Autumn at last: Cider, beer, bread & witches
Ahhhh. In the desert, we call this breathing time. Because really, for the last four months, it's been hard to take a deep one, and you're sorry if you do. There's been that mosquito thing this year, too, so you get a throatful of scorch plus bugs. Nice. Still, it's over now, and we even get autumn leaves and apples, and all the things the rest of the country does. It's a little warmer than Minnesota, but that's probably OK. Now, to the important things. Pumpkin beer is good stuff. There's a lot of them out there, but two of my favorites are Dogfish Head Punkin Ale and Pumking. Shipyard makes some good ones as well. This year, there's been a lot of pumpkin spice ciders coming around -- Ace Hard Cider is good, and I hear Seattle Cider Co.'s is too, but I can't get it here. Obviously, it's the spices that make any of these good, not so much the actual squash, and they are yummy. The alcohol content varies wildly with any of these beers or ciders, and they go down very easy, so unless you want to wake up as the scarecrow in a cornfield, be careful.
Then there's pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup, it goes on, but the best thing you can do with pumpkin, for my money, is this bread. It's amazing. Raven-tested, of course, and tinkered with until it's perfect. Try it, you'll be happy.
2 cups pumpkin (canned is fine, but if you're a purist, go for it)
1 stick butter, melted, plus 1/2 cup olive oil
2 t. molasses
1/2 cup water
Mix together, then gradually add in:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 t salt
2 t baking soda
2 t ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t cloves
Mix together, but don't overbeat. Pour into two greased loaf pans, and bake @ 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, checking after 40. Remember, dark pans cook faster than glass or light ones. Take out of pans and cool on rack. If you like, mix up a little powdered sugar and milk, and drizzle over the bread.
Enjoy. Goes well with that pumpkin beer or cider mentioned earlier... I recommend sitting by the fire and telling ghost stories.