Saturday, May 14, 2011

Talents & Sharing & Pumpkin Madness

     This week I saw a beautiful thing, I saw someone's talents in action, and saw how talents can be a way to enrich the life of others.  As I mentioned I had company in town this week.  It was so good to have family come to visit, I had my brother and his family come to visit, his wife is one of those women that seems to be able to do everything perfectly.   I am not bitter, just amazed and her abilities.  Anyways, she is an amazing quilter, and I was able to see the results of something very special she did.  A dear friend of hers lost her husband in the battle to cancer, leaving her as a young widow with a beautiful little girl.  My sister in law made a beautiful quilt with fabrics from the husband's shirts for the wife and daughter to have in their home.  I was able to meet this lovely woman, and her daughter and be present when my sister in law presented this quilt to her during their visit this week.  It was a beautiful thing to see someone use their talents and abilities to serve and strengthen another person, to extend compassion and hope and comfort.  It is what I try to do with my cooking, to be there for another person through the bad and the good, and to give and share of myself.


     Like my sister in law I have had several friends recently go through some very hard times with medical issues.  As someone who has had issues of my own at times I know how devastating it can be.  I also know the nausea and pains and fatigue that come along with it.  I know for me and I can't explain why, but when I don't feel good, I gravitate towards soups, or any recipe with pumpkin.  These three recipes have been some of my staple feel good recipes.  Fix these up with love and I guarantee it will help another.  So look around yourself, where can you make a difference and be of service to another person?

Pumpkin-Flaxseed Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 can (15 ounce) pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 cup plain, unflavored yogurt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl, put eggs, pumpkin, and yogurt in a small bowl. Mix well with a wire whisk.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring with wooden spoon just enough to mix. Do not overbeat.

Spray muffin tins or paper baking cups with non-stick spray.
Bake at 350 degrees until done. It should take 8-12 minutes for the mini-muffins and 15-20 minutes for the regular size muffins. Test the muffins by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin; it should come out clean.

Pumpkin Ravioli

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh pureed pumpkin
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 wonton wrappers
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
chopped parsley

Directions:

Combine 1 cup of the pumpkin, 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of that pumpkin mixture into the center of each wonton wrapper. Moisten edges of the dough with water. Bring two opposite sides of the wonton wrappers together to form a triangle, pinching edges to seal. Place ravioli into a large saucepan of boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt. Cook them for 7 minutes, and then drain in a colander. Place 1/2 cup broth and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a pan. Bring to a boil. Add ravioli, tossing them to coat. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.

Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs or egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh cooked or canned solid pumpkin

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla, then blend thoroughly.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix, stopping when everything is just combined. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in pumpkin.

Spray skillet and spoon 1/4 batter onto skillet for each pancake. When the undersides of the pancakes are golden and the tops are lightly speckled with bubbles that pop and stay open, flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook until bottom is golden.

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