Life is wackypants right now. I just applied to residency programs, I’m trying to scramble-write my research manuscript, my sub-internship (in which I wear a long white coat and try not to kill people) is about to start, and HOLY CRAP GUYS IT’S PUMPKIN SEASON.
Look at me. Look at this blog. This is a big deal.
I think it’s necessary to explain that I take pumpkin season very seriously. Like, try-to-transform-myself-into-a-winter-squash kind of serious. Last year, I cooked a brand-new pumpkin dish every single week for the entirety of pumpkin season, which, for all intents and purposes, extends from the beginning of September to the end of the year. This year, I’m continuing the tradition, with the added bonus of discovering a beer store down the road that has about 25 different (and changing) pumpkin beers in stock. I also recently figured out that home-roasted pumpkin is both cheaper and more delicious than canned pumpkin and having a couple of the little darlings around all the time doubles as home decor!
My point is this: posers spending $25 a week on Starbucks’ PSL ain’t got nothin’ on my pumpkin addiction. Which, at this moment, is manifesting itself in the form of PSL ice cream.
Leave me a comment with suggestions for future pumpkin adventures! Fuel my crazyfire.
Recipe: pumpkin spice latte ice cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 cup coffee, coarsely ground*
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- pinch of nutmeg and cloves
- 6 egg yolks*
- 1 cup roasted pumpkin puree*
- In a medium-sized pot, combine everything except egg yolks and pumpkin. Simmer over medium-low heat until the mixture is warm/hot (think nice relaxing bath temperature. if you were to bathe in spiced coffee cream. I won’t judge.).
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks together, then carefully whisk in about a cup of the hot cream. Do this in a slow, steady stream, whisking all the while, because no one likes scrambled eggs in their ice cream.
- Add the egg mixture back into the pot and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. The mixture should thicken to be able to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and let the custard steep for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve, then mix in the pumpkin. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
- Churn it in your ice cream maker! I kept mine going for about 30 minutes, but I think my KitchenAid attachment is defective so just follow the directions for yours. Transfer the ice cream to a container and store in the freezer for a couple hours before serving.
- Try to grind your coffee as coarsely as you can stand. I didn’t do a very good job of it and there were fine grounds in my ice cream. I didn’t care, but you might.
- My egg yolks were tiny, for whatever reason. If you’re using big eggs, maybe stick to 5.
- ROAST YOUR PUMPKIN. Oh man. It is so much better. Take a 2-3 lb sugar pumpkin, pop the stem off, slice it down the middle and scoop the guts out. Brush it down with some coconut oil and place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 350°F for about 45 minutes, or until easily pierced by a fork. Scoop the flesh out and puree in a blender/food processor. This makes about the equivalent of a 15 oz can. Put the extra in your morning coffee!!
I tend to like my foods inside of other foods. Fruit salad in a watermelon, soup in a bread bowl, cocktails in a coconut, chocolate mousse in an adorable tiny chocolate cup with accompanying chocolate saucer and spoonlet. Maybe that’s why I’ll always choose pie over cake. I love being able to open up my food and find a delicious surprise inside!
This flavor combination was inspired by my neighborhood donut shop, Dough Loco, which likes to put weird things on top of their awesome yeasty donuts. Go there. But first maybe make this pie.
Recipe: bluebarb rosemary lime pie
For the pie crust:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 9-12 tbsp ice water
For the filling:
- 4 cups rhubarb (this was 2 1/2 monster stalks for me)
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 4 tbsp tapioca flour
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 1 tsp rosemary (last minute addition, so I used dried)
- 1 egg, beaten
- In a large bowl, combine flour with sugar and salt. Cut butter into flour using a pastry blender until butter is the size of small peas.
- Add water to mixture by the tablespoon and toss together with a fork, until dough comes together. Gather into two separate balls, flatten into disks, and wrap with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator while preparing filling.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces and add to a large bowl with blueberries. Toss with sugar, tapioca, lime zest, and rosemary.
- Roll out one disk of pie dough into a round large enough to drape over the sides of a 9-inch pie dish with a 1/2-inch overhang. I prefer to do this between two sheets of parchment, for less mess and easy transfer to the pie dish.
- Fill the pie with the fruit mixture after giving it another toss to distribute the juices. Roll out the other disk of dough and lay it over the top of the pie. Crimp the edges together and cut vents into the top crust. Brush the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle some sugar on top.
- Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 350°F and bake for another hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving.
