Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

The Recipe

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup oil (I prefer canola, it's your choice)
4 eggs
1 1/3 lb. roasted pumpkin puree (see The Story)
2 cups AP unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp or so freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup chopped walnuts

Grease & flour 3 8.5x4.5 inch loaf pans; preheat oven to 350.

Beat sugar, oil and eggs in bowl until very light, stopping once or twice to scrape sides of bowl. Add pumpkin, flour, powder & soda, salt and spices, and molasses; mix until all flour disappears and everything is combined, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally, one minute on medium/low speed should do it. Don't overmix. Add walnuts and stir briefly to combine.

Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake loaves in the center of the oven for approx. 50-55 minutes, testing with toothpick for doneness. Let cool at least 15 minutes before trying to remove from pans, then let cool on wire racks. You can wrap them up before they're fully at room temperature.

The Story

These freeze beautifully. Quick breads are often better the day after they're baked, so making these the night before makes a quick breakfast in the morning. This recipe is higher in fiber and lower in sugar than most pumpkin bread recipes, so it's good for breakfast in my mind.

I make this with my own roasted pumpkin. Take one "cheese" pumpkin (also called pie pumpkins or baking pumpkins, they are the squat creamy-yellowish pumpkins that are best for baking), cut it into quarters and scoop out the seeds, and roast at 375 until done through, maybe 45 min. to one hour. Let cool before handling. Scrape the flesh out of the shell and puree in a food processor. I then fill plastic containers with 20-21 ounces of puree, just enough for this recipe, and freeze them. I can get maybe 3-4 recipes worth of pumpkin out of a good sized cheese pumpkin. This puree has A LOT more water than canned pumpkin; if you want to make this recipe with canned pumpkin puree, use one 16 oz can and 3/4 cup of water.

I've been told canned "pumpkin" is really Hubbard squash. I wonder if it's an urban legend (rural legend?). I can say for sure that the lovely big orange carving pumpkins are NOT good for baking. They're really wet and the flesh is tasteless.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What is CSA?

CSA, or Community Sponsored Agriculture, is a great way to support local farmers, encourage a greater variety of local plantings, and get high-quality really fresh food for your family.

It's simple to do. For most farms, you pay for a share (up-front, so the farmer has money for seed and such) and then each week during the growing season, you pick up your portion of the farm's harvest. Some farms have a half-share option for smaller families; most farms have a swap area, so if your portion has something you don't like, you can leave it for someone who does and maybe you can pick up something you want instead. Many of the farms are organic (or headed that way.)

Friends of ours who have done this for years say it's cheaper than the grocery store in the long run, especially when compared to the price of organic produce. I'm just excited to get the really fresh food and support my local farmer.

Our farm has a winter option this year, using unheated greenhouses and certain crops. Our first week's harvest: 2 bins of potatoes (about 6.5 lbs worth), 9 fat lovely onions, 2 huge bunches of broccoli rabe, 2 bunches of Asian salad greens, and all the parsley and oregano we could cut. The salad greens were the star of dinner last night, and one of the broccoli rabe will go with some chickpeas & garlic for dinner tonight. I'm thinking potato pancakes and a fritatta later in the week for some of the potatoes. That's one big advantage of a CSA: eating seasonally. We get what is picked now, and we have to make meals based on it.

Our farm is Mendies Family Farm in Roosevelt, NJ. So far, we just love it.