Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Blessings to you, this Thanksgiving Day.

I am immensely thankful for... husband, parents, and family, who make me whole. And make me laugh.  Who taught me to see humour in the world, but also taught me to question and change the world.
...friends who don't give up on you, power through reading your blog (!), and will tell you when you've got something in your teeth.
...the daily use of the word, "enough."
...that others thought it worthwhile, to teach me how to read and write and balance my checkbook. 
...the limited readership of this blog, which ensures that my high school English teacher doesn't happen upon the last sentence (or any post, for that matter) and admonish me for using "and" one hundred times.
...the fact that I have such abundance in my life, that I can afford to "play" with food.
...for clean water, a heated home, and clothes on my back.
...for people who would care, if suddenly, I was without any of those three things.
...for my dogs and my bunny, who bring joy beyond words.
...for unmeasurable grace and a God who loves us fully and wholly.

Blessings to you all, on this day of Thanksgiving.  May you know hope, laughter, and full bellies (but know when you're done)!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Allergy Free: Pumpkin Pie

My Sister-in-Law and my baby Nephew have allergies.  Between them, they are allergic to milk, butter, cheese, chocolate, soy, canola oil, wheat, baby kittens, and rainbows.  (Okay, not really the last one... but maybe, the second to last one.)

Several weeks ago, my Brother-in-Law texted me, asking for a dairy-free, soy-free pumpkin pie for his lady (my Sister-in-Law) and his boy (my dear sweet Nephew).  This is what I found at and tweeked; it's also nut-free and gluten-free. 

What you'll need:
1/2 Cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon ginger
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon allspice
1/8 Teaspoon salt
2 Eggs
2 1/2 Cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 Teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup coconut milk (don't use low fat)

Preheat your oven to 425ºF.

Combine the sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or allspice, cloves and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Beat in the sugars, pumpkin, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the coconut milk.

Pour the filling into the unbaked pie crust (or see below) and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350ºF and continue to bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. It may be a bit wobbly still, but it will firm-up as it cools.

Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for 2 hours (Be patient! This is important). Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.

A vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free crust that I came across in the "comments" section of the same website, and decided to use, is as follows:

2 Cups rolled oats
1/4 Cup agave sweetener
1/4 Cup vegetable oil (but coconut oil would work well here too)
1 Teaspoon cinnamon

Throw the oats in to the food processor and process them for the length of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday."  Mix everything together and prebake the crust at 350 for 10 minutes, before you fill it with the pumpkin pie… and it turns out... but just barely.  It looks and tastes, a little bit like a flattened, soggy bowl of oatmeal.

I am thankful that I do not not have these type of restrictive allergies... though if you've ever met my Sister-in-Law, you'd know that she's the cutest, prettiest little thing you ever saw, with a radiant smile and delightful laugh... which I can only assume, has something to do with the fact that she is not tempted daily, by Satan.  And by Satan, I mean Block Cheese. 

This pie (at least the pumpkin part) is good.  Really good!  And if you're allergic to to the smell of newborn babies (bleah) and butterfly kisses... this might just work for you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Training: Nutmeg Pumpkin Cookies

Somehow, I committed myself to a 5k on Thanksgiving morning.  And agreed to be the team leader.  And turned a nice little three person walk... with my Aunt, my Mother, and myself... into a family affair, involving husbands, Fathers, distant cousins, the local deli manager, and a Catholic priest.  I've begged my Pulmonologist to walk with me... "it's for the kids," I told her.... but I'm pretty sure she sees right through me, and must know that I fear for my well-being.  Seriously fear.

It sounded like a GREAT idea... in early September.  When it was warm outside and I couldn't help but think... "oh dude!  I've got like, two months to train."  Which is a funny sentence in and of itself.  Saying dude.  And "train" as it pertains to exercise.

Then early October hit... and I'm thinking... "dadgum.  I really should get to the gym sometime."  And I casually email my cohorts to let them know about an old war injury that's flaring up... so chances are good, I'm gonna need to jog, rather than run, this 5k.  (As if I do 5k's every weekend... and this one, is juuuust slipping away from me.)

