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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Blog post from a hurricane:  really, what are you supposed to do with a bowl of home-grown garlic other than photograph it in the pre-hurricane light?  If we end up without power for a while…. at least we have this garlic, right?

I don’t have any recipes or anything for you here….. just garlic.

[If it’s possible to use garlic to ward off the worst of a storm like a vampire, or to make a battery in a power outage, or to comfort the trees after all this wind stops, I’d say we’re all set over here.]

Aside from hot apple cider and shuffling through dried leaves, I don’t think there are many things more autumn-y than pumpkin.  I’ve eaten pumpkin cookies before but never made them, so this was an adventure.  I was hoping that these cookies would be less cakey than most other pumpkin cookies I’d had.  They are a little bit cakey — which I think might be almost unavoidable with pumpkin — but not overwhelmingly so.  The cookie itself is surprisingly light in texture, which makes a good contrast with the oatmeal, nuts, and chocolate.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted pumpkin cookies or oatmeal cookies, so I made both.  Because I didn’t have enough rolled oats, I ended up using half oats and half five-grain hot cereal, which is a mixture of oats, rye, triticale, barley, and flax.  Some of those grains aren’t as soft as the oatmeal, so I wondered how they’d work in the cookies and if they’d be able to absorb enough moisture. But they did, and I actually really like having them there because they add a nice variety of texture. (And they also turn this cookie into even more of a “health food”…. it’s got a vegetable plus lots of grains!)

One more note — a lot of pumpkin cookies out there in the world are mound-shaped and slightly muffin-like. This is because they really don’t spread much in the oven. If you want mounded cookies, you can leave them that way, but I found that I prefer to flatten them before baking.  That makes them a little lighter and less cakey, and also crisper on the edges. Flattening the cookies is easiest to do with a fork, like you would a peanut butter cookie.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Adapted from Alice Medrich’s oatmeal cookie recipe in her book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy, and guided/inspired by too many internet pumpkin cookie recipes to separate or name.) Makes about 40 cookies.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

1 1/2 sticks butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 1/2 cup rolled oats or five grain cereal (the kind that cooks in 5-6 minutes)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine the flour, baking soda, and spices in a bowl and mix together with a fork or whisk.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and mix in the sugars, salt, and vanilla. Add the egg and stir briskly, then add the pumpkin and stir until it is thoroughly combined and as many of the lumps are gone as you can manage.  Next, add the flour mixture and mix just until it is moistened. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and nuts. Let the dough stand for 1 or 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto a baking sheet, and then press each mound of dough flat with a fork, as you would with peanut butter cookies. (Or leave them mounded if you prefer.) Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool on the pan for a couple minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

I’m assuming that most of you know how to make a grilled cheese, and so this is less of a recipe than an ingredient suggestion.  Many of you share my love of kale (greatest food in the world? perhaps).  Butternut squash is up there as well, and I have always loved grilled cheese in just about any form imaginable.  So, really, this is a winning combination, and I stumbled on it kind of by accident.  It may be the height of my sandwich-making achievements thus far.

I first stuck some kale in a grilled cheese a few weeks ago, when we had a few lonely leaves of kale in the fridge that had accidentally frozen and needed to be used quickly.  It wasn’t until the next time I made a kale grilled cheese, a few days later, that I also added squash.  I roasted a butternut squash as a side dish, and only decided to also put the squash in the sandwich at the last minute.  If you’re not just spontaneously adding squash to your sandwiches like I did, this is going to take a little (but not too much) advanced planning because you need to cook the squash before making the grilled cheese.  I cubed the squash and roasted it with olive oil, a little maple syrup, some chile powder, salt, and pepper.

For cheese, I used cheddar, which tends to be the staple cheese in our house and which I really enjoy in grilled cheese.  The sharpness of the cheddar was really nice with the sweet squash and bitter kale.  But I could also imagine swiss being nice here, or a combination of cheeses.

You’re going to want to butter the outsides of your bread, lay down your cheese, and let that melt in a pan.  When the cheese has mostly melted, it’s time to add the squash to one side (I also sprinkled some pepper flakes on the other).  Pile the kale on top of the squash — I’ve found that about half a leaf of kale is good for one sandwich.  You want to squeeze in as much as you can because it will cook down, and it also helps to make sure that your kale is torn into manageable pieces.  Flip the other slice of bread over on top of the pile of kale, press down with a spatula, and flip it a few times until it’s done.  Adding the kale just before you press the two halves of the sandwich together gives it enough time to cook so that it’s an appropriate texture for a sandwich but still chewy and kale-like.

Happy grilled cheese-ing!