Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Around Here

Am I the only one who doesn't quite feel like it's actually Christmas Eve? Maybe it has something to do with it still being 76 degrees...oh well.

I've been listening to this song on repeat, watching Christmas specials (I'm a sucker for the classic claymations), and discovering this browser extension that benefits charities to help get myself in the Christmas spirit while we wait for the next cold front to come through. Otherwise, the Christmas season has looked a bit like this around here...

A first attempt at homemade key lime pie

Coming home to discover ornaments I threw together last year (and then promptly forgot about) already strung...plain clear bulbs 1) filled with tiny decorative pine cones, 2) frosted easily with a bit of glue and white glitter, and 3) with one or two white feathers inserted (I think it gives them such a lovely ethereal feel, don't you agree?)

A plain twig wreath base (picked up from Hobby Lobby) that I then wove with fake frosted berry strands and leftover mini pine cones

A bag full of homegrown giant yellow limes (yes, limes!) from a dear neighbor and friend

I hope you're all having a lovely holiday filled with family, friends, laughter, sweet tidings, and lots of good food.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A (sort of) Goodbye to Fall

So, confession. It's almost 80 degrees today. And has been most of the week.
We're not exactly out of the woods for "fall."

BUT, as the winds gets colder, humidity levels drop, Christmas lights get strung (or, in my case, a tiny but loved Christmas tree put together with the best help), and most of the world devolves from fall, I figured it was appropriate to post one of my most utilized recipes. This is one of those rare ones where people who aren't gluten-free (and are often scared of it) have told me "It tastes better than normal!" or "You can't even tell!"

I've mentioned that I was never really big on pumpkin-flavored things. Pumpkin bread was the exception. Or, more specifically, Ms. Ann's pumpkin bread. My neighbor pulled out this recipe on the first cool weekend of fall every year like clockwork. And, since her children grew up with me and the recipe made two loaves, we would always get a knock on our door and a plated loaf of still-warm pumpkin bread delivered straight into our hands. It was the best ritual.

My sophomore year of college, I couldn't come home in the fall and eventually cajoled her into giving me the recipe. It was the first thing I adapted to bake gluten-free, and I've modified it slightly since.

Best (and gluten free) Pumpkin Bread
  • 3 and 1/3 c gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp xantham gum (skip if using regular wheat flour)
  • slightly less than 3 c sugar (don't quite fill them to the top)
  • 1-2 T honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp each cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg
  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz., NOT pumpkin pie filling)
Makes 2 loaves.

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Line two bread pans with parchment paper and spoon the batter into them, dividing the amount equally. Bake for 1 hour until or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. This bread saves well for several days if placed in an airtight container/bag and kept in the fridge.

My favorite ways to enjoy it include warm with a bit of butter (and honey), spread with Nutella, or simply sliced off the loaf. Plus, as an added bonus, baking with parchment paper instead of non-stick spray means it wraps up perfectly into a portable package that also makes it great for gifts or toting along to a family Thanksgiving/Christmas!