Weekend Cooking: Pumpkin Everything Edition


At last, it is officially autumn. I’m one of those gals who loves LOVES loves pumpkin spice. I’m not a fan of artificial pumpkin pie flavors (too sweet) and I don’t care for pumpkin spice flavored everything. You can keep your Oreos, Pop-tarts, sausage (?), etc…. I love pumpkin spice coffees and baked goods.

I think folks unfamiliar with baking may focus on the pumpkin aspect and not realize that the spice is really what must keep flowing. Pumpkin in baking adds a rich, creamy, subtle texture and flavor. If it tastes gross, you are probably using the wrong sort of pumpkin. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are not intended for eating; they can be bland, bitter, or stringy. Go for the smaller “sugar” or “pie” pumpkins or grab a can of pumpkin from your grocery store. Truly, the pumpkin flavor is subtle, but it does wonders for texture and density.

The pumpkin spice is my favorite. Cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and maybe an teeny pinch of cloves is all it takes to make the spice to pair with the pumpkin. In truth my GINGER recipes just have more ginger equal amounts of cinnamon and ginger and contain molasses or dark brown sugar. My PUMPKIN recipes have more cinnamon than ginger and usually use light brown sugar or maple syrup. It is chemistry folks. Dislike pumpkin, but love ginger? Just an adjustment of spices (yet I don’t see snots making fun of gingerbread latte fans in the winter).

Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t like pumpkin spice you’re fine (more for me). I don’t like regular eggnog (I only like the soy version) because it is too heavy and I really hate berry flavors in my coffee (blueberry blend? barf). We all have different likes and dislikes and that’s cool. Autumn lends itself to baking and you can bake up a storm and avoid pumpkin.

But today is all about the pumpkin.

First off, I wanted to share my favorite pumpkin recipe ever. This vegan pumpkin snickerdoodle coffee cake is delicious and quick to put together. It is my go to staple for having folks over, cozy knitting nights, and last year I made it for Atticus’s birthday because one of his friends had a dairy and egg allergy.

I’m linking to the recipe (because copyright, yo!), but here it is:

vegancakeIt is pretty delicious.

I have several other pumpkin recipes I want to try this season. I’m having dinner with friends on Sunday and bringing along slow cooker Pumpkin Baked Beans. I hope they’re good. Here are some other recipes I hope to test this fall:

Throw your pumpkin-inspired recipes my way and I’ll give them a whirl. Not a pumpkin fan? That’s cool. I like all the autumn baking: apples, cranberries, ginger, etc… let me know what you’ll be baking.

Introducing Food Friday!


I’ve been on Weight Watchers since December and I’m about ready to throw-in the towel. I’m over 300 pounds and at this point I really need a healthy way to lose weight. I’ve done my research and I think Weight Watchers is sound in ideology and science, but a bit faulty in their execution.

Let me explain.

I love the concept of points. The healthier the food the less points I have to spend. I love this as it truly makes me think about what I eat and almost makes it like a game. My problem is the “diet industry” side of things. I most likely will not renew my membership when it expires in February. Sure, I’ll do the online version as the app is marvelous, but the meetings are starting to piss me off. The meeting leader is super sweet. In fact, all the ladies seem super sweet and dedicated. My problem is that I am a plant-based vegetarian who loves to cook. The first half of the meeting is filled with ridiculousness. All the folks go around sharing processed items, meal-hacks, and other strategies for low-point eating. I love to cook and I don’t get the same satisfaction from processed treats and I like my food to be free of chemicals I cannot pronounce. Sure, Frankenfood every once in a while, but eating nothing put aspartame-filled yogurts and chemical filled sweets is not for me.

I was ready to give up Weight Watchers for good, but then I decided to take it as a challenge. I believe I can lose weight in a healthy way while enjoying coffee with real creamer, vegetarian and vegan dishes, baking cakes and cookies, and using a minimal amount of processed foods. A challenge!

I considered creating another blog for this challenge, but I don’t have it in me to maintain different sites, hence Food Friday on Fig and Thistle. Each week I’ll discuss goals and challenges and share some of my favorite meals from the week. I’ll be using my Instagram account heavily; expect lots of pictures of what I’m eating with the point value.

My big goal? Hitting my 10% weight loss (-31 goal by April 30th). Thus far I’ve lost -2.2 pounds. That’s just over a 2 pound a week loss and completely doable.

I’m tired of seeing desperate women stuffing themselves with tiny air-puffed snacks for the sake of skinny. I’m sick of hearing folks drone on and on about “protein.” I want to lose weight, yes, but because I want to be healthy, active, and buy ironic teeshirts that fit. There you are… the truth. I’m going to show them that this can be done.

