Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

I know, I know. I am clearly not being avant-garde by doing a pumpkin bread recipe in October (but I am by using the word avant-garde!) so just bear with me. There is a reason for making this bread and the fact that it is October is just an appropriate coincidence.

There are two pumpkins in my life. One is Robbie who, in addition to loving all foods orange since he was a young boy according to his mother, was also his mother's pumpkin before she graciously let me take on the duties of keeper of RLS3. The second pumpkin is probably loved more by my friends and family than I am and he certainly turns heads wherever he goes. And that is our 22-pound orange cat, Newton (we call him Newt for short).

Since our unstable life which, ironically, started after we got married last October, we found ourselves going through the motions of Robbie finishing up law school and the concerns over not knowing where we would end up. Throughout all of that, Newt was a trooper. He learned to ride in a car without immediately getting sick(ish) and he moved seamlessly from Charlotte to Newton to Winston-Salem then back to Newton. After arriving in NYC in August we knew we had to make a decision about Newt. Do we bring a car-sick-prone cat to New York to live in about a tenth of the space he had in Newton or do we find him a better home (albeit someone willing to look after a diabetic cat who gets shots twice a day and has the uncanny knack of being in your face ALL. THE. TIME.)? We decided to bring him up.

So after some monitoring and testing of some strong sedatives by the awesome staff at Maiden Small Animal Hospital, Newt arrived on September 15th, after a 12 hour drive, at 11:50 pm. And boy was he confused. We unloaded him in the middle of West 89th Street and I carried him in my arms up five flights of stairs into his new home while Robbie got the important duty of carrying up the rest of his food/litter box/etc. (I like to play favorites.) I laid him down in the living room. He immediately walked from one end to the other, through our kitchen area into the bathroom and then walked into the bedroom before turning around and emitting a rather irritated and trite "Meow!" as if to say "This is it? This is the Big Apple? Looks more like a Little Apple to me." Since that night over a month ago Newt has become adept at looking from his throne (our window ledge) over his kingdom (West 89th Street) while cars go by, pigeons fly, and the cable wires outside our window blow with the wind. I hope he is happy.
We did buy a cat stroller for him (yes, they exist) and we did take him to Central Park for one afternoon (actually, it was like a 20 minute visit) and really, the only reason we came back to the apartment was because I was too embarrassed by all the looks people gave us. I wanted to remind them of the crazy people who reside at every corner in the city and that we, with our 22-pound cat in a stroller and letting him eat grass on a leash, were the least crazy ones. But I pick my battles.

So, in honor of my two pumpkins, the one who married me one year ago this month and the one who celebrated his first month in New York City just last week, I make this pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling (I believe these are the same thing actually.)
1/3 cup applesauce
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1/2 a cup of chopped walnuts

Preheat over to 350F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, mix the pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, spice and sugar. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the walnuts. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until a wooden tester comes out clean (mine actually took longer -- about 55 minutes). Cool in the pan on a rack for a few minutes until taking the bread out of the pan. Continue to cool on the rack. This bread is super moist and rose beautifully. I learned that it is also great with cream cheese on top.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Egg and Kielbasa, Open-faced

One of the (many) amazing things about living in NYC is being exposed to an unprecedented amount of culture oftentimes at minimal cost to your pocketbook and sometimes at no cost. For instance, this weekend held the New York Food & Wine Festival, the New York Musical Theatre Festival and the New York Film Festival. If you lived within 12 subway stops of any of these places and complained that you were bored you should be ashamed. I, on the other hand, quickly realized I would not be able to go to a symposium on meatballs, see a musical version of Pride and Prejudice and stalk the celebrities in town for the film festival in one weekend – there just weren’t enough hours in the day. So I had to choose.

Luckily, Robbie and I live a mere twenty blocks from Lincoln Center and the proximity made my decision easier. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights we strolled down to the new film theatre at the Lincoln Center to listen to two different panels of screenwriters all of whom live in New York (this tends to be an anomaly as most screenwriters are based in LA). We heard the writer of Working Girl, Meet the Parents, Spiderman, Jurassic Park, American Splendor and Black Swan (just to name a few) and they all talked about their love of New York City -- albeit the gritty side of it which seemed to be their favorite part.

I, on the other hand (again), like to think I live in the New York of Carrie Bradshaw, shopping for Louboutin’s and having brunch every day while not gaining a pound. I do not find intriguing the life of Travis Bickle as he traversed the NY streets at dark and befriended a child prostitute. The reality is that I live in neither of these worlds. I may catch a glimpse of these various segments of New York City living but in reality, living in New York is pretty much the same as if I was still in North Carolina – just with mass transit and no personal space.

That’s where this recipe comes into the picture – it’s a little rough around the edges. Some people won’t like it. It is probably an acquired taste but it is easy enough to make for Carrie and company and comforting enough for the loneliest of taxi drivers.

Egg and Kielbasa, Open-faced

Adapted from the New York Times

1 pound kielbasa (salami or corned beef will work too -- could this be more New York-ish?)


8 eggs

Dijon mustard

Rye Bread

*I made this in portions. It's pretty easy to throw together depending upon how many you serve. For the two of us I did 1/2 the kielbasa and 4 eggs and then made the second 1/2 later in the week.

Slice kielbasa and saute in a little oil. Break the eggs in a bowl and beat them as if you were making scrambled eggs. Add the eggs to the saute pan and scramble along with the kielbasa. Serve atop slices of rye bread that have been spread with Dijon mustard.