Fall Flavors

Here in Spain it is still totally fall.  So I’m sticking with this title.  And anyways, these ‘fall flavors’ are equally valid throughout winter.  What are they? Comfort food.

To me, fall conjures up a special scent of wind nibbling at the tips of your ears and nose, carrying the scent of crispy leaves (which soon become soggy).  It’s the paler, gentler sunlight that soon gives up and lets night take over.  It’s scarves and heavier coats, styling sweaters, and general coziness.  I love fall.  In terms of food, fall is less the bright yellows, greens, and reds of fresh fruit and vegetables, and more earthiness – oranges and browns in stews and casseroles.  Thick cakes and cookies nudge away delicate pastries and citrus fillings.  Coffee loses its ice.  You know where I’m going.  You just looked at the picture.  I’m talking pumpkin spice lattes and banana bread.

Having lived in Seattle for several years, I got used to judging the commercial seasons by the seasonal flavors at Starbucks.  I don’t usually drink them, but as it is with most things in life, the moment that something is taken away, the sharp desire stabs you right in the homesickness center of your heart. Probably the left ventricle area.  So there was only one thing to be done.  Make my own.  Because yes.  I tweaked it to my own tastes, so go ahead and continue tweaking yourself. Which sounds wrong, somehow. Shush and go make coffee.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Recipe adapted from sweethappylife.com. Makes two servings.

2 Tbsp pumpkin puree

1 1/4 c milk

1/2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

3/4 tsp vanilla

2 c coffee, or your normal espresso intake for a small/tall coffee

Sugar and whipped cream optional – I didn’t use either.

Brew your coffee.

I.e. Brew the coffee you brought as a present for your roommate from Seattle.

In a saucepan, whisk together the pumpkin, spices, sugar, and vanilla.

Cook for a minute or two, until the scent of the spices floats up to kiss your face.  Add milk.

Cook over low heat, whisking, until milk is warm and beginning to froth. Remove from heat.  Add coffee to sauce pan, pour out into mugs.  If need be, add more sugar, but please taste beforehand!  Garnish as your little heart desires.

Now for the pastry part of our experience.  My roommate loves bananas, but he always seems to forget that last, sad banana.  So I save them in the freezer and after a few weeks of bananabandon, I have what I need to make banana bread, or pan de plátano.  This pleases me because it is alliterative in two languages.

Freezer bananas are not pretty. And please let them thaw. Peeling frozen bananas is impossible and makes your fingers burn sooo cold.

Banana Bread

Adapted from the Food Network

1 c light brown sugar

1 stick butter, softened

2 large eggs

3 ripe bananas (and I mean overripe.  Otherwise, just eat them!)

1 Tbsp milk

1 tsp cinnamon

2 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan, 8×8 casserole dish, or an 8 in cake pan.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating the in entirely.

Ok, so I don't always follow my own advice.

In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Mash the bananas into the sugar mixture along with the milk.  Stir until all is incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients and only mix until the flour is fully incorporated.  We don’t want to overactivate the gluten – this is cake, not bread.  Pour your batter into your pans and bake for an hour – but actually until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before slicing, if you can wait that long. Now your house smells like love.

Hand out banana bread to everyone like a madman and make new friends.


3 Responses to “Fall Flavors”

  1. 1 Mario December 12, 2011 at 2:17 am

    This blog is AWESOME. BTW, Desa, can’t wait til the 23rd… 😀

  2. 2 desasdishes December 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Haha! Thanks. Man, the pressure is on for those Christmas cookies, isn’t it?

  3. 3 Mario December 14, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Totally, but I’m sure you won’t dissapoint us 😀

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Hey, I'm Desa. I've been bouncing between the Pacific Northwest and Sevilla, Spain in the last few years and from tiny apartment to tiny apartment. I cook mainly for one, which means some potentially boring meals, but here I'll be sharing the food that excites me. Feel free to offer suggestions, commiseration, or desires. And thanks for coming by!


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