I have an amazing group friends and family. I recognize this year-round, but every year on my birthday the cards, telephone calls, and celebrations serve as a special reminder of just how lucky I am. This year, I had not one but three friends sing happy birthday to me in voicemails, which absolutely made my day -- I listened to the messages while waiting for the bus and had a HUGE grin on my face. The day before my birthday, I got to celebrate my Mom's birthday with a fall run through the canyon behind my parent's house with my parents, followed by a surprise party for my Mom that my Dad planned (yes, my Mom and I almost share a birthday)! Rob treated me to a new craft beer to try. A special friend even brought me the best black licorice in the world from Berlin. My birthday extended from a day into a week as we finally hosted a housewarming party a few days later. If I ever feel lonely, I need only remember how awesome it was to have fifty friends drop by our house on a gorgeous fall day. There were kids playing and running through the house, Forest the cat basked in the attention of our guests, and new friendships were forged. Instead of snow, we had sunshine. Life is great.
It also reminded me of how we thought we'd have a housewarming barbecue in July, shortly after we moved in. Ha! Only now do I feel like the house is ready to have guests... our new closets are finished, our bookshelves are done as of yesterday, and the basement is a work in progress, but thankfully not one I have to look at every day. It definitely feels like home.
In one of my birthday phone calls, I was discussing with B how disappointed I had been with the pumpkin-inspired recipes I've made recently. These Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts, for example, were fine, but not great. On my birthday, I made a special dinner for Rob (Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie) and while I love all of the ingredients, the end result was underwhelming. I've heard B rave before about her pumpkin bread, and she passed along the recipe in the hopes that it would lift me out of my pumpkin funk.
It absolutely worked! This bread could not be easier to make. It is flavorful without being too sweet. It makes both an excellent breakfast or dessert. Plus, it makes two loaves, so you have one to keep for yourself and another to share (or to freeze... but why not make someone's day and give them a surprise loaf of delicious bread?). As I write this, I am enjoying a piece at my desk...
Recipe shared from friend to friend and given to me by Betsy Strenio
Note - I reduced the sugar by 1/2 cup. If you prefer your bread super sweet, I'd add that 1/2 cup of sugar back in. I used olive oil and loved the end result. The original recipe, however, calls for vegetable oil. And if you want to make the bread healthier, you could try substituting apple sauce for half of the oil.
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin (I use both store-bought pumpkin and homemade puree in my pumpkin goodies. If you want an easy and instructive post on homemade puree, use this link.)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin.
2. In a separate large bowl, sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.
3. Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely. You can freeze a loaf for future eating or give one to a friend!
Birthday beer from Crooked Stave in awesome mugs courtesy of Danielle & Kate