Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Fall!

I love love love fall! Nothing is better than the cool crisp breeze after a hot summer, especially the muggy, can't breath summer days of Washington, DC. The second the weather gets into the low 80s and Labor Day has come and went it is our fall.

This past weekend I searched my cookbooks for a fall treat that I had the ingredients on hand for- Pumpkin Pie Brownies won. I hadn't made these before, but trust the cookbook "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar" to the fullest Even if you aren't a vegan or have egg/dairy allergies, this is a fantastic cookbook, quickly followed up by "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World". Rumor has it that they have a pie cookbook coming out just in time for the holiday season which I will have to jump on.

For Brownie Layer:
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

For pumpkin layer
3/4 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup (non-dairy) milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan or a 9 inch square pan lined with parchment paper.

To make brownie layer:
Melt chocolate
In a large mixing bowl, mix together pumpkin, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine, then mix in melted chocolate.

To make pumpkin layer:
mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir til thoroughly combined.

To assemble:
*On my first run it all mixed together, so I don't have a full proof tip yet, but see below on what I am going to try on my next run
Use a spatula to spread the brownie layer mixture into the prepared baking pan, bring batter to edges of pan. Pour pumpkin layer over it, leaving a little room at the edges if you can. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin layer looks fairly firm- a little jiggling is ok- and has cracked at the edges a bit.

Let brownies cool for 20 minutes, then transfer pan to the fridge to set for at least an hour and a half. Once set you can decorate with chocolate chips, cut into wedges, and serve.

*I am going to put a greased pint glass or small bowl in the middle of my pan, then pour brownie in around it- that way my sides build up a little more. Remove glass allow brownie to come to middle enough to cover and pour pumpkin mixture into center.
Would love to hear your suggestions when you make these! They are delicious even if their presentation is not perfect.
Happy Fall!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Go Grease Lightning!: A Summer Wrap Up

Where did the summer go!?! I am wide awake at 1am on Labor Day, my mind racing. Knowing that I haven't posted much at all since the beginning of summer I compiled some photos from my phone of summer dishes and events to bring you up to speed.

My summer opened with an old friend coming to visit, good friends having a baby girl, my husband and crew winning a trophy at BBQ Battle, an old friend passing away.
Georgetown Cupcakes, Budweisers, and Shrimp Poop with CB at the Waterfront in Georgetown

I made these organic onesies with iron-on decals

Great Job, Old Glory!

An intimate meal the night before the funeral

As soon as we got back from the funeral...

We bought a house! Finally. We were in search of a home that fit the needs for our whole family. My husband needed an easier commute and wanted water. I wanted a place for my gardens, my bees, my chickens, anything else I could fit in there, a great school system, and a great community. My son wanted a yard, a playroom, kids, and a fun school. We had been searching since January 2011, had put in offers on 4 houses and either lost the bidding war or we were willing to meet the seller's compromise. So when our realtor, Lynn (who I miss after spending at least a day a week with her since January) sent a house just listed that day we ran out to look at it and had an offer in by the end of the day. Everyhing fell into place and we were officially homeowners the day after our wedding anniversary. Not bad for having a 5 year plan and making it happen in the 4th year. Although it has my current arch nemesis- a concrete block shed, that really needs to come down and built somewhere else, it is perfect for us. And starts us on the next 5 year plan.
We are a block from the water, which was apparently smart on our part as we didn't have street flooding during Hurricane Irene. My husband's commute is now not only easier, but much more scenic. My bees have moved in and are very happy. We have met with a Master Gardener and the yard will be developed to be an fully edible landscape instead of one focused vegetable garden plot, my idea and Kristen executed it beyond my vision. The school system couldn't be better, it's a blue ribbon school. We have kids all over our neighborhood and they go down to the dock to fish, crab, or skip stones.

Our Dock, a block from our house

The biggest cause of traffic at our new house
My son and I had gone to return the cable boxes for the old house and decided to swing in to my husband's restaurant for some lunch on the way home when the East Coast Earthquake hit. We were almost done with our meal when I thought a really big truck was out front until trophies (see above) started falling off the shelves above the door and the bar was about to start dumping liquor bottles to the floor. As soon as you realized what was happening it was over, knocking out telephones everywhere. When we arrived home we had some structural damage, that would really cause problems a few days later when Irene hits, and a few things were knocked over.

Archived photo of Washington Monument before cracking due to earthquake
Still in boxes and not even hanging towel bars and closet rods yet Irene hit.
Chesapeake Bay 8 hours before Irene was over us

Strapped down the bees, put a heavier rock on top, duct taped everywhere

Power Out, good thing my kid had his camping headlamp handy!

Part of water damage to wall in kitchen
Our power was out for almost exactly 100 hours and our neighborhood has one road in, one road out and it was blocked. There were down wires covering half the road, if you were willing to hold your breath under those and hope the cracked telephone pole holds you got to a second block of a tree and wires completely over the road. So we were trapped on our tiny peninsula. Thankfully after living in St Thomas, USVI and having to deal with WAPA power outages weekly I had kind of prepared of us for the storm. Told my husband to pick up bags of ice for the freezer, filled the bathtubs, got the flashlights ready, did a load of laundry and cleaned all the dishes, and 10 minutes after giving my kid a bath (knowing the power wouldn't be with us much longer) the power left. We didn't even see an electric truck in our whole town until Wednesday, the same day we got our power back.
What did we eat having no power and limited dishes, no way of washing hands...

Halibut with a vegan beurre blanc, baby broccoli, and cherry tomatoes

Romaine Salad with Creamy Parmesan, Kalamata Olive Viniagarette, and Fried Egg
Purple Cauliflower, basil, goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes

BLOTs (Bacon, Lettuce, Onion, Tomato) with a basil aioli and green beans

What do you do when you have no power and are stuck in a new house? Projects! Put up my walk-in closet shelves and rods. Started to work on the nautical themed guest bathroom. Hung pictures (to may or may not hide new water damage in the kitchen).
Still work in progress

My favorite reading spot right now
And a few more glimpses of summer food photos from my phone...

I made chocolate dairy free ice cream

My kid made oreo banana dairy free ice cream with the new ice cream maker

My husband got a pearl in his oyster during his birthday dinner at Georgia Brown's

Birthday Cupcakes for my mother in law
My son will now only eat homemade tortillas made into chips. After having them once, he requests them all the time
Yellow Watermelon, made a chilled soup from part of it
And for our last boat docking lunch of the summer, my father in law ordered the Hawaii Five-O
Yes, that's a ham and cheese on a glazed doughnut
Books I read this summer and recommend:

And new cookbooks I acquired: