One of my dearest friends emailed me the other day with some news of a difficult family situation. She wanted to let me know what was going on, as we so often do with friends we’ve had for decades. And she wanted to share with me that in rereading some of ginger&jam that day she was grateful for the renewed perspective it gave her—a reminder of the importance of valuing the little things and being in awe of how they fit into a greater picture of this thing we call life. This is such an incredible compliment, knowing that this little space of mine here is touching at least one person out there.
Little did my friend know (until I told her) how perfect her timing was for me, too. I’ve been challenged by a few things of my own in these last few weeks, and I was instantly grateful for her validation of what I’m doing in this season of my life—validation that only someone who knows you oh so well can give. It’s altogether too easy for us to lose site of the value of how we choose to spend our lives each day. What we do is important, and I know all too well how easy it is to forget that. To belittle ourselves. To deem ourselves somehow less important than others, and in doing so forgetting that we each have a unique role to play. My friend’s email was an important reminder of how blessed I am by so many things, including my dear family and friends.
In just a few days my parents and one of my sisters is coming to Boston to share Thanksgiving with some friends and me. I’ve always been that person in my family, in my generation, who’s waited for years to host a big family holiday feast. There’s something magical for me about holidays and traditions and celebrations—parties full of loved ones surrounded by laughter and, of course, delicious food. So now’s my chance to host, and I swear to you I will not let my fear of cooking a turkey bring me down. I’ve never cooked a turkey before. Why does this one culinary feat seem so hard?! Any tips or tricks you can share? I’m taking all the help I can get! I even bought my turkey from Kate Stillman, owner of Stillman’s Turkey Farm, who I work for at my weekly farmers’ market. Today I asked her how she cooks her own Thanksgiving turkey, figuring she’s a pretty darn good source of information. Don’t you worry, I’ll let you know how it goes. And in the meantime, if you’re still looking for a delicious, festive, relatively easy dessert to contribute to your Thanksgiving table, these pumpkin chocolate chip bars will be loved by children and grandparents alike. They may not be as traditional as a pumpkin pie, but they’re cakey and moist, very chocolaty, and even more full of the fall holiday spices everyone loves. Assuming, that is, that you don’t eat every last one before it’s time to share! So, Happy Thanksgiving to you. I hope this holiday is a joyous reminder of whatever blessings fill your life.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
Adapted from two peas & their pod
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, enough to cover all sides of the pan. Fold the corners over themselves neatly so that the bars will have clean corners. (Note: the parchment paper eliminates the need to grease the pan, and makes it easy to lift the bars out for cutting.)
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and lighter in color. Beat in the egg and vanilla on medium-low until combined. Add the pumpkin puree and mix well. The mixture will look somewhat curdled. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Then add the chocolate chips.
5. Spread the batter (it will be very thick!) evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. It’s better to under bake than over bake these!
6. Cool the bars completely in the pan. Once cool, remove them by carefully pulling the parchment paper out of the pan. Cut into squares and serve. These will freeze well if individually wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.