I should have known better than to travel on January 1st. You know how they say, "be careful what you do on the first day of New Year, because that's exactly what you will be doing for the remaining 364 days". I should have known better, I should have stayed in bed. It's bean a year of travelling. Lake Placid, Rome, Iowa, DC, Stockholm, Paros, Athens, Vermont, Vienna, California, Vienna, Slovakia, Belgrade... And some other places in between. And I know that perhaps it is not a lot by somebody else’s yardstick, but my yardstick is quite short, because I am not exactly of the traveling kind. Lake Placid, Rome, Iowa, DC, Stockholm, Paros, Athens, Vermont, Vienna, California, Vienna, Slovakia, Belgrade... I get motions sickness just by thinking about it.
I traveled on my daughter's birthday. I traveled on my husband's birthday. I missed my patron saint day and I missed Halloween. I did not get to see my daughter dressed up as Heidi for the school's Halloween celebration, and I did not get to see her ABBA costume and her pumpkin bag filled up with candies. We did not go apple picking. We did not go to the cheese farm for a hayride. And although I got a sneak peek of shy yellows and a postmortem of burnt reads, I missed all the colors in between in the fireworks of the New England fall.
Anyhow, as soon as I came back home from the latest travel, one week post-Halloween, I grabbed Miss Pain, kissed her and hugged her hard, and I asked her to put on her ABBA costume for me. Which she did with great gusto. Because she really does not care if Halloween falls on October 31 or November 7, or July 4 for that matter; in the lollipop land of her own Halloween can pretty much happen every day and dates have no meaning. Which kind of made me feel better. We played and danced to the tune of ABBA songs, and then we baked together. We made a belated pumpkin bread, spiced, orange and so very Halloween. When we put the pans in the oven, the sweet smell of the holiday took over the house, and we sat on the kitchen floor and got lost to it. That too kind of made me feel better.
So let me make a pledge, right here, right now: Next January 1st I am staying in bed, doing nothing but sipping my tea and reading Modesty Blaise comics and those 52 New Yorkers I have not had time to read as yet! The news sections and Goings On About Town will be a little outdated, but good writing never expires. Just as it is never too late to bake a really yummy pumpkin cake.
Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from Laurie Bennett
This is a really yummy pumpkin bread, moist and fragrant, hands down the best I have ever tried. I wish I could claim it to be my own, but I stumbled upon the recipe on the Internet, on allrecipes.com. It's hard to trust everything we find on the web these days, but this recipe had close to perfect five star rating from a grand total of 6318 reviews. Talking about the wonders of crowdsourcing!!! I tweaked the recipe a little bit here and there, replaced the oil with butter, reduced the amount of sugar, swapped white sugar for brown, messed up with the spices, but in all honesty, it would still be hard to call it my own.
* 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
* 4 eggs
* 1 cup butter, melted
* 2/3 cup water
* 2 1/2 cups Turbinado or cane sugar
* 3 1/2 cups self rising flour (I used King Arthur)
* 2 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp ground cloves
* 1/4 tsp Chinese five spice
* three 7x3-inch loaf pans
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour the pans.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the pumpkin puree, butter, water, vanilla and sugar, and mix until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and spices. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, or until done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Note: Instead of the loaf pans, I used a Williams Sonoma 11" x 5 1/2" pumpkin pan and one six cup bundt pan. I baked the bread in the WS pan a little bit over an hour and the (smaller) bread in the bund pan for about 50-55 minutes.