Recipe: Pumpkin Bread

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Baking local grown pumpkins to make puree.

I’m not a fan of pumpkin spiced everything.   I do, however, like homemade pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. My Aunt who recently passed away mid September gave everyone pumpkin and banana breads every Christmas.  I looked forward to that every year.  Quite a few years ago when we were going through some hard times and money was tight, I took that idea and started baking Christmas gifts including pumpkin bread. I even shared my homemade honey wheat bread and Amish white bread with my Aunt at our family Christmas. But pumpkin bread is one of my favorites and is a favorite of several in our family. Here is the recipe I use.  It isn’t my Aunt’s recipe, never as good as hers because of all the love she put into it, but this is my favorite recipe to use and it makes delicious bread.  It makes three loaves and I think it tastes even better when you use fresh pumpkin puree.  It isn’t hard and you don’t have to use pie pumpkins.  You can use any good pumpkin.  Just cut it in half, clean out the pumpkin guts, and bake in a 350 F oven until tender.  A knife will go through it easily.  Scoop out the pumpkin, let it drain for a while in a cheese cloth lined colander, then freeze.  I freeze mine in 1 cup portions.  I’d love to hear what you think if you try this recipe, or if you make your own puree.

Ingredients

3 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups white sugar
6 eggs
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 9″ x 5″ loaf pans.

In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves then stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to one hour. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.

Recipe: Grandma’s Chocolate Cake

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Our birthdays were a few days apart so we celebrated together…she even wore our homemade birthday hats! I adored her and she remains one of my favorite people of all time.

Grandma was a wonderful baker and I was glad to have been able to spend time with her when I was younger.  I got my love of cooking and baking from her.  While I don’t have the frosting recipe she used, I do have her cake recipe.

Grandma’s Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Chocolate Frosting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter and flour two 8″ x 1 1/2″ round cake pans.  Line the bottoms with wax paper.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 cups of water.  Bring to boil over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves; then pour into a large bowl.  Add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until melted and slightly cooled.  Stir in vanilla.  Beat eggs into chocolate mixture at medium speed until combined.  Add dry ingredients all at once and beat at medium speed until smooth.  Divide batter evenly between the pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until top springs back when pressed lightly and toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the cakes in pans for 25 minutes then invert onto rack to cool completely.  Set one cake right side up on a plate.  Spread 1/3 of frosting evenly over cake.  Top with second layer and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Grandma’s Cookbook

It is a cool and calm morning here @ home. The only sounds are the wind blowing and all the birds chirping. We got rain a little bit ago and now the sun is trying to peek out. It has been a while since I’ve been able to sit outside and enjoy my morning coffee.  I’m going to take a chance, though, and get some sheets and blankets washed and hung outside.  If the weather man is right, shouldn’t have any more rain until tonight.  But you know how often they are right!  Ha!

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Grandma’s cookbook.

I have the dough for Honey Wheat Bread rising.  I know it will be hot and muggy again today, so I’m trying to get it done early.  I don’t grind my own wheat (maybe one day) but the recipe works for me.  Hubby loves this bread so it is my go-to recipe.  He also likes rye bread, but I haven’t found a recipe that I can make successfully that he likes.  I’ve made a lot of “bricks”.  My favorite bread is sour dough…and I haven’t been able to make and keep a sour dough starter going so that hasn’t been successful either.   Practice makes perfect my grandmother always used to say.

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The new “grandma’s cookbook”

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Both the old and the “new”.

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Not many cookbooks today would have recipes for Turtle A La King.

Speaking of Grandma…I have her cookbook out and I’m flipping through it looking for recipes to try.  Older cookbooks are much different than the ones we have today.  This one is from 1946…would be the year before my mom was born.  This isn’t actually Grandma’s cookbook…hers was so worn and beaten with no cover, falling apart and many pages falling out and missing.  So several years ago I found the same one on Ebay and have been using that one.  It is old and some of the pages are fragile…a couple are even loose, but it is still “grandma’s cookbook”.  The only difference really was that the “new” one has thumb tabs.  And all the pages.  And a cover.   This is the cookbook I used when I started learning how to cook and one of my treasures.  I had no idea what a slow oven or a quick oven was until I read this cookbook.  It even has recipes for things that many in today’s picky world would find…um…unappealing…like Turtle.  It has a chapter on Ration Cooking (Saving Food and Expense for Victory), one of Meal Planning, Entertaining, Setting the Table, and Canned Foods (how to buy).  It is very cool in my humble opinion!

So…do you have any treasured family cookbooks or recipes?

My Biscuit Recipe

I make biscuits quite often.  Hubby loves them and they are really easy and really quick.  This recipe is good as rolled biscuits, drop biscuits, add a little sugar and they are good for shortcakes.  I’ve used them as biscuit topping for casseroles.  I haven’t perfected wheat biscuits yet, but when I do I’ll let you know.