Then early November rolls around... and I'm thinking... "dadgum.  I really should get to the gym sometime."  Yet I managed to convince myself that if I "work out everyday, from here on out... everything'll be fiiiiiine."  I mentioned in a carefully worded email, that walking briskly might be more up my alley, but that I'm holding out hope.  And sent the carefully worded email to seven people, who then forward it to seven people, who then forward it to seven people... and before I knew it, I was getting letters of encouragement from folks in Haiti and President Obama paused for a moment in the middle of his meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister, just to say good luck.  It was touching.

And so today, November 21st, after I've worked out a total of two times, I've decided drop the charade and begin a prayer campaign called Operation Coldnflurry.  And take pictures (as proof) on my phone, of an ice pack propped on my knee, sending it on to the familial participants, with a sheepish note that says something to the effect, "Cn't wlk. No 5k 4 T." (Because apparently vowels are too hard to type.)

The ice pack may or may not, have been a ruse.

So to kill the time that I'm NOT using to train for my first 5k... I made Pumpkin Nutmeg White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

What you'll need:
1 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Cup pumpkin puree
1 Egg
2 Teaspoons vanilla
2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Cups white chocolate chips
1 Cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat your butter until it's nice and fluffy.  Add brown sugar, nutmeg, and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in pumpkin, egg, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Chances are good, that if you're using the homemade puree, you will not need to stop and fold in the remaining flour as the water content of the homemade puree is a bit higher.) Stir in white chocolate and pecan pieces.

Place about two inches apart on baking sheet and bake between 10-13 minutes, or until the edges turn golden and the middles no longer look gooey.  Cool them on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes, before having them cool completely on a plate or rack.

Don't be fooled by the fact that these are from Better Homes and Gardens (which in general, is a little on the bland, overly sweet, "every-child's food" end of things).  These are great! Each one, is like eating a slice of cake!  Delightful... not to mention, helpful, when you're trying to "train."

Now, I'd better go lick some elementary school drinking fountains.  See if I can't catch a very unfortunate cold by Thursday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Caved: Pumpkin Latte

So I finally did it. 

I turned on the heat.

I wasn't ready.  But when my husband crawled out of bed on Sunday morning, his teeth were chattering... I'm a light sleeper, and it wakes me up. And makes me cranky.

Not to mention that when he went to hop in the shower, the steam was so miraculous that I could draw little steam hearts on my pillow.  And write P+B 4EVR.

But the kicker was the holy livin' fit my husband threw, when he exited the shower to find that the towels were still in the dryer from the night before, and he was forced to dry off with a washcloth.  Not pretty folks.

So, yesterday morning... as the thermostat reminded me that it was 50* in the house... I cranked that sucker up to 62* and lived the good life.

Coupled with a Spiced Pumpkin Latte (that tastes exactly like the overpriced monstrosities at Starbucks)...  I might never have to get out of my pajamas again.

What you'll need (as listed and adapted from

1 1/2 Cups skim milk
1/2 Cup half and half (it's just the way I do things in my world)
2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg (make this however your tastes prescribe, just add up to 1/2 Teaspoon)
1-2 shots espresso would be ideal, but because we live like our ancestors did... and don't have an espresso maker... I used about 1/2 Cup very strong coffee.  If your coffee maker has a 1-4 cup setting, make sure you use it, and add two heaping scoops of grinds to one cup of water.

In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, and whisk the mixture until it starts to get foamy.  I use a cute little battery operated milk foamier, which I found at IKEA for about $2.  It works wonders.  Proof that I must continue my fervent prayers for having an IKEA built in the metro.

Pour into mugs. Add the espresso or the coffee on top.  Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon.  I used nutmeg.  Always use nutmeg.

And your cold, cold heart, will again... know warmth and gladness.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Back To Simplicity: Pumpkin Pie

I live about two hours from my parents.

Two hours is far enough that we both have our own space. But thankfully close enough that we see each other on a fairly regular basis. And can babysit the dogs, when one or the other, leaves town.

