Pumpkin Gingerbread

It is lovely outside today – our first cool front made porch time even more special this morning. It also inspired a baking spree. This breakfast bread has all the fragrance and flavor that shout “Fall has arrived! Time for pumpkins and gingerbread.”

                                                   Pumpkin Gingerbread

                                      3 cups sugar

                                      1 cup vegetable oil

                                      4 eggs

                                     2/3 cup water

                                    16 ounces canned pumpkin

                                      2 teaspoons ground ginger

                                     1 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice

                                     31/2 cups flour

                                     2 teaspoons baking soda

                                     11/2 teaspoons salt

                                     1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix sugar, oil, and eggs; add water. Beat in pumpkin and spices.  Add flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder and stir until blended.  Pour into 2 greased 5 inch by 9 inch baking pans.  Bake for 1 hour or until bread tests done.

This recipe is another from the book Breakfast in Bed by Carol Frieberg.  It was in the past a featured breakfast dish from a B&B in Ferndale, California, appropriately named The Gingerbread Mansion.  Apparently the inn is now bank owned and is for sale!  A wonderful description of the property:  www.gingerbreadmansionbedandbreakfastforsale.com/


When I started Kitchen Keepers, I suggested this food blog would include old favorites as well as new dishes that become a favored family dish.  This summer while my tomato plants were still producing abundantly and there were plenty of peppers, I discovered this spicy eggy dish that I made one morning and several since.  It is definitely a keeper, but hard to say whether it is best for breakfast, brunch, a light lunch, or supper!

You may be wondering about the title.  Isn’t it fun to say?  Shakshouka is a staple of  Moroccan cuisines, and is also popular in Israel (the name is derived from leshakshek (meaning “to shake” in Hebrew)  where it is said to challenge hummus and falafel as a national favourite, especially in the winter. It is traditionally served up in a cast iron pan with bread to mop up the sauce. I add both sweet and hot peppers,  garlic, – the possibilities are endless!
1 large onion, chopped 

 4 eggs

Olive oil 

 6 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 each sweet and hot peppers, or to taste

 salt and pepper
Saute onion and peppers  in olive oil  until golden.
Add tomatoes. Cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes.
 Remove cover and break the eggs over the vegetables.
 Replace cover and cook on medium  for approximately 5 minutes or until the eggs are firm.
 Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Very good served with pita or other flatbread.

Dutch Baby

Favorite breakfasts at the Parker house may include different dishes according to which family member is asked. But this easy to make and bake pancake is on everybody’s list! It is also one of my favorites to make for holidays and house guests, so it was previously featured on my blog www.mappingsforthismorning.blogspot.com  when I made it for a Fourth of July breakfast!

A Dutch Baby is a puffed pancake with blueberries, rasperries, and strawberries. We enjoy a variety of pancakes of various origins, but this is voted family favorite. Nearly 25 years ago, our friends Bob and Dorothy Thomas made one for a dessert. Once I tasted it, I hastily scribbled the bones of the recipe on a torn piece of paper, which is still the one I pull out when I get ready to make it. Even though I know the simple ingredients and preparation by heart, I like to connect with the memories by handling this tattered little note. It may be simple, but because it rises and puffs and is always beautiful with any assortment of fresh fruit, it is a great way to make guests feel special, whether served at breakfast, brunch, or a lovely dinner dessert.

1/3 cup butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour

Begin heating oven to 425 degrees. Put butter into an 8 inch round iron skillet and place in oven. While butter is melting, put eggs, milk, and flour into blender jar and mix throughly. Take hot skillet out of oven and pour batter directly into melted butter. Do not stir. Place back into oven for about 20 minutes, or until puffed and browned. I cut it into fourths and top with fresh berries or peaches and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. If you wish, add a dollop if whipped cream. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Optional: Add vanilla or a dash of nutmeg for flavor. We like it plain.

Seashell Egg Bake

Beginning today, I am experimenting with introducing a category of foods and posting something for that section daily.  Weekly posting has become a welcome habit for me, and I enjoy it.  We will see if I can manage a daily post.  I have so many recipes to share.  I think this will be an adventure for us all.  I am choosing to begin with BREAKFAST.

In 1999 I gave my husband a cookbook for an anniversary present.  OK, so that doesn’t sound like a very meaningful romantic gift – unless you know that I wrote on the first page that my gift to him was to cook the recipe of his choice once a month.  The book was titled Breakfast In Bed, by Carol Frieberg, and is a collection of the best B&B recipes from Northern Califoria to British Columbia.  It has become one of my favorite and most used cookbooks.  The following recipe is adapted from the book.  It is easy, quick, and one of those Wow!  dishes when served in scallop shells which can be purchased at any cookery store.  The original recipe is served at the Log Castle Bed and Breakfast on Whidbey Island in Langley, Washington.

                    2 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

                    2 cups grated Swiss cheese

                   4 eggs

                    4 teaspoons heavy cream

                   Sea salt and fresly ground pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degreees. Spray a 3-4 inch scallop shell with nonstick cooking spray and lay on top of a foil lined baking sheet.  Make a nest of cheese in each shell, scooping a small indentation in the center.  Crack one egg into each nest of cheese.  Add 1 teaspoon cream, salt and pepper on top of egg and sprinkle with bacon crumbles and a little more grated cheese.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until egg is firm and does not jiggle when you slightly shake the baking sheet.  I like to serve with fresh fruit or a sliced tomato and a slice of whole grain toast. 