This recipe comes from my grandmother’s cookbook.  I’ve tried a lot of recipes, but I keep coming back to this one.   One thing I want to point out is that I usually use almond milk instead of cows milk (since I can’t have dairy anymore).  I do use lard instead of shortening, but you can use what you like…even butter works.  You’ll want your lard/shortening/butter cold when mixing it into the flour.  And when mixing, be careful not to work the dough too much or you’ll get hockey pucks instead of biscuits.  You want it to just come together.

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They are very nice rolled out, but you can just cut them with a pizza cutter too!
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They rise up well and come out good and flaky.  You can brush on melted butter if you like.  I like (but I’m not supposed to have dairy…*sigh*).  You can even add some garlic to the butter if you like.  I like that too.
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Here the recipe:

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup milk

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Rub shortening in with finger tips. Add milk slowly and mix to a soft dough. Roll out on a slightly floured board to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a biscuit cutter. Bake in quick oven (450F) 10-15 minutes. Yield: 12 biscuits

Using Cast Iron

DSCF0275Made peach cobbler for dessert, so yummy and so perfect for these cooler fall evenings.  The oven warms the house a bit, and the cobbler warms our tummies.  And I love using my cast iron for things like this.  Do you use cast iron?

One of my most prize possessions is the large cast iron skillet I found at a thrift store for $4. It was hardly used and just needed a good cleaning and seasoning. It’s one of my favorite pieces to use now. I only wish I had a lid for it. I have four other cast iron skillets: a deeper skillet (pictured with the cobbler) with a lid, a small skillet, a square skillet and the last is a round griddle. The square skillet and round griddle were pieces I got from my grandmother.

Seasoning a skillet is pretty easy. There are several ways to do it, but I do it the way my grandmother did.  Make sure the skillet is clean and dry, wipe the pan with oil (not too much) and put in a 300 degree oven. After about an hour, turn the oven off, wipe it out with a dry paper towel and put it back in the oven until it’s cooled off.

Take care with how you clean your cast iron. I’ve heard and I read a lot about not using soap to clean your cast iron. Most recommend wiping it out, or rinsing it in hot water. Some don’t even recommend using water at all.  For me, it depends on how I’m using it.  If I’m just frying an egg or something simple like that I will usually just wipe them out.  I don’t have a problem rinsing it if needed.  But if I cook something messy or smelly (like fish) I have no problem washing them quickly in hot soapy water. Most soaps today do not contain lye anymore, and that is the ingredient that takes the seasoning off. Don’t soak cast iron. Once in a great while I may have to take a plastic scrubby to one of them, but I’ve never had too much problem getting things off. If you find that something you made in your cast iron is difficult to clean and effects your seasoning, maybe cast iron isn’t a good choice for that recipe. Don’t put cast iron in your dishwasher.

Dry the skillets completely immediately after they are washed. This is important to keep them from rusting. After, I’ll put them in the oven if it’s still warm from baking or I’ll heat it up on a burner to make sure they are dry. Once I know they’re warm and dry I’ll spray them lightly with my spray oil, wipe them out (even the outside), let them cool and put them away. Reseason them as needed.  I store mine in my oven since I have a storage shortage in my kitchen.

What if your cast iron is already rusted?  Or what if you find a rusty cast iron piece at a yard sale or thrift store?  Sometimes the very best (and cheapest) yard sale/thrift store cast iron finds are the ones that are rusted because nobody else wants them.

Scrubbing with some steel wool (or even some fine sand paper) and a very little bit of vegetable oil, you can get that cast iron back to usable condition. If it is very rusty, you may need to enlist hubby’s help and use a grinder to get the heavy rust off.  But I’ve even used steel wool then, it just took a lot of elbow grease. It may take some work, but your work will pay off. Once the rust is removed, wash the cast iron and make sure it is good and dry (otherwise it will rust again). I’ll put them in a warm oven or heat it up briefly on a burner to make sure they are dry. Then you would season it, and you are good to go.

I really love cooking with my cast iron. The more they are used, seasoned and properly taken care of…the more favored they will be.  Do you have some favorite cast iron?

The Very Slow Oven

breadI have some old recipes, and some Amish recipes, that really don’t mention an exact oven temperature.  Instead they mention terms such as “slow oven” or “hot oven”.  My great-grandmother’s recipe for Anadama Bread is like that.  So I did some research to figure it out and here is what I found:

– Very slow oven is 250 to 275 degrees.
– Slow oven is 300 to 325 degrees.
– Moderate oven is 350 to 375 degrees.
– Hot oven is 400 to 425 degrees.
– Very hot oven is 450 to 475 degrees.
– Extremely hot oven is 500 to 525 degrees.

You may still have to fiddle with the temperatures through trial and error to find exactly what will work best, but this gives a starting point.

Recipe: Crustless Gluten Free/Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie

Having to be dairy free and having my sister-in-law and both her daughters be gluten free, holidays meals get pretty challenging.  Last year was our first totally gluten and dairy free Thanksgiving and this was one of my favorite recipes.  You can make it with regular flour if you don’t have to be gluten free, and dairy if you don’t have to be dairy free.

Crustless Gluten Free/Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie

There are quite a few other pie recipes that include crusts as well.  Let me know if you try any!