Monthly Archives: October 2014

Baking in the Fall Flavors: with a bonus pumpkin bread recipe

Confession time: I’m not a baker. I don’t do cookies, cakes or pies as a general rule–not because I don’t know how–but because we don’t eat them. In fact, my mom is an amazing cook who taught me well, but her lessons can’t undo the following equation.

Desserts + my fam = uneaten waste.

Except in the fall. I could eat pumpkin anything until I passed out. I make a mean pumpkin muffin with delicious cream cheese filling. I have been in charge of baking the family pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving from the wee age of about 10–homemade crust included. My kindergarten teacher first hooked me on pumpkin cookies with raisins decades ago…her recipe is heavenly and has been passed on numerous times over the years. More recently, we’ve adopted a pumpkin cheesecake recipe, and for early morning appetites there’s pumpkin bread. I even think that eating baked squash for dinner is sinfully divine and should be classified as a treat.

Beyond that, I make apple crisp whenever someone passes along extra apples.

That’s it. Maybe it’s something about the fall and harvesting fresh produce that makes me love pumpkin so much, or maybe it’s my body naturally wanting to fatten up for the winter. Personally, I don’t care about the reason behind it, because nothing in the world is as delicious as the scent and flavor of fall baking.

And so I give you a touch of my childhood via my mom’s pumpkin bread which was handed down from her mom. Where the original recipe came from, I can only guess, so cannot attribute it properly if such attribution exists.

1. Place raisins in a large mixing bowl, cover with hot water and set aside to cool.

  • 1 1/4 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 cup hot water

2. Sift together the following ingredients and set aside.

  • 3 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt

Mix together the following ingredients with the raisin mixture.

  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup oil (I personally use olive oil)
  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped nuts

Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into 3 greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees 1 hour (until done). Cool in pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

As an added bonus, here’s my mom’s personal notes: Flavor improves after a couple of days. Also, loaves will keep for several weeks when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

What are your favorite fall flavors, and why?

Curious minds want to know.

Wear Orange On Wednesday

Yes, you. Tomorrow morning, don your orange and unite against bullying. Use this color to visibly stand up for kindness and community and compassion.

What Unity Means to Me

  • I believe that all people are equal. We all deserve respect, love and acceptance regardless of where we came from, what we have, what we do or why we do it.
  • I believe there is a difference between acceptance and tolerance. Acceptance implies compassion and understanding. Tolerance implies self-import and civil disdain.
  • I believe that kids deserve a safe educational environment free from harassment and intolerance–certainly they deserve one free from bullying. I believe the same goes for adults whether at work or in the home.
  • I believe that many bullies are often victims of bad circumstances, and their behaviors are learned as a reaction to those life stresses. While this doesn’t make it right, it does make it easier to deal with.
  • I believe that teaching is better than punishment. If we understand the why, we are more apt to respond positively than if we view things through a negative lens based strictly on the what.
  • I believe that learning the intention behind the action is more important than knee-jerk reactions to things that seem cruel, odd, disgusting or rude. If we never understand something we can’t ever hope to help.
  • I believe there is no such thing as common sense. The world is so big and the population so vast that there isn’t one common experience to rightfully base our assumptions and expectations.
  • I believe that I have no right to judge others based on my moral compass. We all earn our compasses through our own personal experiences, therefore the things I hold dear might be meaningless to someone who lives a vastly different life than myself and vice-versa.
  • I believe the only thing strong enough to bring peace to this world is a communal desire to accept and care for others different than ourselves.
  • I believe we are all equal, and as such, we all deserve a life of hope, compassion and respect.

I know, I sound a little like Miss America, but without the slim stems, the luscious locks and the poetic prose. I’m just an average mom with big beliefs, and tomorrow, October 22, I will wear orange in honor of PACER’s Unity Day. I hope you will, too.

What does unity mean to  you?

Curious minds want to know.

It’s almost that time of year again…

Taking on the world, one novel at a time!

Crazy, I know, but super fun and dream-worthy, none-the-less!

In fact, just this morning, I ran across my high school graduation invitation. Our class motto is far more meaningful to me now than it was two and a half decades ago…

I didn’t always dream of writing, but once the bug bit me, I’ve never been able to shake it. NaNo, while crazy and intense, is an amazing annual event that inspires and motivates me. It’s like a runner’s high. Only better because my thighs don’t burn and I don’t have snot running down my face.

Since I started participating in NaNo, I’ve had nearly a dozen short stories, several articles and a novel (with a second one coming out next year) published, as well as edited a short story anthology and served on the acquisitions board for five others. I am firmly wrapped up in the beauty of my dreams.

And the hard work…

Once November hits, I’ll batten down the hatches and come up for coffee, kids and Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what my writing project will be, but I’m actually thinking of something a little lighter this year.

If anyone wants to join me in writing (or attempting to write) 50,000 words in 30 days, I make a great cheerleader. I also make a mean pumpkin cheesecake that I plan to bake for a local write-in. What could be better than good company, beautiful dreams and divine desserts?

Go ahead, click on the National Novel Writing Month icon above and sign up for a unique adventure. If you do, drop a line and let me know what your user name is, so we can get through the month together. If you live close enough, I might even throw in a margarita and homemade guacamole for incentive!

Share your dreams. What motivates you to reach them? Do you ever feel as if your dreams are so wild and crazy they are not worth pursuing? If so, how do you push on despite the devil on your shoulder?

Curious minds want to know.

Cover Reveal: Tales from the Bully Box

Available Soon!

Thanks, Sarah Tregay, for the beautiful cover to an exciting middle grade anthology.  You Rock!

Thanks, authors, for your inspiring stories. Some of them brought me to tears!

Thanks, Bully Box Brigade, for putting together an informative website for kids, parents and teachers. The Bully Box is filled with fun stuff for youth, helpful hints for parents and educational info for teachers, as well as ordering discounts for classrooms.

Thanks, Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, for kicking off your Colors for Causes campaign with the color orange and its theme of bully prevention. I love that you are donating money to help make this world a better place.

Thanks, PACER, for making October a month of awareness for how we treat others. You also rock!