Posted on | November 17, 2010 | 9 Comments
Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. You know those days where you just feel down on yourself? Well, I’ve been having those. I can’t explain why it happens, but it does. Perhaps the semester has been getting to me, along with the work and the fact that I barely see my girls now that I don’t go to the dining hall everyday. I spend a lot of time in my apartment and it feels as though I’m missing out on certain things. When I woke up yesterday morning, I felt despondent and lonely. I could have slept all day had I not had to go to work. But before I went to work, I picked a book off of my shelf, just in case I had some down time. It was the best decision I made all day. You see, I picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love.”
I know I’m a little late to jump on this boat. I’ve been meaning to read the book and see the film, two things that I hadn’t done as of yesterday morning. I don’t usually have time to read outside of what I read for classes. My heart leaped at the idea of reading for fun again. So I eagerly grabbed the book and shoved it in my purse before running out the front door. And as I thought, graduate education wasn’t roaring with activity and provided me with the time to sit and read.
“Eat Pray Love” is Liz’s story about her travels to Italy, India and Indonesia and how she tries to balance worldly pleasures with spirituality. She heals as she travels. I find that reading her witty prose helps me to heal along with her. She makes me want to travel, to get out of the country and to experience the world around her the way she does.
Of course, I can exactly do that. Lacking the resources and the time, I had to think of something else that would bring my spirits up. In her novel, Liz obviously writes quite a bit about food. So food was what I would turn to. For a while now, I’ve been seeing everyone’s posts about pumpkin this and pumpkin that. Then Sam’s mom made us pumpkin butter and I knew I had to make something with pumpkin (Ask any of my roommates…I’ve been saying this a long time.). I decided to make pumpkin cookies along with some cream cheese frosting.
I decided to base my cookies on the Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies recipe that Libby Pumpkin posted on Very Best Baking. I’m not confident enough to make my own recipes yet, but did improvise a little bit on the recipe. For this you’ll need:
2 1/2 cups Gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use the Ahern All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix)
1 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (I love Cinnamon!)
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick of Butter, softened
1 cup Libby’s Pure Pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix your flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in one bowl until uniform in color.
In another bowl, mix your softened butter and sugar. Then add in the pumpkin. If you’re having trouble mixing your butter and sugar (for those of us who are too lazy use the mixer), add the pumpkin in early. It helped me to have more wet ingredients when mixing everything. Then add your egg and beat until smooth. Do the same with the vanilla extract. Gradually add your dry ingredients and mix until you get a smooth dough. The dough is pretty loose but very sticky.
The recipe suggests plopping 1 tablespoon worth of dough on the baking sheet as one cookie. I made bigger, thicker cookies. So if you make them thicker like mine, you’ll want to bake them at 350° for about 25 minutes instead of 15.
Since I made mine thicker, the outside got firm while the inside, though cooked, was still nice and soft. The cinnamon and pumpkin taste are so warm and reminiscent of Autumn. They’re not too sweet, so for those of you who like a mild cookie, this is perfect.
Libby’s recipe also calls for a glaze, but I thought it might be interesting to try a cream cheese frosting with the pumpkin cookies. Cream cheese frosting is great because it’s so thick and rich that you only need a little bit of it to sweeten whatever it is that you’re eating it with.
Cream cheese frosting is really easy to make, as I found out thanks to the Food Network recipe for it. You’ll need:
4 ounces Unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
I didn’t exactly follow Food Network’s directions on this one. Again, I’m too lazy to use the mixer because that ultimately means more to clean once I’m done. So I just used a spatula to mix my butter and cream cheese together. Once they were smoothly mixed, I sifted the powdered sugar one cup at a time (as the recipes recommends). The vanilla extract came last. Mix it all and there you go!
Eating the soft, warm cookies with the cooled cream cheese frosting really brightened my spirits. I even took them down the hall to share with the girls, feeling inspired by food to leave my apartment at least for a little bit. I can now look at myself in the mirror and say, “You’re okay.” I’m okay. I have a great life and there’s no reason to get down about it. And when I get lonely, I can enter the kitchen and all of those feelings are gone. I go back to being myself and life continues. Don’t you hate those days when you feel like doing nothing but moping and eating chocolate ice cream? If you’re in a rut like I was, indulge in making something new and delicious. Vigorously beating dough is a great way to get rid of some of that angst!
The next time I feel this way, I think I’ll also turn to Elizabeth Gilbert again. Someday, I want to travel the world to learn and write about it just as she does. It would be pretty liberating to say the least. For now, though, I’m going to focus on staying healthy and happy and devouring these pumpkin cookies.