Hello world. I am coming to you today from Spring Break. It’s not the stereotypical Spring Break of course, no beach, no drunk college kids, and definitely no bikinis, but it’s my time to have a little less on my mind, more time to cook, and even a couple of days off.
It is glorious.
We actually did think about going somewhere tropical over my break. All the conventional Seattle wisdom told us that this was the thing to do – to get a break from the gray and the clouds and the rain. For various reasons, however, we decided not to go anywhere. Instead, I am in the middle of what I’ve been calling my Seattle Staycation.
It may not feel like spring here (in fact, it still feels decidedly winter-like, snow and all!), but I am determined to enjoy my time off and make the most of it in my city. I’ve been dragging David around for much of it, and we’ve had a great time so far.
Last Thursday, I finally got to visit Book Larder - a cookbook store that opened a few months ago. Yes you read that right, it’s a book store that stocks only cookbooks! Or, in other words, heaven. As if I needed more reason to go, the store also hosts cookbook authors on a regular basis to do cookbook signings and cooking demonstrations, and on that night was hosting an event for Joy the Baker (aka Joy Wilson)!
There’s Joy, talking to us about her new cookbook and answering all sorts of crazy questions about coconut flour and her life goals. I have read and loved the Joy the Baker blog for years, and am totally in love with her new cookbook. Each of the recipes I’ve made from it so far has been delicious, and all the recipes are approachable and completely drool-inducing.
Joy herself is also a delight, as I got to experience on Thursday. Here she is signing my book while we talk about how much we love our cats.
That was a highlight, but the fun times kept on coming. We spent one afternoon doing some fun exploring of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. This included a massage for me (finally using a birthday present from two months ago!) at the lovely Massage Sanctuary. I highly recommend it, if you are ever so inclined and feeling indulgent. We also walked around Volunteer Park and visited the Conservatory where we got to a) be warm in the 80+ degree greenhouse (it was in the 30s outside) and b) see and read about an astounding number of beautiful and history-laden flowers. I know so much more about orchids now!
We also had lunch at the Volunteer Park Cafe, which has delicious vegetarian salads (I had a kale-squash-farro-lentil combo that I am obsessed with trying to recreate at home) and really good chocolate chip cookies.
One evening we headed downtown and went to see the new and much ballyhooed Paul Gauguin exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. It is a wonderful exhibit and the audio tour they give you to guide you through is informative and enjoyable. Yay culture! Afterwards, we quickly got back to eating (which, if this blog post is any indication, is what we do 80% of the time) and had dinner at the Seatown Seabar and Rotisserie, right downtown by Pike Place Market.
We had king crab legs (oh la la!) and a little (cute!) chocolate peanut butter pie for dessert that was out of this world. I wish I could share a picture of it with you, but we devoured it before I thought of snapping a shot!
Other highlights include a concert at Columbia City Theater - a great show in a cozy space with awesome sound – yoga classes at a new (to me) studio called OmTown Yoga, a really cool bookstore called Third Place Books, as well as lots more eating…including:
- Molly Moon’s for what I still think is the best ice cream I’ve ever had – such a treat!
- Paseo for Cuban sandwiches and beans and rice. We had seafood sandwiches – shrimp and scallops – (since we don’t eat other meat) and they were excellent.
- El Asadero, otherwise fondly known to us as the “burrito bus” because it is, yes, on an old school bus. It is also our favorite Mexican place in the city (so far).
- Macrina Bakery for a delicious brunch and cupcakes that we somehow managed to save for dessert.
Whew! Just reading that makes me feel like I need to go for a run. It was all scrumptious though, and I don’t regret a bite. This is why, however, when I made the Vegan Pumpkin Bread from Joy the Baker’s new cookbook, it felt downright virtuous and healthy. More importantly though, it is delicious and is a perfect homage to a fabulous week.
Vegan Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
Makes one 8×4-inch loaf
I halved this recipe, the one in the book makes two loaves, so that’s why the measurements are all a little funny. Even though I was only baking one loaf though, it still took almost an hour to cook so keep that in mind before starting the recipe!
- 1 3/4 cup + 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (if you don’t have fresh, you can substitute ground nutmeg)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp water
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 6 whole pecan halves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 8×4-inch loaf pan (I only had a 9×5-incher and it worked just fine).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup, and water.
Add the oil mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Use a spatula to fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl well and work in any dry bits of flour/sugar. Then fold in the chopped pecans.
Put the batter into the prepared pan and arrange the 6 whole pecans on top.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Once out of the oven, let rest for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.
Serve warm – plain or with a pat of butter.
I still have another few days of Spring Break left, so stay tuned for part 2 of my Seattle Staycation report! Also, if you want the updates on what I’m doing and where I’m gorging myself in real-time, follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook where I post much more frequent updates.