Hi! Guess what? It’s December 15th people! You know what that means? I am very behind on my Christmas knitting! Gah! I realize that you don’t necessarily come here for knitting news, but that’s what I have to report. You know, way back in in 2005, I started this blog and it was called Four Chickens (anyone still here from those days?). It was mainly about knitting (and my chickens). I remember so clearly that the gals in my knitting group were starting knitting blogs and I wanted to do one, too. I love roses (I have managed to squeeze about 15 of them into my yard), and originally wanted to call the blog “Blowsy Roses.” My pals said, “what?! Are you crazy? That’s a stupid name.” And so, one night we talked about it and finally landed on Four Chickens (which was the number of chickens I had at the time). My friend Jessica made a header for me and I was off and running.
Unfortunately, that blog wasn’t such a great knitting blog. I loved to knit, but I took horrible photos, and I didn’t finish stuff fast enough for it to be all that interesting for people to read. And I was lazy and didn’t want to post stats, etc. I did join Ravelry (I’m there as fourchickens if you want to friend me), and that seemed to be a better place to share my knitting. So, the blog limped along for about 4 years–until 2009. It was in 2009 that I discovered Facebook and Twitter. Mainly Twitter. With Twitter, my world expanded in ways I couldn’t believe. I finally found my people on Twitter and, as it turns out, most of them were bakers and food lovers.
That same year, I was at an educational conference. At one of the sessions of this conference, we were asked to identify our passions. At first I was like, “yeah, yeah, blah, blah.” I’ve done so many of those types of exercises that I could lead them. But, there was something different about this one. My true passion came up as baking. Now, I have baked since I was big enough to stand on a chair and reach the kitchen counter and I couldn’t live without baking. But, there was something different about this particular realization. The exercise put baking into the category of “profession.” I don’t know why, but I had never, truly, considered baking as a profession. My pal Becca and I always fantasized about starting a gluten-free bakery/piano bar (what? You don’t think that’s a good idea?). But, we were always aware that owning a bakery meant having no life outside of the bakery, and we had small children to take care of and husbands who wanted to see us.
As I became active on Twitter, and contemplated baking in a new light, I gradually became aware of the fact that I wanted this blog to be about baking instead of knitting. So, I started posting recipes and a new blog was born! I didn’t change the name until Fall 2010. But, I had found my passion. I have to say, once I identified my baking as my first and true passion, things went quickly. I found and hung out with my people–foodies–and gave myself license to bake to my heart’s content. And, further, my teacher side came out (I used to teach at university)–I realized that I want to help other people bake well. And, because I happen to be gluten-free, that meant helping people learn to bake well gluten-free. All of this led to me teaching gluten-free baking classes and eventually, writing a gluten-free baking book.
So, I sit before you, a person for whom life opened up a totally new road for me to walk. A road that became just barely visible two years ago. It has been a lesson to me (and it should be a lesson to everyone), that you truly never know what’s around the next bend in the road of life.
All of that said, I still count knitting as a beloved hobby. And, I naively plan knitted Christmas presents. I still bake for the holidays (duh), but I don’t really give baked goods out as presents. I bring baked things to parties, and we have them for our family and friends when they come over. I am a woman with tennis elbow from knitting and writing too much (who knew?). And my Mother and Father in Law are coming tomorrow to have an early Christmas with us. And I haven’t finished knitting presents! Gah.
What does one do when one is behind on her knitting? Bake, of course. Girlfriend has a pal coming over after school today and my latest snack for them is pumpkin bread. It’s always a hit with everyone and it’s not only yummy, but it’s festive!
While you bake this, send fast knitting vibes my way, OK?
Pumpkin Bread, Gluten-Free
Yield: 1 -9 in by 5 in loaf
2 cups (280 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) neutral-flavored oil (like rice bran or canola)
1 cup (270 grams) canned pumpkin puree
1 cup (120 grams) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Extra tapioca flour and oil for the pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour a 9 in x 5 in loaf pan.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes–until light and fluffy. Turn mixer down to low and slowly add oil in the side of the bowl. Beat until combined. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Add nuts (if using), and beat until just mixed in.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes. If the bread is becoming too dark, loosely tent with aluminum foil during the last 15 minutes.
Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Store loosely wrapped at room temperature in foil or plastic for up to 5 days.