Pumpkin-Lentil Soup

From one year to the next, I keep a few cans of my favorite Libby’s 100% pumpkin in the pantry. Thanks to my father-in-law, Gene Morgan (who spent years in grocery management), I know that “old” pumpkin makes for better pumpkin pies. I see no difference in pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, or pumpkin martinis but pie — oh yes. The pie filling is darker, feels richer-thicker though still silky, and sports a deeper flavor profile with the aged cans. This year, I’m very glad I kept those few and a couple more because when I put in an order for pumpkin, my King Sooper’s app indicated zero, nada, zip, nil, nought, nothing, though it allowed as there were a few cans of the organic variety left. I don’t like those for pie (ewww), but I’ll take them in a pinch for baked goods and so tapped the icon. When I went to pick up my groceries, I didn’t even get the organic cans. Yikes. What was the story? Should I be grabbing a few pie pumpkins out of the produce section and getting out the roasting pan? Consider a Thanksgiving featuring sweet potato pie? While I have nothing against sweet potato pie as my parents were both southerners, I like pumpkin pie so much better. What’s a baker to do?

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Plum Crostata with Walnut Streusel

In September as the peaches wane and the apples are just ripening, here in Colorado we have trees and trees full of plums. These aren’t the big old black, handful plums we see a bit later on, but rather are the small dark purple, firm-when-ripe Italian prune plum. While excellent for snacking, perhaps they’re even better for baking since they tend to hold their shape and aren’t overly sweet. You might think of plums as the fall bag-lunch fruit —and I do, too— but for the past few years I find I adore a beautiful plum tart or, in this case, crostata.

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Pumpkin-Ginger Crunch Cheesecake

I can’t remember exactly when the pumpkin spice thing took hold. Or how it came to be. You can google all that and get your own ideas. One thing comes to mind and it’s coffee:

By the early 2000s, some evil genius figured out that it sold well as a latte with plenty of cream and sugar. An early reference in a newspaper is “Springs coffee shops offer something to fit almost everyone’s taste” in the Colorado Springs Gazette in January 11, 2002, which describes Purple Mountain Coffee in Colorado serving up a “pumpkin pie latte.”

Melissa Mcewan: Chicagoist/October 31, 2014
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Plum and Almond Crostata: Windfall of Covid-Time

While I might’ve, I’m not sure I would have made this a year ago.

Over the past few days, my eyes have been drawn to a number of accounts online and in hard copy that have zeroed in on some of the amazing benefits or windfalls of living life Covid-Style. Two keep coming to mind. In today’s Sunday NEW YORK TIMES on the front page, in an article by Ellen Barry entitled, “City Folks Flee the Virus, and the Bears Rejoice,” a man named Jonny Hawton is now working from home in Vermont instead of making a huge LA commute every day in California. He couldn’t imagine returning to the previous lifestyle where he only saw his baby daughter one hour a day. “If someone told me I would have to go back and do that tomorrow, I don’t know what I’d do.” Another woman — Juanita Giles — reviewing Misty Copeland’s new book, BUNHEADS, for NPR, provides interesting insights into now being with the kids at home all day. While she misses lots and fears her social skills are deteriorating, she does not miss one thing: after school activities. Running the roads to get to rehearsals and classes, changing clothes on the fly (think shoving sweaty little feet into ballet tights in the van), squeezing homework into a car ride (“I HATE MULTIPLICATION!”), and eating 5 slow cooker meals a week (all tasted the same–she obviously hadn’t cooked my slow cooker meals!!) weren’t her idea of a fun life. Did she know that before? Surely she did, but what to do? That was how things were. As a dancer, however, she did terribly miss dance and so did the kiddoes — enough so that the prima ballerina’s new book was an instant hit instigating leotards now quickly donned at home and endless pirouettes through the kitchen where non-slow cooker meals were now being cooked. Sometimes change, as hard as it is, is good.

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Breakfast for Dinner: Apple-Walnut Pancakes with Eggs and Bacon

Pancakes are the answer when the question is, “What’s for dinner? I haven’t been to the store and there’s nothing thawed. It’s late and we’re hungry.” My happy guess is you have flour, eggs, milk, and syrup or honey. Maybe, if God is good, you have some bacon in the freezer. Enter the fall breakfast for dinner and why not? It’s not something you do often, but when you do, you think, “THIS is a great idea!” Ok, this might not have fit in the “diet,” but I didn’t overdo. Continue reading

Apple-Cheddar Salad with Spicy Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette + A Little Frittata

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Dave and I often make a big frittata (open-faced omelet) in our 14-inch skillet if we have someone in for brunch.  Dave’s the better frittata maker, so if I can, I leave him to it.  Once in a while he’ll make one just for the two of us on a Saturday morning and we’ll then eat the leftovers for dinner with or on salad. Other times we’ll have it sliced up into slivers with wine, cheese, and fresh fruit.

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Last Saturday, he made a luscious breakfast using leftover roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, lots of sautéed onion, bacon, and two different cheeses.   It was his first try at cooking on the new Blue Star range and it was wondrous!  Tucker, shown here in the almost-finished kitchen,  always prays for something — anything — to drop. There are a couple of frittata posts on the blog (some new photos needed, I know)  and you’re welcome to use one for a recipe or to substitute Dave’s Saturday ingredient list to create your own: Continue reading