Monday, September 26, 2011

Halloween's A Comin' (and there's a pumpkin bread recipe to go with it)

I've never shared Peggy Chang's Pumpkin Bread recipe with you. It's the most delicious pumpkin bread; it's almost like carrot cake but with a pumpkin spice that's so sweet and satisfying, it makes you want to cry. Sometimes, I add mini chocolate chips to the mix and, well, there is nothing better. Not even baked apples, or a fresh from the oven pumpkin pie with a flaky crust. Peggy Chang's Pumpkin Bread is the best. She used to bake hers in coffee tins, but since I get my coffee in bags, I just use little loaf pans. Sometimes, I make it in muffin tins. Anyway works, as long as you watch the cooking time. I really want to share that recipe with you now, but it's late, and I'm not motivated to go to the kitchen and get it. I promise I will get it to you soon, because it's that good. You simply must try it. Peggy is my mother's neighbor, and when I was young, Peggy shared this recipe with my mom. It makes two loafs, and it's so amazing that I make it at least a couple of times every fall.

Moist and delicious pumpkin bread (which is really more like a cake). Yum.

Now I know it's still September (barely), but after this long super-hot summer, that only ceased to be stifling when it was raining, I am ready for a new season. Usually, I am chomping at the bit to begin my Halloween decorating. I get a full six weeks in by decorating my house the day after my mother's birthday, September 19th. My decorations never stay up longer than November 1st so I start early. To me, visions of the undead, grey ghosts, and tattered bats, look all the more dreary after their holiday has passed. That's why I start decorating in mid-September; to maximize my decoration (personal) viewing.

This year, though, on the 19th, I had no steam left in me to decorate. Perhaps it was the weather, or something in the mood that surrounded me, but I just couldn't usher in Halloween. I tried, oh, I tried, to no avail. I planted lots of mums, but that was the furthest I'd gotten. I've been exhausted and overworked. I just couldn't stand the thought of unpacking all that stuff, and putting it out.

It wasn't until W and I were out with two of our kids on Friday -- when I saw orange lights and pumpkin cut-outs -- that I got in the mood. It hit hard. It was like all of a sudden, I couldn't wait to decorate. I could barely hold all the boxes of lights -- one string of purple, the rest orange -- while my fingertips gripped onto a 30 pack of pumpkins die-cuts. W looked at me, noticing that I was hinging on hysteria, and said cautiously, "Don't we have a ton of lights at home?"

It didn't matter to me. I wanted the lights, and I wanted them now!

We got home, and while W was barbecuing ribs on the grill, and the potatoes were cooking (in preparation for being smashed together and smothered in butter and whole milk, which M loved), I went outside and started wrapping the lamp post in orange string lights. The kids had already opened the pack of pumpkins and were sticking them in every window of the house. It was festive as all get out. Afterward, I moved to the side porch, where I proceeded to wrap strings of lights (that we did have at the house, as W had mentioned) around the porch. The warm glow of orange brought autumn into my heart, in full force.

As we ate the ribs (W made them perfectly, both dry and wet ribs), mashed potatoes, and corn while gathered around our handmade, reclaimed wood table, I felt hopelessly overjoyed.

The next day at my house, I was out early stringing lights through my evergreens. It was hot, about 80*, and one of my neighbors just had to ask (in a concerned parental tone) when I was going to start lighting them up. I assured him it wouldn't before October 1st, and was commended for being so ahead of the game. (Sidebar: if there is any nice, warm day in November, it's the day that I cancel all of my appointments and string all of my front yard evergreens with string lights in anticipation of Christmas. I use the super long lights that the landscapers use, and I still go through about 10 strings. I don't set the timer to light them up until Black Friday. It's so worth it, though, because the eve after Thanksgiving, my lights go on at dusk and my work is done. No stringing in 30* weather.) It seems, though, that the Halloween spirit got the best of me, because last night (Sunday) those babies were aglow. They are on a dusk to dawn timer, and coming home tonight, after dusk, and seeing those lights made me smile.

The giant dumpster, that is sitting in my driveway just waiting to catch the contents (including walls and floors) of my son's room, has been wrapped in caution tape and has a mummy hanging on the front of it. I plan on making a sign with the words "Dump Dead Bodies Here" on it, to add to the Halloween fright. The spirit is in me, yes it is. I was so moved that I also took out most of the decorations I have for inside. All I need now is to light a fire and watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

And for that pumpkin bread recipe, I promise to post it as tomorrow's blog entry.

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