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!

The Tooth

tooth necklace

The tooth has been on shaky ground for a couple of days now. I could feel it move back and forth when I pushed on it with my tongue. I was excited about this. Grandma said that children have baby teeth and when those fall out, newer, stronger, better adult teeth would come in. The adult teeth would stay forever. The idea of forever felt good and comforting.

We were in writing class. I was sharing the front desk with Sasha. Sasha’s dad was an international pilot. Sasha had a cool shirt that had buttons at the elbows, so he could button his sleeves in place when he rolled them up. He smoked Kosmos cigarettes and wore high tops from Lida. The teacher sat us at the front desk together because he was bad and I was good. I was to exert my positive influence on him and improve his behavior. Or at least distract him from wanting to behave badly. I had an imaginary arrangement with him where I would tell him when he made spelling errors and he would beat up other boys that tried to give me a hard time by stealing my books, or whatever.

Sasha was busy drawing Fiat logos in his notebook. I was wiggling the tooth back and forth. I pondered how I couldn’t wait to start a new life with new forever-teeth. It was getting closer now, the tooth was barely hanging by its meaty little pendulum. I grabbed hold and pulled slowly feeling it detach and separate with some pain, but total triumph. I lay the bloody prize between Sasha and me, still tasting the faint flavor of iron on my tongue.  Sasha’s eyes widened:

Is that a tooth?

Yeah.

Did you just pull it out?

Uh-uh.

Awesome!

His face lit up with respect. I beamed with self satisfaction, just as the teacher called his name catching us whispering, but oblivious to my feat. He was to read a sentence he just wrote. He got up to speak:

Julie is a cool girl.

The tooth had powers. No self respecting nine year old would voluntarily submit to the humiliation of admitting to like a member of the opposite sex. That was like suicide by getting teased to death. Life of permanence was off to a good start. Me and my future husband Sasha. Things didn’t seem too different at the moment, but at the end of school, I knew we’d be married and be together forever. We’d kiss like grown-ups by mushing our closed lips together, and it would be magical, even though the rest of the future outside our mushed faces looked like a gray blur.

Then, disaster. She was a transfer student from Borisov. She was small with olive skin, big brown eyes and short black hair cut in a bowl shape. Olive skin – that was an exotic coloration we did not see often. It was like seeing an abominable snowman, or accidentally finding a new specie of something, or seeing an exchange student from Africa on a trolley. The classroom was short on desks, so she got seated at ours, facing us. I knew I was in trouble.

Sasha didn’t have to tell me I’d been dumped. He was now drawing Fiat logos for her, and she reciprocated with a shy smile. I felt my heart break into a million little pieces. What a sham. She was not shy. She was a thief. He was now her future husband Sasha.

They are still married now, living in their gray, blurry world, mushing their closed lips together.

Welcome!

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Hi!  Welcome to the blog!  My name is Juliya.  Nice to meet you!
I have spent a lot of time trying to decide what the focus of this space should be, and had a lot of trouble making the choice.  You see, I have a number of interests that I indulge in when time allows.  My foremost passion has always been style and fashion, but cooking and writing are also on the list.  Original – no? 😉 I have chosen to call this blog Something Else because it is a space where I am doing something different from my usual daily routine – sharing things I love!

My first memory involving fashion is, cracking open my mom’s sewing magazine from the late 70s at the age of three, and feeling very strongly that I hated platforms and flared pants (I have since reconsidered my stance on flared pants, but platforms remain on the ‘no’ list 🙂 ).  I also remember throwing a tantrum at the same age because the dress my mom put on me did not meet my aesthetic criteria.  It was aqua and red plaid (darling in retrospect – sorry mom!).  In the early days of  the blogs, having discovered Agathe Molvik’s Stylebytes, I tried starting my own blog a couple of times, but stopped because it felt wrong to be saying ‘look at all my fancy stuff’.  Getting started again in 2015, older and wiser, I have learned to focus on what feels like ‘me’.  I’m a uniform girl where the only things I put on are what is functional and essential, with a focus on beauty and quality.

Cooking came to me relatively late in life, when I met my husband.  When we were dating, I explicitly told him ‘I don’t cook’.  He said he didn’t mind (what a guy! – I fell in love 🙂 ).  I moved to California where he lived, and we got married.  Not knowing anyone and looking for work under a great deal of stress and financial pressure, I started frequenting the Latin market across the street because it was cheaper than all the other stores for food, and cooking at home.  That daily ritual became a lifeline to relieve anxiety and a way to save money.  I also started becoming a better cook!  My cooking philosophy to this day remains to see what we have that is in need of rescue (will go bad if not cooked), and build a menu around it.  The result is we have zero food waste, and an interesting, varied diet.

Finally, writing.  Ah, writing – you are a tough nut to crack.  Every now and again, I get inspired to write something creatively, and occasionally, I succeed.  However, writing something creative on a regular basis has been really difficult if not insurmountable.  I have come across a few blogs where girls successfully blend writing with style, most notably Clothes Cameras and Coffee, run by the beautiful Roz.  Her observations are intelligent and insightful, and she manages to talk about style without making it sound trite.  She has my utmost admiration, and I cannot do what she does.  So, after feeling bad and beating myself up continually, I have decided to let it go, lighten up, and only write something when the inspiration struck.  To that end, I am going to put any such writing under the category of Story Time.

I will do my best to make this space an authentic, and engaging place for my readers.  Please stay a while, and feel free to comment and critique on what I can do to make the blog better.