|Freshly frosted gluten-free pumpkin bars with a secret ingredient.|
Turning, Turning, To Simple Gifts
Tuning in to the particular (and fleeting) pleasures of each changing season as we ride the wheel of the year may be my favorite spiritual practice. A practice that requires one simple thing. Attention. Which turns out to be not so simple, inevitably. Because life is anything but simple, with its whitewater rush of mind numbing distractions that demand less and less of our soul and more and more of our mental focus on exterior minutia. Micro decisions. Cleaning out our email in-box. Catching up with Facebook feeds and Twitter streams and Google+. Texting about grocery lists. Scanning streaming video options for one decent romantic comedy (I have- on too many occasions to count- spent a full hour gaping, borderline comatose, at an LCD screen, scrolling title after title, only to arrive at the sane conclusion that you know what? I'd rather read a book). Thousands (millions?) of choices may glitter and ooze their high definition glow but I find I am not feeling the abundance.
I am less and less enamored with more.
I know. It's showing. My age. My childhood brain was wired for mud and bird calls, blackberry thickets and butterscotch pine. Hours spent reading in a grove of birch trees dug their neural groove. The wild luxuries of inner connection, rather than social networking. And TIME. That plastic, misunderstood, precious commodity that shape-shifts experience from an endless afternoon of liquid daylight into a heart clutching warp speed tumble of confusion. Decades become tiny sandwiches of memory you can barely taste anymore.
Weeks blink by with alarming velocity.
And here we are again.
In pumpkin season.
And so. I stop. And notice the way the late day sun drops low and shimmers golden in the treeline. The crows are gathering earlier. Glossy black and strutting with authority. The smell of burnished leaves scuttling across a wet Cape sidewalk is the same smell I inhaled on a road trip in Vermont fifteen years ago, standing on a wooden bridge above a clear shallow creek while our sons balanced on the slick rocks below us, fishing for smooth round stones.
Do they remember this? Do they remember the same hours I do, in the sand on Skaket Beach? Do they ever have a sudden itch to feed their senses with the scents and sounds of a freshwater riverbed, a sun warmed tide pool? Do they crave a winding path through apple trees? Were their brains hardwired for this connection, too?
I ponder this as I stir a new pumpkin batter.
And breathe in the scents of ginger and cinnamon, listening to the leafy rustle of an almond flour bag as I fold up the cellophane and pinch it closed with a clothespin.
Karina's Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bar Recipe
Recipe originally published October 2011.These high fiber, protein rich pumpkin bars are too delicious for breakfast. They may even be too decadent for afternoon tea. Because, yes, I used brown sugar. And yes, I frosted them with a dairy-free vegan cream cheese icing. I couldn't help myself.
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup Ancient Harvest quinoa flakes
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large organic free range eggs (or Ener-G Egg Replacer, mixed)
1 cup cooked pumpkin puree
1/2 cup organic coconut oil
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, spices and salt. Make a well in the center and add in the eggs, pumpkin, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Beat for two minutes until the batter becomes smooth and slightly sticky. Add in the walnuts by hand and stir.
Scoop the batter into the pan and spread evenly, smoothing out the top with wet fingers. Bake on the center rack for 25 to 35 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.
Frost when cooled with Vegan Cream Cheese Icing, recipe follows.
Note to dairy lovers- if you prefer dairy cream cheese- knock yourself out. It's all good.
Vegan Cream Cheese Icing
Vegan cream cheese tends to be softer than its moo-cow sister, so if you prefer using dairy cream cheese, try the lighter whipped style.
For the icing:
2 cups powdered sugar, more if needed
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
2-3 teaspoons vanilla, as needed
Pour the powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and add the cream cheese. Start beating to combine the cream cheese and sugar. Add the vanilla extract a teaspoon at a time, and beat until the icing is smooth. If the icing is too stiff add a teaspoon of vanilla rice milk. If the icing gets too thin, add more sugar and beat.
Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
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For substitution help, please see my guide to baking with substitutions here.