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Posts Tagged ‘Pumpkin’

Mmm, fall.  Delicious, delicious fall.  Succulent, tasty, juicy fall.

Aaaaand we’re already creepy.  I would say that’s a new record for this blog, but maybe not.  I do creepy things all the time and then “forget” them later.  It’s called “creepout amnesia.”  Or, as the rest of you might call it, “a reasonable sense of shame.”

Anyhow.

It’s officially fall, seeing as how I can no longer lay on the beach with those little wine juice boxes and a volleyball to give the impression that I’m sporty.  Oh, it’s such a lark when someone walks up and asks if I’d like to play volleyball!

“AHAHA, ahaha, AHAHAHAHA, oh, PLAY volleyball, stop, STOP, really, you’re too much!…::sip::sip::”

Anyhow.

So it’s no longer lay-on-the-beach-in-a-bikini-and-get-drunk-next-to-a-for-decoration-only-volleyball weather.  Man, what a sad, sad sentence.  But no one get too down about it.  After all, it’s just about lay-in-the-back-of-an-SUV-in-jeans-and-The-Boy’s-jersey-next-to-a-for-decoration-only-football weather.  Yes.  To everything, there is a season.  It’s the circle of life.  A wheel of fortune, if you will.  Turn, turn, turn.

Anyhow.

So it’s getting chilly, and I’ve been gallivanting around doing all manner of fall-like things.  Things like…

Using the last of the red tomatoes from the garden…

Preparing this delightful native dish that I’ve just learned about: soup…

Going apple picking…

Ooh…

Think we have enough apples for two people, The Boy?

You do?  Oh, that’s nice.  I think we need lots more.

Whaddya mean, you’re cutting me off?

Whaddya mean, you’re walking to the car?

Whaddya mean, you’re starting the car?

Whaddya mean, VROOM?

Oh.  I think I’m starting to understand whatcha mean.

…and of course, as the lead photo would suggest, we’ve been gallivanting (yes, MORE gallivanting) through pumpkin fields.  But only to look at them.  In my world, field pumpkins, like volleyballs and footballs and modesty, are for decoration only.  The flesh is scarce, stringy, watery, and not the least bit sweet.  Now those cute lil’ two-pound pie pumpkins?  THOSE are pumpkins.  Adorable AND delicious.

So if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I spent yesterday roasting all kinds of squash and squash seeds, and I’d be lyin’ if I didn’t admit to a bit of a pumpkin obsession these days.  Yesterday, I saved 79 pumpkin recipes on my desktop.  True story.  True story that I wish were even a little bit false.  78 would’ve sounded much better.  Thank goodness it wasn’t 80.  I mean, 79 is a lot, but 80 is just sick.

Ooh!  Just found a recipe for pumpkin french toast!  ::click::

<hangs head>

And today, as you’d know if you followed me on Twitter (hint hint FUCKING hint), is The Boy’s birthday.  That’s right, everybody’s favorite accidental sorta-celebrity was born ::mumble mumble:: years ago today.  To celebrate, I decided to start his morning off right (the poor dude had to work!) with a pumpkin latte.  YUM.

Now let me just be clear: The Boy does not NEED a pumpkin latte to feel good in the morning.  How could he ever have a bad morning when he opens his eyes to the sight of me rolling over, my hair in the most conspicuous white girl afro you ever did see, my nightie twisted around me like a straightjacket, the pillows on the floor, and my eyes half open?  How could he NOT have a great morning when my first words to him are usually something akin to “What the…f*&#…it’s not morning, right?  THE BOY, tell me it’s not morning, tell me it’s not morning, IFYOUVALUEYOURLIFETELLMEIT’SNOTMORNING, oh God, it’s morning.”  Also, a man needs to feel wanted and needed, right?  And when I wrap my arms around his ankles as he’s trying to scale the stairs to the door and beg him not to leave me to work all by myself, I’m sure what he’s thinking is, “God, it’s so nice to feel needed.”

BUT.

Just in case your mornings need perking up, UNLIKE THE BOY’S, you might want to try a pumpkin latte.  It’s a heck of a lot nicer than the one from the coffee shops.  And it’s made with a healthy dose of neurosis.  I mean, love.  Love.

