Hot Polka Dot
5Nov/11

These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For.

Mind over matter. Power of suggestion. The force.

Whatever you want to call it, that's what I've been wrestling with for the past week. Everyone around me is aching and couching and sneezing. The odds are kind of stacked against me here. I'd have to be some sort of guru of meditation with a fistful of mental placebos to resist all that.

I'm not. I'm not made of midi-chlorians. I'm made of squishy flesh and achy bones.

However. If I were a Jedi I wouldn't bother with curbing the common cold or not looking silly when I sneeze. I'd have way more fun. I would wave my hand casually yet deliberately and tell you how much you need this Maple Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Bread. Struck by a sudden delicious idea, you would calmly rise from your seat, gather the ingredients and make yourself one awesome snack. You'd slice off piece by piece savouring the full flavour of pumpkin, the punch of spices and the sweet, buttery crunch of the streusel topping until it was all gone. At which point you would feel the need to bake yourself another and another and another... Do or do not. There is no try.

Hey... Maybe I am a Jedi!

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21Oct/11

Cloudy With A Chance of Delicious.

You ever had one of those days?

Maybe you put your underwear on inside out. Maybe you just couldn't wait for the dryer to be done and you had to rush out of the house wearing a half damp sweater. Maybe it rained all day and the humidity made your hair interminably frizzy. Maybe you stepped in a puddle and ruined your new suede shoes. Maybe you thought your favourite show was on at 9 but really it was on at 8 and you missed it. Then maybe at the end of it all, when you just want to curl up in bed and sleep away the bad, you realize you left the sheets in the washer.

There there. Tomorrow will be different.

Maybe tomorrow you'll make these deliciously easy, fantastically tasty Sugar and Spice Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. Maybe the world will suddenly be a different place. Maybe the house will smell like pie. Maybe the rain will clear and your shoes will dry. Maybe you'll catch a repeat of that episode you missed. Maybe you'll have something to idly munch on between your clean sheets and your favourite book. Life is good again.

I say maybe because I'm not going to presume to tell you what you should or shouldn't do. It's your life. It's up to you of course. If you want frizzy hair, damp clothes and puddle shoes then far be it from me to tell you otherwise. On the other hand, if you like rainbows, pie smells and snacks in bed, then yes, yes you should make these. And quickly. Before it's too late!

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19Oct/11

How To… Er… Wednesday: Easy As Pie.

I have been told that Pumpkin Pie baked with real pumpkin puree is far superior to the canned pumpkin puree. Since I'm pretty new to the whole Pumpkin Pie experience I thought I'd test that theory. Making pumpkin puree was pretty easy so I thought it was worth sharing with everyone.

First you have to get yourself a sugar or pie pumpkin. They're the smaller ones anywhere between the size of a five pin bowling ball to a ten pin bowling ball. They're usually darker than a jack-o-lantern pumpkin with more pronounced ridges and a straighter stem.

You might think that you can just buy a smaller jack-o-lantern pumpkin and bake it up just fine. True, you could, but you'd get the best results with a pie pumpkin. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are grown for their thin flesh and stringy insides to make them easier to carve. Pie pumpkins are grown for their thick flesh and taste for best results in baking.

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14Oct/11

Fall Into Fall.

It's finally Fall.

I know this because my footsteps are stalked by the soft tinkling of tiny colourful leaves. I know this because all the crab apples fell off the tree before I had the chance to turn them into jam or pie. I know this because it's still warm enough to get away with wearing peep toe heels but cool enough that I need to pair them with a light faux leather coat. I know this because the simple act of turning on the oven is welcomed instead of avoided. I know this because I'm drawn to warm and homey flavours like rich demerara sugar, thick molasses and spicy cinnamon.

To continue my pumpkin theme and demonstrate a creative use of my Pumpkin Pie Spice I've made these Pumpkin Spice Ginger Snaps. They're not your average Ginger Snaps. I've spiced them up a smidgen. Less ginger and more cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Less snappy and more chewy. They're coated with big bold crystals of turbinado sugar and a flavour to match.

Just the push I needed to fall into Fall.

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11Oct/11

How To Tuesday: Spice Of My Life.

Every Thanksgiving since I can remember I would try a tiny taste of Pumpkin Pie and every year it would be the same reaction. Yuck! I wanted to love it. I really did. I wanted to be one of those people that look forward to Thanksgiving all year long. I love the turkey. I love the cranberry sauce. I definitely love the stuffing. But when it came to dessert I had to say thanks, but no thanks.

I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but not liking Pumpkin Pie is just one of those things people don't excuse. It's as though I just sprouted a pair of wiggling green antennae. It's like turning down chocolate, lobster and corn on the cob all at once. It's just not done.

This year was different. This year we enjoyed Thanksgiving with Lee's aunt and uncle in Calgary and, as usual I had to say no to the Pumpkin Pie. No jaws dropped. No spit takes. No questions asked. I had the Cherry Cheesecake instead and it was delicious! We had a wonderful weekend and came home with some turkey leftovers and half a Pumpkin Pie.

That night I took the pie out of the fridge, sat it on the counter and stared at it. I admired the glistening orange filling. I inhaled the intoxicating scent of the intermingled spices. I tentatively poked a little at it then promptly licked my fork. To my surprise and delight my reaction was the opposite of yuck.

It finally happened! I finally like Pumpkin Pie! So for the next little while expect to see a lot of pumpkin-related recipes here. This sort of realization deserves some celebration!

To start off the festivities I've brought you a spicy little DIY. Instead of buying those premade Pumpkin Pie Spice mixes make your own. It's fast, easy and includes spices you already have on hand. The best part is that, when paired with an antique teaspoon and ribbon, it makes a super cute gift for your favourite baker!

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