Harvest Einkorn Pound Cake

Harvest Einkorn Pound Cake

A few days ago, Tim and I rearranged our work hours to go to the pumpkin patch in the middle of the day. We never found the pumpkin patch. Instead, where the map said the patch should be, we found a sweet little house and a lot of open land and, well, this:

cows

Sometimes I forget how close you live to the country when you live in Nashville. The entire time we drove those sunny back roads, we never saw another human being. We saw the friendly guys above, some horses, a dog I thought was a llama and a large parcel of land with a big “for sale” sign, but there were no signs marked “pumpkins,” no arrows directing us a different way, so we drove the winding trail back to town, just us and the animals and the blue sky.

hayonhills
TNstreets
RuralTN
countryside

Back in town—Watertown, that is, population 1500—We found an antique store where the shopkeeper not only welcomed us in, but also told us about her daughter, talked about Maine, invited us back (“Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days”) and recommended another shop to check out. “Just before that old brick building, you see it? The open sign?” We visited a roadside stand with mums as big as toddlers, two of which now grace our front porch. We passed a high school marching band, practicing off Main Street. Then, I listened to Tim tell me about growing up in a small Ohio town where he and his brother would ride their bikes to the grocery store for their mom and where, when a person wanted Chinese food, he’d have only one place to pick.

So we didn’t come home with a pumpkin, but we did come home refreshed, which was essentially the point of the midday errand. Also, as everybody knows, you don’t have to visit a pumpkin patch to find pumpkin. And that brings me to today’s pound cake.

HARVEST pound cake

I like the idea of pound cake. It’s a name that sounds like what it means! According to What’s Cooking America, pound cake became popular in an era when many people couldn’t read and so being able to say “Use a pound of everything!” made a lot more sense than telling someone to memorize a series of steps you couldn’t write down.

harvest pound cake
Harvest Pound Cake

The concept got me wondering about using flours besides all-purpose in a pound cake. Would einkorn still maintain the same proportions true to pound cake, provided I weighed it to measure rather than scooping out cups?

harvest pound cake on plate

I am pleased to report it did. What’s more, incorporating a little fall flavor into the basic formula only took things up a notch. Below, a recipe for a true (half-)pound cake, based on a method that’s been used since the days when all towns were small towns and all cakes were baked at home.

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Ice Cream

Pumpkin Cinnamon Ice Cream

Cinnamon Hill Ceylon Cinnamon

As the last post pointed out, fall is here and we are welcoming it with open arms. Shanna and I love this time of year (we got married in it!) and always look forward to the changes and reminders it brings.

Cinnamon Hill Ceylon Cinnamon | Food Loves Writing

Pumpkin Cinnamon Ice Cream | Food Loves Writing

Pumpkin Cinnamon Ice Cream | FoodLovesWriting.com
Yet even though it may be the season to be breaking out hot drinks and jackets, we have an ice cream recipe for you today that we really enjoyed. (Let’s be honest, we will be enjoying ice cream year round, even in the dead of winter, so don’t be surprised if you see another ice cream recipe from me then.) This ice cream is a great taste of fall though, with its mild pumpkin flavor that sneaks up on the finish. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Ice Cream
PUMPKIN CINNAMON ICE CREAM | FOOD LOVES WRITING

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everybody wants a piece of the pie / pear crisp

Everybody Wants A Piece Of The Pie / Pear Crisp

Fresh Pears for Crisp  / Food Loves Writing

Everybody wants a piece of the pie, everybody wants a “How high you fly!”
We’re all looking for something, something to say that we count.
We meet and we’re asked, “What’s your something?”
We meet and we’re asked, “Who are you?”
“I’m my family,” “my beauty,” “my job skills,”
“My companion,” “my food blog,” “my work.”
But deep down, there’s somewhere a gnawing,
Deep down, there’s somewhere an ache.
We can mask it and hide it and hope that
Our efforts to cover will work.
“I’ve got it!” “I’ve won it!” “I’ve made it!”
“Look at me!” “Now, at last, I’m complete!”
But deep down, there’s still somewhere a gnawing,
Deep down, unmasked, still that ache.

