Pumpkin bread

Too busy tonight to do a real post because I’ve been baking! Brownies from a box and two loaves of pumpkin bread.

I adapted this recipe, since I didn’t have a few of the items listed and I’ve found that it definitely needs more spices than the original calls for! Ingredients list below. Preheat oven to 350 F, mix dry ingredients (except spices) first, add wet, mix, add spices. Bake in a greased pan for about 40 minutes, but check on it. Makes one 9 inch round loaf (in a cake pan). I usually double it and make two, since a can of pumpkin puree comes to just shy of double what this recipe calls for.

  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin purée*
  • 4 ounces (1 stick, 112 g) butter, melted (can sub 1/2 cup light olive oil)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water

Quick, easy, and delicious! Any fall recipes you all love to make????????????????????????????????

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October scary stories and Frankenstein

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October is the time for scary stories. Halloween has a lot to do with it, all the way back to its roots in the celebration of Samhain by the Celts. But even without the spirits and specters associated with October 31, October would feel like a time for scary stories, at least here in the northeast.

There’s something about cold weather and stories – people gathering close to tell tall tales around a fire. But scary stories are too much for winter, when the cold and snow outside are dangerous. Better to tell stories with happy endings then, to keep everyone warm and cozy and save the scary ones for October, when the chill in the air is just enough to send a shiver down your spine but not enough to freeze you. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and the shadows on your window might just be from the trees… or might not be.

Last night I went to see Frankenstein, the film version of the London National Theatre’s 2011 production starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s showing at a number of movie theaters and performance spaces in NYC this week, undoubtedly because of the holiday, and it’s showing in other places as well. My family went to see it last night, too, and my mom and I compared notes afterward. You can find more information, including venues and show times, here: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/16546-frankenstein.

I’ve never read Frankenstein, never seen one of the movies (except Young Frankenstein, which doesn’t quite count); I only knew the basic outline of the story. I knew, for instance, that it’s not a happy story. All does not end well. Perfect, then, for October.

In this production, Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternated the roles of Frankenstein and his Creature each night. I saw Cumberbatch as the Creature, and it was remarkable. The popular depiction of Frankenstein’s monster is of a hulking, stuttering giant of a man, and there is stuttering, and Cumberbatch was tall and threatening. But his Creature, and apparently the Creature of the novel, can speak, by the end, as well as you or me. He stutters sometimes, but he also recites lines from Milton’s Paradise Lost and talks of his feelings of love and rage. In the end he is more monstrous and yet more human than Victor Frankenstein.

The set and the staging were stunning, the acting by both leads superb, and while some moments went on a little long and some secondary characters felt a little flat, the questions the production raised about creation and morality and love were fascinating. What is our responsibility to something — or someone — we create? What does it mean to love and be loved?

I won’t tell you more specifics, except that the final scene is heart-wrenching. While I can’t quite bring myself to go see it again this week, at some point I’d like to see the version where the roles are reversed. My friend had seen it before and felt Jonny Lee Miller’s Creature had a sweetness missing from Benedict Cumberbatch’s.

If you’re looking for a frightening but thoughtful way to celebrate Halloween and October, check if there’s a screening this week near you! If you’ve already seen it, what did you think? And if you haven’t, what’s your favorite spooky movie?

The rain has started in the city

I’ve been back from Italy for ten days – just about how long I was gone – and fall has officially, well, fallen. In Rome, it got to be 90 degrees. Even in Venice I was fine at night with a sweater. But in the last two days in New York, as rain has poured from the sky and into my leaky boots, I’ve started layering under my rain jacket and wondering when I should pull out my woolen winter coat. I still need to get my AC out of the window so the draft (and noise) stops seeping into my apartment.

Right now I’m sitting on the couch writing this wrapped in a blanket. My heat is on, but it’s still chilly.

Fall 2013, Prospect Park

Fall 2013, Prospect Park

I’ve said it on this blog before and I’ll say it again: Fall is my favorite season. I love the crisp air and the smell of the leaves, apple cider and pumpkins, Halloween, everything. But October is already almost over, winter is peeking over its shoulder, and I’m just not ready. I need to spray my new boots so I can wear them in the rain! I probably need a better fall jacket, and I definitely need some new sweaters. I should figure out a humidifier situation because the heat has only been on for a few days and already I’m drying out. I’d probably be handling this all a little better if I weren’t still recovering from vacation, and if the rainy weather hadn’t brought on some allergies.

It’s hard to stay active in the fall and winter. It’s getting darker earlier – Daylights Saving Time ends next weekend – and between that and the weather I’m going to have some trouble convincing myself to get out and do things in the months to come. So if you have suggestions, send them my way! I need all the encouragement I can get.

But the rain is stopping, the temperature is going up tomorrow, and there’s still so much autumn loveliness to look forward to! Halloween is next weekend, as is the marathon, and the leaves are just starting to change color. I can’t wait to see what Prospect Park looks like this fall – it was spectacular last year.

If you, like me, are already feeling the urge to hibernate, you might like this song by The Doubleclicks that describes exactly the situation I find myself in. Except minus the cats.

Halloween traditions

If my fall-themed posts didn’t warn you already, I should probably tell you now that I loveHalloween. I used to start planning my costumes months in advance, I threw Halloween gatherings most years in college, and even as an adult I’ve probably carved pumpkins more years than not.

My devotion to costumes has waned in recent years, but I still love the holiday. When I lived in Clinton Hill, I sat on my stoop and handed out candy to the endless crowd of trick-or-treaters parading down Washington Ave. The first year I carved a pumpkin with a cat on it from a pattern, and one little girl was so impressed that I’d carved it “all by yourself!!” Carving must not be as usual here as it is back home.
Last year I was at my apartment on Halloween—my office was shut due to Hurricane Sandy—and while I ventured out and saw the kids’ Halloween parade in Park Slope, I didn’t get any trick-or-treaters at my then-apartment before I headed to a friend’s party. I have higher hopes for my new neighborhood.
My family’s Halloween night traditions include making chili to warm us up before trick-or-treating, and for years after I left for college, the siblings of my neighborhood friends would stop by our house to warm up, drink some cider, and sometimes eat a bit of chili. This weekend I had friends over to celebrate the holiday, and chili and cider were critical items on the menu.
I may not be able to easily pick a pumpkin from a patch in NYC (unless you go out to Queens to check out the Queens Country Farm, which I’ve yet to do), at least not without the hassle of carrying it home on public transportation. I don’t have a good spot to display a jack-o-lantern, and I’ll probably never have a front stoop of my own to decorate with ghosts and cobwebs. But there are some traditions I can continue, or can change to suit my life in New York. They provide continuity between my past and present, and add a beat to the rhythm of each year. As I get older and have fewer markers of time passing, the few I observe become more important.
Any Halloween traditions to share, both old and new?