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Except maybe MASS-ter baker. Not necessarily highly-skilled but at least I make a lot. I decided to make pumpkin bread yesterday. At 6:30pm. The recipe I use yields quite a bit, but since it calls for a 15-ounce can of pumpkin and I had a 29-ouncer on hand, I decided to double an already large recipe. Which, you know, would be great, if I had a two ovens and three times as much bakeware that I do. What could have been a 30-45 minute process ended up taking two hours. Note to anyone shopping from my Amazon wish list, perhaps look into the muffin pans. I ended up with eight mini-loaves of pumpkin bread and 27 muffins. Twenty-seven muffins, you say? How exactly does one make such an odd number of muffins when most muffin pans come in quantities of 6 or 12? Well, you don’t fill all of the muffin spaces in the pan with batter, obviously. I am brilliant. Because I only have four mini-loaf pans and one 12-muffin pan, there was a lot of this going on:

  1. Wait for the baked pumpkin bread or muffin to cool.
  2. Remove from pan onto cooling rack.
  3. Wait for the loaf or muffin pan to cool.
  4. Prepare loaf or muffin pan with butter and flour.
  5. Fill with batter.
  6. Place in oven again.

Also add to this several openings of the oven door to check for doneness because when making loaves and muffins they cook at different measures of time. And yes, I know that opening the oven door to check on things while they’re baking is a BIG NO NO but I just like to live on the edge. The result is yummy, so it was totally worthwhile. The recipe I use is from allrecipes using several tweaks taken from the comments. If you want the original recipe it’s called “Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread.” I’m calling my version:

DownSouthEast Portland Pumpkin Bread (or Muffins)

INGREDIENTS:
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar*
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour loaf or muffin pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
3. Bake: large loaf pans for about 50 minutes (check for doneness at 40 min); mini loaf pans for about 30 minutes (check for doneness around 25 min.); muffin pans for about 17-20 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves/muffins are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

* I didn’t have enough brown sugar last night so I used 1 1/2 cups white sugar and 1 cup brown sugar.

This recipe is best the next day, so plan ahead! I froze a bunch of it. I double-bagged (heh) the muffins, and for the loaves I wrapped each in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil before putting them in a freezer bag. Overkill? Whatever. My mom wrapped our wedding cake the same way and it still tasted good a year later SO THERE. To defrost I move it from the freezer to the fridge for about a day, then transfer it to a tupperware in the cupboard to defrost the rest of the way to room temp. I am apparently quite picky about my baked goods.

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1. Spiedini di Pollo

¼ cup dry bread crumbs
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
½ small onion, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-1″ pieces
⅓ cup olive oil
fresh sage or bay leaves (I usually make it without the leaves because I always forget to buy them – it’s just as good without)
10-12 6″ bamboo skewers, soaked in water (or, do what I finally did, and buy re-usable metal skewers to skip the water-soaking step; but don’t do what I did the first time I used them and pick them up off the grill with my bare hands. ow.)

Preheat oven to 425 or light a medium-high fire in a charcoal or gas grill.
In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, onion, salt & pepper. Dip chicken pieces in olive oil, then coat each piece with bread crumb mixture. (Please note that at this point, while your hands are a mess of raw chicken, olive oil, bread crumbs, etc, one or both of your eyes WILL start to itch.) Thread the chicken pieces onto a skewer, alternating each piece with sage leaf until 4” of skewer is covered (end and begin with chicken).
To cook in oven, place on an oiled baking sheet or pan & bake until done, 10-12 minutes.
To grill, brush grill with vegetable oil. Place chicken at edge of hot grate so skewers are away from direct heat. Grill, turning after 2 minutes, to cook the outside of meat. Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes per side.
Transfer to a platter and serve.

2. Steak with Soy Marinade and Caramelized Onions

¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, sliced into rings
filet or flank steak (I make this with pork more often than not – just as yummy!)

Add first 5 ingredients to large Ziploc bag, mix well. Add steaks and marinate in fridge for no more than 30 minutes (as the soy sauce will make the beef a little salty if left on for more).
Remove steak from bag and prepare grill/broiler. Dump the contents of the remaining marinade in a medium saucepan and bring to a soft boil (med/high) and then simmer on med/low. Continue to let simmer while you are cooking your steaks as usual.
Once steaks are done, top with carmelized onions/juice from saucepan.

Makes steak so tender and the marinade sauce adds a nice sweetness to the meat!

We’re having a heatwave in the good ole Pacific Northwest. Ack. When I first moved here 8 (EIGHT? Yikes, when did that happen?!) years ago, there was maybe maybe a week in August where it was in the 90s every day. Not so much anymore. Now the high temps seem to come earlier and earlier. It’s supposed to hit at least 100 today and tomorrow, before tapering off to the 80s on Wednesday. :(

My remedy? Staying inside and eating sorbet. I got this ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer for my birthday last year and have been enjoying the fruits (ba dum bum CHING!) of its labor, namely fruit sorbet, for a while now. The recipe is awesome in its simplicity:

▪ 1 cup cold water
▪ 1 cup sugar
▪ ⅛ teaspoon salt
▪ 2-3 cup fruit, fresh or frozen
▪ juice of 1 small lemon or lime

In medium bowl, combine water, sugar and salt. Mix well to dissolve sugar; set aside.

Place fruit in food processor work bowl with multipurpose blade; add lime/lemon juice and process until smooth. Add sugar mixture; process until blended.

Assemble and engage freeze bowl, dasher, and drive-body interface. Turn to Stir Speed 1. Using container with spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on Stir Speed 1 for 15-20 minutes or until desired consistency.

Immediately transfer sorbet into serving dishes, or freeze in airtight container.

I made one batch using mango, pineapple, papaya and passionfruit, and the other using blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. I am addicted.

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October 2017
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