Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall Foliage

Last weekend was one heck of a whirl-wind. It was homecoming here in CoMo and College Game Day even came to the party along with some old college friends. LP and I had a packed house. Then Mizzou brought home a win in a big, BIG way. Epic - as in the proper noun. But it was also a long day. 5:30-2:30. AM to AM. Phew!

Then Sunday morning (after a bit of a rally) it was off to Kansas City to meet up with my fellow foodie friend Emily. There was a little talk about the upcoming Italy/Switzerland trip and a lot of talk about restaurant plans. It was exciting to get to do some brainstorming on how this vision would come to fruition! And then on Sunday we tromped around the city to get some fall shots. Overall it's been a dry fall around here so the colors haven't popped as much this season as I'd hoped, but I still think both of us managed to get some great shots. Especially Emily.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Festival Festivities with Freddie

Did I ever tell you how I love alliteration?

Other things I love: fall festivals. Especially those revolving around food. Here are a few of my favorite shots from this year's Roots N' Blues N' BBQ festival (which gave my my horrendous cold, btw) and the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival. If the shots get your tummy to grumblin' I've also included a recipe for pumpkin bread. We're one and a half loaves into the three I made Friday in my house. And go for the from-an-actual-pumpkin version. You'll be surprised how ridiculously easy it is!

Civil Liberties
I'll take two bags, please.
Momma Whitney
Corndog Candid
Smokin' Suds
Chips N' Kids
His name is Gourdon

Anti-Establishment Pumpkin Bread
(named in honor of Larry)

1 pie pumpkin (they're small, only about 8" or so in diameter)
3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped pecans

Wash pumpkin in warm water thoroughly. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds and stringy pulp. An ice cream scoop works great for this. Cut pumpkin down into wedges roughly 3" x 3" (or small enough to fit in microwave safe casserole dish). Add pumpkin wedges into casserole dish along with 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water, cover and microwave for 15-20 minutes or until pumpkin is spoon-tender all the way through. Let pumpkin cool a bit, then remove rinds. If pumpkin is cooked all the way, rinds should peel off easily by hand or with the help of a butter knife. Toss pumpkin meat into food processor (or blender) and alternate running processor and stirring contents until pumpkin's consistency is a smooth puree.

Preheat oven to 350 and grease two 9x5" loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 cups of the pumpkin puree*, eggs, water and oil. Slowly incorporate wet mixture into dry mixture. Add in pecans. Divide batter evenly between two loaf pans. Bake for 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let loaves cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool completely on racks. Wrap tightly in saran wrap to store. Loaves can be frozen if you can imagine not finishing them both in the near future.

*I got three cups of pumpkin puree out of my one pumpkin. You can either save the extra puree for another recipe or adjust the recipe to utilize all 3 cups and yield an extra loaf of bread.

Pumpkin Pie Brownies, What?!

I have too many hobbies. Sometimes it feels like I have so many that I don't actually have time to do any of them. As if they all cancel each other out.

Take for example this blog. This blog focuses a bit on photography, which focuses on food (haha...pun!), which focuses on my explorations in the kitchen, which focuses on my love of the awesomeness that is food and nutrition. So in order to have time to blog I must also have time to buy food, prep food, cook food/bake food, photograph food, eat food, clean up after mess of making food, upload pictures of food, then waaaaaaay down that yellow brick road blog about the whole shebang. And since I'm the kind of person who's always thinking about the end game I'm exhausted before I even make my shopping list.

I think I've set too many expectations on what I have to accomplish in any one day/week/month for me to be considered "good" at something. Guilt sets in if I don't post for over a week, and that seems silly since (in theory) I blog for the enjoyment of it, not the stress. This is not a requirement in my life.

But I love do doing it, so this is me publicly announcing that I'm lowering my expectations of myself. Huzzah! Cheers to the imperfect blog!
Ironically, todays culinary entries actually came out perfectly. And I'm glad, too; my psyche needed it. Fall is my faaaaaavorite season of the year, but also the busiest. Strike one against my cooking efforts. Then right smack in the middle of it all I got some sort of something that had me living off rice noodles and popsicles for a week (when I was awake enough to eat anything). Strike two. Strike three? There was no strike three, baby. Once I rallied enough energy to get back into my kitchen I hit it out of the park. And the crowd goes wild!!!
They're the same dishes I had alluded to a few posts back.
My old stand-by, vegetarian chili, and a recipe I've had bookmarked for months, pumpkin pie brownies. Oh baby. If you enjoy a fudgy, fall-spiked treat, this brownie is for you. But if you love a flavor-packed, sweet on the front, spicy on the finish chili, well then you'll just have to come over to my place because this recipe is not up for grabs. Assuming that I have a recipe. Chili is so gracious to my experimental tweaks that I have yet to make the same batch twice. That's why this is the dish I love to make over and over again. And I'm not wanting to argue I make the best chili out there, but for me this is my best pot to date. Though I'm staying mum on my extra special add-ins I did include a snap shot of my spice blend. I wouldn't be surprised if there are folks out there who could identify some or all of them! But here's a freebie in case it passed your notice, a touch of garlic is involved.
But I encourage you to make the brownies.
Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (yes, they're vegan)

For the brownie layer
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 cup pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 Tbsp tapioca flour -or- arrowroot -or- cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
For the pumpkin layer
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 Tbsp tapioca flour -or- arrowroot -or- cornstarch
1/2 cup soy milk (or cow's milk)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground allspice

Handful of chocolate chips to decorate

Preheat oven to 350 and grease 9 inch square pan.
To make the brownie layer:
Melt the chocolate (10 second intervals in the microwave works for me, stir between each). In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, sugar, oil and vanilla. In small bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, tapioca, baking soda and salt, then slowly incorporate into wet mix. Last, mix in the melted chocolate.
To make the pumpkin layer:
Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
To assemble:
Use a spatulate to spread the brownie mixture into your prepared pan. Make sure the batter goes all the way to the edges. Once the batter settles, use your spatula to indent a shallow pit for the pumpkin pie layer to settle into, leaving a 1/2 inch un-sunken border all around. Slowly pour in your pumpkin layer, trying to keep it from overflowing your border. It will seem like to much mix to fit, but if you pour slowly the pumpkin puree is thick enough to build up on itself instead of out. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the center of the pumpkin layer looks fairly firm and the edges of the pumpkin layer begin to turn a burnt orange color.
Let cool on the counter for 20 minutes, then transfer to the fridge for another 1 and 1/2 hours to chill and set completely. Then decorate with chocolate chips and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Inanimate Animations

Dear blog,

I miss you. Not only that, I miss reading everyone else's blogs, too. I think Google Reader is getting aggravated with me right now. He's become bloated - ready to bust at the seams over this past week. Just aching to tell me lots of interesting things. If only I had the time.

I have interesting things to share, too. But not tonight. Not tomorrow night either. Thursday's a maybe, but I'm not holding my breath. Friday? Maybe Friday. I should probably cook something on Friday though. I forgot to mention that the kitchen feels snubbed as well. Though as I write this I'm starting to feel like my life is spent pleasing inanimate objects. Freddie did get some lovin' this weekend, but again, that's for another day.

Until that other day...hope all is well.

Lots of love,