It’s no secret (to those who know me, anyway) that I’m a math & science person at heart. Numbers speak to me, process comforts me, and exactness is a standard I treasure. I think that’s how I got into baking in the first place — it’s all math and science. Precise quantities and timing and chemical reactions. I’ve always felt comfortable with a reliable recipe, as it gives me confidence that I’ll be able to replicate the outcome (assuming my oven isn’t a total pile of poo that day). It’s a recent development that I’ve ventured into cooking, into playing with flavors, and into just… winging it. It’s part of this long-term project I have to loosen up more as a person, and has been accompanied by immersing myself in the arts, and talking about my feelings, and sometimes being late to parties, and wearing mismatched socks, and dripping egg yolk down the front of my newest blouse…
So, the other day, I was making banana bread, which is kind of an old stand-by “I am making this SOLELY for the purpose of not having my kitchen smell like rotting food” project. I had my own recipe, but I apparently hadn’t had any coffee or meth or ATP that day so halfway through I realized I had been arbitrarily pulling ingredient quantities from like three different recipes. All of which made different numbers of loaves.
A few minutes of winging it and about an hour of baking time later, I had the best damn banana bread I had ever tasted. And then I made it two more times and it was still the best. So… here you go. A loaf of personal-development banana bread.
Here’s to having NO IDEA what you’re doing sometimes.
Recipe: nutella banana bread
- 5 very ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup nutella
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a loaf pan with parchment.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Do it with your hands. It’s fun.
- Whisk in butter, eggs, and brown sugar.
- In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Add to wet mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Drop nutella on top of the batter and swirl with a knife to distribute it a little more evenly across the top and to marble it a little into the batter.
- Bake for about 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (or, only covered in nutella).
When life gives you a winter full of snow storms, the latest of which cancels your board exams after you’ve been studying non-stop for the previous six weeks, leading you to spend a cumulative 3 hours on the phone waiting for a human to take you off ‘hold’, which never ends up happening, so instead you go to the website and suck up the $110 fee to reschedule your test for the following week, and then snow barely even happens so that by the time you wake up it’s just sort of sleet-misting and you don’t even have the luxury of going outside and frolicking in piles of snow, and your boyfriend’s classes aren’t canceled so he can’t even stay in and read you stories to make it a proper snow day…
you make muffins.
and stay in bed.
and play Hungry Shark.
I should have named this blog “How to eat your feelings.”
Recipe: gluten-free, grain-free chocolate chip coconut almond muffins
Note: These taste like marzipan. I hope you like marzipan.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville, available at Costco for cheaper I believe)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until super soft and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the eggs in individually, mixing after each to fully incorporate. Mix in the extracts.
- Mix together the baking soda, salt, and almond flour. Add the mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the milk (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Toss in the chips and coconut and mix those in as well.
- Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup of batter. Sprinkle tops with extra coconut, if you like.
- Bake for ~25-30 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Makes 12 muffins.
I don’t want to always sound like a grumpy fart on my shiny new blog, but it just so happens that I made this thing in the midst of a fairly grumpy, farty time in my life. C’est la vie.
I mentioned the januaries earlier, which constitute a phenomenon I fairly predictably experience every year, for one reason or another (or, perhaps more simply, for no reason at all). The sun shines a little less brightly (that’s science), my stresses accumulate and weigh on me daily (that’s partly mostly my fault), and I indulge in copious amounts of carb-binging and sleeping (that’s hibernation). Recognizing and confronting this sort of… dysthymia? has helped me better deal with it in recent years, and frequently exercising my “life effing rules!” muscle has allowed me to drift through the januaries with a more balanced (if slightly reclusive) calm, rather than wild emotional flailing.
I can sometimes defend my affect by citing awful things that tend to happen to me during the winter months. This season has, perhaps, reached an all-time low on the “jesus christ that sounds miserable” scale, but I’m okay. Life has given me enough awesome for me to know that I’ll get through this. When I start to forget that, I can just break out a pint of my favorite ice cream or whip up a batch of these cookies. Because seriously: if you’ve got ice cream on your chin, or a cookie in your mouth, life can’t be all that bad.
Here’s to enjoying yourself.
And to the magical combination that is butter, sugar, and chocolate.
And to eating your feelings.
C’est la vie.
Recipe: chocolate chip cookies
Note: I like my cookies chewy, with crispy edges. And loaded with chocolate. There is a time for flat, greasy, cracker-cookies; this is not that time.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold-ish
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup flour (I used half whole wheat, half all-purpose)
- 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat your oven to 325°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Pizza stone works well, too.
- In a medium bowl (or stand mixer), cream butter and sugars together until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
- Mix in egg and vanilla.
- Add baking soda, salt, and flour and mix on low until fully incorporated.
- Dump in the whole bag of chips because, you know, feelings. Fold them in.
- Chill the dough in the bowl for at least an hour. Spend this time on the couch, watching something cathartic, with an alcoholic beverage in hand.
- Scoop tablespoon-sized (or larger) balls of dough onto baking surface, leaving at least 2 inches between each one.
- Bake for roughly 18-20 minutes, until cookies are golden. Let cool on a wire rack before stuffing your face.
Makes ~25 cookies.