Sunday, November 25, 2012


We had a delightful Thanksgiving meal with David's mom's family, but the meal occurred on the West Coast, which meant no leftovers to come home to.  So this afternoon we decorated for Christmas while a chicken roasted in the oven.  We've developed the tradition of a Thanksgiving chicken, since a turkey is really too much for the 2 of us.  This chicken was especially sweet, since it was a Trader Joe's free-range organic chicken that we got for half price and only 30 minutes away, rather than 2 hours away at the closest TJ's.  How, you may ask?  Well, when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, the TJ's out there were without power, so they could not take their perishable food since they had no way of keeping it cold.  Instead, the trucks got routed to anywhere that would take the food, and a little store in Kalona, IA did!  I drive past Kalona for work most days, so I stopped a few times, and on one trip I got this little bird - 5 lbs for less than $5 (regularly $2.49/lb)!  Tonight I quartered a half onion, smashed a few cloves of garlic, rubbed the chicken with olive oil and sprinkled on some rosemary, sage, and thyme.  I started the bird at 450 for 10 minutes (the high heat makes for a crispier skin), then lowered the oven temperature to 375 for another 2 hours and 20 minutes.  After the chicken had been roasting for about an hour, there were enough juices to baste it with, so I spooned some up and drizzled them over the skin every 20 minutes or so.  Oh man, did it turn out good!  As you can see, we also had some green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, and a bowl of salad with the final spinach from our garden (not pictured since we ate it while we waited for the chicken to cool).  While we ate, we talked about all the many things for which we are thankful.  We are so blessed.  "All good gifts around us are sent from Heaven above, so thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love!"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pumpkin Breakfasts

I recently heard fall called the "pumpkin-ocalypse," the season in which normal dishes and drinks become "Pumpkin Spice" this and that "with Pumpkin."  I'm not sure if this person was bemoaning the way the pumpkin flavor of fall has permeated our food culture or rejoicing in it, but the Helpful Husband and I celebrate it in all it's glory!  I am someone who loves and appreciates the changing of seasons.  I have to remind myself to continue to joyfully participate in the current season once it's settled in rather than turn my attention to anticipating the coming one.  God has given us such a beautiful display of his unchanging but multifaceted goodness, and my eagerness for what's next can sometimes overcome my appreciation for what is.  But with pumpkin, I don't grow tired.  In order to preserve its preciousness to my palate and to live as harmoniously with the earth's seasons as I can, I limit my pumpkin consumption to the autumn.  But in the autumn, I love to enjoy pumpkin morning, noon, and night!  And so, here are two breakfast recipes that we've happily consumed in the past week or two.

Now, to be really harmonious with the earth's seasons, as I so grandly put it in the previous paragraph, I should be getting my pumpkin from an actual pumpkin.  However, if you read the post about the Chicken and Chickpea soup, you'll know that the Helpful Husband and I have had quite enough struggles with using a real pumpkin this fall, and you'll understand a little better why we have fallen back on canned pumpkin puree.  I haven't worked out enough to be ready for another pumpkin battle.  The wonderful thing about these two pumpkin-y breakfast recipes is that between the two of them, they use one can of pumpkin puree very nicely.  I hate to waste any!  And so, without further ado, as I eat my pumpkin oatmeal, here are the recipes for Pumpkin Baked French Toast and Pumpkin Overnight Fridge Oatmeal - two dishes you make the night before and enjoy in the morning!  (both recipes were found on

Pumpkin Baked French Toast
Cut up enough bread (whatever kind you want) to fill an greased 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.  In a large bowl, whisk together 4 large eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, and 1/4 cup pumpkin puree. 

Pour it over the bread, and use your hands to scrunch it all together, making sure each piece of bread is soaked.  Cover it and put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350, uncover the bread, put some pecans on top (if you like that sort of thing, and Mom - I do!  Two weeks ago I started liking pecans, even IN things!), and bake for 35-45 minutes or until it's not wet anymore.  Enjoy - perhaps with some maple syrup or honey.

Pumpkin Overnight Fridge Oatmeal
Put 2 Tbsp. butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat.  Melt them together until they're a thick sauce.  In a medium sized bowl, mix the brown sugar sauce together with 3 cups uncooked old-fashioned oats, 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 cup milk, and 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Once it's well-mixed, cover it and put it in the fridge overnight.  The oats will soften in the other ingredients, and in the morning, you'll have oatmeal!  I recommend warming a serving in the microwave, pouring on a little more milk and a bit of maple syrup and perhaps tossing in a few raisins and/or pecans!

Yum.  Now you're ready for whatever fall weather is thrown at you, be it sun and 60 degrees, as it was here yesterday, or rain and 35 degrees, as it will be here tomorrow!  Wherever you are, I like to think of you enjoying a hot, pumpkin-y breakfast before you head off to face your day.  Like Powdermilk Biscuits, these breakfasts will give shy people the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.