Pumpkin Loaf with Cranberries & Ginger

img_3183It’s the first weekend in October, raining outside, and I’ve set the thermostat for the upcoming colder weather. There’s something great about turning off the furnace in April, and equally great about turning it back on in the fall. October on Thetis usually gives us an evenly mixed bag of warm & sunny days and cool & rainy days. Giving us time to say good-bye to summer, and start to appreciate and accept the upcoming winter.

The trees are laden with apples and pears, which desperately need to be picked before the raccoons settle in to eat them all. The oak leaves are starting to show their bold reds, with the maples just starting to have golden crowns.   I love this time year, it inspires me to get back in the kitchen to create some new things, and test out some simmering ideas I have. Here’s this week’s offering, a very light pumpkin loaf, studded with bright cranberries and pungent ginger. Drizzled with a vanilla-cinnamon glaze, it slices beautifully, and is perfect for snacking. Enjoy it as you feel the autumn settle in around you, like a well-loved blanket. Continue reading

Pumpkin Pie

IMG_8651In 1977, while living at home and working fulltime, I was entrusted to help a friend screen people to share a rental home with her. We posted an ad in the paper and at the student union building. We sorted through the many applicants, chiseling it down to the four we thought would best fit. It was a roomy house, not far from campus, that was in really decent condition.   A coffee meet was planned at a nearby restaurant. We got there early, and waited patiently for the chosen four to arrive. No Facebook to check them out on, so we didn’t even know what they looked like. I suppose we had beacons on our heads, because they all came straight to our table. It was the easiest gathering of unknowns that I’ve ever been part of. We ended up sitting and talking for close to three hours. At the end of it, we had 3 women and a man that would be sharing the rent & the home. As it turned out, all six of us were born within four weeks of each other. Although I was still living at home (my equestrian pursuits put enough strain on my coffers that I had to stay at home or give up my training), these people would become so important in our lives for the next few years.

The first Thanksgiving in the new house, was epic. Everyone had to bring two guests, so we had 18 people for dinner. My girlfriend and I cooked the turkey nestled in root vegetables, and everything else was potluck and unplanned. I’m sure there were a couple of side dishes, but all I really remember was that somehow 8 pumpkin pies arrived. All home baked, and all very different. Of course we all needed to try a piece of each! Another realization for me – I’m a purist when it comes to pumpkin pie. Do not put raisins in a pumpkin pie. Do not put a crumble on top of a pumpkin pie. Just give me creamy pumpkin custard with un-muddled spice baked in basic pastry with a bit of cream on the side.

The two years that I spent closely knitted with Trutch house taught me so much, from singing with complete abandon, to doing our own SNL versions, and to those long post midnight hours, sitting with tea and figuring out the world with other perspectives. And the fact that I do love pumpkin pie.

Here’s the way I’ve been making it for as long as I can remember. I’ve made it with roasted and mashed pumpkin (preferred) or with pumpkin from a tin. I originally got a recipe off the back of a label, and have kept doing it essentially the same way ever since.   Continue reading

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Apple

IMG_6548This was one of those nights!  Hadn’t really spent any time thinking about dinner, but my husband’s on a special diet right now, and knew that I had to put something together!  Looking in my diverse pantry, I kept seeing things that would really be good, but most of them were on the “no” list.  So using some really basic items (all of which were on the “yes” list), I pulled a really tasty soup out of a hat.  It is filling, so we were satisfied with just the soup, no side dishes, no bread.  I feel guilty eating a variety of foods when the one other person eating just has a whole long list of “no’s”.

Of course, now that I’ve made it, I know I’ll make it again. It is so easy, vegan, too, if that’s required.

I had two lovely little pumpkins from jollity Farm sitting waiting patiently for me to put them to good use.  A quick peel & chop and they were in a pot, gently simmering until soft, drained, and then mashed.

I really suggest this as a main course soup, maybe on a really cold winter’s night, before a game of scrabble or crib.IMG_6529 Continue reading

Pumpkin Scones with Ginger

IMG_5251For the past week or so, the island has been blanketted in fog.  Occasionally in the afternoon we get glimpses of blue sky which sends shots of light through the lingering wisps of fog, creating forests of sunbeams.  Even though I know that the sky is blue up above the fog bank, I live in a cocoon of grey softness.

The fog will pass eventually, and we’ll have several days of full on sunshine.  Time enough to finish up all the gardening in preparation for the short, wet days of winter, when it isn’t such an appealing idea to kneel out in the wet garden.

But for now, we’ll walk the dogs, fix the fences, move the cattle, and enjoy the restful times reading in front of the fire.  It really is fall now!

Nothing like pumpkin and spices to knock us upside of the head to remind us!   These scones are so easy and yummy, that they deserve to be made several times through the next month or so, during pumpkin season.  Although there’s absolutely no reason that they can’t be made at any other time. Continue reading