we had friends over for dinner last night. i had been so crazed with life, i hadn't truly prepared, but i had a great standby treat that would work and knew we could pull it off... if only i could get my house clean.
i suck as a housekeeper. boy, do i ever. if you were to ask my ex-husband, he would most likely agree deeply with that statement and i wouldn't have anything to bring up as ammo to protect myself. i just do. maybe it's because i'm such a freakin' flibbertigibbet that i don't think about it. however, it drives me absolutely bonkers to be so scattered in my home. i feel like i still live like i did when i was in college... for the brief time i was there. it always seems i'm just a kid in adult clothing and i'm waiting for some magic moment that will sparkle into my life and i'll say "ah, yes... that chair goes there, those shelves need to be put up there, and here is a fabulous window treatment that will bring the room together." that, to me, is an adult. someone who totally gets how to organize and DECORATE their life. me? i know what i like. i know what i gravitate towards and then come home from work, see the mess my kids have made and just sigh, make dinner and try to chill about it. but, the truth is, i suck as a housekeeping role model, because i will pick up my computer and write before i'll clean. really. cuz i'm a flibbertigibbet. oh, and i'll do things like begin to mop the floor then see the candles sitting on the table, so stop and put those in the place i want them to be only to notice, hey, that book on knitting looks really good and i was planning to start knitting scarves to sell so i better stop what it is i'm doing and read that and whoa, is that ginger i smell? why, i should make some ginger tea and hey, you know what? isn't that novel writing thing happening this month? well, i need to write about 2000 words tonight so i better open my laptop and, yep, write a novel until... yippee, let's play some computer games!... and on and on and on with my scattered, crazy mind.
but i digress...
so we had friends coming over. i said that already. sorrry. anyway, i decided to make something that always goes over well and a couple of desserts to go along. i made this japanese fried chicken from my "LET'S COOK JAPANESE" cookbook which you will just have to go out and buy the cookbook, cuz it's got WAY too many great things in it to list and this is one of them. we had that, simple steamed white rice with some soy sauce and ponzu sauce with it, the Lemon Yogurt Cake and some PUMPKIN BREAD WITH DATES AND WALNUTS from THE BAKER'S DOZEN COOKBOOK by a dozen BRILLIANT bakers, edited by Rick Rodgers. The recipes in this are priceless and worth every bit of getting it into your repertoire. some of my best yums come out of this, are based in this and i adore it. nicholas doesn't like pumpkin at all. doesn't like pumpkin pie, only likes them to carve for halloween. but, this recipe? he asks for over and over. so i made it to have throughout the week. check it out and i think you'll come to love it as well:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps baking soda
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
2/3 cup corn oil
2 1/2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin or canned solid-pack pumpkin
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
what to do:
1. position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. lightly butter and flour two 8 1/2 x4 1/2-inch loaf pans.
2. sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon nutmeg, salt, and allspice together into a large bowl.
3. in another large bowl, whis the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and oil until they are completely mixed. add the pumpkin and whisk until blended. using rubber spatula or wooden , stir in the walnuts and dates.
4. add the pumpkin mixture to the dry mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is blended and there are no streaks of flour visible.
5. spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans. bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the loaves comes out clean, about 65 yo 70 minutes.
6. transfer to a wire rack to cool. cool in pans for 15 minutes. give each pan a sharp downward jerk to loosen the bread then invert the loaves onto a rack. turn right side up and cool completely. bread can be baked up to 3 days ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap or a plastic bag, and stored at room temperature. it can also be frozen, double-wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 3 months.
what we did:
we didn't add the nuts or dates. brandon and nicholas aren't big with nuts in their baked goods, although they do like nuts (tons of yum recipes for spiced and sweetened nuts) as a general rule. we used canola oil instead of corn oil and we baked it for less time with lots of attention because, yes, my oven SUCKS.
both loaves came out quite well. our guests last night seemed to really enjoy the meal and we loved the company (great folks). the pumpkin bread, however, was really a treat for my sons more than anything, so that was left untouched until the morning. not for lack of desire to share it with our friends, but because the lemon cake really took center stage with the meal and that was fine.
brandon had his pumpkin bread toasted this morning with cream cheese on it along with a couple of boiled eggs and some sausage. nicholas had his just lightly toasted and the boiled eggs. and tea. spiced, creamed and steeped green tea.
such a sweet pleasure.