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PIECE OF CAKE, PEACE OF MIND

Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time


You may remember last year when I recapped a ridiculously amazing pre-Thanksgiving feast I attended at Brandt’s house. Well, I was lucky enough to have been invited back this year and am now contently lying on my bed, overstuffed in the best way possible.

This year definitely lived up to last, though there were only (ONLY!?) two turkeys this year, and not three, and Brandt only made one pumpkin pie instead of five. Aside from these minor inconveniences (I’m pretty sure there was still 3/4 of a turkey left when I was heading home), everything was amazing and all the necessary dishes were there: cornbread, cornbread dressing with sausage, mashed potatoes, gravy galore, two types of salad, bacon mac & cheese, brussel sprouts, and almost anything else you could want.

The saddest part about this year was realizing how small my stomach capacity has gotten over the past year. I could barely finish my first plate (the one pictured above), much less go back for seconds. I felt like a Thanksgiving failure. Hopefully the fact that I’m going to another pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night will serve to train my stomach for the real deal on Thursday.

Speaking of which, I finalized my menu! A classic roasted turkey flavored with lemon, thyme, and onions; cornbread dressing with sausage; cranberry, orange, mint chutney in lieu of traditional cranberry sauce; mashed root vegetables with a light vinaigrette; pumpkin risotto; and two types of pie–apple and pumpkin. So, as you can see, I would really like to regain my old eating abilities, just for this week.

For the dinner party I attended tonight, I made mushrooms stuffed with two types of cheese, bacon, and onions, but I forgot to take a picture of the final product so too bad so sad. For tomorrow night, I decided to make a dessert—pumpkin cheesecake bars with a gingersnap & pecan crust. It’s a recipe I used last year but I tweaked it quite a bit this year to achieve a different texture, so let’s just hope my modifications were for the better.

 

Because I was raised to be frugal, I couldn’t help myself at Berkeley Bowl a couple of weeks ago when I knew that I wanted to make a pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake of some sort. The big 29 oz Libby’s cans of pumpkin were on sale so I bought two. I had forgotten, though, that pretty much all recipes only call for 1-15 oz. can of pumpkin and so after making the cheesecake bars today, I had extra pumpkin left over. I decided to make pumpkin bread because it’s tasty and quickbreads are just that—quick and easy. The recipe I used came from allrecipes and turned out really tasty. I subbed about half of the flour with whole wheat flower, reduced the sugar by about a third, and decided to mix brown and white sugar. The bread itself tastes great but my favorite part about it (and I admit that this is pretty weird) is that the crust hasn’t gotten soft and sticky so far. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it but I really hate when quickbreads or cakes get that sticky layer around then so that if you try to wrap them in foil or plastic wrap, you end up pulling off a layer and it looks like a cratered mess. Not so with this bread, which makes it a good gift option if you’re one of those kinds of people.

PUMPKIN BREAD

adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour 2 9″x5″ loaf pans.
  2. Blend pumpkin, eggs, water, and sugar until well blended
  3. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add them to the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Pour into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool for about 20 minutes before removing the bread from the pans and eating.

Anyway I guess I will use this post to do the obligatory “what I’m thankful for” thing. If you’ve been reading my blog at all over the past year, you’re probably aware of how grateful I am for my life day-to-day. But lately, I feel like I have even more to be grateful for with my reduced workload. It’s not that I don’t value my education but it’s really an awesome thing to spend time doing things I want to do (yoga PE?! Chinese?!). I’m also grateful for all the relationships I share with my friends and family. I’ve been realizing more and more that every relationship you have with another person is a chance to learn and grow. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s absolutely the truth. Every person is unique (…obviously) and therefore your interactions with that person are too. Every person presents you with new challenges and new perspectives, and that’s something I’m truly thankful for.

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