PUMPKIN GINGER BREAD

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I purchased these vintage Czech spice jars on ebay.  I love the clean lines and neat lettering.  I actually have quite a little collection of black and white Czech pottery, which I started collecting unintentionally about 15 years ago.  I’ll share it with you one of these days.  But today, three of these spice jars have my full attention:

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These, along with cinnamon, are the spices that make up pumpkin pie spice, and are the inspiration for today’s recipe.

What’s that?  August is too early to be posting a recipe for pumpkin bread or thinking about fall?  Oh silly you, have you been living under a rock?  Here’s a photo I took at Michael’s on July 5:

Michael's fall

Pumpkins, pumpkins, and more pumpkins

Alright, I can cut Michael’s a little slack for jumping the gun.  After all, it is a craft store, and crafters do need to get working if they are going to have their creations ready for fall. (You haven’t started?  What are you waiting for?)

But how do you explain this photo taken at Randall’s grocery store on July 29?

Randall's pumpkins

Scary to see jack o’ lanterns in July

Yes, like a cheap pair of underwear, pumpkin spice season is slowly creeping up on us.  I’ve already seen articles about how we will be introduced to pumpkin spice Peeps this season, and Starbucks is going to use — wait for it — REAL pumpkin in its Pumpkin Spice Lattes, along with removing the caramel coloring and artificial flavors. (Starbucks is largely credited with creating the pumpkin spice craze when it introduced the now-famous pumpkin spice latte, or PSL, in 2003).  In fact, it was pretty much a full-blown assault at the grocery stores this weekend, where I saw everything from pumpkin spice room freshener to pumpkin spice whipped cream in a can (keep in mind Labor Day is still two weeks away).

Keep calm

Last year my friends (real and virtual) got a laugh out of poking fun at pumpkin spice mania, and they sent me lots of photos of products — some intriguing, some gross. Hunting down pumpkin spice flavored or scented things became almost like sport.  This year, starting in September, Tag Sale Tastes is going to have its own Pumpkinpalooza, with  reviews of pumpkin spice products, recipes, and other pumpkin-related things.  I’ll be trying out the products on friends, family, and co-workers.  So be on the lookout — let me know if you see something that merits review or mockery.  :)

Maybe you’re wondering how I have the audacity to post a recipe for pumpkin spice bread, after making fun of all things pumpkin spice.  Because I want to be FIRST!!  You know what I mean, right?  Urban Dictionary defines “first” as a word that is said when you are the first one to post a comment on a video, picture, or article on the internet.  I want to be like all those obnoxious people on Facebook who wish you happy birthday the day before your birthday, just so they can be FIRST!  So here’s to beating out all the other bloggers in the whole world this year with what I hope is the FIRST! pumpkin spice bread recipe of Fall 2015.

Inspired by the Czech ginger, cloves, and nutmeg jars, here is a great recipe for Pumpkin Ginger Bread.  This is a favorite recipe of my family’s — moist, and dense, and spicy. Although I usually disregard the advice from people like Martha Stewart who say to replace your spices every 6 months (what am I, made out of money?), this time of year you would do yourself a favor to buy, if nothing else, a fresh jar of ginger and cinnamon — it really makes a difference in your holiday baking (no, I don’t mean Labor Day).  As the loaves bake, your whole house will smell like a pumpkin spice candle (just kidding).

PUMPKIN GINGER BREAD
Print
Recipe type: Breads an.)d Muffins
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 16-ounce can pumpkin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, or two loaf pans.
  2. Place eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly add oil and continue beating until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Add dry mixture to egg mixture alternately with water. Beat in pumpkin. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake approximately 1 hour, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool in pan at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. (If necessary, run a knife between the edge of the bread and the pan, in order to loosen it.)

 

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Mmmmm — the house smells just like pumpkin spice candles, or is it air freshener?

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Y’all will fall for this pumpkin bread

BRECKENRIDGE SUMMER VACATION

Who said that practicing law isn’t fun?  Take this laughable auto-response email that came across my desk recently from opposing counsel in one of my appeals:

“I am assigned to trial Monday, August 10 at 9:00 a.m.  As soon as that trial concludes I will be leaving for a long planned two week summer vacation.  Upon my return I will delete every email received over the three week period.  It is therefore essential that you forward your email to my secretary . . . .  If the matter needs any attention before August 31 please call her, or my law partner . . . .  Please keep in mind when I am in trial and when I am on vacation I never check email.

Hilarious, no?  I don’t hold it against him for drafting a stupid email — we all make bonehead mistakes once in a while.  But the arrogance?  Seriously — is he traveling off the grid?  What other communications will he destroy upon his return?  Tear up all his mail?  Erase all his voicemail messages?  Throw out any packages that arrived in his absence?  I don’t know about you, but in a million years I would not hire this bozo to represent me.  Or fix my toilet.  I briefly toyed with the idea of starting a Facebook campaign to flood him with 1 million emails (you know, post a picture of one of my kids holding a sign saying that if 1,000,000 emails are sent I’ll buy them a puppy), but thought better of it (partly because I already have 3 dogs).

My family went on vacation this summer, and yes, we checked our emails occasionally. Okay, constantly.  Might have even done an hour or two of work while on vacation.  It just goes with the territory.  We weren’t off the grid, we were in Breckenridge.  And I would rather have it that way than what it was like when I first started practicing in New York. During a three-week trip to France (a delayed bar exam trip), I received exactly one message in my absence — it was left by mother, and warned me to watch out for terrorists.  Don’t really need to tell you how that job turned out, do I?  So yeah, I’d rather hear from my boss with something that needs my attention because I’m important and irreplaceable (girl can dream, right?).

Our first stop in Colorado was the Hertz service center in Denver.  What a bizarre scene that was.  After waiting in line for 45 minutes or so, you are directed to an area with rows of kiosks, where you then Skype with an agent located anywhere but Denver.  I found this all quite amusing.

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Patience is a virtue

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Kids never run out of ways to entertain themselves

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Your kiosk awaits

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Say hello to Agent Melva!

There is an inherent tension in our family vacations.  This is because my kids’ idea of a great vacation is to sit in a condo with unlimited free wi-fi, whereas my husband’s idea of a great vacation is to spend it doing things that involve at least a slight risk of death. We managed to find a number of activities that struck a compromise, such as hiking. It’s impossible to ignore the beauty of Breckenridge, and the cool weather was a welcome break from the triple-digit weather we left behind in Houston.

I was jealous of the overflowing flower baskets that lined the streets of Breckenridge, as all I can manage to grow this time of year in Houston is dried herbs (one day someone will laugh at this joke — is today the day?).

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One of my favorite things was seeing the abundant wildflowers on our hikes:

We had fun geocaching along the trails:

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A teeny tiny microcache

The kids were excited to find a patch of snow and throw a few snowballs:

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My daughter just had to take the obligatory feet-in-the-landscape photo:

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Personally, I hate photos like this.  I’m going to buy her a pair of rubber gorilla feet to use for our next vacation — that would at least be good for a laugh, don’t you think?

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Another thing we enjoyed was the Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show, about 40 minutes from Breckenridge. untitled                                                vailfarmersmarket.com

The Vail Farmers’ Market is held on Sundays during the summer months, and has over 135 tents, with food, produce, art, clothing, jewelry, and accessories.  I thought the paella-in-a-cup tent was a great idea:

I picked up a colorful woven basket to use at the farmers’ market at home:

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All in all, Breckenridge was a nice getaway.  I have to admit, though, that by the end of the week we were missing our dogs, the kids were anxious about the start of the school year, and we were ready to come home.