Pumpkin Bread

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Having not been raised in the U.S, my first pumpkin cooking experience happened by way of Halloween.  My husband wanted to get into the spirit of the holiday, and brought a couple small pumpkins home from the store.  After they had been laying out for some time after Halloween had come and gone, I thought, ‘why waste?  I’ll cook them!’  He gave me a bemused look – ‘you can cook them?’  ‘Of course!’ – I said – ‘They are food!’

Google to the rescue of the pumpkin noob – cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp.  Save the seeds to dry and roast. In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil.  Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for about 1½ hours for a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, or until tender.

Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and use a food processor to puree.

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I have seen recommendations of cooking out some of the liquid from the resultant puree, but I never do this, and find that I like how my bread turns out – very moist and tender.  It is also important to note that your bread will taste different depending on the type of pumpkin you choose.  I prefer the traditional sugar pumpkin variety for this recipe, which comes from the Joy of Cooking.  The recipe is slightly modified to the way I like to prepare it.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  I like to use canola oil, but non-stick spray works too.

Whisk together:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

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Combine in a small bowl:

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

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Beat in a large bowl until fluffy:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, softened

1 cup plus 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Beat in one at a time:

2 large eggs

Add and beat on low speed just until blended:

1 cup cooked pumpkin puree

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sites of the bowl as needed.

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Fold in:

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

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Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Enjoy!

My Classics – the watch

swiss army watch

When people think of their dream watches names like Rolex and Cartier come to mind.  I came by my classic at a time when for my income it was unthinkably expensive – $275 to be exact.  The year was 1997, and my 21st birthday was coming.  I was a college student surviving on an income of about $19K per year.  With all that, the item I was dreaming of at the time was a men’s watch.  But with my tiny wrists, after trying on 6 or 7 of them at the jewelry store, everything was too big.  Then I spotted the Swiss Army Lady Officers.  It was still pretty masculine, but the size was something that sat comfortably and looked harmonious with the proportions of my hands.  I wore it home, and we have been inseparable ever since.

Get the look:

This watch is no longer available, but I love this option.

Worn 11/7

Suede Coat

This year we’ve had an unusually warm fall, so this one only the second time I got to use this sweater dress.  I have no doubt it will get it’s worth of wear through the winter though!

Sweater Dress

Boots and Coat

Tied Coat

Get the look:

Suede Coat:  Mango (on sale!)
Dress:  Equipment
Boots:  Max Studio (old)/Similar here
Sunglasses:  Miu Miu (old)/Similar here
Clutch:  Rebecca Minkoff (old, but still available here)
Earring:  Nordstrom Rack

Stoli Salad

Stoli Salad

This salad is the Russian version of potato salad and actually is a variation on the super-popular Olivier salad.  It is something that gets made for special occasions, served with abundantly flowing vodka and hearty bread, like a German Rye.  It is quick and simple to prepare, and is absolutely delicious.  It is also great when you have a lot of disparate ingredients on hand you want to get rid of.  The beauty of this recipe is that quantities are fairly flexible, and you can vary them to fit your preference.

What you will need:

1/4 of a large yellow onion, or 1/2 of a small one

1/2 of a regular or 1/3 of an English cucumber, seeds removed

2 small pickles, or one large one

5 cooked chicken tenders

3 hard-boiled eggs

2 medium-large boiled potatoes (I like Yukon Golds)

mayonnaise to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Put the potatoes and eggs on to boil.  Important: do not peel the potatoes before boiling.  Boiling them in skin will keep you salad from becoming watery.  I usually boil potatoes and eggs in the same pot to save real estate, but it’s fine to do it separately.  Using a medium-sized pot, start timing eggs when the water starts to boil, and pull them out after 10 minutes.  To stop the eggs cooking, put them in cold water.  Time the potatoes for another 10 minutes after that, then start to check for done-ness.  You want potatoes that are cooked through, but hold their shape, similar to potato salad.

Chop the onions small.  If you want a milder flavor to your salad, pour boiling water over the onions once they chopped.  Blot dry.

Stoli Onion

Peel, and chop the cucumber.  Make sure to discard the ends as they are bitter.  Make sure you dry the cucumber well and discard the seeds.

Stoli Cucumber

Dry and chop the pickles.

Stoli Pickles

Chop the chicken into cubes making sure to remove any tendons.  I like to boil these with Knorr chicken stock cubes and a couple of bay leaves to give them some flavor; bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stoli Chicken

Peel and chop the eggs.

Stoli Eggs

Peel and chop the potatoes.

Stoli Potatoes

Combine all ingredients in an large non-reactive bowl (I use stainless steel); add a couple of dashes of salt and pepper, and the mayo.  I usually start with two heaping tablespoons, and add as needed.  You want the salad to have moisture, but not be swimming in mayo.  There should be a good coverage on all the ingredients when the mayo is folded in.  Check for seasoning.

Enjoy!