Recently, I headed down there with the dogs in tow.

I'm flyin' along in my gas-guzzling SUV (Please, judge me. I do. Everyday.), cruise control set at 73 mph, radio blaring, cell-phone propped up for easy access, mentally ticking through my "to do" list that loomed frighteningly in front of me before we could leave for vacation... when I passed a horse drawn carriage, being guided by two Mennonite men.

Both men where wearing the traditional "plain" clothing; black hat, black pants, non-descript shirt and shoes. Their horses plodded along at an easy pace and I instinctively slowed my own vehicle in response to the apparent ease and pace of life, that was present around me. I was struck by my own need for noise and speed and doing. And I was a little envious.

As I continued to slow my speeding car, I clicked off the radio, put my silly phone away, and took a breath... a deep, slowing breath. And I gave God thanks, for little reminders that pass through our world... reminders of what simplicity and connection and "living out ones faith" might really mean.

As I passed these men, something caught my eye. 

Two distinctive, white cords dangling from either side of the brim of his black hat. And his friend? All be darn, if he didn't have a cell phone up to his ear. A CELLPHONE! And EARBUDS!

So forget it. I apparently can't rely on anyone anymore.

Justin Timberlake can bring sexy back all he wants... I'M BRINGING SIMPLICITY BACK.

Here's what you'll need, for a simple Pumpkin Pie.

(Yeah.  I can't lie.  This picture is really about showing you my favorite Thanksgiving plates.)

3/4 Cup light brown sugar
1/8 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon ground ginger (scant)
2 Eggs
2 1/4 Cups pumpkin puree
1 (12-ounce) Can evaporated milk

In small bowl, combine sugar, salt and spices. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake for 45 minutes or until firm.

This recipe is a little bit Libby's, a little bit Food Network, and a little bit Yum. 

And Simple.  So.  Take that, Mennonites.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ear Full Of Pumpkin: A Puree Recap Rap

Here's a recap rap
For the fans with orange tans
In the south burbs of Kans-

Where the dogs are pretty
And the boys are fine
Where pumpkins are sorted
On a table, in a line

I've got my ice cream scoop
Come on, join the the loop
Cause it's time to gather
Around the oven l[a]ver

Set that sucker to three hundred fifty
Take off the stems, cause yeah, yo nifty
Cut 'em in half and scoop out the middle
The way it feels'll make you giggle

Be real, be hip
Find a sheet with a lip
And grab a cup or two of water

Say bye to your daughter
Give your partner a holler
Cause by the time you're done
This won't be fun,
I can guarantee ya

In the pan you will put
About a cup per cubic foot
Line the pumpkins up
Face down.  (pause) Yup.

Throw them in the oven
Get yourself some lovin'
Call your cousin
Eat a cookie,
How about a half a dozen

Check on the pumpkins half way through
You've got problems, if they're blue
They oughta be deep orange in hue
And when they are, that's your cue

This process seems long
But it beats singing a song
Or even writing this rap
As a matter of fact

After 45 minutes to an hour
Muster within, your girly power
Pull the pan out with both hands
Wonder again, how you feel about Iran's

1930's name change from Persia,
Did it lack courage-ya?
Anyway, I digress
Let's get back to this pumpkin game of chess.

Using your will and a set of tongs
Flip each pumpkin over where it belongs
They'll be steamy and dreamy
and look just right,
But I assure you, they're so hot that they bite.

Let them sit on the counter to cool
while you start the next batch, like a big ol' fool.
The clock will keep ticking
But you did the picking

So with a smile and a knife
Remember fondly, your old life
And get back to work
As your husband smirks

When your pumpkins have cooled just a bit
Take each one and give it a lift
Squeeze out the goodness into a bowl
Yeah, that's right!  Now you're on a roll!

Compost, recycle and throw away
Cause now it's time to play
Using a hand beater and a little fear
Beat that pumpkin, 'TILL IT'S IN YO EAR!

Now, if this rap is making you queasy
Just click here.
There.  That was easy.

I apologize for this mess
But with a title like that
Hi.  You had to have guessed.