You don’t have to be sitting in front of a blazing fire to appreciate my Hearthside Pumpkin Cookies, but it doesn’t hurt. As the colder weather begins to take over I take comfort from thoughts of hot drinks (warm grog anyone?), good food, and the glow of the fireplace.
As I research more and more about the hardships faced by the early settlers in Virginia for my Alexandria novels, The View from Prince Street and At the Corner of King Street, I like to think I’d have had their courage and endurance, especially in the face of the challenging and truly dangerous winter season.
Who knows? Maybe I would have. It’s hard, though, to even imagine myself in that time as I’m sitting by my gas fireplace, drinking a lovely toddy heated in my microwave, and choosing from a variety of goodies whipped up in the comfort of my kitchen from ingredients that, if I wanted, I could have picked up the phone and had delivered. Not that I wouldn’t want to grow, harvest and mill my own flour, of course.
So, with thanks for all we have in this time and place, I share a recipe I think carries a taste of old Alexandria, my Hearthside Pumpkin Cookies, as I take a moment to reflect on the city’s history and all who contributed to making it what it is today.
Mary Ellen’s Hearthside Pumpkin Cookies
2 ½ cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup or 1 stick of butter
1 ½ cups of white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl blend together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. In a separate bowl cream together butter, sugar and then add the egg. Mix in pumpkin and vanilla. Add the dry mixture to the pumpkin-sugar mixture 1/3 at a time. Scoop onto a greased cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar.
Yes, it’s time for me to go into high gear with my baking and other prep for Thursday! Thanksgiving Day always makes me competitive with my favorite frenemy—me! I love to bake and cook, but like so many of us, despite years of success, I go right ahead and worry that this year will mark the one time the bread doesn’t rise, the turkey turns tough and the desserts will be left uneaten.
Fortunately, I’ve been wrong on this score for about twenty-five years and everybody continues to show up at the table on time. And one dish my family and I always count on is my apple pie. So from me to you in time for the holiday, here’s my take on one of America’s favorite traditional recipes.
8-9 Tart Apples (such as Granny Smith)
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 9-inch pastry crusts
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and thinly slice apples. In a bowl mix together sugar, cinnamon, flour and sugar. Pour over sliced apples and toss well. Let the mixture sit for about ten minutes. Place pastry crust in a greased pie pan. Drain any excess from apples and place in pastry crust. Cover apples with second pastry crust. Slice four slits or vents in the top pie crust and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
2 ½ cups All Purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 sticks butter, chilled
1/3 cup chilled water
Place flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Slice butter into cubes and add to flour mixture. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour into it resembles a coarse meal. Add the water and blend with flour-butter mixture. Form into a smooth ball and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour before dividing in half and rolling into two crusts.
I’m excited to share the cover and news of my new Alexandria novel, THE VIEW FROM PRINCE STREET, on sale January 5th and available now for pre-orders. I hope you’re looking forward to returning to Old Town with me as I introduce Rae McDonald and Lisa Smythe, whose shared history—the loss of a beloved sister and friend—is not only much more complicated than they imagine, it hearkens back to the 1700s and the lives of AT THE CORNER OF KING STREET‘s Faith Shire and Patience McDonald.
Did you miss AT THE CORNER OF KING STREET? Or do you have a friend who needs to catch up? Either way, you’re invited to enter below for a chance to win a copy and to join earlier readers who have been welcomed to the city’s past and present, strolled around Old Town, been introduced to the family behind the Shire Architectural Salvage Company and gotten caught up on the latest news about THE UNION STREET BAKERY‘s McCrae family.