Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wear Your Poppy

Today marks the beginning of Veteran's Week, and if you haven't bought your poppy please get one now. It's not about being pro- or anti-war; it's not about being politically correct. It's not about glorifying war or whitewashing history. It's not about politics.

It's about Remembering. Remembering the horrors war has wrought on the world, and the sacrifices made by all who lived through them. Remembering the soldiers who died for each other, for a cause, for King and country, and for you, regardless of whether you agree with the war or not. Remembering the innocents who died in the millions. And remembering humanity and how close we are to losing it entirely through war.

So please, wear a poppy on your left hand side, close to your heart.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TWD - Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

This week's TWD is a bit different. Because this month's recipes are so damn good and American Thanksgiving is soon, TWD decided to let people bake out of order. And since I always like messing around with order, that's exactly what I did!

The recipes really ARE good this month, but I wasn't in the mood for something really heavy or time consuming, so I chose these gorgeous molasses cookies. Pamela of Cookies with Boys choose these cookies, and very timely - perfect for these cold, November days. Tia of Buttercream Barbie (love that name!) was kind enough to post the recipe, since it's not technically their week. Good on her! I'm glad to see not everyone is as lazy as I am.

Another reason I went with these cookies is to see how they compare with my mom's. All in all, Dorie's are a standard molasses cookie, which is not an invective, believe me! One thing I do like is her inclusion of black pepper, and if anything I'd use more next time. Taste for taste, they are very close to Mom's, but if I had to choose I'd go with Mom's cookies. Because, you know, she's my MOM. That's the rules.

These cookies are very straightforward. As some people have noted, they do spread out pretty good - definitely don't crowd the pan. And go heavy with the black pepper, it's awesome!

Unfortunately, I had an accident while making them. This one fell into some french vanilla icing, and then it accidentally fell into my mouth, thereby forcing me to eat it (them, let's be honest). Mmmmmmmmmm, happy lies! Can't wait to see what everyone chose. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Loaf Cake

I love this time of year. Clear and sunny, cold and crisp air, and the sunlight is just golden everywhere it shines. And the flavours of Fall are my favourite, too; creamy soups, steamy cups of tea, and lovely spicy cakes and cookies.

I wanted to make a nice, easy cake that would suit the weather, and when I stumbled on this recipe I knew it fit the bill. It looks like a quickbread, but trust me - this puppy is a cake. I'm afraid you can't fool yourself into thinking this is anything but dessert. The pumpkin makes it moist without adding any additional flavouring, because the real stars of this show are cinnamon and allspice. And oh lordy, you should smell the place when this cake is's like living in a gingerbread house! Mmmmmm, edible housing.

It couldn't be simpler to make, either. The whole assembly probably took me about 10 minutes from start to finish. All you do is cream together some butter and sugar, throw in an egg, spicy flour, and pumpkin puree. I was feeling lazy when I made this, so the loaf cake part of it really appealed to me - no arseing around with icing cakes, because it looks just fine without it. I had it with Betty Crocker's French Vanilla icing (I was lazy, I told you), but it would be great with cream cheese icing or even chocolate. Any way you slice it, this cake is just tangible coziness, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional - I hate nuts)
2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin purée, canned or homemade

1. Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, spices, salt, and baking soda. You really need to sift the cake flour, or it will be lumpy.

3. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in milk. Add remaining dry ingredients alternately with the pumpkin puree.

4. Pour batter into pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before icing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Jesus, is it really November already? Time really speeds by when you're sitting at home with a bum foot. Naturally, it's been the best weather of the season. Ah look Melissa, look at how beautiful it is outside. How about we go for a nice walk through the lovely Fall foliage? HA HA PSYCH!

Stupid foot. Anyway, in an effort to post more consistently I've joined the NaBloPoMo, where you are required to post every day for a month. We'll see how that goes....but for now, let's be optimistic! Today I'm simply sitting in a candy-induced semi-coma and periodically eating Pumpkin Spice Cake (recipe tomorrow!). Mmmmmmm. Cake. Cake is always good.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

My last post involved pumpkin puree and so does tomorrow's, so I thought it was time to show you how I make the damn stuff. (Isn't that a gorgeous picture? Don't mind the clutter in the background; I thought I hid it well enough, but obviously not. Keeping it real, people.)

But why make your own puree when you can buy it, you might ask? Or at least I imagine you ask, otherwise I'm talking to myself. Well readers, I find over the last few years I prefer to make my own stuff rather than buy it canned; that way, I can control all the preservatives in it. And usually, it tastes better, too. For instance, did you know that canned pumpkin often doesn't even have much pumpkin in it? A lot of times it's more squash than anything. At least when I make my own, I know what's in it, I support my local farmers, and I save money. My wee pumpkin cost 60 cents a pound, and I got 5 cups of puree out of it, which is about 2-3 cans worth. $2 vs $6-$7? Even I can do that math.