When we know this, when we see this, when we are this,
Why don’t we respond to the root?
Instead of ever reaching and striving,
Instead of just joining the race,
Why don’t we step back, slow, and realize
What’s driving our envy, snubbing and spite:
We’re, all of us, everywhere, hungry,
Hungry for wholeness, hungry for life.
All our pushing, for small fame and fortune,
For approval and high-fives and praise,
Is, all of it, every time, grasping,
For something much greater than that.

There’s a secret, locked up in there, hidden,
A secret you learn at the top—Solomon, that rich man, once said it:
These things we want won’t fill us up.
“All is vanity,” so says the preacher. “All is empty,” he finally concludes.
We think we want Big Brand to see us. We think we want That Guy to stop.
But that pushing, that fighting, that clawing,
Is such a fast, black waste of time.
They won’t fill you up! They are empty!
What you want is the water that lasts!
So why not open-hand it and drop what
Was never yours, in fact, at all:
Everybody wants a piece of your pie—Let ’em have it.
There’s much more to fill empty palms.

Pear Crisp / Food Loves Writing

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Einkorn Cannoli Cupcakes

Cannoli Cupcake | FoodLovesWriting.com

When I was a kid, my parents would dart around the house in the final moments before company arrived, lighting candles, cleaning bathrooms, setting appetizers out just right. You could feel the energy in the air in those almost-game-time minutes—a sort of nervous, happy energy—something greater than the sound of my mom’s boom box playing its background harps or violins. When the doorbell rang, my dad would rush to the door, opening it proudly, beaming, welcoming guests inside as he took their coats and greeted them, motioning my brother and me to come say hi. Then, my mom would emerge from the kitchen, winded but obviously delighted at whatever was in her hands, prompting oohs and ahs and questions from the ones who’d been invited to come. Each one meal and its accompanying conversation would take two or three—maybe four or five with particularly talkative friends—hours before dishes were being cleared and the food getting wrapped up and people’s coats being pulled back out to usher them to their cars. But, as any host could tell you, its planning began long before, sometimes as much as a month ahead of time. Long before the good china was on the dining room table, I’d see my mom jotting down a potential menu and shopping list; I’d be around when she tested recipes before deciding to serve them to company; I’d be there the week of the dinner, when my parents talked about what they were making and at what time guests would arrive.

As an adult myself, I’ve followed my parents’ footsteps, often clumsily, feeling my way from the early days of solo hosting (where, once, my guest and I continued working on the uncooked chicken together after she arrived), to my current stage of couple hosting (where Tim and I tag-team the process).

Over time, I’ve grown more confident. Having one person for dinner isn’t stressful; having two is usually okay; but, last weekend, when we hosted Tim’s entire family for an early celebration of Easter and the annual April birthdays (of which, in his family, there are four), and we had ten people at our table more than once, I have to admit the experience felt completely new.

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Coconut Milk Mexican Flan (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Coconut Milk Mexican Flan | FoodLovesWriting.com

I go to used bookstores for the same reason I look into windows when we’re driving down residential streets at night: I like to imagine the people inside. The same way I fix my gaze on the warm glow of a table illuminated by candlelight or the man who’s sitting in his recliner all alone, I pick up a hardcover, tracing over the handwriting, wondering about the person who underlined that passage or the reader who signed her name in this front flap.

This might be what I love about the first-edition copy of The Art of Mexican Cooking, written by Jan Aaron and Georgine Sachs Salom, that I found at McKay Used Book Store Friday Night. Published in 1965, this beauty has all the earmarks of another era, one in which American women still wore skirts and aprons to make dinner and in which Mexican food (along with other ethnic cuisines) was just beginning to enter the conversation.

Art of Mexican Cooking | FoodLovesWriting.com

There are hand-drawn illustrations at the division pages, created by artist Dierdre Stanforth, the same woman who did illustrations for a Betty Crocker cookbook two years later and for books on New Orleans after that. I’d never thought much about book illustrations until recently, when we went and made an ebook and hired the amazing Rebekka Seale to create the cover—now I notice them everywhere I look: on blogs, on Pinterest, when I’m flipping through the thick pages of my new vintage book.

