I don’t know where you live. In the foothills of Colorado, fall and spring bring the worst (best?) weather. Right now, we’re getting ready for Halloween

just like the rest of the country. But we’re also in the middle of a snow storm. Luckily, I live up on this beautiful mesa just west of downtown Colorado Springs and, usually, we are somehow protected from the very worst (and deepest) of the snows. We’ve lived somewhat north of here in two different woman-killer houses (when we needed 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms– you see what could kill the woman about that) and the snows have been DEEEEEp. Here, the winds do other things and just about blow Gabby and I away some dark nights. (She barked for HOURS last night. Of course, we have a bear, too… daily clean-ups of that mess.)

Never mind, it’s still time for pumpkin bread and… all things pumpkin. More on that later. I have a soup to share that has some pumpkin. Maybe closer to Thanksgiving would be a good time for that. Meantime, check out the pumpkin cookies made from Ina Garten’s “Shortbread Cookies…” that originally came from Eli Zabar:

I made these for Halloween Night dinner, when my six-year-old grandson was coming to trick-or-treat in the ‘hood. Right now, he needs your prayers because he’s not coming for Halloween; he’s home with H1N1. (Boo-hoo)

Freezing cookies and chili for when he CAN come!

Is there anyone who doesn’t like pumpkin bread? Usually people say, “Oh, I luuuuuuuuuuuuuuv pumpkin bread.” I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make it, but, surely that time existed. I will tell you one thing:
Just use canned pumpkin.
Don’t kill a pumpkin to make this bread because the bread is no better and you might as well carve the pumpkin.
Same is true for pumpkin soup.
Same is true for pumpkin pie.
I hate to take you away from all that cutting and hand-sliming opportunity, but I tell you the truth. I’ve done it both ways and I know.

There are people whose incomes depend on canning pumpkin. Let them do it.

 –

Now, this year (2009), you just might have to do something really weird in order to get your canned pumpkin. I got mine early and I paid a fortune for it at Whole Foods because there was no pumpkin on the shelves anywhere else. My husband happens to have someone who works for him somewhere (it could be anywhere in North or South America) who also owns an organic pumpkin farm, so I had the heads-up early on. If you didn’t, you could still be sliming that big squash pretty soon despite my advice against it.
Is a pumpkin a squash or a gourd? I seem to remember it might be a berry? Anyway, you might be getting your hands into something deep. (Sorry.)Whatever you have to do, get the pumpkin and make this bread.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Coffee Cup Muffins–same recipe

 Lots of folks like it with cream cheese. I like it with butter… or plain. You choose. I’ve tweaked it over the years from THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK, which is one of my very favorite baking books of all time. Might be out of print (I think it is), but you can probably get a copy from Amazon.com used. If so, get it. Original recipe calls for dates and walnuts; I still do that, too. Have some in the freezer like that right now.

Alyce’s Pumpkin Bread
makes 2 9×5″ loaves
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a bowl, mix
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c raisins
1 c hot water (You’ll drain them in a minute.)
Set aside.
In another bowl, mix 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 t all-purpose flour; Set aside.
Grease and flour your pans. In electric mixer, or in large bowl using hand mixer, beat together
2/3 c butter, softened
2 c canned pumpkin
4 eggs
2 1/2 c sugar
2/3 c milk (I like low-fat evaporated)
Drain and add the 1/2 c ea cranberries and raisins (see above)
Stir in: 1/2 c chopped walnuts
On top of liquid ingredients add:
3 1/3 c flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
3/4 ground cloves
Mix the dry ingredients together on top of the wet and then gently mix together until flour is just barely incorporated.
Add floured chocolate chips (from the start of the recipe) and mix well.
Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake about 60 minutes (test at 50).
Test by inserting skewer or toothpick into middle of bread. Bread is done when skewer comes out almost clean. Let sit on rack in pans five minutes before turning out onto rack to cool completely. When very cool, wrap well in aluminum foil. Store in frig up to one week and in freezer for up to two months.
Makes nice muffins, too. Bake at 400 in greased tins for 15-17 min.
Great for Thanksgiving on the cheese tray before dinner.
Nice holiday gift in small pans. Bake 20-30 min. 350 F.

Happy Halloween, my friends. It’s wonderful whatever the weather.
This blog is dedicated to my friend, ‘Lena, who adores this bread.
I LOVE FALL—————————————————————–
Sing a new song–pull out the Peanuts Pumpkin Carols…great Halloween lyrics to traditional Christmas tunes.
Alyce
p.s. I’ve included a video of some of today’s weather and it’s sideways. I’ll try and upload it again and see if it rights itself. You’ll get the idea anyway!

  photos added 9/2012