Tag Archives: pumpkin bread

Blue Sky, Perfect Pumpkin Bread, and a Trip to Boston

Upside down pumpkin bread with parchment paper on the bottom
Upside down pumpkin bread with parchment paper on the bottom

The title of this post indicates a perfect pre-Christmas trio—blue sky, pumpkin bread that didn’t stick to the pan, and a trip to Boston to see our Thai student Saranya, who is no longer a student but instead is a lovely woman. As I noted in yesterday’s post, I haven’t seen Saranya in seventeen years, and what a treat it will be to get together with her after such a long time.

All else dims compared with the excitement of seeing Saranya, but I have to admit it was a great feeling to make pumpkin bread that didn’t stick to the bottom of the pans. I lined the bottoms with parchment paper, and out came the bread with no trouble at all. The bread is in the freezer, where it will stay until the day before Christmas.

Then there is the blue sky. There are some clouds, but who cares? The sun is out, and it is not raining. My friend Margy is coming here for tea, and she will be walking from her home, about a mile from the little house in the big woods.

Later, I’ll be taking the dog for a walk in the woods. How nice it will be  not to come back with wet hat and mittens.

Finally, this afternoon I plan to make a double batch of gingersnaps—Rochelle’s gingersnaps as they have come to be called around here.  (In honor of my mom who made them all the time. I still use her handwritten recipe.) The cookies are good keepers, and I plan to give most of them away.

Busy, busy, but what fun!

A Christmas Surprise

IMG_7148Another gray day, but instead of rain there is light snow. This meant that the dog and I took to the woods this morning.  Good for him and good for me. We are both homebodies, but there is a limit to how much we like staying inside the house. In the woods, after all the rain, the water was running—not very seasonal for Maine in December, but lovely in its own way.

Yesterday was a very productive day. I made ice cream pie, yeast bread, and cooked two pumpkins. Today, I’ll make the pumpkin bread. Count down to Christmas.

During this busy season, I got some news that made it even more exciting. I found out that Saranya, who is from Thailand and who stayed with us during her senior year in high school, will be coming to New York for ten days. I haven’t seen Saranya for seventeen years, not since she left Maine to return to Thailand.

Shannon and I are hoping to meet her in Boston for lunch and a long, long chat. Ever since I heard the news, I’ve hardly been able to think of anything else.

A walk in the woods, pumpkin bread, and the possibility of seeing Saranya. My day will just hum along. Life can bring many surprises, and what a nice thing when the surprise is good.

Christmas Cooking on a Rainy Day

img_4090More rain. Yes, yes, it could be a lot worse—freezing rain or mounds and mounds of snow. The snow, at least, would be prettier than this rain, which makes the December landscape look like March. Did we ever have such weather in the olden days, say, when I was a kid in Maine? No, we did not. Well, we humans have changed the climate, and now we must cope with what we have wrought.

On a more positive note…Today I will commence with Christmas cooking. My plan is to make one of the two ice cream pies that have become a tradition for dessert on Christmas day. The whole family agrees that homemade chocolate ice cream is good any time of year. Add a graham cracker pie shell and some hot fudge or caramel, and you have a pretty tasty dessert. But the best thing about this dessert is that it can be made ahead of time. One less thing to do Christmas week.

I’ll also bake two pumpkins so that I have purée for a spicy peanut soup I’ll be making for Christmas Eve and for pumpkin bread. This time around, I’ll be lining the bread pans with something—foil or parchment paper—so that the loaves won’t stick to the pan the way they did at Thanksgiving. The bread was still tasty, but it looked sorry and hunched over, as though it had traveled too many miles to get to the table.

But before I bake the pumpkins, I will make yeast bread, one loaf for immediate use and one loaf to tuck in the freezer. I hope to make another batch this weekend so that I have extra for French toast over the holidays. (Let’s just say that French toast is especially delicious when it’s made with homemade bread.)

Anyway, damn the rain and on with the cooking!

The Pumpkin Bread Debacle

Last week, I baked two of Farmer Kev’s pie pumpkins, which made the richest, sweetest mash that I have ever tasted. Part of the mash went into a soup—thanks, Beth Clark, for the recipe—and the rest was saved for pumpkin bread.

The pumpkin bread unexpectedly turned out to be quite a project.  I started last Friday, with everything at the ready and just enough sugar for the bread. (You can be sure sugar was on my grocery list.) I creamed the shortening and sugar, and as I cracked the first egg into the mixture, I noticed that the yolk was gelatinous, sticking to the shell.

“Oh, oh,” I muttered, sniffing the shell.

Sure enough, there was a slightly sour smell, and I saw a pin-prick hole at one end of the shell.

I surveyed the sugar, shortening, and bad egg, and for one crazy moment, I considered scooping the egg out of the mixture. Right. Eggs—even a bad one—ooze into everything, making it impossible to scoop them out entirely. I would have to get rid of the whole mess, which I did by throwing it into the woods. (Last time I looked, the creamed mixture was still there. No animal has wanted to touch it. Clever creatures!)

There was not enough sugar for another batch of pumpkin bread, which meant there was nothing that could be done until the next day, when I would buy more sugar.

This I did, thus beginning batch two on Saturday afternoon. You can be sure that this time each egg—the recipe calls for four—was cracked into a little bowl so that I could sniff and examine it before dumping into it the creamed mixture. Naturally, all the eggs were good, and the batter went together without a hitch.

Next there were the bread pans to consider. Last year, the pumpkin bread stuck to the pans, but I’ve been making yeast bread with those same pans, and there is never a problem. I figured last year I hadn’t done a good enough job greasing the pans, and for this batch of pumpkin bread, I spent extra time greasing the pans.

Unfortunately, the pumpkin bread again stuck to the pans—both loaves did this—shearing off the bottom of each loaf of bread. The loaves look a little clipped, but they are edible. (Clif and I ate the parts stuck to the pan.)

“Once the loaves are sliced no one will notice,” Clif said.

True enough. But how irritating, especially after the rotten egg incident.

“I think the nonstick surface of the bread pans has worn out,” Clif said. “And yeast bread dough is not as sticky as pumpkin bread.”

Clif is probably right. “We should buy some new pans,” he added.

Not so fast. I don’t like getting rid of things wily-nilly, and I’m going to give those pans one more try when I make pumpkin bread for Christmas. I’ll line them with either parchment paper or waxed paper. (I remember my mother lining pans with waxed paper.) If that doesn’t work, then out with those pans.

Now, onward to the gravy. Yesterday, I cooked the chicken legs and made the stock, which is very tasty indeed. Today, I’ll thicken it with flour and butter, and pop the gravy into the freezer.

Out the gravy will come on Thursday morning, ready for the big meal in the afternoon. And I’ll be sure to cut the pumpkin bread in small slices so that nobody will notice the sheared bottoms.