Pumpkin Latte
*makes one*

Go Get:

1 shot of espresso (alternatively, probably about a 1/2 cup of really strong coffee)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon raw sugar (I’m thinking maple syrup would be a delightful substitute)
1 cup milk (this works with soy milk, nut milk, whatever turns you on; I’m a lactard, almond milk it is)
3 hearty dashes cinnamon (can I recommend–again–the Saigon Cinnamon from The Spice House?)
1 pinch ginger
2 whole cloves
1 pinch nutmeg
2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (you could use canned, but…you know)
whipped cream, if you’re feelin’ naughty

Go Do:

Start brewing your espresso or coffee.  Meanwhile, toss all other ingredients except whipped cream into a saucepan and blend.  Cook over low heat until the milk is just steaming (don’t boil it.  Ew.).  Now if you want your latte super smooth, remove the cloves with a spoon and put everything into the blender, set it to “milkshake” or its equivalent, and let that sucker blend ’til things are lookin’ frothy.  If you’re not picky and your pumpkin puree was smooth, just take out the cloves.  Now put your espresso into a mug, and pour the milk mixture over it.  Top with whipped cream if you’re using it.  Aw, what the hell, toss on another dash of cinnamon.  Let’s go whole hog.  Now doesn’t that sound like a nice way to start the day?  I’m thinking decaf and a walk after dark on a chilly, crisp day would suit me just fine, how ’bout you?

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Hey, misfits, have I ever told you guys about the time I accidentally got covered, head-to-toe, in fresh risotto?  And then, how I shamefully ate a full cup of it off of myself before trying to clean up?  And after that, how I used to dab myself behind the ears with risotto before going out for dates and special occasions, just to duplicate the scent?!  No?!  I haven’t?!

Well, thanksfully, that never happened.  But I not-so-secretly wish that it had.

I’m a big fan of risotto, especially now that I’ve devised a few shortcuts for when you’re dog-tired, don’t feel like a trip to the store (time that could be spent drinking, people!), and aren’t fussy about making risotto the “real” way.  First, I start with rice that I’ve pre-cooked in seasoned broth.

Calm down, you purists, you!

Second, I do not use arborio rice, as plain old brown rice works just fine.

Oh, relax!

While these two steps are not authentic and will probably not please the risotto authorities that be, you will end up with a damn fine dinner, and if they help you to consume larger quantities of risotto, then by golly, who do these risotto purists think they are?!  Who?!

No, seriously…who are the purists?  And where do they hang out?  I always wanted to meet one.  (Are they different from Puritans?  Do they not dance?  Dance a little?  Dance only by the book?  Is there a dancing book?)

This isn’t to say that recipes and cookbooks and rules and such don’t have a place–of course they do.  I have what the DSM IV would probably call a clinical addiction to cookbooks.  And if you don’t approach a new food with a bit of humility, you won’t learn something new, and it’ll be harder to strike out on your own with confidence.  But if you have a tendency to let perfectionism paralyze you, you’ll have to make a conscious effort to keep your sense of fun and adventure about you as you cook.

After all, no one ever shed serious tears over a cookie that had way more than the recommended dosage of chocolate chips in it.  Or if there are such people…they must be way boring to party with, no?

And remember, you can just forget what the purists say about risotto–it can, and does, make one hell of a perfume!

Shortcut Pumpkin Bacon Risotto
Makes about 4 servings if you don’t ladle it over yourself, substantially fewer if you do

Ingredients:
3 cups cooked rice
3-5 cups seasoned broth (or do as I do and use half broth, half wine)
olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
3 thick slices all-natural, nitrite-free bacon, diced
About 1 cup pureed pumpkin (I roasted and pureed my own pumpkin, but canned will work fine as well)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Jamaican Allspice (preferably from The Spice House)
1/4 tsp. Saigon Cinnamon (preferably from The Spice House)
1/2 Tablespoon dried parsley
salt
pepper

Directions:
Put the broth in a pot on the stove and keep it at a nice, gentle simmer.  In a large saucepan, heat a small splash of olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bacon, and sautee, stirring occasionally, until the bacon begins to render its fat, but before it’s crispy or dark.
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At this point, stir in the rice and cook it, stirring constantly, until the rice takes on a golden color.  Add two ladles or so of hot stock, and stir constantly until the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid.  Add another ladle-full and repeat the process.  When the rice mixture is just short of creamy (see picture; you may or may not have to add another ladle to get it there, depending on the rice you used), add your pumpkin and another ladleful of stock.

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Stir gently to combine, and add the allspice, cinnamon, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir until the risotto has a creamy and tender (though not mushy) consistency.  You’re done!  We actually topped this with a drizzle of black truffle oil, but it’s delicious as is, served along with a bowl of delicate greens.

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