How to… Make Pumpkin Bread

 

I’ve got a tiny confession to make. My cookbook library is kinda small. Make that very small. In fact, count them on two hands small. Little as it is though, I do use actually them, which is why I tend not to buy in bulk when it comes to recipe books, instead preferring to get good wear out of the ones I do own… however, that’s not say more aren’t welcome on my bookshelf (Christmas is nearing, hint, hint). Food blogs probably have a lot to do with my meagre cookbook collection too although I will admit there is nothing like leafing through a hard copy filled with dreamy images – in my opinion, computer screens will just never match the tactile beauty of a book.

 

My other confession (can you tell I was taised Catholic?) is that I never seem to be able to stick rigidly to a recipe. Of course, that helps when one is transforming a Nigella dish into a vegan friendly affair but baffles even myself when the recipe at hand is (a.) vegan (b.) delicious. Why mess with something that already works and tastes, well, fab? I guess sticking by the rule set was never my strong suit. So, even when I discover a recipe like this one (that’ll be Joy Wilson’s ‘Vegan Pumpkin Everything Bread’ I’m referring to), I can’t help but tweak it to suit my own tastes and needs (cue sugar reduction, vanilla extract addition, rye flour substitution etc.etc.) Like I said, me and rules never did mix very well… even when the rules were (read are) perfectly good ones. With that said, the basic recipe has been a firm favourite round these parts for years (literally) and we now enjoy it every year on Christmas morning with a cup of tea , as we sit around exchanging gifts. You could say it’s become something of a family tradition.

 

And even though I have pumpkin bread recipes of my own, which are darkly spiced and equally yummy, I really wanted to share this Joy The Baker favourite of mine because it’s kinda where my love for pumpkin bread really began. Yes, I’ve changed it up a bit throughout the years but it’s such an infallible recipe, any amendments you wish to make yourself will not affect it’s ultimate awesomeness – trust me, I’ve done all the experimenting for you.

 

Whilst it’s not exactly a Halloween recipe (more like a general autumnal offering) I still feel the need to say…

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

 

 

what you’ll need

adapted from Joy The Baker

 

11/4 cups plain white flour

1/2 cup rye flour

3/4 cup unrefined caster sugar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup agave or other vegan sweetener

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 small apple, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup dried cranberries

 

what you’ll do

pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

 

grease a medium-sized loaf tin.

mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl (flours, sugar, bicarb, baking powder, salt and spices).

 

whisk together the puree, oil, extract, agave and water until thoroughly combined.

 

make a well in the centre of your flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. fold gently until everything is almost combined before stirring through the pecans, apple and cranberries.

 

transfer to the loaf tin, top with whole pecans and dust over a little more sugar and cinnamon before baking for around 1hr or until a skewer comes out clean.

 

let the loaf cool for around 10mins before gently removing from the tin and cooling completely on a rack. once completely cooled, slice, eat and smile.

 


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How to… Roast Pumpkin Seeds

 

Remember those pumpkin seeds I told you to hang to? Well, now we’re gonna roast ’em. I’ve got several tried and tested methods for doing this including ‘keeping all the gunk on’ (I like the added flavour it gives them), ‘rinsing them thoroughly’ (I realise many of you are averse to the pumpkin gunk) and then this one, which is a ‘boil/rinse scenario’ (which ensures maximum gunk free-ness and therefore optimum mass appeal). Even though you can totally skip this stage I thought it best to hedge my bets here and offer up a roasted pumpkin seed recipe that would appeal to most people… i.e. even those amongst us who don’t share an obsessive love for all things pumpkin. Yep, they do exist.

 

I’ve opted to keep the coating a tad more traditional too for the purposes of this post (it’s essentially a ‘pumpkin spice’ mix) and leave it up to you to do some experimenting in your own kitchen should this combo not appeal. You could easily go down the savoury route … why not try a spicy cayenne pepper mix or even a simple salt and pepper one, which will really let those seeds shine. Whatever you choose, the basic method stays the same – boil, rinse, dry, roast. The rest really is yours to play with.

 

 

what you’ll need

raw pumpkin seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tbsp muscovado sugar

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

pinch sea salt

 

what you’ll do

pre-heat the oven the 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

 

separate the seeds from the pulp, discarding any that look hollow or too small – you should yield about 1/2 cup from each medium-sized pumpkin.

 

bring a small pan of salted water to the boil, add the seeds and simmer for 10minutes. drain and rinse thoroughly. dry with a clean tea towel and transfer to a baking dish.