Note:  A side effect of enjoying the recipes in this book is developing a desire to visit the B&B’s they are from.  Today I had a good internet tour of Whidbey Island.  What a lovely place to visit!

Sausage and Rice Supper

There are some of our family favorite meals that are asked for all year round.  Sausage and Rice is one of those, but I keep it in my mental filing folder of cool weather dishes.  The flavors of root vegetables, peppers and sausage are heartily complimented with Basmati rice.  The colors even look like Fall.  And it makes enough to satisfy the most robust appetites as temperatures begin to come down and we are working more outside.  I have no “first made” date penned on the recipe I originally used, but since it was torn from an entire Southern Living magazine page, I look to see if the magazine date will tell me. I smile as I turn the page and look at the coupons on the back of the recipe and picture:  they expire in the fall of 1982.  So it is an easy conclusion that I have brought this to the table for nearly 20 years.  Our version that has grown during this time varies little but I do change the vegetables occasionally.  This is a dish that can easily be stretched by adding up to 1/2 cup rice and additional chicken broth.  Last night I served Basil Cucumbers and a fresh fruit cup for sides. A wonderful companion dish is apples with  butter, cinnamon and brown sugar baked along with the casserole. Wonderful for potlucks, and  definitely “good food on a budget!”

                                        Sausage and Rice Casserole

                                         1 cup uncooked Basmati rice

                                          2 cups sliced carrots

                                          1 large onion, chopped

                                          1 cup chopped celery

                                         1/2 cup chopped green pepper

                                          2 cups chicken broth

                                          1 pound pork sausage.  (we like maple flavored or hot and spicy)

                        Spread rice over bottom of large casserole dish which has been coated with cooking spray.  Scatter vegetables over rice, then pour chicken broth over all.  Brown and cook sausage, then add to top of vegetables.  Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven, stir well, replace cover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is done.  Makes 8 large servings.

                                                         Basil Cucumber Pickles

 I like cucumbers and vinegar to keep in the refrigerator in the summertime.  My mother and grandmother always peeled and sliced garden cumbers to add with layers of chopped or thinly sliced onion, salt and pepper and cover with white vinegar.  One of our favorite Indonesian dishes is Acar which is diced cucumber, carrot, onion, and hot peppers added to vinegar, sugar and water.  These cucumbesr may be the best yet.  I use unpeeled long seedless cucumbers from Canada and slice them thinly.  A handful of basil leaves from the garden and a touch of sweet mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)  give these pickled veggies a unique flavor that was perfect with our sausage and rice.

                    1/4 cup sugar

                     1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

                      3 tablespoons mirin

                      1 tablespoon sea salt

                      1 English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds

                        1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Whisk vinegar, mirin, sugar, and salt in a non reactive container.  Add cucumbers and basil and toss, covering as well as possible with the vinegar mix.  Refrigerate 3 or 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

German Lentil Soup

My husband has had more surgeries on one knee than most people have in a lifetime! When he was released from the hospital following the latest surgery last week, I asked him on the drive home what he wanted for dinner that evening. I was not surprised when he promptly replied “lentil soup!” He needs a high protein diet for healing, and our lentil friends help with that. This soup pot has bubbled on our stove many times over many years, and the whole family loves it. In a 1963 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook which has kept company with us all 47 years of marriage, I find the recipe that ours evolved from with the notation that Joe made it the first time on February 4, 1973.  We have made it different ways since then, and never by the book… but always the finishing touch is squeezing fresh lemon slices over the steaming bowls of soup. Delicious with a slice of cornbread!  This tastes even better the next day.  Just be sure to serve fresh lemon when you reheat.

1 lb lentils

1/4 lb. bacon, diced

2 medium onions, chopped

2 quarts water

4 celery ribs chopped

3-4 carrots, sliced

1 smoked sausage link sliced into rounds (Kielbasa is good)

2 1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 tsp dried thyme (I prefer Penzey’s French Thyme)

2-3 bay leaves

1 large potato, peeled and grated

2 lemons quartered

In large soup pot, saute bacon until golden brown.  Add onions, carrots, and celery.  Then add lentils, water, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves.

Grate potato into pot. Simmer, covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until lentils are tender.  Remove bay leaves.  Serve in large soup bowls with lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.

The soup ladle pictured belonged to my Daddy, who owned the Bus Station Cafe in Jacksonville, Texas when I was growing up.  He didn’t cook by the book either.

Corn Salad

Fresh corn is a family favorite, no matter how it is prepared.  Steamed, roasted, or grilled corn on the cob with salt pepper and butter is easy and delicious.  You can experiment with flavored butter, chopped herbs, and a squeeze of lime.  Another fresh corn favorite involves cutting the kernels from the cob to make a corn salad.  Using a Food TV tip, I stand the small end of a shucked corn on top of the center hole of a Bundt pan and slice downward with a sharp knife.  This catches the kernels neatly.  This is delicious served with grilled meats or a fresh peas and a pan of cornbread!


                                                                CORN SALAD

6 ears of fresh corn    

1 large red onion, peeled and diced

1 green pepper.  Add 2 jalapenos if you like the heat.  

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup fresh basil, shredded

 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar  

3  teaspoons sugar

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Toast corn with 2 T olive oil in heavy skillet. Pour into serving bowl.  

  2 . Add remaining oil, onions, vinegar, sugar, and dash of salt, and cook, stirring frequently until onions are caramelized.  Add to corn.

   3.  Toss mixture with shredded basil.