I’m back! Sorry for my absence over the last weeks. I am finally feeling more settled in our new apartment in a new city with all the stuff that goes with that. It was a fast move, a stressful move (when is moving not stressful?) and Tim started his new job while the house sat in boxes. Things are still a little hectic, point being I can’t seem to find my camera adapter yet so I had to make do with my phone for the photos for this post.
Our new street.
Entering our new space.
It’s not a secret that I was sad to leave Aachen, our charming little city where everything of importance is right around the corner. Not to mention leaving behind all my lovely friends I’ve gotten to know. We loved our old apartment and the new one is still taking some time to adjust to. Our new neighborhood in Hanover is beautiful and quiet with large leafy trees lining the street. Our building was built in 1900 and has impossibly high ceilings and beautiful wood floors throughout. I can see us being happy here but there’s still lots of work to do (like hanging pictures on the wall and finally unpacking the office) and ever since we got here I couldn’t stop thinking about our old place in Aachen and how cosy and homey it felt. This apartment felt foreign and the stark white walls seemed to mock me, making the rooms seem bigger and emptier than they really were. But the other day I went out to the market and bought fresh flowers to bring a little life to our new home and those little pops of color were just what I needed. Kinda like that much needed bit of mascara after a sleepless night. I’ve spent some time arranging my desk in the office, making it cosy and a space I love being in. These gorgeous pink roses are helping with that!
All this moving stress has kept me out of the kitchen- another space that I’m not quite used to yet. Smaller than our old kitchen, when I first walked in I felt as if I were crawling into a cave. It’s at the back of the house and doesn’t get much natural light so to bring a little cheer to the space we painted one of the walls bright yellow. Immediately the space felt more welcoming and after hanging our Sophia Loren poster smack dab in the middle of the wall it seemed a bit more like home. Even though cooking and baking seem like arduous tasks right now all this Fall spirit has gotten to me and I’ve been nursing an intense pumpkin bread craving. Living in Germany has its downsides though and the lovely, convenient, readily available canned pumpkin I find in California is wholly nonexistent here.
So if you live abroad like me, or maybe you’re just looking to try something new, roasting your own pumpkin is a great option. All it requires is a little extra elbow grease. Roasting a sugar pumpkin yourself will result in the best pumpkin products you’ve ever tasted. If you can’t find a sugar pumpkin (in Germany I can only find Hokkaido varieties which are not so good for baking) then all you have to do is turn to your next option: butternut squash. In many cases if you actually look on the back of your canned “pumpkin” you’ll see butternut squash featured as a main ingredient. The color is much more vibrant than pumpkin and brings that dark autumnal richness to pies, cakes and breads we all know and love. One roasted butternut squash yields about 3 cups of pureed “pumpkin” and I keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Then whenever it strikes my fancy I can whip up some freshly baked pumpkin goods.
The pumpkin bread recipe itself is still in progress. Slightly put out by the overwhelming amount of recipes out there (seriously have you looked??) I tried to develop my own that would have all the seasonal flavor I was craving without all the sugar and fat. This is bread people, not cake! But my version came out of the oven dry and chewy on the outside and raw on the inside. Not exactly a winning recipe. Who knows I may even be chastised back to the sugar and butter route? At least I still have plenty of roasted “pumpkin” in the fridge to give it another go. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Until then, get yourselves a butternut squash!
Roasted Butternut Squash (for “pumpkin” pies, cakes, breads and more)
1 butternut squash or sugar pumpkin
1 T vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut your squash or pumpkin in half, removing the ends. You will need a very sharp knife for this. Next scoop out the seeds and toss or save for later to roast, salt and munch. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the tough outer skin away. Chop your peeled squash into manageable pieces, depending on the size of your squash this will be about 12 separate pieces. Place in a large roasting pan and toss with the oil to lightly coat. Roast for 40-50 minutes or until the squash has completely softened and has just started to caramelize.
Remove from oven and let squash cool to room temperature. Using a food processor, blender or immersion blender, puree until smooth working in batches. Once you have a nice consistency push through a fine mesh sieve to remove any clumps. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. All things “pumpkin” are right at your fingertips!