By Ilene Duffy
It seems to be the simple things I’m missing most during this pandemic when many of us are spending a lot of time at home. With the virus surging in various parts of the country, we’re being extra careful lately. It’s one of my joys to go to the grocery store to shop for dinner. I used to go every two or three days, not because I had to since I keep a well-stocked pantry, but I simply enjoy perusing the vegetables and what’s on sale in the meat department. That way I can get a bit creative with a variety of items to make during the week. But of course, these past several months I’ve been shopping as infrequently as possible and I go early in the morning when it’s least crowded.
I have a group of friends who used to get together once a month or so to work on our various yarn projects, but we’ve had to put our time together on hold. One friend cards her sheep’s wool, another quite often brings her spinning wheel and quietly spins. They’re fabulous knitters and I’m always in awe of the colorful, well-made items they continually work on. I’m happy if I can finish a crocheted hot pad every now and then. I miss them and our time together sipping tea and just enjoying each other’s company. Soon it’ll happen again. I hope very soon.
Time with daughter Annie, son-in-law Erik, and the grandkids has been very limited and it’s simply not wise to travel very far to see other relatives. Husband Dave and I used to take long road trips to trade shows and we’d fit in visits with his east coast brothers. Pack the cooler, gas up the car, and off we went. So simple. I’m sure we’ll get to do these things again.
I think I’m in good company with so many people missing the simple pleasures — going out for coffee or breakfast with a friend, taking the grandkids to the movies, doing a bit of travelling. But I do still find loads of pleasure baking. And since Dave and I can’t just wolf it all down by ourselves, which wouldn’t be too healthy, we’re lucky to have our 20-ish year old sons close by who are happy to eat up and take home a lot of my baked goods.
Pumpkin makes our tall, bearded sons happy — pumpkin pie especially. But recently I found a very simple pumpkin bread recipe and then changed it slightly to incorporate walnuts and a handful of chocolate chips. It’s a simple recipe, one that I had all the ingredients for. It’s nice to bake something new, use basic ingredients, and share it. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.
Pumpkin bread with walnuts:
- Unsalted butter and flour for the pans
- 2½ cups sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 15-oz can of pumpkin (If you’re using fresh pumpkin purée, then use about 1½ cups.)
- 3½ cups flour
- 2 scant tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- 2/3 cup water
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- ½ cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour two loaf pans. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin.
In another bowl whisk flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.
Add half the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir. Mix in half the water. Repeat with remaining flour and water. Gently mix in walnuts and chocolate chips.
Divide the batter between the two loaf pans. (As seen in the photo, I have long loaf pans that are about 12×4.) Bake 45-50 minutes until toothpick inserted tests done. Bake longer if you’re using 9×5 loaf pans.
Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to completely cool.