Pumpkin blondies with chocolate-covered ginger

Pumpkin blondies

I’ve mentioned in the past that my fun-o-meter might be broken. I’ve told you how things that I’m supposed to find fun make me anxious, and things that many people think of as chores are my favorite things to do…every….day. On my ideal day we’d go for a hike, write or draw a bit, listen to music, make a nice dinner, go for a walk around town, watch a good movie. Nothing fantastic, but we’d do it together, and we’d all be in good moods and get along with each other (this means you, boys!) Nothing makes me feel like getting out the old fun-o-meter adjuster like a holiday. I like holidays, but I don’t anticipate them as eagerly as I once did. You can never quite match that childish zeal, and sometimes it makes me feel a little sad to have lost it. Isaac is a living manifestation of Halloween excitement. He asks me every morning how many days are left. He plans his costume, wears the bits we’ve already made, changes his mind about what he wants to be. He draws zombies and skeletons and ghosts. He’s sad that we don’t have more Halloween decorations, and he spent an afternoon cutting them out of paper and hanging them in the windows. And he wants to carve pumpkins, lots of pumpkins. I’ve been thinking about pumpkins, this morning, and I think they might be my golden ticket back to Halloween glee. I can’t really get excited about trick-or-treating. I love making the boys’ costumes but I’m anxious that I won’t get them done on time, or they won’t look right. But pumpkins…lately I’ve looked on pumpkin carving as a messy and slimy task. But today I realized the error of my ways. I love pumpkins! I love everything about them. The way they taste, the way they smell, their color, the word, “pumpkin.” I love how mythological they seem – they can replace a horseman’s head or they can become an enchanted carriage. And I love the idea of souls and spirits…this time of year is so rich in the remembrance of souls, so joyful and awe-ful. A jack-o-lantern is a pumpkin spirit, smiling out at you with fiendish glee. It’s the ingis fatuus that leads you across dry fields of middle-aged disillusionment to the vibrant, glowing, slightly frightening, sweet, morally complicated, highly anticipated night that is Halloween. I can’t wait to carve one!

I thought these pumpkin blondies turned out very tasty! They’re a little softer than a normal blondie, cause of the pumpkin, but they make up for this (not unpleasant) attribute with taste. I spiced them with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, and I added chocolate-covered-ginger, which contributed a lovely chewy little bite. I added a handful of chocolate chips, too, because you can never have enough chocolate!

Here’s Mikey Dread’s spooky Pre-Dawn Dub.
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Cinnamon buns with chocolate covered ginger

Cinnamon buns with chocolate covered ginger

For valentine’s day dinner, we had cauliflower steaks roasted with thyme, layered with portobello steaks roasted with rosemary and balsamic, layered, as well, with chard, smoked gouda and mozzarella, and topped with porcini-sage gravy. It was a delicious and special meal, and there was none left to take a picture of. We ate it all! One of the things that made it so special, besides its ridiculous tastiness, was that it was my husband’s innovation. He thought of it!! I feel a little crazy, because I spend a lot of time thinking about new ways to cook food, and it just kills me that he sometimes does, too! We’re in it together!

Back in the days of my chocolate covered ginger craze, he suggested this combination – cinnamon buns with chocolate covered ginger baked right in. It seemed almost too good to make! Almost but not quite! It’s a really really good combination. A comforting cheerer upper, for sure.

Here’s Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young.
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Oatmeal chocolate-covered-ginger cookies

These might not be the most colorful cookies on your holiday tray, but they’ll be among the most flavorful! Spicy oatmeal cookies are crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and contain the irresistible surprise of chocolate-covered ginger! There’s just something cheerfully salubrious about them, as well. I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that chocolate and oatmeal are natural anti-depressants. Ginger is good for everything. Molasses has lots of iron. So grab yourself a plate of these, a bottle of red wine and a big warm blanket, and head into hibernation for the winter!

I liked to half-dip them in melted dark chocolate. Because more chocolate is always better, they look pretty, and they reminded me of chocolate covered hob nobs, which is surely the most comforting cookie on the planet! They’re good without that extra touch, though, if you’re not in the mood to play with melted chocolate.

Here’s Michigan and Smiley with Little Drummer Boy. Rappa pom pom, eh!!
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Spiced cider cake with chocolate-covered ginger

Spiced Cider cake

Chocolate-covered ginger? Chocolate-covered ginger! I saw this at my extremely ordinary grocery store in the bulk food section. Of course I had to try it! Of course I had to put it in a cake! After feverishly running through various options in my head (a lemon ginger cake? A dark molasses-y cake?) I decided on a light but very spicy cake, with apple cider in it. To remind you of fall walks with fresh cider and cider donuts and apple butter… It smells wonderful while it’s cooking, and tastes just as good. If you can’t find dark chocolate-covered ginger, I would recommend using candied ginger and dark chocolate chips. I cut a snowflake out of paper and dusted powder sugar over the cake (and myself!) to make the pattern. Once again proving that cooking is all about the games you played when you were little.

Here’s James Yorkston’s beautiful Woozy with Cider (I used regular American cider, but I think you could use hard cider, too. Hmmm…I’ll have to try that!)
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