Whole Wheat & Honey Pumpkin Bread and Adventures

Miles Davis is playing on the record player and I just ate homemade pumpkin bread with chocolate chai ice cream.

Today is a day for indulgence and alone time. Having worked a 60-hour workweek, I kindly declined all invitations for social interaction in order to be alone in my kitchen with old music and my hound pup.

These bones are made to nest. There is zero shame in acknowledging that I’d rather be at home, making food. My joy is in simple meals and the conversations that stretch late into the night, sitting on the floor over mugs of tea or beer (whatever the occasion calls for.)

I have envisioned my future in two ways.

The first involves a job that keeps me busy, filled with food and drink and socializing. A life cluttered with books and dates and friends. This is a world that requires a schedule, a tiny apartment in a big city. This is a life where nesting is reserved for Sundays, and I find my solitude in monthly escapes to quiet.

The second… well, that’s the life that is deep down in the pit of my stomach. It’s a life put on pause. Where chickens roam the front yard, and the sun acts as my wake up call. It’s where I forget about what it means to keep a planner, and where my only priority is making sure I tend to the vegetables. It’s the kind of life that most people are drawn to these days when they see beautiful people sporting beards and wearing flannel. Having worked on a farm, I know that this kind of life isn’t easy. It’s not carrying a wicker basket out to a perfectly tended field.

It’s a dirty hands life, a sweaty life. It’s full of bugs and soil and making ends meet.

But it’s a beautiful life, that I am sure.

For now, I will dream of my future, whatever it may be. Deep down, I feel the tremors of change creeping into my blood. I feel the urge to shake the dust. I dream in bicycles and midnight camping trips near the ocean. I’m a flighty nester. I plant roots into cities and people that stick to my soul, simultaneously building a shrine in my head to new adventures.

The only constant thing in life is change. That much I know.

Whole Wheat Honey Pumpkin Bread

Today was the first day where I could open my windows. Where it was cooler outside than inside my kitchen. Therefore I took full advantage of this by making a kale, lentil and butternut squash soup and pumpkin bread. The recipe is from Cookie & Kate, and while it might not be for everyone due to its lack of sweetness, I find it delightful. Especially when toasted and smeared with fresh almond butter. Or, if you’re feeling like dessert, serve it warm with ice cream. Yum.

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice or cloves
  • 1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling on top.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, beat oil and honey together. Add eggs, and beat well. Stir in the pumpkin puree and vanilla, then the salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Stir in the flour until just well combined.

Add baking soda to the hot water, stir to mix and then stir into batter briefly until its evenly distributed. Spread the batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and swirl with a tip of a table knife for a marbled effect (this didn’t work out so well for me…) Sprinkle with sugar for a light, sweet crunch.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes. Check to make sure it’s done with a toothpick in the top. If the top of the bread is all jiggly when you pull it out of the oven, it’s not done. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Give it 30 minutes before slicing.

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Butternut Squash Soup & Dream Men

I recently spent a week in Seattle. With Austin becoming my home more and more everyday, it was time to clean out all of those things that had been sitting there, waiting for me. For the past year I have kept a storage unit filled floor to ceiling with those things I’ve deemed important. The stuffed orca whale I left behind one day in Disneyland (that I recovered after having a major breakdown in the hotel), the boxes of old pop punk band shirts, every note ever written to me in Junior High (yes, I kept all of them.)

When you find yourself surrounded by 20 years of your own history, it’s impossible to not become completely involved. I sat on my mom’s living room floor, sifting through old love letters and pictures that reminded me why returning to high school would be the worst.

While the ink covered napkin confessing love in scrawled and misspelled words from my 11th grade crush was a highlight, what really got me was my 16-year-old self listing out what I wanted in a man. Neatly written on yellow legal paper (I’ve been Type A list maker my whole life… oops) I had over two pages of what my dream man would look like, act like and be. I feel that it would be an injustice not to share the whole list with you, so here it is:

16-Year-Old Chelsea’s Dream Man 

Appearance

  • Mix between Orlando Bloom/Johnny Depp (WHAT?!)
  • Not tan, but not too white
  • Light eyes, dark hair
  • Toned but skinny
  • Some tats
  • Tall, but not THAT tall
  • Straight white smile, no braces (hahahaha… kills me)
  • Labret pierce/side lip pierce (pop punk, am I right?)
  • No facial hair (oh how the tables have turned)
  • Big lips
  • Freckles on nose, light dusting (once again, I was very particular)

Personality

  • Sings to me (always been a sucker for musicians)
  • Makes me feel beautiful
  • Can act stupid with me
  • Makes me laugh
  • Likes to go to parks and act like a kid
  • Likes the same music as me
  • Gets along with my friends
  • Makes me feel good about myself
  • Is smart, will go to starbucks with me and have intellectual conversations (this one is too good, had to be a Starbucks…)
  • Loves concerts and Seattle and coffee
  • Someone who will write me a song
  • DANCE
  • Wants to learn French and move to Paris
  • Someone I can sit and read the Little Prince with.
  • Loves Harry Potter (this was triple underlined… big deal)
  • Will do something unique with me on Holidays
  • Likes to do collages (um… what?)

It would also be an injustice to not share with you what my 26-year-old self wants in a man, because I’m already throwing my entire soul up on the internet, who cares about a little more honesty?

26-Year-Old Chelsea’s Dream Man

  • A kind-hearted, strong, smart man who loves me. That is all.

I could obviously digress into a list of nitty-gritty details of what I think my dream man will look like, act like and be.  When it comes down to it, I think when I find my person, my lobster, none of it will matter. My lists and preconceived ideas of who I’ll end up will fly out the window and who it is will probably surprise me. Who knows… who even knows.

Curried Butternut Squash, Carrot & Coconut Soup

My friends up in Seattle have started sharing their photos of fall. Crisp days, hooded sweatshirts and tall cups of coffee. Here in Texas it’s still in the triple digits. This makes me more homesick than I can explain. Today, after work, I went home to make soup. My comfort food, a big pot of curried vegetables and coconut milk, blended and served with a slice of rustic bread. I sat under the air conditioning and slid on my favorite wool socks, popped Ella Fitzgerald on the record player and pretended like I too was listening to the rain outside, as the grey and green melted into each other.

It’s funny how missing your favorite season can trigger such a deep homesickness.

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  • Spoonful of coconut oil
  • White onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 16 oz vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut your butternut squash in half, and lightly brush sides with melted coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 30 minutes. While squash is cooking, warm up coconut oil in a pot over medium/low heat. When warm, add in chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add in garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Add in the rest of the vegetables and let everything saute before adding in salt/pepper and vegetable stock. Put on lid and lower to a simmer, letting the juices mix together for 10 minutes. The veggies should be getting soft by now.

The great thing about soup is it’s basically just throwing everything in a pot and waiting until things are cooked to your liking before blending it together, or eating it as is. This is why I love making soup.

Once the squash is done, take it out of the oven and let cool (you can let your soup simmer while cooling.) Once the squash is cool, add in with the rest of the veggies and stock. Add in coconut milk, curry powder and turmeric (and a dash more salt, for good measure.) Let everything warm back up again for another 5 minutes and then using an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools) blend until you reach your desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can blend in batches using a blender.

Try and resist eating it right away as I burnt my mouth immediately (I have a blister on the roof of my mouth to prove it.) I toasted a big slice of 9 grain locally made bread ($1 for day old bread at my work… amazing) and couldn’t have been happier. Nothing screams fall like a butternut coconut curry soup… I hope the weather catches on.

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