Over the last few nights, reading The Art of Mexican Cooking before bed, usually out loud to Tim, along with continually remarking that “This entire recipe is a paragraph! One paragraph! These directions kill me!,” I’ve also been thinking about the woman who drew the maps in the front and back pages and who sketched two large pots of soup in front of Mexican tiling.

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Kabocha Squash Custards (Gluten-Free)

Kabocha Squash Custards | FoodLovesWriting.com

Every time I make my pumpkin pie, which, in our household, is not reserved for the holiday season that is fast approaching, I end up with enough extra pie filling for one little ramekin.

And when the two dishes come out of the oven, the pie plate and the ramekin, both of them sitting atop the stove to rest, Tim and I cannot help ourselves from digging into that mini custard, the two of us with spoons, blowing away steam and reveling in the hot and caramelized comfort.

So about a month ago or so, it occurred to us: Forget the pie.

Why not pour all the filling into ramekins?

That’s how these kabocha squash custards were born.

Kabocha Squash | FoodLovesWriting.com

Here is what you need to do to start: Get yourself a kabocha squash.

Do you guys already know about kabocha squash? This squatty gourd, also called Japanese pumpkin, came into our lives this fall, as one of the heavier ingredients in a weekly CSA box. At first, it seemed a clone of butternut or acorn squash—slightly different in appearance with a gnarled stem and bumpy exterior, but overall the same, at least in terms of use—but then, one day, after roasting it and puréeing the insides, I took a spoonful of the thick, whipped mixture to my mouth and shrieked.

Tim! You have to taste this!

You guys. Think butternut squash but thicker and sweeter, velvety in texture, practically a mousse once blended, all on its own. One bite in my mouth, and I’m telling you, it was the first time in my life where I thought baby food—you know, the kind where you just blend a cooked vegetable into mush—sounded like better cuisine than my own.

Kabocha is to squash what LOST was to TV.
What sunlight is to afternoons.
What October is to the calendar.

In other words, kabocha squash is not just another squash but the best squash, the one I always reach for first when I’m at the store.

Kabocha Squash Puree | FoodLovesWriting.com

To prove my point, I offer Exhibit A: me, standing in the kitchen a few weeks ago, waving my arms in the air with a dinner guest, my eyes wide and eyebrows high, talking quickly and excitedly about the Dessert That Is Pure Kabocha Squash. It doesn’t need sugar, I kept saying to him. It’s perfect on its own! Get yourself a kabocha squash!

Making Squash Custard | FoodLovesWriting.com

Then, there is the fact that we’ve made these squash custards four times in the last month, for a dinner party, for a pre-St.-Louis-road-trip breakfast, for an everyday snack. The recipe makes five to six (five is ideal; six is slightly pushing it but possible), and Tim and I, on our own, have no trouble polishing them all off, in one day.

True, for a recipe like these custards, you could use pureéd sweet potatoes or butternut squash or acorn squash or pie pumpkin in lieu of the kabocha squash purée, but, in response to that, it should be said: it was kabocha squash that, once blended into these custards, had Tim looking me straight in the eye at our dining table, swearing, and I quote, “This is what my dreams are made of.”

Squash Custards | FoodLovesWriting.com

Something magical happens to these custards in the oven: the filling cooks and the edges caramelize, creating a dark, sticky ridge around the soft and sweet insides. We especially like them warm, whether topped by ice cream or homemade whipped cream, but they’re also lovely cold, straight out of the fridge.

Kabocha Squash Custards | FoodLovesWriting.com

And while normally, this is the point in the post where I’d have something nice and neat to wrap up the paragraphs with, today I’m just going to end with (1) Make These and (2) Tell Me about It, because, listen, it’s almost Thanksgiving and tomorrow’s the weekend and, no kidding, we love these custards almost as much as we love hearing from all of you.

