Pumpkin Bread- And my normal pre-recipe banter

Well if it hasn’t been a while since my last post. Opps! But as things are, I haven’t really had much time to blog.. or even bake for that matter! You see, I have been pressed for time as I deal with the workload of my masters program- which is in a new city and in a different country; all with new tasks and adventures eating away at my days here. However, since this past week was mid-semester break, I worked extra hard to free up some time so that I could finally bake! Woohoo! 🙂

~~~ So lets get to it~~~~~

Coming to Scotland has been quite the adventure, even though I have done little traveling over the past two months (there’s no time for that). You see, it hasn’t been an adventure in the traveling sense at all. I guess this experience has actually been more a part of my adventure through life.  Now before you go off on how cheesy this all sounds, bear with me.

You see, I have always been one who loves to travel. I’m the “why settle down when there is a WHOLE world to explore” type. Or, at least I thought I was. Don’t get me wrong, I have done my fair share of traveling. I have been lucky enough to experience a variety of  adventures which have carried me to places like the top of the Eiffel Tower as the sun is setting, or to the city of Berlin to admire the street art which decorates almost every wall. I have even been blessed enough to experience the eyes of an elderly Nicaraguan woman as we put the final touches to what she would call her new home. I would say I have done a great few adventures. However, minus that latter of those examples, I would say these explorations haven’t been filled with the ‘meaningful lessons’ that come often come with the ‘deeper’ adventures of life- you know the ones I mean; the ones that make you truly adore every single thing around you.

So the lesson I am coming to terms with, as my time here in Scotland ticks on, is  to cherish your friends and family. Now, this sounds like a simple epiphany to have right? I mean, I have had it many times through out my life, as I am sure you have too. But each time seems to come from a different reasoning behind it, a different cause.

I have always been one to believe in cherishing everyone around you. I mean everyone around you does have a role in your life, and you can’t deny that, so why not cherish their existence? You never know when they will be gone. These are my views. What I live by. But then I realized, how can I cherish so many people yet want to constantly leave. I want  friends and family I can trust, which I believe I have. But then I spend my days exploring other places . Places so far away that almost a third of a year can pass before I can stand in front of a single one of those many people I love. It’s like a tug-a-war match; one side adores the life surrounded by a well-known set of friends and family while the other half has these wild dreams of the world outside her own- how do you find a balance?

I guess the answer I have come up with (and by all means you do not have to agree with me) is to just learn from your life’s adventures, acknowledge that your beliefs and views are able to change, and apply them to your future life adventures- a balance will naturally happen when you apply these lessons to the best of your ability. I have loved getting the chance to see the world outside my own, and I have loved experience the bonds that form within a series of friends and family- but  I can’t distribute all my time towards just one. Yes, my family will always be there for me (and I hope yours is there for you), and they want me to follow my dreams, even if that takes me half way around the world. But being that far away isn’t the same when it can’t be shared with the people you love. And at the end of the day, those people will be with you no matter what. They should be taken for granted. Instead they should be cherished, thought of always, kept in your heart, and visited as often as possible- things I plan on doing more from now on.

I guess I will bring it down to the second part of this lesson I have learned over the past few months (which I hope you can use to brighten up your life as well!) This is the concept that cherishing someone or something isn’t stagnate. Just like how the world around us continues to turn, the pages of our life are always being written (and sometimes rewritten). And, in these adventures, you can always find new ways to look at life, new ways to appreciate the people around you, new ways to show you care. And that doesn’t mean your old ways were wrong; it just means that you have learned a new lesson from life, a lesson that you can use when constructing the next chapter of your journey to make your life that much more meaningful and that much more bright.

As I sit and reflect on my time here, on both the high ends and the low, I can say I have truly gained a lot so far. This doesn’t just apply to the academic knowledge I am cramming into my head in massive amounts. This applies to the views on where I want my life to take me once this chapter comes to an end. I have had a blast traveling in every direction for quite some time now. But as these travels continue to twirl I have realized that I belong in a place closer to where my family is, where the people I care for and who car for me are- these are the places I want my life to take me next.

