To Amuse and Delight

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pumpkin Lattes and things like that

Pumpkin Latte. Just the name itself conjures up images of all that is good about fall. Autumn perfection.  Many of my lady friends have a very serious relationship with the Pumpkin latte. They just love it, some say it's an addiction. In the company of a lovely friend or two I have too succumbed to it's charms. The first sip almost delivers the happy feeling that the name conveys. But, sadly when taking tepid gulps from the bottom half of the cup I feel kind of let down. Maybe it has something to do with that fake pumpkin, too sweet syrupy stuff that sinks to the bottom. After just such a moment I determined not to drink another. Unless I made it myself. I did it, and it has all the promises of an autumn day. Without the lousy feeling afterward. If you too are interested in a healthier Pumpkin latte here is what I did:

Made a cup of my favorite coffee. I use a hand drip funnel or coffee press.
Heated up some milk with pumpkin puree (whisk together). About one tablespoon pumpkin per cup.
Sweeten coffee with sweetener of choice. I use stevia and maple syrup combination.
Pour the milk/pumpkin mixture over the sweetened coffee, the whisking froths up the milk nicely.
Grate or sprinkle on some cinnamon.

There you have it. Aside from the obvious benefits of it being natural, you can customize it for your own taste. Your coffee, your sugars, your milk (almond is good too), you can add on cardamon, vanilla, get the idea.
I have been putting pumpkin into anything I can get away with it lately. Here is the pumpkin smoothy, which is a big hit. My girls love it. Actually they really like all of my pumpkin concoctions. I don't know of any other healthy vegetable type that is so easily accepted in their sweets. The smoothies were made from almond milk, banana, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and again that stevia/maple syrup combo.
Little pumpkin cakes for tea with milk chocolate icing. Sure they have chocolate on top, but I consider them a fairly healthy sweet. They are made with whole wheat and no fat (oil). They get all their moistness from the pumpkin puree. Another winner all around.
Have you noticed how as you scroll down the foods are progressing toward the more decadent? Being home bound for days after Hurricane Sandy was all the excuse I needed to make pumpkin donuts. Maybe not the healthiest thing on the planet, but compared to store bought donuts they're not so bad. The benefits of whole wheat flour and pumpkin again. A spoonful of a maple syrup and sugar glaze goes a long way in flavor so you only need a small amount of sugar in the dough. Yes, they are fried. That's because I like them better than baked and donuts don't just happen every day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I cook

I found something out about myself as hurricane Sandy blew. I realized that when something scary or unknown happens, I cook. As the hurricane started to really kick in, I began making soup. As I was cooking it brought back a strong memory of 9/11. That day was scary, I had absolutely no idea what was happening. I starting making soup. My thinking was that if my husband did make it home he might bring people with him. People who can't get to their homes, or whose homes are now gone. A big pot of soup can sit patiently for a very long time, waiting to be a comfort. On 9/11, it was lentil. For Sandy it was split pea.
 I am not one who sits around fretting. I have to keep things moving forward, trying in any small way to aid the situation. It was interesting that during Sandy one thing that gave me peace was knowing that I had a pretty good store of food. If we lost power (amazingly we didn't this time) I was set for a while to feed my family and whoever else may need a place to stay. I do love my gas stove, when we lose power I can cook. The kettle is always ready for tea! I have these jars of ginger peach jam that I made a couple of months ago after a day of peach picking. Friends of mine who just got their power back today were able to have a warm bed and do some laundry at my house. I was low on maple syrup for breakfast pancakes, so I opened up one of my jams.  It gave me a tiny glimpse into how the pioneer women and the Native American women must have felt as winter approached. Sure things would get tough, the cold winds would blow, but knowing that they at least could provide food to their families would make the unknown much less frightening. There is a certain peace that comes with being prepared and it allows you to be a help to others.