 

mix the spices, sugar, oil and salt in a pestle and mortar until thoroughly combined. sprinkle the spice mix over the pumpkin seeds and stir until everything is completely coated.

 

transfer the seeds unto a baking sheet and spread out until they separated. roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently – after 25minutes be sure to check them every few minutes as they can turn from perfectly roasted to perfectly burnt in minutes.

 

remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving. eat, crunch, repeat.

 

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How To … Make Pumpkin Puree

 

Today marks the first post in what I hope will be a regular feature on the blog… the ‘How To…’ series. I may be setting myself up for a fall even by saying this but (wait for it) I think I’m ready to throw myself back into my blogging in a big way. Sure, I post here and there (and I always try to make sure it’s quality content) but I sometimes feel like I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties (consider my knuckles well and truly wrapped) so this is me doing my best to make up for all those squandered would-be blogging hours and rectify the situation pronto as best I can. Usually it’s my incessant (and probably incurable) over-thinking that prevents me from posting more frequently, which is why a format like this one might be a good way of getting me over this ‘but is it really blogworthy?’ hurdle.

 

With that said, it recently occurred to me I often don’t cover the basics here on PeaSoupEats and seeing as it’s nearing Halloween (and I loves me some Halloween!!) I suspected a mini tutorial on all things pumpkin related would be useful  and hopefully welcome by those of you who reach for the can of Libby’s more often than you care to admit.

 

My own pumpkin puree days began during our stint in the States – ah, ChiTown, you did give me some sweet, sweet pumpkin memories. Prior to that I was completely unaware of anything of the pumpkin variety and that includes pumpkin spice lattes (hurry up and make them vegan already!), pumpkin pie (oh Lordy)  and, my personal fav, pumpkin bread… Ob.Sessed.

 

One thing I would like to make absolutely clear at this stage, however, is that no two pumpkins are made equal. I roasted two for the purposes of this post (that brings my current seasonal tally to four) because the first was way too pale in colour and unusually watery in consistency. It’s not a typical occurrence by any means but as soon as I opened her up I knew she wasn’t a goodun – nothing goes to waste in this house though so the puree (as anemic looking as it is) will absolutely be put to good use. Thankfully Sainsbury’s came up trumps with the next pumpkin, which yieled a beautifully vibrant sunset orange puree that I’ve already used to lipsmacking effect in a risotto. Don’t say I never suffered for my craft.

 

So. Here I am. Pumpkin puree offering in hand. Ready for the week ahead when I’ll be transforming all that luscious golden nectar into some delicious (I tried to think of a more descriptive word but these early mornings are difficult enough as it is) sweet and savoury dishes for your perusal. Okay then, enough of the babble, let’s get to it.

 

 

What you’ll need

1 small/medium-sized edible pumpkin

 

What you’ll do

pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

 

halve the pumpkin using a paring knife (I find that large knives are much more difficult to manoeuver in this instance) and scoop out all the seeds… I invested in one of those little carving kits this year and the mini shovel thing was a godsend although a dessert spoon will also suffice.

 

put the pumpkin seeds/innards in a bowl and set aside for later (I’ll be showing you ‘How to… ‘ roast these suckers in the next tutorial) and place the halved pumpkin pieces flesh side down in a large baking dish… as you can see I roasted two pumpkins and the smaller of them fitted snuggly in one dish.

 

pour about 1/2 cup water over the pumpkin halves to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. roast in the pre-heated oven for around 60minutes or until the skin pierces easily when poked with a knife.

 

remove the pumpkin from the oven and turn them over immediately so they are flesh side up and let them cool for around 10mins before scooping out the soft flesh. let the the pumpkin flesh cool further for around 30-40minutes before blending (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400) until completely smooth. place the puree in a tupperware container and refrigerate overnight.

 

et voila, you’ve just made pumpkin puree!

 

 

 

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Nautical Nora

 

I am a self confessed, out ‘n’ out, ‘holding my hands up’ nautical obsessed nutcase who can’t seem to have enough stripes, straw or scarves in her wardrobe. And seeing as it’s an affliction I can’t seem to shake off I’ve taken the decision to fully embrace my current coastal location and put forth my very best off-season tourist look right through fall…. well, if you can’t beat ’em and all that.

