I am pretty proud of my garden, so when our neighbors, Kishwar and Saeed moved in next door in 2004, I was quick to offer advice to Kishwar when she wanted to plant a garden in their backyard. She planted herbs, zucchini, tomatoes and a “Cinderella” pumpkin and then shared some of the seeds with me, which I planted in my garden. That summer Kishwar went on vacation for 8 weeks with the kids and left her garden to chance, with me peeking over the back fence to make sure that Saeed was watering and harvesting the bounty as instructed. Kishwar’s pumpkins were doing fabulously, with neglect, mine on the other hand, hadn’t even sprouted!
About mid-summer I noticed that our apricot tree, was sprouting some awfully large leaves. Then I noticed a couple of small, green pumpkins growing off the vine. I ignored them, thinking that the weight of the pumpkins would eventually make them fall off. But slowly, they began to intertwine themselves into the apricot tree and grew bigger and bigger. Part of their pumpkin vine had crept over the fence and had taken over our tree. I watched with marvel, as those beautiful pumpkins grew. And because they were suspended from the tree, and not touching the ground, every side was flawless. A Cinderella pumpkin is especially beautiful because it is a flattened oblong, dark orangey-red, with deep striations. It pained me to cut those two pumpkins down to display in front of the house in October and November and it took all my strength to put them into hiding during the holidays. (I kept mine in the garage and I think Kishwar and I finally tossed them sometime in February). I’ve never gotten another pumpkin tree, even though I’ve actually tried, by planting seeds under the tree.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, (optional)
- Heavy ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- ½ cup buttermilk, (if you don't have fresh buttermilk, use the Saco's Buttermilk Powder that I mentioned in the "Buttermilk Pancakes" post).
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, (flour though white sugar) and stir to blend.
- Mix next 5 ingredients together, (brown sugar through egg) together in a mixer until well blended.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients (this is pretty much always the rule...dry to wet). Stir just until mixed.
- Add cranberries and walnuts.
- Fill 12 (or more) greased muffin cups or one greased loaf pan and bake at 375* for 25 minutes for muffins or about 1 hour for loaf pan or until a toothpick comes out clean.
I couldn’t decide if I wanted muffins or bread so I doubled it and made both. Emma, the 16 year old, asked if “we” could make them for tech week of Loyola’s Fall play. You know what “we” means…I guess I’m baking a couple dozen more Pumpkin-Cranberry-Walnut muffins!
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
I always feel very pumpkin-y in October. I want to add pumpkin to everything. Yesterday I added 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, (left over from all the pumpkin bread I made this weekend) and some pumpkin pie spice to my Buttermilk Pancake recipe and served them with honey apple butter from Trader Joe’s and real maple syrup. Spencer declared them, “incredible”…but then again, I think he’s easy to please.