~~~ Nothing like a little heart-felt lesson to get you in the mood to bake!~~

Pumpkin Bread/Muffins

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It is Halloween time so of course the smell of pumpkin is in the air…. well it is in the northeastern part of the US at least. In Scotland on the other hand, finding a pumpkin treat is quite difficult. Lets just say, today I walked into a coffee shop called the ‘Pumpkin Cafe’ and they didn’t even have a single ‘pumpkin’ item for sale! Not even something shaped like a pumpkin! Ha! So I decided to make myself, and my housemates some pumpkin bread and muffins, since they too are just as ill-experienced with pumpkin items as that very sad cafe was today! While I was at it I carved myself a little pumpkin as well 🙂

I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  •  1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Ingredients for Streusel Topping (Optional)

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbs butter, softened slightly
  • 4 tbs flour
  • 4 tbs rolled oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grease 3 loaf pans (7×3 inches)- I made 12 muffins and distributed the rest of the batter into 2 loaf pans of unknown size (literally, it wasn’t on the package!)
  3. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.
  4. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
  5. Sift the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Stir until just blended.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared pans.
  7. If you want to make streusel- mix flour, oats, and sugar into a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle on top of batter.
  8. For loaves, bake 45-50 min. For muffins, bake 35 min. Or, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  9. Enjoy 🙂
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The ingredients

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

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Enjoy :)

Enjoy 🙂

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Irish Treacle (Molasses) Bread

After living in Ireland for 6 months I can concur that Irish people know how to make a great bread! The density which you find in their signature breads makes them great as toast or to dip into soups. And for those who crave carbs, there is an addictive quality to them. If I were to add up the amount of brown bread I ate while I was there some people would gain 5 pounds just imagining it.

So you can only imagine the withdrawals I went through when I left. It wasn’t long before I started looking for recipes which matched the breads I ate there. One of my friends from Ireland even sent me a few packages of Odlums brown bread pre-mix to help ease my cravings. However, as stated before, I’m not one to use mixes and I am not one to wait 2 weeks for a package to come in the mail– So I started recipe searching instead.

When I was recipe searching I kept running into this thing called Treacle. Imagine taking molasses and putting it on steroids– Treacle would be the end product. I was lucky to stumble upon this stuff in the international section of one of the grocery stores by my house. I honestly don’t know how I found it because it comes in a can that could easily be mistaken for wood stainer. Yup, you gotta ply the lid off (and you could even hammer it back on if you wanted to). (Want some?— Here is a link just in case you want to buy some).

After finding this little beauty I was able to explore the array of Treacle bread recipes that I had been finding online. It was this ingredient that, when cooking, triggered the many memories I had which surrounded waiting for that toaster to pop up in my apartment in Dublin (dont take a whiff of it in the jar though– it smells AWFUL!)

Today I decided to make a Treacle bread for a dinner I am attending at a sustainable house on campus tomorrow. I know that this is a group of people that appreciate a good thick bread so I decided it was the perfect thing to make on my eventless Monday evening. I also made a half version of this recipe using only whole wheat flour so I could enjoy some this evening. I do not have Treacle at school so I decided to just go with the weaker stuff (aka molasses).
Irish Treacle Bread

Irish Treacle Bread

Irish Treacle Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 1/2  tbs molasses (or treacle if you have it)
  • 2 1/2 tbs honey

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flours, oats, baking soda, and salt in a big bowl.
  3. In a smaller bowl mix the molasses and honey  together (you can spray the bowl with cooking spray if you want to f make it pour easier). Mix buttermilk in.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients using first a spoon and then your hands. You may need to add a bit more flour in the process.
  5. Form dough into circular mound and place on a baking sheet. Using a floured knife make an “X” on the top of the dough.
  6. Bake for 50-55 min or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.
  7. Enjoy and imagine that you are in Ireland 🙂
Ingredients

Ingredients

Starting to mix the wet ingredients into the dry mix

Starting to mix the wet ingredients into the dry mix

The bread is ready to bake!

The bread is ready to bake!

Yum!

Yum!

The mini loaf I made with only whole wheat flour

The mini loaf I made with only whole wheat flour