 

In fact (and I’m sure you may have noticed) my outfit posts have been few and far between over the last number of months and part of my reluctance has been down to my uniformic casual attire – which I don pretty much every day. Perhaps I just thought it wasn’t terribly inspiring… jeans and Breton tops are hardly groundbreaking style decisions and even less so when you live in Cornwall. But! That is what you’ll usually find me in and now that I’ve completed my third closet clearout of the year I almost feel free of the fashion shackles that were still lingering about from our previously busy London life. Now though, I can start afresh and keep my look pared now whilst hopefully still maintaining some modicum of personal style… I can but try.

 

With Margaret Howell lookbook images swirling about my head, as well as old school ‘Mull of Kintyre era’ Linda McCartney pics (check out Pinterest to see what I mean), my desire to refine my laid-back style has never been more pronounced. This ‘woolly’ cardi (hard to believe it’s synthetic, I know – but it is!) is a mainstay in my wardrobe since we moved here last year. I honestly don’t know how I would’ve survived without it and even though it’s seen better days I downright refuse to part with it. Of course, the stripes are a given but I do find my eye wandering to colours other than blue or navy, and this real deal authentic sailor’s top perfectly fits the bill. I’m now on the hunt for a yellow and/or orange version… hit me up if you know where I can find one!

 

what I wore… chunky cardi/urban outfitters … flared jeans/gap … sailor top/wild pony vintage … brown lace-up shoes/charity shop … straw bag/possibly primark … headscarf/tabio… sunnies /accessorize …

 

 

The flared jeans are another staple that I adore. As someone in possession of a rather shapely behind, buying jeans can be tantamount to torture so when I found these in Gap a number of years back I almost wept with joy at the fit. Even though I’ve since managed to source good jeans that flatter my shape, these will always have a special place in my heart.

 

Last but not least, the straw bag has been with me so long I barely remember even buying it… probably some highstreet store but there’s no label on it so I can’t be sure. This comes shopping with me and is great for grabbing in a hurry because you can fill it to the brim and it still won’t weigh a ton (something the humble tote cannot claim). I never used this bag in London due to its easy access nature but now that we’re here in Cornwall I feel safe enough to leave it open and not have to worry about wandering hands.

 

Again, the shoesies are ancient relics I can’t bear to bin. I found them in a charity shop and almost shrieked with delight when I realised they’re were pleather. Worn to death but still in good knick, I really dread the day when they officially bite the dust – such is the holy grail of decent, and dare I say ‘cool’, vegan shoes that don’t cost the earth. Harumph.

 

Oh, and big shout out to my lovely Sister who took all of these lovely images. Only wish I had her around more often for equally easy and fun shoots.

 

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Eggplant Involtini

 

Every writer should have a desk. Having a designated space to spout ones thoughts would (and should… and hopefully will be) paramount to producing great work – right? It’s rather odd then that I’m only just getting around to buying one myself, which has made for some rather uninspiring make-shift work spaces in the past – the dining room table and sofa are often akin to an office but not having any real separation from work and relaxation has begun to take its toll. So, once we’d decided to tackle the spare room I knew we had to incorporate a little area for me to tap away … away from our living area. Being someone who is easily distracted having easy access to the telly, my vinyl collection, and most significantly, the kitchen, can frequently spell ‘where did the day go’ disaster so this new set-up is my way of ensuring I get more constructive work done during the day. Here goes!

 


 

what you’ll need

3 large eggplants (aubergines)

1 cup couscous

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp allspice

pinch cayenne pepper

1 lemon

30g bunch flat leaf parsley

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

 

for the sauce

1 x 400g plum tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp brown sugar

salt and pepper

 

pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

 

heat a griddle pan and brush lightly with olive oil. slice the aubergines lengthways and brush each side with oil. griddle each slice for several minutes on each side until marked. set aside until needed.

 

bring a large kettle of water to the boil. add the spices to the couscous along with a little salt and a quarter of a lemon. pour over the boiling water, stir, cover and set aside until all the water is absorbed. once absorbed, remove the lemon with a fork, squeeze over any excess juice and fluff with a fork. lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, shaking it periodically. stir the pine nuts and finely chopped flat leaf parsley through the couscous, squeeze over the juice from the remaining lemon along with a drizzle of olive oil and a touch more seasoning.

 

place all the ingredients for the tomato sauce along with a 1/2 cup of water into a blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400) and blend until smooth. pour about a quarter of the sauce into the bottom of a deep baking dish and tilt until the entire surface area is coated.

