The Seedy Part of Life

Note: this is a pretty long post. But I would love your feedback on whether the new recipe plug-in I am trying out (check the end of the post) works for you. <3

20121008-200540.jpgThis is Ulla. My KitchenAid mixer. Her name means “to Fill Up” in Gaelic. I thought for the longest time it was the Gaelic word for “crimson”, but now that I think about it, this is far more fitting.

I fill up Ulla and she gives things a whirl. And fills up pans and cookie sheets and my thousand pyrex dishes and makes delicious things to fill up my family and my friends.

Ulla and I have been making lots of messes in the kitchen lately. I think some of it is procrastination on my part, trying to escape from the towers of boxes. Feeding Boy Wonder and myself is not wasted time, not like sitting on the couch and watching more episodes of Supernatural. Cough.

But the biggest force behind all of the cooking and the baking and the homemade vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar macerating on my counter and creme fraiche on the windowsill and I bought more basil plants today since I killed my Purple Haze basil….it’s love.

Love for myself and love for my family. Love for my friends and people I may not know that well. I love you (not like that), so I want to feed you. That’s how I operate. And in my quest to feed the people I love, maybe I’ll learn something new along the way.

As I told my friend Tania, I’m healing my broken heart one vanilla bean at a time.

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On Sunday while taking a break from cleaning/gutting/organizing the box towers, Ulla and I tried something new: Vanilla Bean Paste.

I just thought it was the insides of vanilla beans scraped out and put in a jar. But NO. No no no.

It’s vanilla bean seeds in a syrup of some sort. It has a more intense (but not overpowering) vanilla taste, with the little pop of the seeds. Less subtle than vanilla extract. Sweeter than just scraping the pod, and a bit cheaper and less labor-intensive…cost as much for a bottle of bean paste as it did for 1/4  pound of beans. Of course, you don’t get the leftover pods…which I use to make vanilla sugar and salt. So there’s a tradeoff.

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So with this incredibly tasty ingredient along with some homemade apple cider from some local apples, Ulla and I made Apple Cider Caramel Glazed Pound Cake. Six of them, to be exact. I used the smaller loaf pans, and really need to invest in some baking spray…Crisco + a napkin = not doing it for me anymore. Spray the bejeezus out of your pans when you make this.

(I say “when you make it”, because everyone needs to bake these. )

One of the cakes went to a friend for the future promise of backyard chicken eggs. Gave one to a dear friend who let us pick her apples last weekend. One went to a mom friend of mine I miss terribly. One went to a new friend and my favorite coffee shop owner. One went to feed my growing-like-a-weed-and-almost-a teenage boy.

20121008-200625.jpgI was tired after making these. I wanted to lie down and just take a nap for a little while. I wanted to not have to go back and look at the boxes. I wanted to hide again.

So I didn’t. I roasted two pumpkins and cleaned some more boxes.

It’s nice when you can stop yourself from sinking back into the abyss of “I don’t feel like doing anything right now” and get a whole bunch of things done.

On Sunday, we made two runs to Goodwill, one to the consignment store, three different “I’m returning something I borrowed a helluva long time ago” drop offs, two runs to the cardboard recycle, one set of friends came over and took away some moving boxes, another came and dropped off a CD rack (hello 1999! I have an enormous CD collection!), I started vanilla extract & vanilla salt & creme fraiche & apple cider vinegar, I made those Apple Cider Pound Cakes, I roasted two pumpkins, and I came up with the recipe below. I am pretty much rad.

Oh, and I did five loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom and scrubbed the kitchen. It helps when your apartment is wee.

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A note about Trader Joe’s seasoning grinder things: I love these. I was just planning on getting the sea salt one, because I salt everything.

But I now have a new-found love of pepper, with the rainbow peppercorns.

And the everyday seasoning inspired the roasted pumpkin seed recipe below….if you can even call it a recipe. It’s throwing some oil on some seeds and then some seasoning on that, and BOOM. Snack that is good for you and tastes good.

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Some seasoning recommendations (other than the everyday seasoning)?

**cinnamon and sugar
**vanilla and nutmeg
**garlic salt
**Chinese 5 spice
**garam masala
**italian seasoning

Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Seeds

Serves 1-2
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Allergy Peanuts, Tree Nuts
Meal type Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Cold
Occasion Halloween
A healthy and spicy snack!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rinsed pumpkin seeds (This should be about 2 small-sugar-pie-pumpkins-worth of seeds. Make sure they don't have any rogue pumpkin guts hanging off!)
  • Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning (Or seasoning of your choice)
  • 4 tablespoons walnut oil (Or other neutral oil)

Directions

Step 1
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or a silpat mat. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2
Place seeds and oil in a mixing bowl - stir to coat. (if not using the Trader Joe's seasoning, add your spices here.)
Step 3
Spread seeds out in a single layer on cookie sheet. Grind the seasoning over the seeds before putting cookie sheet in oven.
Step 4
Cook seeds, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until golden brown; approximately 45 minutes.

Let cool before eating. Store in an airtight container (or Ziploc bag). Will keep about a week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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