Holding Squash Custard | FoodLovesWriting.com

One last thing on the thankful front, by the way: to those of you who’ve downloaded the ebook, and especially to the ones who’ve written us with feedback and the bloggers who’ve given unsolicited endorsements for the ebook page, thank you. We feel blessed.


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Pumpkin Cake + Pumpkin Trifle

Exactly one year ago today, Tim and I were up in the Chicago suburbs, driving out to the DuPage County courthouse to lift up our hands and solemnly swear that we were who we said we were and get the nice lady in the sea of cubicles to hand us our marriage license, our marriage license! I remember walking out of that building, into the crowded parking lot, hand in hand with Tim and thinking, our marriage license! It’s official now! Not just in terms of a giant dress in the closet and a chalkboard seating chart, but, as in, according to the government, we’re actually about to do this thing. Three days from now, we’re getting hitched!

day before wedding | foodloveswriting.com

I know I’ve said this here before, but, seriously, there are so many more details involved with planning a wedding than I ever would have imagined, and, when you plan your wedding fast, like we did in six months, you learn to scrap a lot of those details in the name of staying sane—like a wedding cake maybe. We had pretty much ruled it out, thinking that there’d already be a full meal and a full spread of a cookie table, so who needed a cake?

My mom, that’s who.

Listen, she’d been a champ about a lot of wedding things she’d originally seen a different way: my not having a veil, my seeing Tim before the wedding, no little boxes of Jordan almonds. But the one thing she violently disagreed on was not having a wedding cake. Cake is tradition. Cake tastes good. Plus, and this is where she hit my soft spot, cakes are the thing my grandma used to make for weddings as a caterer. We have these amazing black-and-white photos of her tall, tiered versions, usually with one of those vintage bride-and-groom sets on top, and oh, you guys, I can’t tell you how much I wish she could have still been alive to make mine last October.

Caroline

So we talked about it and we talked about it, and we agreed: the next best thing to having your grandma, the one who taught you how to bake and love food, make your wedding cake is having your mom, who fed you before you knew she was feeding you, do it, especially when your mom is the kind of person who takes such intense pleasure in being the one to provide a meal.

It would be my gift to her to have one, her gift to me to make it, and, in the process, everyone would have some cake.

 

So months beforehand, Mom tested pumpkin cake recipes, almost giving up the idea once or twice. Turns out there are several truly bad cake recipes out there in the world and, not every recipe translates into three or four tiers.

But come our wedding day, her work was a thing of beauty. And that afternoon, she let the caterers transport the tall, dark, spiced cake topped with homemade cream cheese frosting down to the tent. It was simple, like us, no frills or iced flowers, and it was sweet and, honestly, I liked it quite a lot—partly because it tasted good, mostly because she made it for me.

Last week, remembering that cake and the work Mom put into it, I emailed her and asked for the recipe.

cake topper | FoodLovesWriting.com

She sent ingredients.

Do you have directions, too? I wrote back.

She said cream the wet with sugar; mix the dry; combine it all.

Baking times? I wrote back. Size of pan? Oven temp?

And then the correspondence became a confusing, winding email chain of 9X13 pans and guessing on oven temperatures and the promise of a different, much better pumpkin cake recipe, which, if she had it to do over again, is the one she would have used for the wedding last year.

pumpkin trifle | foodloveswriting.com

She had me laughing, and frustrated, and aware that when I talk to her I am looking at my future, and so an hour or two later, there I was, mixing ingredients in the kitchen like my mother’s daughter who was her mother’s daughter, according to a recipe she got from a Chicago news reporter or a lady at her old church or somewhere else, it’s still unclear, pouring it all into a greased and floured rectangle pan, letting the warm and autumn smell of it fill our kitchen.

Pumpkin Trifle | FoodLovesWriting.com

I may not have wanted a wedding cake, but I’m glad we had one anyway, and I’m glad I made a version of it last week—moist and pumpkiny and wonderful layered with homemade whipped cream and nuts—so that when I looked at it, like I looked at my mom’s in a big white tent, I could think, heart full, that more than anything else?

pumpkin trifle | foodloveswriting.com

my grandma would have loved this.

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