The Indian Summer continues, but winter is a short exhale away.
Today on A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor likened an Indian summer to having an intense love affair just after having a heart attack. Moving into the new house has drawn my attention closer to the trees in my neighborhood. They line most streets here. The slow mixing of colors resulted in some beautiful combinations. The trees are still in transition, though they're now moving from vibrant to bare. The temperature has allowed us to squeeze in a few more hours outside. I even rode my bike to work!
The walnut tree in our backyard is mostly bare (thank god it finally stopped dumping walnuts on our yard) but the massive pin oak and maple are still displaying their final colors. In this photo you can see the trunk of the pin oak and the tall grass growing in the back corner.
Here is the top of the oak, as seen from the front yard.
And the bright yellow maple that shares the backyard.
Halloween was all the more pleasant this year thanks to the weather. We had many interesting characters visit, and many complements on the Mario pumpkin, from adults and kids alike.
We've also been somewhat productive in the kitchen. Everything is rearranged, cabinets and hardware back on, and dining room painted.
On to the food. I bought a pie pumpkin on a whim and learned that one pumpkin makes a LOT of flesh. The following recipes barely made a dent in the 4-6 cups from my $2 pumpkin. The flavor is very different from canned pumpkin, as is the texture. I like the real stuff for risotto, but I think the poundcake would be better with the smoother canned stuff.
Just like any risotto, use short grain arborio rice. (forgive the blur)
add 2 cups of pumpkin to your diced onions.
I found this great aluminum cup at a thrift store. I snagged it right away because my mom always had one. It's perfect for stuff like this at one cup.
Using chicken broth and sage, make your basic risotto.
Midway through cooking (you can really see in this photo that the middle of the pieces of rice are still opaque white. Their translucence is a good visual cue for correctly cooked risotto, but it can't stand in for tasting)
This risotto is a filling dinner on its own or with a salad, but if you have leftovers, which we ALWAYS do, here's an interesting idea, thanks to Giada.
Mine is a simplified version.
Take a tsp. of risotto, roll it into a ball, and press a small piece of cheese inside. (Here I'm using string cheese (mozzarella) Any melter will do.)
Then, roll it up and coat it in breadcrumbs.
Get them all ready on a tray before frying them. No after picture, but, you know. Golden brown and delicious.
Finally, pumpkin pound cake.
Each fall I get the urge to make pumpkin bread. This fall, I tried to indulge that urge fully and make pound cake rather than bread. I found this recipe on the message boards at chow.com (love the message boards and added tons of spices to it.
Spiced Pumpkin Pound Cake
Use this recipe.
When you bake, be sure to always have dairy products at room temperature. Bake only until a toothpick comes out clean.
To that recipe, add freshly ground nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.
I coated 1/2 of my mini-loaves in a glaze of powdered sugar and water.
I thought I'd share an image with you. I have one relative, who shall remain nameless, who is a republican. (!) This photo illustrates their standing in my family well.
Finally, my mother gave me a nice plate with a fancy candle for my birthday. She also included a bunch of these chestnuts The tree that these came from was grown from a seed planted by my great grandfather.
Ok folks. Get out there and enjoy this weather. Soon winter will be here and we'll be suffering from S.A.D., so enjoy it while you can!!