In-flight post #2 – Holiday baking

I decided not to pay $12.95 for in-flight internet on my flight to DC this morning, but I wrote these posts on my laptop sometime during the coast to coast trip. I just waited until I got to the comfort of my hotel room (with free internet) to publish them. Now if only the guy sitting behind me would stop sticking his feet so far forward that he kicks the back of my legs! I know personal space is nearly nonexistent on planes, but could you keep your feet in their designated area please?

At the airport this morning I bought two magazines to entertain myself before my flight to DC – the latest issues of “Cooking with Paula Deen” and “Cooking Light.” First of all, yes, I did dress up as Paula Deen for Halloween last year, and seeing her with a slice of apple and pear pie on the cover of this month’s issue brought back good memories. It also made me want to make that pie. I’ll add it to the list of potential recipes for Thanksgiving this year. After accumulating way too many cooking magazines a few years ago when I had subscriptions to several Taste of Home publications, I haven’t bought too many more since then, but every year around this time I scour the grocery store magazine rack for anything that features fall baking. (The annual Taste of Home Halloween issue is a must buy for anyone planning a party, by the way. The pumpkin dip recipe I found a few years ago is perfect with fruit, veggies, cookies, or cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.) So when I saw fall baking on the cooking magazine covers at the airport as I was wandering around this morning, I had to buy a couple of them. Paula Deen’s magazine is hit or miss in my experience, but the September/October issue actually has some delicious looking recipes in it. The variations on traditional banana bread and pumpkin bread are definitely something that I have to try. I have yet to make a really good loaf of banana bread (which Dan loves) so I’m looking forward to trying Paula Deen’s version. On the other hand, I already have two tried and true pumpkin bread recipes that I make every year, but I’m always on the lookout for something new and different. Maybe I’ll even put slices of Paula Deen’s pumpkin bread in my family’s holiday care packages this year, but I’ll have to try it myself first to make sure it’s worthy. I hate sending substandard goodies to my family so this is not just an excuse for me to eat homemade baked goods. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. “Cooking with Paula Deen” also has a recipe for tea bread which I’ve never made before. The best part about these recipes is that they only call for standard pantry staples. My favorite pumpkin bread recipe (which is actually more like pumpkin cake) requires a certain amount of cook and serve pudding mix that doesn’t come in a single size box that I can find in any store. It’s a pain to buy two boxes and estimate how much of the second box I need to use. The bread has never turned out badly, but I get frustrated when recipes are complicated like that. When I get back from this trip it will be October, which is my green light to kick the holiday preparations into high gear. First is the Halloween party. I’ve already started gathering pieces of my Halloween costume, but I have a long way to go before it’s complete. As far as food goes, I have a few ideas as to what will be on the party buffet. Last year no one ate any of my meticulously decorated pumpkin bundt cake (in hindsight it wasn’t that good anyway so maybe that was for the best) so I think I’ll make something more accessible and maybe bite-sized for dessert this year instead. Pumpkin, cranberries, and apples are some of the staples of fall baking so whatever I make will include one or more of those ingredients. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. I’m afraid Paula Deen’s delicious looking apple and pear pie would suffer the same fate as last year’s pumpkin cake so that won’t fit the bill. I think cupcakes or cookies are more appropriate for a party. Has anyone heard about cake balls? I was introduced to this internet sensation a few years ago (there’s even a specialized cookbook for them now), but I haven’t made them yet. Maybe this is the perfect time to try something new. Maybe red velvet or pumpkin cake balls would work for Halloween. I’ll have to give them a trial run before the party, though. Another excuse to eat dessert? I love it! I haven’t cracked open my “Cooking Light” issue yet but if I find anything good in there I’ll be sure to let you know.