Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin Bread with Maple-Walnut Streusel

pumpkin bread

Nesting is funny. It seems to take different forms for different people. A friend of mine dusted all the baseboards in their house. Deb from Smitten Kitchen made brownies. My mom decided it was high time she move an entire giant pile of firewood from one side of the garage to the other. So far, I have been knitting up a storm, getting a jump on Christmas gifts (WHAT?! You think I should wait until I have a tiny human who depends on me for her every need to start making and buying gifts?), finishing up the painting projects in our new condo (apparently I can't imagine bringing my baby home to a bedroom without a purple accent wall), and listening to Christmas music (I know, I know). I've also noticed that every time I go to the grocery store, I wander around looking for things to stock up on, you know, in case this is the last time I ever get to go to the grocery store.

I had thought that I would be extremely annoyed to have the presidential election coincide with the end of my pregnancy, but it turns out it's a pretty entertaining race (did you see the debate last night? I thought they were going to start throwing punches!), and it's not too shabby to have them tell me on the news every morning exactly how many more days there are until my due date, which is one day after the election. I plan on voting unless I am in labor - luckily I only have to walk (waddle?) half a block to my polling place.

This recipe is oh-so-similar to the one I posted last year, but with enough of a difference that I wanted to post it here anyway. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread with Maple-Walnut Streusel

1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

For the streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons real maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour two standard loaf pans.  Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In another bowl, stir together butter, sugar, eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, dates and walnuts.  Add to dry ingredients and fold together, taking care not to over mix.  Divide evenly between loaf pans. Toss the streusel ingredients together in a small bowl with a fork and sprinkle evenly over both loaves. Bake 50-65 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Yield: two loaves

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Potato Leek Soup

potato leek soup

It is a magical day today! 10.11.12! I'm not sure why these days feel so exciting to me - I suspect it is because we made 6.7.08 our wedding day, so the sequential dates feel important and fun and full of promise. We are also having the most beautiful fall weather imaginable; blue skies that could only be possible in October, spectacular sunrises, eye-popping color on the trees, and cool, crisp temperatures. It is an absolutely LOVELY time of year.  I hope you are enjoying it as well!

We haven't turned the heat on in our home yet this year, and I think my husband is suffering.  Here's a snippet of conversation from earlier this week:

Him: How are you doing, temperature-wise?
Me: Great! I'm very comfortable.
Him: Oh ok. That's good then.
Me: Why, are you cold?
Him: Well, it's 65 degrees in here.

Poor guy. When they say you've got a bun in the oven, you tend to focus on the "bun" part, and not so much on the "oven." Let me tell you, I am an oven. I try to make up for the lack of heat by roasting chickens and making soup! We'll be warm from the inside out.

potato leek soup 1

Potato Leek Soup
adapted from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups

4 tablespoons butter
3 large leeks, rinsed well and thinly sliced
4 potatoes, diced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 rib celery, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until slightly softened.  Add potatoes, carrots, and celery and saute about 5 more minutes. Season with thyme, and add the stock or water. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat to medium-low.  Continue simmering about 45 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are tender.  Puree about half the soup in a blender and return to the pot. Add the milk, stir, and heat through. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste.