Tag Archives: pumpkin

Cookie Therapy

I don’t know what feels better: eating homemade cookies myself or baking cookies and giving them away. I need to do both more often.

I made these a couple of weeks ago, maybe more. It was one of my first weekdays off from work after a brief full time stint. Observation from that experiment: when I’m at work, all I want to to do is go home and bake. When I’m home, I don’t often pause my day to do something fun or relaxing, like bake and eat cookies.

These cookies, rather large pumpkin cut-outs if you can’t tell that from the picture, went to Lee’s work. Doc and I walked them down there ourselves. It’s kind of an unpleasant walk down a very busy street. The sidewalk is usually studded with trash and homeless encampments. I take a different, prettier route on the way back and I suppose I could take it both ways.

There was already a lot of food laying around the office when I got there. That made me sad, of course. My poor cookies would be lost in the jumble of pan dulce and pizza, unappreciated. Oh well. It’s funny, I like bringing food to people but I don’t actually like being thanked for it. It embarrasses me to hang around while people sample my baked goods. I mistrust their praises and think they must be choking down bites of cookie just because I’m there, so I leave. I drop my cookies and run.

I don’t normally ice cookies unless they’re Christmas cut-out cookies. These soft, lightly spiced, Swedish ginger cookies would be perfectly fine without icing. I mostly slathered it on there because I was worried about what other people would think of unfrosted cookies. I don’t want to be known as that crazy woman who only makes healthy food so I got out the powdered sugar and butter and made a frosting/icing of sorts. It turned out remarkably well considering I didn’t follow a recipe and just blindly added powdered sugar to butter, a splash of milk and a little vanilla extract in my food processor. At first it was lumpy but a little more sugar did the trick. I wish I had written down the ratio of ingredients I ended up with. Oh well. Next time.

As for the cookies, I followed this recipe almost exactly. I did use all brown sugar, no white, and half whole wheat flour. I also used Earth Balance instead of butter, making my cookies vegan. This recipe is very similar to my grandmother’s Ginger Cookies but I think I prefer the old family recipe. I’ve never tried to roll out that dough, however, and this dough was pretty easy to roll out and cut.

Before I forget again, the winner of the Nature Box giveaway is Christina! A box full of healthy snacks is on it’s way to her as we speak! Thank you to everyone who entered. I hope to host some more delicious giveaways soon.

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Filed under desserts


We have a home – four walls around us and a roof over our heads – a brick fireplace and rooms filled with musty old house smell. Moving, like so many big, exciting things in life, is hard work. Backs hurt at the end of the day a empty living room floor looks like a great place to collapse. We’re mostly moved in now, at least as much as we can be without things like dressers and bookshelves in which to put things away.


Persimmons from a friend were the star of Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanksgiving was the perfect break from schlepping stuff and swabbing floors. Lee and I spent the holiday with my aunt, mom, brother, and brother’s girlfriend at my aunt’s house in Carmel Valley. It was beeeeeautiful, needless to say, and the food was the kind of food you look forward to eating leftover meal after meal. We ate. We talked – caught up on old times and made plans for the future. We ran, hiked, swam, played with dogs, played cribbage, and watched wildlife.


There was a lot of this.


And this.


The table was lovely and the food didn’t even make it in front of the camera. There was turkey, lentil loaf for the vegetarians, roasted root vegetables, endive + persimmon + pomegranate seed salad, mashed potatoes, tabasco + asparagus quinoa, pumpkin cheesecake bars, and apple-pumpkin delight.


In short, I’ve been busy and blogging time has been just out of reach. This week, though, I’ll be back. I can’t miss out on writing about my favorite food season!


Filed under inspiration and musings, other goodies

Sweet Pumpkin Pickles


Who cares about candy. I want pickles!

I am often guilty of foisting my tastes on other people. When it comes to gifts, I forget that I can only shop for my mom by picking out things that I like. With food, I rant and rave about ingredients I love before pausing to ask if my audience shares my enthusiasm for such things. What? You say you don’t like goat cheese? You can’t stand spicy food? You won’t touch oat bran with a ten-foot pole?
I’m afraid my food obsessions made their way into the birthday gift I gave my aunt this past weekend. I thought what what to get her all month, waffling between making something and buying something. Eventually I settled on homemade jams and jellies. I picked out a couple of jars that I already had but I wanted to make one more thing. A canning recipe had been high on my to-make list for weeks and this was the perfect time to try it. Who wouldn’t want pumpkin pickles for their birthday?

Ummm, probably a lot of people. I considered the possibility that my aunt might not share my love for unusual pickles and all things pumpkin. The recipe won, though. I had to make it and once I had, I had to share the delicious thing I’d discovered.


I don’t really know what my aunt thought of the squat pint jar of deep-orange pumpkin cubes when she pulled it out of the gift bag. I think she guessed that it was cheese. She thanked me for the homemade jams and pickles and I do think they were the right gift. I can’t help but wonder when she will open the jar of pickles and breathe that sweet, spicy hit of vinegar.

I know when I opened one of my remaining jars, that sweet scent brought the sights, smells, and sounds of fall to mind. Cinnamon, allspice, and cloves tickled memories of Halloweens past when everything was orange, black, and ghostly white. I tasted gingerbread, felt the custard of pumpkin pie on my tongue, and saw my mom stirring spiced cider on the stove. I heard candy wrappers and crunchy leaves rustle.


