I’d like to start out this post with an apology. I’ve been gone for a while, which is unacceptable for the biggest cooking time of the year. This last semester was far more intensive than usual (probably because it was my last at CNU) and once it was over, I had to prep the home for family visits and give my brain some time to recover. Hopefully, you my loyal readers made it through the holidays without my assistance.
This advice, however, is not simply for the holidays. You see, the kitchen life cycle goes something like this:
1. Grow up in a household of numerous people with an adult in charge of making all meals and passing on vital cooking skills.
2. Leave home and discover that cooking for one is worlds different from cooking for a family. Any acquired cooking skills suddenly seem useless.
3. Co-habitate with one or more adults and really get the hang of making small meals (or ordering take-out).
At some point, you might find yourself desiring to play host/ess, to make a big fancy dinner like what your parents made for you. It can’t be that difficult, right? Just make bigger portions and …
So you know how you’re trying to eat healthier and the main thing you hear about is increasing your consumption of leafy greens? They’re called nutritional powerhouses, chock full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and veggie awesomeness. But what exactly are you supposed to do with it? I mean, let’s be honest. Salad is so boring. And if it isn’t boring, then it requires so much work. Chopping ingredients, adding seasoning, making dressing (if you’re extra motivated). It’s fine if you’re making a big salad to impress a bunch of guests, but what about if you’re cooking for one? I don’t know about you, but when I was a novice, salads were intimidating. It’s not like there are recipes out there for a simple salad.
Talking to my fellow students, I have encountered the pessimistic perception that healthy eating for one is impossible. Health foods are costlier than junk foods, for one. For another, unless you get processed healthy foods (snack bars, rice cakes, frozen dinners, etc), health foods have a very limited shelf life. No one likes throwing out expensive food, but that seems inevitable unless you buy individually packaged servings, right?
Wrong. I won’t lie and say it’s easy …
You know how people have their favorite seasons? Some love the freshness of spring or the bright heat of summer. Others revel in the crispness of fall or the frosty fun of winter. Me? I love baking season. It’s there whenever I need it. Baking is my ballast, stabilizing me when I’m angry or lonely or stressed. The activity focuses and calms me. The product, when successful, fills me with pride as well as the pleasure of comfort food. Plus, it makes me popular when I bring goodies to class. This week, I adapted two recipes into a masterpiece that can only be made by a select few of the student body, those 21 or older and living off campus. But they came out so well, I had to share.
You will need:
1 stick unsalted butter, rm temp
2 c (14 oz) dark brown sugar
2 c pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)¹
12 oz (1 ½ c) pumpkin stout beer
2 ¾ c (12 1/2 oz) flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
½ t ground nutmeg²
1 batch cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350°F
1. Add …