Autumnal Pumpkin Cookies

It’s ten o’clock at night and I should be sleeping. The morning will come quickly, I know, but I hear something outside. I hear Autumn coming. I don’t know if anyone else notices, but Fall sounds different at night than Summer. Its the leaves, I think, changing into their more festive outfits. I can hear them outside rustling and whispering and shivering in the chilly breeze and I can’t just roll over and go to sleep. Tomorrow I might wake up to find that the sound was really Summer fleeing from the cold days to come and all the trees have shed their green and blaze with Autumn color; there must be something that I, too can do to welcome the new season.

I quietly roll out of bed, careful not to wake my sleeping husband nestled deep in the quilts that have lately come out of storage, and head out to the kitchen in my pajamas.

It is cold in our dark apartment, but the windows remain open because I can’t bear to have them closed just yet. In the kitchen I can still hear the whisperings of the leaves outside while I gather up my baking supplies. The town is silent, I seem to be the only one awake in Brandon, accompanied by the small town mouse who lives beneath the cupboards. Flour, sugar, salt, spices and an egg – they all get lined up on the counter along with a big bowl and a wooden spoon. I turn on the oven and stand over it for a moment, warming my chilled fingers before I get started.

The trees are making Fall outside – I shall make it inside.

Is there a more Autumnal flavor than pumpkin? They are the choice fruit of fall adorning doorsteps, surrounded with brilliantly colored mums, and finding their way into kitchens, seasoned with cinnamon and brown sugar.

I am going to make Cake-Like Pumpkin Cookies, a slight variation of a recipe I found earlier on in the year and tucked away for such a night as this. In the morning, the mountains will greet us with dew-covered leaves in various states of Autumn dress and  I will see to it that the house is filled with the scents and tastes of Fall.

Cake Like Pumpkin Cookies

makes 2 – 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. You might want to use a mixer for this, either a stand or hand one will do. If you are doing it by hand, use a whisk and mix until the sugars and butter are completely blended and sightly ‘fluffy’ looking. Add the pumpkin puree and stir, then add the egg and stir again until everything is mixed well. Add the vanilla, spices and salt, stirring so that they are completely incorporated. Now add the flour and oatmeal and blend thoroughly. There should be no dry spots in the dough. Don’t over mix it, however, and make your cookies tough!

Get out two baking sheets and grease them lightly then drop the cookies onto the trays. They won’t expand much in baking but you don’t want them to be touching. Once you have them placed on the trays they can head into the oven for 8-10 minutes. They will be a little brown around the edges and slightly firm to the touch. Remove them from the trays and let them rest on a rack until completely cool before storing.

I think the best way to have them is while they are still slightly warm, with a glass of milk or a mug of hot tea.

Welcome Autumn!

eavesdropping on one man’s objections

You making supper?”

“Oh yeah, as I’m talking…”

“Whatcha fixing?”

“Um, we’re having curried veggies with rice and lentils.”

“And…”

“And… watermelon…”

“And…”

“And what!? That’s it.”

“That’s all you’re making for your man to eat?”

“Yeah -”

“Where’s the sustenance? Where’s the MEAT? That’s ALL you’re making?”

“Now Tom…”

“No, no, no – what about a big steak?”

“Um… no? Tom, he doesn’t eat like people do back home. He’s Greek. He’s healthy.”

“Healthy! Meat- that’s healthy! Potatoes, ribs, corn on the cob- fix him up some good food for god’s sake! I’m your Uncle Tom, I know.”

“I AM.”

“Rice and beans? Really? That’s all? I don’t like it.”

“Well I’m cooking to please my man, not you, aren’t I?!”

“Yeah, but you have to feed him right.”

“Listen here, what are you making for your supper?”

“Tacos, my lady is coming over later for tacos. “

“Oh – and that’s right hearty I suppose! Where’s the sustenance in *that*?”

“There’s beef. And corn.”

“And corn’s just about the healthiest thing there is….”

“It is – why do you think we grow so much of it?!”

“You’re impossible.”

“And you’re stubborn.”

“Point made.”

“Your husband up yet?”