A few hunks of pickled pumpkin went into a green salad for my lunch today. Another went straight to my mouth or a taste test and I was blown away. The pickling process seemed too simple and quick to have produced something so delicious. If my first bite of pickle was an explosion of fall flavor, then every bite of salad was a complete fall extravaganza in my mouth. All I can say is make these pickles and then make some version of this salad – at least something including the pickles, pears, goat cheese, and pumpkin seeds. I don’t want to be the only one out here enjoying sweet pumpkin pickles this fall!


Sweet Pumpkin Pickles
From Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about 6 pint (500 ml) jars

2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole allspice
10 whole cloves
1 lemon
6 cups (1.5 L) granulated sugar
4 cups (1 L) white vinegar
24 cups (6 L) seeded peeled pie pumpkin or butternut squash (3/4 in cubes)

  1. Prepare canner(large pot that will hold all your jars covered with water), jars, and lids. (heat the water and sanitize jars if you are reusing them. Then place jars in warm oven)

Place cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves in a small cheesecloth sack or tea ball
Zest lemon into a large saucepan that you will use to cook the pickles. Remove lemon segments from the white pith and surrounding membrane, discarding the membrane and pith (like you would grapefruit). Coarsely chop the remaining pulp. Add this and any juice from the lemon to the saucepan as well.
Add sugar, vinegar, and the spice bag to the lemon rind, pulp, and juice in the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat, and boil gently for 10 minutes.
Add pumpkin cubes, return to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes (till heated through). Discard spice bag.
Pack hot pumpkin into hot jars with a generous 1/2 inch (1 cm) of headspace.
Ladle hot syrup into jar to cover pumpkin, maintaining 1/2 and inch of headspace.
Remove air bubbles if necessary.
Wipe jar rim, center lid on jar, and screw band on until resistance is met, then tighten to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, making sure they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars.
Leave jars out to cool before storing. The center of each lid should be suctioned down so they don’t “pop” when you press on the lid.

For more information on canning, see the USDA Complete Guide to Home Preserving. The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is also a great instructional and recipe resource.


Filed under condiments, other goodies

Corn Stew with Bagel Croutons

I did two things that I’m very proud of last week. Really, I’m sure I did more but these two graced my kitchen in one night and were particularly memorable. First, I found an inventive way to use the last of the leftover bagels from my brief stint as a bagel-baker. They had been in the freezer for weeks and Lee had declared them inedible.

Second, I made something in a pot that didn’t turn into chili, as do so many of my would-be soups and stews. This stew spawned from necessity and boredom. I was bored with making the same old things night after night and my dad was coming over for dinner so I wanted to serve him something somewhat special. Still, that special dish needed to be easy and use ingredients I had on hand, since I was getting ready to go out of town. It’s a good thing there were 4 ears of fresh corn in the fridge! I wasn’t about to let those go to waste.

The stew came out thick (thanks to the pumpkin) and chunky (thanks to the corn and squash). I loved the bright red tomatoes against the yellow corn. My dad, Lee, and I really enjoyed it as an early fall dinner that captured some of the sweetness of end-of-summer corn. The bagel croutons were perfect and unique. Unlike regular croutons, they have quite a crust on them, which returns to it’s chewy bagel state when soaked in hot stew for a few minutes. The result was an almost meaty texture that stopped my spoon from gobbling the stew too quickly.


Corn Stew

4 ears fresh, sweet corn, husked
1 medium-sized brown onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon each fresh chives, marjoram, and thyme, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
5-6 medium-sized pattypan squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
4 Roma tomatoes, roasted (see below)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste
1 small avocado, sliced

To roast the tomatoes:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut tomatoes in half and place them, skin side down, on a lightly-oiled baking sheet. I suggest lining the pan with aluminum foil, as the tomatoes tend to be rather messy.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the tomatoes are shriveled and juicy.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
When cool, cut each half into two or 3 pieces and set aside. You will add them near the end of cooking the stew.

For the stew:
Cut corn off cobs, gathering it on a cutting board or in a bowl.
Meanwhile, preheat a large saucepan or pot. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Add onions and garlic, cooking until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add corn and continue to cook, partially covered for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add herbs, allspice, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cook about two minutes.
Add broth and pumpkin puree and pattypan squash, stirring well to blend everything together.
Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Add edamame and roasted tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, or until edamame are heated through.
Spoon stew into bowls, top with sliced avocado, and serve with bagel croutons or crusty bread.

Bagel Croutons

Day-old (or older) bagels, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
olive oil
Your preferred spices, or none at all: garlic powder, black pepper, salt, etc.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place bagel pieces on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
Use an oil mister to spray pieces with olive oil.
Sprinkle spices, if using over bagel pieces.
(Alternatively, place bagel pieces in a plastic bag. Sprinkle a little olive oil on top, close the bag, and shake it to distribute the oil. Then re-open the bag, add spices, close and shake again.)

Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until bagel pieces are crisp but not burned. They will continue to crisp-up as they cool.
Allow them to cool on the baking sheet. Store in a sealed container or use immediately on stew.


Filed under other goodies