Pumpkin and black bean empanadas

We went to the Princeton art museum this week. In the downstairs rooms, they have sculptures from all over the world – from Japan, China, the Pacific Northwest, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, Mayan, Incan – the room is full of spirits, pinned and labeled and living behind glass. Beautiful monsters that protect tombs, strange animals that protect the home or the harvest, odd creatures that have some function inexplicable to us today. The place is buzzing with life and mystery. My boys were very inspired! Malcolm has been drawing spirit wisps, spirit goblins and spirit angels for days. He told me that he sees spirit wisps all the time when we drive through the countryside on dark nights. They appear as flashes of blue in the trees. As I’ve said in the past, I love the idea of spirits, and I see spirits everywhere, so I’m delighted by the sight of the boys next to each other on the couch, bent over a table, scribbling furiously in little books and describing the powers that the spirits have. Inspired by totem poles and masks of the pacific northwest, and by the time of year, Isaac drew this pumpkin man. He’s made up of faces!

Pumpkin Man

Pumpkins are so perfectly suited to legend and myth. And they’re so delicious! They’re among my favorite foods. And empanadas are among my favorite foods. So together…well, it’s a perfect combination. I really loved these. They’re seasoned with sage and sweet spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger. They’re comforting with melted cheese. They’re crispy with a masa harina crust. I made a zingy tomato sauce to go with them, spicy with jalapenos, and tart with lime.

Here’s Feel the Spirit by the Ethiopians.
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Pumpkin popovers

pumpkin popovers

These little popovers are very subtly spiced with cinnamon and cayenne. I wanted them to go well with our kale and chickpea stew (which they did!) but also to be good warmed up in the morning with butter and jam. It’s really sinking in that it’s winter, here, with icy drizzle and everlastingly grey days, and these are a good antidote. They have a nice warm color, a mild sweet flavor, and a lovely light soft texture. They’re also incredibly easy to make! I was reading Mrs Beaton’s cook book, the other day (as one does) and I think these are related to her chapter on “batters.” Which makes them also related to yorkshire pudding, perhaps the most famous of batters! Yorkshire pudding is cooked with a bit of dripping in the bottom of the pan, and these are cooked with butter. I let the butter get burnt, because I like the flavor, but if you don’t, just put the pan in the oven for a minute before you’re ready to cook.

Here’s Tricky’s Pumpkin
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