Saturday, October 22, 2011
Celebrating Another Year
Due to various things going on in my life...particularly work issues but also house projects, family feuds, Sweetie's shoulder issues, my knee injury, and on and on...this year has not been stellar in the blogging department, but another year of this blog has indeed passed. The challenge has been find in the time to post, but also finding the focus to remember to photograph food. I do prefer posts with photos of the dishes I'm talking about, don't you? Thanks to you, dear reader, the blog continues to pull me toward the computer so that I can share what I've made with you. Sometimes I wish I had a secret tunnel to your house (a fantasy I first read about on the Bread Baking Babes site) so that I could give you some of this freshly cooked or baked yumminess!
Now that some of last year's issues have been resolved I'm hoping to do a few more posts each month. I'm also dedicated to slowly but surely reducing the clutter and possessions in the house...and painting the walls in rooms that really need it, like my bedroom and the guest bedroom and parts of the living room, too. We'll see how far I get by Christmas!
To start off Feeding My Enthusiasms newest year let's turn to the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion cookbook. I've become a big fan of King Arthur's products even though they don't send me any free samples or anything. Their specialty flours are wonderful. I use two of them this time. One flour is the Irish Whole Meal wheat flour which has a great texture with bits of the outer layer of the wheat berry that get lost when flour is processed a lot. The second one is the Ancient Grains flour which includes flours like amaranth...how cool is that? It add some subtle flavors that you don't get with plain flour.
So what are we baking today? A baked treat with nuts and chocolate chips. A seasonal favorite that can be baked year 'round because it uses canned pumpkin. I know that it is almost impossible to find canned pumpkin in some areas outside of the U.S., but you should be able to use cooked butternut squash...just be sure to run it through a food mill or process it in a food processor to make the cooked squash nice and smooth. If it's very watery, you may want to drain it in some cheesecloth. Canned pumpkin is pretty solid with minimal water.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread...doesn't that sound wonderful? This recipe is so easy and it make TWO large loaves. I froze the second one for future tea parties or when I need something sweet and baked but don't have time to bake (or I have too much paint on my hands...and face...but still want something to go with a cup of pick-me-up tea. I recommend using the butter/margarine combination. The sugar creams so much better with it and the texture of the loaf is a bit lighter, too.
Not a loaf bread kinda person? This batter would also make quite a few delicious muffins...just be sure to bake for a much shorter time.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
from the King Arthur Baker's Companion Cookbook
Makes two loaves
2/3 cup shortening or 1 cup vegetable oil (I used one stick of butter and one stick of margarine, both partially melted in the microwave when I found that my vegetable oil had gone rancid. I rarely have shortening in the house)
2 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups (or one 15-oz can) pumpkin - NOT pumpkin pie filling
2/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 2 1/2 cups unbleached, 1/2 cup whole meal wheat (Irish whole meal flour from King Arthur, and 1/2 cup ancient grains flour mix from King Arthur.)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, or oil or butter or margarine and the sugar. Beat in the eggs, pumpkin, and water. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, stirring to blend, then mix in the nuts and chips.
Spoon the batter into two lightly greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Bake the bread for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one loaf come out clean. Remove bread from the oven. Cool it on a rack. Turn out of the pans and wrap completely cooled loaves well in plastic wrap and store it overnight before serving. (I ate some the same day and a slice the next day...didn't seem to be any different, so I vote for eating some while still slightly warm for that melted chocolate chip delight sensation.)