Also, it is easy peasy to make. Seriously. First, and this is important - you need to buy the right pumpkin. Ask for a pie pumpkin (also known as sugar pumpkins, I think). They are smaller, sweeter, and are more suited for baking than your big jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Once that's done, prepare to roast it. Why roast? Well, there's less prep involved, and it results in much less wet puree (that's good, trust me). So throw that bugger in the oven, cook it til it's soft, and blend the hell out of it in the trusty food processor. C'est tout!


1. Get a pie pumpkin. Cut it in half and then scoop the guts out (save the seeds for roasting later if you like).

2. Cut your pieces in half again, and then place them on a baking sheet - there's very little mess, so you don't need to line your pan.

3. Place the pumpkin in a 350 degree oven, and roast 45 minutes or more until the pumpkin is good and soft.

4. Let it cool to where you can handle the pieces. Peel the skin off (it will come fairly easy), and then cut it into chunks. Throw it in the food processor. Blend until smooth, adding water sparingly as needed to get the right texture. Keep in the fridge for a couple of days, or freeze for later use.

For freezing: I usually measure out 1 cup, put it in a ziplock freezer bag, and lay it flat in the freezer. Two or three pumpkins should give you all the puree you need until next fall (depending on how much you use it, of course). But hey, I'm not magic, I'll let you figure that out. ;)

NOTE: You can boil the pumpkin as well, but from what I understand that results in a wetter puree that you may need to strain. If you don't have a food processor, though, you may want to use this option as the pumpkin will mash (or rice) easier.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

I have been on a pumpkin roll lately, and these bars are what took me from intrigued to LOVE. I saw them on Amy's Playing House, and they looked so good I knew I had to try them immediately. What's not to love - cheesecake AND chocolate? I'm there.

And here's why I have officially become a pumpkin convert: it has a very neutral taste, it gives your baked goods beautiful colour, and it replaces the fat in recipes without you even noticing. Plus pumpkin is super good for you! The good for you part wouldn't make me use it without the rest, but its nutritional benefit definitely tipped the scales. I love it so much I'm sure they'll find out in a few years that pumpkin causes systemic organ failure in short redheads or something, as it is rare at best that I luck out with foods I adore.

Anyway, Amy's recipe is super simple and so, so good. I made a few changes, the main one being that I didn't have pumpkin pie spice so I ended up winging it with nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. I went a little heavy on the nutmeg, so don't do that. I think allspice would be great in these, too. Also, Amy uses an Oreo crumb crust, and I ended up forgoing a crust entirely. I can't remember why; maybe I was out of butter, or I was tired, or the dishwasher was full and I didn't want to clean a bowl by hand, I'm really not sure. Knowing me, it was the latter.

One more thing: the chocolate part was SO delicious, I seriously had to exert every last fiber of my woefully weak willpower to keep from eating it all. I could have easily sat down and eaten the entire bowl of chocolate filling, rather than add it to the bars. Next time I think I'll double the chocolate filling part; it was just that good. These keep great in the fridge for days, and are perfect for freezing, too. Head on over to Amy's site for the complete recipe, and for the sake of your thighs, please share them!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TWD - Potato Biscuits (theoretically)

This week's TWD recipe was Sweet Potato Biscuits, chosen by Erin of Prudence Pennywise. And don't mine look perfect? The total epitome of what a biscuit is - nay, the template of the perfect biscuit? Oh try to make that good, people - I dare you. You won't come close, but hey, imitating perfection can only be beneficial.

In other words, these were a total flop. I don't know what I did wrong, but BOY something went wrong. First, I decided to use regular potatoes, so I boiled some up and mashed them. I did this A) I hate sweet potatoes, and B) the recipe called for canned potatoes, which is anathema to this Prince Edward Islander. We are the land of potatoes! I didn't even know you could buy them canned, and that's the truth.

Anyway, I decided to use some pumpkin as well, as one of the bakers did. I combined 1 cup of pumpkin with 2 cups of mashed taters, and I think that's where things went pear shaped. I tried to convince myself that they were puffy, but yeah, not so much. They were basically more like flatbread, and they were chewy, not flaky. I did use some the next day for an egg mcmuffin type thing, though, so they weren't a total loss.

See? There they are in all their glory! Or infamy, whichever. Slightly puffy, orangey little disks, wheeee go me! I might try these again sometime, this time with just pumpkin.Perhaps I will have to come to terms with not being able to make biscuits, but I'm not ready to accept defeat quite yet.

I think I'm in the minority of people who failed at this, so by all means check out the TWD website to see the blogroll of talented bakers. :)