Thursday, December 2, 2010

Anxieties Allayed by Pumpkin Bread (with a recipe!)

I woke up feeling anxious. I haven't written a poem in what feels like forever, but my poetry notebook reminds me that I wrote an intriguing poem on Nov. 23, and then it was Thanksgiving, so I'm not that far off track.

I feel fretful because this is the month of deadlines: much grading to do, much to do with the publication of my chapbook, my assessment report is due at work, and the life of an administrator means that new projects pop up here and there.

What's the antidote to my anxiety? Take a walk (done!), then do some writing. Yesterday, I was walking through the parking lot at school watching all the students walk and text at the same time. Those of us paying attention heard a roar of jets that could have been fighter planes. I thought of that old nuclear war classic, The Day After, that scene of people standing in line hoping to use a pay phone. I thought of all the aspects of life in 1983 that the movie captured and preserved, all those precious daily life details that I assumed a nuclear war would wipe out at any minute. I never thought about the passage of time doing much the same thing. Similarly, I assume my house will be under water, swallowed by the sea, by the end of the century. But the march of time will obliterate more quickly. Could these ideas be made into a poem?

Or maybe I want to return to a line that I scribbled last December, but didn't develop into a poem: will this be the Christmas that we bake no bread?

I have pumpkin bread in the oven, so maybe a poem about baking is in order.

I still haven't made it to the grocery store, and our cupboards are getting bare. So, this morning, I decided to make pumpkin bread, since I'm out of frozen fruit for my usual breakfast of a smoothie. One of my friends asked for the recipe, and since I typed it out for her, why not share it with you?

Yes, this blog doesn't have enough recipes. Never fear, it won't become one of those kind of blogs, the Martha Stewart kind of blog that makes the rest of us feel inadequate. Still, I always enjoy seeing the non-writing creative projects of writers (see Kelli's latest post, for example, and Lorianne DiSabato always posts wonderful photos at her blog, as does Sherry O'Keefe at her blog, and Kristy Bowen not only writes and blogs but has a whole shop of crafted wonders here).

I love this recipe because you can make it healthier, but even if you don't, it's still a treat that's nutritious and perfumes the house as it bakes. It keeps easily for a few days, if you don't gobble it all down right away, and freezes beautifully.

Pumpkin Bread
(from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book)

You can double this recipe easily; if you double it, you can put it in a tube or bundt pan for a prettier cake-like presentation.

You can use applesauce for part of the oil and cut your fat without affecting taste—the less oil you use, the less time it will keep.

½ C. sugar
½ C. vegetable oil
2 eggs (or 1 egg white and 1 whole egg)
¾ C. pumpkin puree ( ½ can)
1 C. white flour
½ C. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon (I also like to add ginger, nutmeg, and allspice)
½ C. chopped walnuts and pecans (optional)
½ C. raisins (optional)

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients in the order given. As you add the dry ingredients, be careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter into a greased bread loaf pan. Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until a pick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the loaf to cool completely.

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