Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Week of Firsts

It has been a week of firsts.

I've had it in my mind to make pumpkin bread for the longest time. Not until I had all my ingredients and reading through different recipes and comments, did I think to myself: what better time to bake pumpkin bread than the weeks leading up to Autumn. 

I decided to double the recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, since it seemed a waste to bake one loaf for an hour. I also had to buy muffin tins.

The aroma of warm pumpkin, nutmeg, and cinnamon filled the house. Autumn scents on a hot summer day mingled with the warm breeze pushing through our open windows. 

I think the bread was successful. It tasted delicious, but when I packed the slices in a plastic container, it began to sweat and get sticky. Next time, I may need to bake it an extra 5 minutes and keep it unsliced in its pan with a towel over the top.

On Tuesday, I made meatloaf. I had always loved it when my step-father made meatloaf with roasted potatoes. This was my first time making it. I laughed at myself as I molded the loaf in the roasting pan, realizing that these two first-time cooking experiences, in our new home, were loaves. Was it a coincidence? Was there some subconscious activity at play here? I surrounded the meatloaf with small red potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and carrots.

I also had my first experience pulling weeds. I'm sure I've pulled a weed or two here and there, but I haven't had a backyard since my childhood home. It's a yard with dried grass that looks like straw, dried dirt, rocks, leaves scattered here and there, two trees, and small patches of green that I cannot tell yet if they are weeds or ground cover. The yard is peaceful to me. It has potential. I have ideas, but I have to take it slow. Grass is not an option, with the cost of water, this being a rental, and being conscious of our budget, I have to be realistic. I bought three potted plants. The first flowering plant that I knew I would buy first was a geranium because geraniums remind me of my grandmother. We will get a piece of cactus and grow it in a section of the yard. I've checked out several books from the library to get ideas on low-water gardening. One that has potential is The Low-Water No-Water Garden: Gardening for Drought and Heat the Mediterranean Way. So many wonderful ideas! 

I've always loved succulents and I think they will do perfectly once I figure out where they might go.

It's a wonderful realization and mind-opening experience when you can come to something with fresh eyes and I'm glad to have that opportunity.  On car rides or walking, I always admire gardens, but now I'm looking at the gardens I pass with a new lens, with a focused lens. It reminds me of when I've taken art classes–coming away with a heightened perspective on how to view the world.

To firsts, new experiences, memories, change and being aware of the many lenses that either we choose or that choose us.    


Optimistic Existentialist said...

Pumpkin bread sounds rather amazing. I love autumn and I love pumpkins so I can't believe I've never had pumpkin bread. *note to self :)

Rebb said...

It's really nice with butter toasted in the oven. I haven't done that this time, but it was served to me that way once and it was absolutely delicious. I also love pumpkin pie. I hope you get to try some yummy pumpkin bread soon! : )

ZACL said...

Lots of pumpkin yum! I don't think I had pumpkin bread but I have eaten bread with pumpkin seeds.

Potted plants are a good idea when you have a yard that has restrictions enjoy!

Ryan said...

Oh, pumpkin bread is pretty much awesome. I say "right on" to trying new things, there is way more to this world than we even think we realize.

keiko amano said...


The pumpkin bread looks yammy! I like the shape. It seems easy to hold it with two fingers.

About gardening,there is a way to do it very low budget and fun. I learned this from my neighbor. Take a walk around your neighborhood and cut the plant you like and bring it home and grow. In the case of geranium, they are very strong, so it's easy. Cut a about the second or third line on the stem (I don't know how to call the line but that's where new roots will come out when you cut. Talk with gardening neighbors and tell them how much you enjoy their garden. If you see some plants you like, ask them if you could cut just a few inches. Most gardeners have plenty to share. One of my neighbor asked me if she could cut my unruly white climbing rose. Anyone is welcome to cut it. In fact, if more neighbors do that, I or my gardeners don't have to labor. Later I visited her beautiful garden, and to my surprise, she said she never buy potted flowers. Her plants and trees are all from her cuttings or volunteer through birds. Most of her flowers have fragrance because that's what she choose when she cut and bring home. Also, more enjoyable thing is to hear who gave it to her. She said, "For instance, this red rose was given to me from 92 year old man, when I was walking..." Isn't that great?

