This morning much needed rain is finally falling on Northern California and will, we hope, douse the fires burning to the north east of us and clearing out the air that has been weighing — literally: it felt heavy and thick — on us for almost two weeks and keeping us mostly inside. I’ve been trying to get in the Thanksgiving spirit but it’s been a bit challenging; witnessing first hand the dramatic effects of climate change and knowing how many people lost their homes and everything else is quite sobering. Focusing solely on cooking has felt trivial. But! We humans like our rituals never mind if the world is actually on fire, and so I’ll pick up my turkey at the market later and will make my butternut squash soup and nibble on this pumpkin bread. Grounding in tradition during times of upheaval is steadying, and keeping up a gratitude practice is essential every day of the year. It feels extra important during the Thanksgiving holiday. This year I’m thankful for hard-working firefighters, for being able to open my windows again, for being settled for the first time in many years, and for our good health.
I wanted to do my usual post about vegan/vegetarian Thanksgiving but time got away from me. Instead, some last minute ideas can be found in the vegan Thanksgiving piece I wrote for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, including the recipe for that butternut squash soup. My plant-based offering tomorrow will be a quick sautee of garlicky chickpeas and spinach. We’ll also have roasted sweet potatoes, a salad, green beans, mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy, and soup. Desserts will include pumpkin pie with a whole wheat pastry crust and the cranberry-apple crisp with apples from our tree featured in the article. Simple is best always and especially on a holiday.
For mid-morning snack there is a not-too-sweet pumpkin bread with a nice hit of chocolate that comes together quickly and deliciously. It also makes a lovely day after Thanksgiving breakfast for guests — or just yourself! Sierra and I stirred it together last weekend and I wisely saved a loaf for cooking fortification for tomorrow. Although, with my pared-down menu I won’t be spending too much time in the kitchen — and that is just fine by me.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
This is easy to make vegan: use a non-dairy milk and two flax eggs or a banana in place of the eggs.
Makes one large loaf or two small loaves.
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup milk of choice
1 2/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Handful of semisweet chocolate chips
Pinch of ground cinnamon, for sprinkling on top
Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and maple syrup. Add the eggs and whisk until blended. (If your coconut oil solidifies on contact with cold ingredients, let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of your stove, or warm it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
Add the pumpkin purée, milk, spices, baking soda, vanilla and salt, and whisk to blend. Then, using a big spoon, stir in the flour just until combined. Fold in the chocolate.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.
Place in the oven and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remvoe and let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer the bread to a cooling rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.