkin and cinnamon.

So I made it happen.

Pumpkin bread!

The recipe came from Simply Recipes. It is, indeed, fairly simple! And I like that it only made one loaf. After the bread baking last week, we don’t really need that many more loaves around here.

Here is what you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin (I used canned, but you can certainly use homemade pureed! Good for you!)
  • 1/2 olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Here’s what goes on:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Really mix it up well. You can sift it together if you do that. I didn’t.

In a separate bowl, mix pumpkin, olive oil, water, and beaten eggs. Stir together. Sprinkle in spices and stir some more. A side note on the olive oil – I just used what I had, which is not light, and it worked out fine, but light olive oil might decrease any concerns about an olive oily taste.

Now, mix your wet ingredients (pumpkin) into your dry (flour). Stir slowly, until just mixed. Don’t over do it. Stir in your walnuts.

Then pour your pumpkin bread batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes.

When a toothpick or a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, your bread is done.

Let it sit for a few minutes and then turn it out onto a cooling rack.

Let it cool, but slice some off and eat it warm. Maybe with butter.

Autumnal goodness!

 

All signs point to squash

I bought a butternut squash at the farmers market last week. Tis the season for squash. Harvest time. Cornucopias on dining tables. Pumpkins on doorsteps. I received an autumnal package from my mother in the mail last week. It contained a candy dish in the shape/color of an autumn leaf. Also, candlesticks in “autumn colors.” And festive paper napkins. My mother is a festive napkin queen.

Anyway, all signs point to squash.

What?

I bought a squash and made dinner, that’s what. Let’s have a look.

This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. It is quite an unexpected combination of ingredients but was very tasty and filling!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 a large butternut squash
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • handful cilantro
  • quarter of an onion (I used white, but red would be prettier)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons (separated) olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:

Eat some candy from your autumnal candy dish.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Peel and cut up your butternut squash into 1 inch or smaller chunks. I used about 1/2 of my squash because it was a big fat squash. Trust your judgement. And your appetite. By the by, you can peel squash with a potato peeler but you might have to go over it twice to really get down through the skin to the nice orange part.

Toss your chopped up squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a clove of minced garlic.

Put your squash on a baking pan and roast for about 20 minutes or until soft (and hopefully a little brown in spots!)

While your squash is roasting, eat some more candy from your autumnal candy dish.

Ok, stop it. You’re going to ruin your supper.

Dice up the onion.

Squeeze all the juice you can out of your lemon into a bowl. Really squish it! You want a little less than 1/4 cup.

Whisk the tahini into the lemon juice.

Whisk the olive oil into the lemon/tahini mixture. You can add a little water if the dressing is too thick. Mine wasn’t.

Add 1 clove of minced garlic to the dressing.

Open, drain, and rinse a can of chickpeas.

Toss warm squash, chickpeas, diced onion, and dressing together in a bowl.

Garnish with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.

Eat! Aren’t you glad you didn’t eat all that candy?

It’s an interesting mix – nutty tahini, earthy squash, bright lemon and cilantro. Very tasty, and best warm. The picture above is cold leftovers the following day, which is why the dressing looks a little clumpy. It was pretty good cold, but better warm.

Good stuff. Go get a squash. I have 1/2 left and am pondering what to do next. Suggestions?