For a while I used to do the geranium hunting with a colleague of mine during lunch time when I worked in the mid Wilshire, Los Angeles. The company is located in the middle of very neighborhood. We brought our bag and filled with geranium cuttings. Any overgrown plants spilling out to the sidewalk is okay to cut. But if I see people in the garden, of course, I'll ask permission. How fun it was!

keiko amano said...

very good neighborhood, not very neighborhood.

The colleague planted vine geranium cuttings on the slope of her backyard where she used to have difficulty growing any flowers. Yes, geranium grew and flowered! Gee, now, I want to do that again. I miss my old beautiful garden.

Rebb said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Ryan, about how there is more to this world than we realize. Hurray for trying new things--and to baking yummy pumpkiin bread! : )

Rebb said...

Keiko, The pumpkin bread was yummy. I want to find more baked goods that I can make with pumpkin. It's so tasty and healthy and it seems that it could be used more year round, rather than during the fall when it seems to appear at our tables and kitchens.

Thanks for the tips on low budget gardening! I'm going to go ahead and take a cutting from my geranium and see if it will root. Yesterday we cut down a small tree that was growing through the fence. It would be impossible to allow it to grow through the fence the way it was. I took a cutting from the younger stems and put it in water. I don't know if it will root. Might be asking too much. We also bought two basic Japanese Maples from the farmer's market yesterday. I don't know which species they are. The man referred to them as "generic" so they are not the fancy, expensive ones. I also bought two small lavender plants and put them into a large pot that was left here. I think that's enough buying for now, especially as summer comes to an end. Oh, but I do want to plant a couple of bulbs in the ground, so they can come up in spring.

I bet your garden was beautiful.

It's nice to hear the stories behind the cuttings. I like that.

Rebb said...


When I'm feeling up for it, next time, I think I'd like to try making pumpkin bread from a fresh pumpkin. It will be a lot of work. I don't think I've ever had a baked good with pumpkin seeds in it. I do enjoy eating toasted pumpkin seeds from time to time.

Potted plants definitely seem to be the way to go.

ZACL said...

I heard that pumpkin pie is often, or, maybe always, made with tinned pumpkin. You can get that regularly in the U.S. It either has to be shipped in to the U.K or, searched out, as it is not an item that is usually found in grocers' stores. The reason I mention it, is because I was wondering whether pumpkin bread could be made with it. The tinned product might be sweet, you'd have to check. The other thing is, it is likely to be much more moist than the fresh one, which will be moist anyway. If making bread, you would have to find out by what quantities you would have to adjust any liquids you used for the making of the bread. ....It's just a thought.

Rebb said...

ZACL, I'm glad you reminded me that tinned pumpkin is not as readily available as it is here in the U.S. I take that simple thing for granted without realizing it. I think you're right that most pumpkin pies are made with tinned pumpkin. I've seen recipes for pumpkin pie that are made with fresh pumpkin, but I've never had it myself.

The pumpkin bread that I made was made with a can of pumpkin.

Although I've never worked with fresh pumpkin, it is on my wish list. Maybe I will feel more inspired in September or October.

With the discussion of food tins, you remind me of the small book of letters: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. Something I hadn't realized was about the post-WWII food shortages and how Helene sent food tins and packages of food to the bookstore. It is such a touching little book. I want to see the movie with Anthony Hopkins.

ZACL said...

I have the book by Helen Hanff on my bookshelf. It's a favourite I won't let go. I first heard a reading (serialised) on the radio many years before I bought the book. It must be an early type of snail mail! It's great that most of the correspondence was kept. So often, what you get are a few letters from one side.

Charng Cross road still has lots of book shops, including specialised ones. It is also known for sales of good musical instruments. There are music shops on the main street and side streets. Lots of theatres are close by.

ZACL said...
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