*fist pump*

Weekend Cooking: Nana’s Banana Bread

Weekend Cooking: Potato Leek Soup, Apple Nut Bread Pudding, and Apple Cheddar Scones

The number one way to feel at home in a new place is to bake like a mofo. And brew coffee… lots and lots of coffee. Soon the smell of new paint, cleaning supplies, and empty apartment will dissipate and instead your abode will be filled with the smell of coffee and delicious sweets. I’ve been in a bit of baking kick since we moved (despite the small, apartment-sized electric stove… sob!) and I’ve made chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pancakes, and various quick breads. Last night I decided to us up some bananas in the freezer and make my grandmother’s banana bread with a few alterations.


Nana’s Banana Bread


2 C sugar

4 C all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 C applesauce (the recipe called for oil, but I subbed applesauce)

4 eggs

6 overripe, mashed bananas

1/4 C milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 C chopped pecans


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour two bread pans.

2) Mix all the dry ingredients in one large bowl

3) In a medium bowl, mix applesauce, eggs, bananas, milk and vanilla.

4) Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and gently mix (some clumps are okay, don’t mix it to death or your bread will suck)

5) Fold in pecans

6) Divide batter into two bread pans and bake for 45 to 55 minutes

7) Cool for 30 minutes, remove from pan and then slice and enjoy!



Keep a loaf for your family and the second one is great to share. It even freezes well. Before freezing let it cool completely, wrap it in aluminum foil, and the put it inside a large freezer bag.

I love this bread. Atticus woke up hungry at 5:30am this morning and enjoyed a piece while I sat bleary eyed at the table. He loved it!


Blueberries for July

Last July's Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake

Each summer I get a wild hankering for blueberries.  I adore blueberries, they’re sweet, fresh, and slightly tart (much like myself).  I’ve made plans for a blueberry picking excursion the first weekend of July and July just happens to be National Blueberry Month.

I’m anticipating quarts and quarts of berries so in addition to my jam making and baby food making plans there will, of course, be baking.  I thought I might share links to some enticing blueberry dishes:

Apple Blueberry Shortcake

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Orange and Nutmeg Blueberry Cake

Old-Glory Cherry Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Blueberry and White Chocolate Coffee Cake

Lemon Blueberry Scones

Little Blueberry Upside-Down Cakes

Blueberry Pecan Coffee Cake

Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

Crunchy Oatmeal Blueberry Pecan Cookies

Vegan Peach Berry Crumble

Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Muffins

Blueberry Pancakes

Summer Berry Pudding

I know, I know… I’m never going to make all of these recipes, but I like to have choices.  So waddya think?  Which recipe should I start with?  What blueberry-filled delectables are you planning to make this July?

Happy Birthday, Hope!

On Saturday, 02/19/2011, at 3:45am my little girl turned 11.  ELEVEN!  I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by.  It seems like only yesterday I was cuddling with Hope like I cuddle with Atticus.

To celebrate, Hope decided to have a rainbow themed sleepover.  Hope spent the morning on the front porch with her little brother making paper garlands out of construction paper:

Of course we had to make rainbow cupcakes.  We used a white cake mix and then divided the mix into several different bowls.  Next we added gel food coloring.  The final step was to layer each different color in the cupcake pan.  I used pale liners so the colors would show well:

Next, vanilla frosting mixed with blue food coloring:

To top things off, I added marshmallow clouds and rainbow candy!

Hope had a wonderful time with her friends.  They giggled well into the night (1am to be exact; Atticus was up for the partying due to teething).

Happy Birthday, Peanut!!!

Orange-Date Nut Bread

I really don’t want to jinx myself, but Atticus has been so laid back lately.  On December 31st he spent the entire day fussing and crying.  He woke up on January 1st a new baby: happy.  Perhaps his New Year’s resolution was to give mom and dad a break.

Anyhoo, this means that I’ve been able to do a few other things besides holding a cranky baby and nursing.  I’ve read, the house is reasonably clean, I dabbled with some embroidery, and I BAKED!!!

My plan was to make Orange-Cranberry Nut Bread from the King Arthur’s Baking Companion, but when actually started baking I realized the cranberries in the fridge were gross; I substituted dates and it turned out wonderfully.  The recipe also calls for buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream, I subbed in almond milk and it worked well.  Hooray for dairy free baking!

I wasn’t able to nab a great picture.  Hope went to slice a piece of bread and sawed down the middle of the loaf (I think she wanted a middle piece?).  But, seriously, it was delicious!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 orange, juice and zest of (or 1/8 tsp orange oil and 3/4 cup orange juice)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or 3/4 cup sour cream or 3/4 cup yogurt (OR ALMOND MILK)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cranberries, chopped (fresh, frozen or dried) (OR 1/2 CUP DATES)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium sized bowl, combine the orange juice, zest, buttermilk, egg and vegetable oil.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in the cranberries and nuts, then pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean and the bread starts to pull away from the edges of teh pan. Remove it from the oven and let cool for 15 minute, then turn it out of the pan to cool completely on a rack.
  4. The loaf will slice better if wrapped when cooled and left to rest overnight before serving.

It was wonderfully delicious and I enjoyed my slice (erm… slices) with a large mug of English Breakfast tea.