“He’s up now, what with all this yelling at you I’ve been doing… there isn’t a person on earth can rile me up faster than you, you know that, right?”

“Is your food ready?”

“And on the table…”

“Well go eat it then. I love ya. Keep praying for rain.”

“Love you too, Thomas J. I will.”

Let’s all pray for rain. My home county is drying up and getting ready to blow away. They haven’t had a good rain in a couple of months and the land, as well as the people, are suffering from it. Tom said he was doing his rain dance, but didn’t think he had the right shoes on or something because it just isn’t working…

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“…you take that picture, sweetheart, before I let someone have it…”
Uncle Tom

Big Batch Biscuits for a little bitty family

We are a small people, consisting of just my husband and I at the present, we don’t even have a goldfish to throw table scraps to. We do have a jade plant named Jade Austen (thank you, honey) but she doesn’t eat very much.

And she’s very quiet.

The hardest part about cooking for two people is that I am used to cooking for five people with very large appetites – which means I like to cook too much food at one time.

Way too much food.

Sometimes, however, I can make this quirk work to my own advantage.

*I love it when that happens*

I have discovered the joys of freezing left-over food. Let’s face it, if I just stuck my HUGE pot of spaghetti sauce in the fridge, we’d be eating it every meal for a week, and that’s just not going to help our darling little marriage along, now is it?

BUT – if I portion up the sauce into meal-sized quantities and freeze it, it’s there for a busy day to pop out and thaw and enjoy. Viola. *This* make for happiness and marital bliss.

So, here’s the recipe for my Quick and Easy, Big Batch Biscuits.

“These don’t even need jam…” 

My hungry husband

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups all purpose white flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 Tablespoons sugar (optional)

5-8 Tablespoons butter (or your choice of shortening)

1 1/2 cups milk

Sift together the dry ingredients, then cut in the fat until the flour has reached damp-sand consistency. Now, add the milk and blend briefly, until all the flour is wet and the dough is sticking together.

Now, I suppose you could gently roll out the dough and cut your biscuits like that, but I had other things to do at the time, so I just spread the biscuit dough out onto a greased baking sheet and baked them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Check them often though, my oven is funny remember and there ain’t nothing worse than burnin’ your biscuits!

Howdy ma’am, this here’s my boss,

and he has some choice words to say about your biscuits...”

-McKlintock

After they’d cooled, I simply cut them into squares and served them like that. Then, I quartered the remaining biscuits and stuck them in the freezer for another day.

YUM.

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.”

Carl Sandburg

we are cheerful of cherries

I have spent the day in intimate conversation with ripe fruit.

Sounds heady. It is. The scent is intoxicating, alluring, exhilarating- everything we grasp for when making our perfumes and fail.

I have handled a thousand cherries, their soft little bodies rolled in my hands.

I’ve removed their pits and stripped them of their stems…

Undressed strawberries fresh from the field and tasted them, received their sweetness on my fingers and lips… I am stained.

I’ve preserved them for winter,

when the landscape no longer gives us such juicy gifts as these,

and summer is a memory.

We will go on being stained and entranced by them.

So there. the story of a good day

Bad bad bad bad bad Day.

Can’t get out of my way.

Can’t say the right thing.

Can’t do the right thing.

I might just throw rotten eggs at the mirror.

Don’t you just hate those days when it’s like,

“Ok – CAN I JUST TAKE MY ICE CREAM AND GO HOME NOW?”

Written out in capital letters all over your forehead?

And people ask you and you laugh and say,

“No, it’s ok. REALLY.”

I guess. Through gritted teeth.

I’m not sure why the sun disagrees with me so much

but it does and it works because today –

I am against it.

So there.

And I trod home and curse up every stair and then repent as the key turns in the lock

and I’m safe

And he hugs me and tells me that I don’t have to save the world after all.

And we eat pancakes with butter and syrup and I turn off that

god-awful calorie counting ‘pal’ I am so addicted to

and he eats the chocolate chunks out of my ice cream.

And I realize I can’t be everything to every one and fix everything and be superman

all at once

and suddenly, I feel as though it’s been sort of a good day all the same.