Monday, November 14, 2011

Hello Fall

Fall is finally here and with it comes a renewed joy of baking. The hot oven no longer brings beads of sweat along my forehead, but comfort and joy like a warm blanket around my shoulders. I love being in the kitchen, but loathe becoming drenched in sweat from a heavy work week. Fall and winter bring relief from the negative side of food business and I have been busy relishing each cool breeze through my kitchen window. This is the first post of several "batter-licious" recipes I've been making of late. I hope you enjoy them all. 

Preparing this particular recipe was a learning experience. Not because the recipe is difficult - it isn't. Not because the ingredients were difficult to find - they weren't. Simply because I realized that I have acquired a severe allergy to uncooked pumpkin containing pumpkin pulp. Did you know that one can be allergic to the seeds and pulp of pumpkin, but not the meat? This is certainly the case and extremely so in my situation and more disturbingly appears to be a recent development as I can't recall any reactions to pumpkin seeds or pulp in the past. Watermelon, yes. Bananas, for as long as I can remember, but not pumpkin. At any rate, I will tread carefully from this moment on when dealing with pumpkin. I was in the process of making this bread, batter prepared, in the pan and in the oven when I couldn't resist a quick lick of the spatula before washing the mixing bowl. What followed was unlike any allergic reaction I have had. First, you must understand the full picture. I was home with all four kiddo's by myself as my hubs was in Colorado attending a conference. I am still nursing my youngest which in and of itself is kin to a full time job. We had been decorating for Christmas, so the house was a bit messy from the fake pine needles and the dusty attic storage containers. I had been in major multi-tasking mode, feeling energized by the cooler weather and attempting a mad deep cleaning spree much  like a spring-clean-out-everything-and-reorganize-my-workspace-and-every-closet whirlwind when I was struck with the thought to make pumpkin bread as well. Then one lick of that raw batter and my energy spree came to a screeching halt. Within minutes the whelps began appearing, first on my arms, then on my neck, finally on my back, stomach and face, while watching my hands swell at an incredible rate. At first I thought my older children must have brought in poison ivy oil on their clothing after an afternoon rendezvous in the brush surrounding our yard, but quickly realized I was the only one affected and they were perfectly fine. The next several hours were difficult to say the least and ironically, the pumpkin bread was quite enjoyable though I had to wait until the next day to devour a slice as I was quickly reeled into bed by the aid of benadryl while covered in steroid cream. Alas, do not lick the batter, but do make the bread. I'm certain things like this only happen to me. Quite sure of it.

Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans. In a large mixing bowl, mix together pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs. Combine the flour, pecans, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour - the top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed. Butter a warm slice and enjoy!