 

place the griddled aubergine on a chopping board and distribute about a tablespoon of the couscous mixture over the entire slice. carefully roll and place in the baking dish. repeat until all the eggplant slices have been used. if there’s any leftover couscous, toss some of it over the aubergine rolls prior to adding the top layer of sauce. I also like to reserve a little couscous for serving too.

 

pour the remainder of the tomato sauce over the eggplant rolls, cover and bake in the pre-heated oven for around 30minutes before removing the foil and baking for a further 10 or so minutes.

 

serve with the leftover couscous and top with rocket (arugula)… finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a smattering of nooch and a few chilli flakes.

 

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Cruelty Free Beauty Finds

 

Cruelty free beauty is on the up and up friends. Big brands are slowly but surely seeing the light and  following suit when it comes to phasing out animal testing and I could not be more delighted. As a self-confessed beauty junkie myself I want to be able to buy the latest foundation without having to worry about the process its gone through before I smear it all over my face but for us vegans that privilege can often come with a hefty price-tag. Of course, my often meagre budget means that those expensive purchases are few and far between so I’m always seeking out more affordable options such as Superdrug and Soap & Glory. Not that I’m complaining mind because these wallet friendly items happens to be pretty wonderful anyway so I thought I’d share a few of my current favs…

 

1. Superdrug are currently stocking a brilliant range of products that mimic what all the top beauty brands are doing… the B-Pure Micellar Water I bought recently is along the sames lines as that well regarded fashion-pack fav Bioderma and in my opinion is a 3-in-1 miracle worker. The fact they label everything clearly (BUAV symbol – check!  ‘Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans’ – check and check!) ensures shopping there is an absolute pleasure.

 

Also from the B-Confident range is the Colour Correction Cream, which has an added SPF 45… essential for pale skinned peeps like myself who worry about exposing their face to the sun. Like many over-30s my skin tone is a little more uneven so this make-up bag addition has become something of a ‘must-have’. I put it under my foundation but you could easily use it on its own – kind of like a tinted moisturizer. I recommend it for a smooth finish and it’s very reasonably priced too so what’s not to like?

 

A not-so-new discovery is their own-brand make-up line but it’s still the most exciting for me. I could spend hours browsing the small but perfectly formed range (and I could list a dozen more items I’m currently coveting) with the All Lengthening Defining Mascara (basically clump-free, lengthening, easy-to-apply awesomeness) and B-Defined  Eyebrow Kit (didn’t actually realise how much I needed this!) possibly being the best. Even though my brows are pretty dark this little kit helps me reign in their unruliness, and i’ve become increasingly reliant on it for finishing off my look.

 

Oh, and how could I forget the BB 5-in-1 Eye Cream. Ideal for covering up those dark circles whilst looking completely natural too, I also love the application brush although it will require some further blending – I just use my fingers for this – before applying your foundation. I’m pretty fussy when it comes to concealers and this rates pretty well alongside more expensive brands – not bad for a budget purchase, eh?

 

And yes, I know I’ve banged on about Superdrug a dozen times before so consider this simply a reiteration of my love for this wonderful high street store. Nice one Superdrug, keep doin’ what yer doin’.

 

 

2. Soap & Glory have come a long way since I first discovered them when it comes to providing information. I remember clearly having to send emails regarding individual products and it was a lengthy, laborious process waiting on the response. Thankfully now they have a handy list on their website, which lists all the vegan friendly options and this 3-in-1 Face Soap and Clarity Facial Wash is one of them. I’d been wanting to try a new face wash for a while now and the little beads that are dispersed throughout are gentle enough to scrub away any deep seated dirt without being too abrasive on the skin. One word. Love.

 

3. Okay, so now let me remind you of a brand I have given a mention to on the blog (or was it just my vlog?) before but you may have forgotten about. Pure Nuff Stuff is a brilliant little homegrown company based right here in Penzance that utilizes all natural ingredients. I was in desperate need of a rich body moisturizer that could combat my ‘prone to dryness’ skin and so far it has exceeded all expectations. The lady in the store was incredibly attentive and was very excited to tell me she was in communication with a new vegan website (didn’t catch the name unfortunately) that will be featuring their fantastic ‘almost completely vegan’ range very soon. Having opted for the fragrance-free Shea Souffle option I wanted to give it a couple of weeks before offering up my official verdict but I can now emphatically award it a double thumbs up. I was initially a wee bit concerned when I realised how incredibly thick it was, however, I needn’t have worried because it melts into the skin like a dream and keeps it hydrated right through to the next morning – and can I just say I adore the little jar it comes in too… #justsayin

 

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