Pumpkin Bread for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving isn’t really a thing here in Taiwan so we’re not doing much to mark it this year. I did, however, buy some smoked turkey lunchmeat which we’ve been having on sandwiches and I also bought a giant can of Libby’s pureed pumpkin which I have been slowly working through. The first thing I made with the pumpkin was a loaf of pumpkin bread which turned out to be really good. A bonus is that it is made with olive oil, so healthy-ish.

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread (from Fine Cooking, Oct/Nov 2011 issue)

Ingredients

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup honey

2 TBS unsalted pumpkin seeds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, oil, and honey until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir.

2. Pour batter into loaf pan and sprinkle top with pumpkin seeds.

3. Bake for 40-45 mins. If it looks as though the top is browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil over it and continue baking until done.

4. Cool and enjoy.

(Fern sat and watched from her favorite spot as I baked this).

Apart from this bread, we will also be enjoying a harvest of Taiwan fruits today.

I have a big bowl of passion fruits to get through.

Shouldn’t be too hard as I have been averaging at least 5 a day! Our baby is going to either come out with an allergy to or a love for passionfruit!

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Life Recently

The cats have been spending a lot of time in their new Cat Crib.

I ordered the crib a while back and asked my parents send it over from the States. They sent it along with a boatload of other goodies to help me get through my pregnancy.

As much as I tell them not to send it, it’s always fun to receive American Halloweeen candy. We had a great time taste testing everything. The booger gummies were my favorite.

Just this week I met up for lunch with a woman from my book club and she introduced me to a new restaurant where I had an awesome curry.

Last weekend Jen and Rob were visiting my parents in Ohio. I video chatted with them a few times and things got pretty interesting…

I made a trip to Ikea on Wednesday and scoped out the baby gear. So cute.

Luke and I had date date night on Friday. We kicked it off with tea and scones at Smith & Hsu.

We ended up ordering a pot of Masala Chai (although I was tempted by the Kir Royale tea) to accompany our cheese and berry scones.

After tea we did some shopping and ended up at Toasteria for dinner.

Luke had a salami and gouda grilled cheese and I had a smoked salmon salad. It was divine.

And perhaps the most exciting thing in our lives is that as of today I am 17 weeks pregnant!

I am finally starting to show and others are noticing. Hopefully sometime this week or next I will feel him move for the first time. I can’t wait for that moment.

Weekend in Taoyuan Part 2

On our way back to Taipei from our weekend in Taoyuan we stopped in Cihu to check out the Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park which is home to over 100 statues of Chiang Kai-shek (CKS). The statues are old ones from all over Taiwan that were no longer wanted. So rather than being destroyed, they were sent to Cihu and this park was turned into a bit of a CKS statue graveyard. It’s a totally out of this world experience to walk into the park and see the same man replicated over and over again.

Each statue or bust is slightly different –  a different color and portrays the leader in a different way. The statues have been grouped by what looks like different times in CSK’s life and also by how the statue is posing (seated, standing, or bust).

Luke and I had a great time walking around posing with the statues.

If you ever find yourself in or near Cihu I’d recommend you  stop and check it out.

More details can be found here.

After getting our fill or CKS we headed home, concluding our weekend in Taoyuan.

Weekend in Taoyuan Part 1

On Friday afternoon Luke and I packed a bag, got in our car, and drove to Taoyuan.

I booked us a night in a Minsu (Taiwanese B&B) in a very remote part of the Taoyuan countryside. We decided that as part of our language learning it would be good to get out of Taipei every now and again, stay with locals, and practice our Mandarin.

After we settled into our room we took a walk to check out our surrounds. There was a lot of bamboo.

And a river with good skipping rocks.

The Taiwanese family that runs the minsu provided us with dinner. It was quite the tasty feast!

After dinner we played a board game and hung out with the family’s very big beautiful dog.

We were up early and were treated to a Taiwanese-style breakfast. The style of food served at the minsu is definitely more indigenous than what you would get for breakfast in Taipei. There were fried eggs, tofu skin, salted peanuts, and congee with mushrooms, fish, and preserved eggs.

After we bid farewell to our hosts we ventured out to Lalashan Forest Reserve – where some of the oldest tress in Taiwan can be found.

Here’s me admiring a huge, old tree.

And here’s the huge, old tree itself (2,400 years old!).

After the trees we hit up another famous site in the area, Xiao Wulai Waterfall (小烏來瀑布). The Lonely Planet rates it as a must-see waterfall in Taiwan.

It was certainly beautiful.

To be continued…

Baby: No Longer An ‘It’

It’s been an exciting week for us. On Tuesday we found out what we are having:

I had the Doctor and Technician double and triple check and both assured it’s 100% boy in there. We didn’t care what we were having but it was great to find out so I no longer have to refer to the little nugget as ‘it’. It also means I can start shopping. Today we made our first biggish baby purchase, a Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance.

It was on sale at one of the main baby stores in Taipei so I snatched it up. I also had a look at their baby clothes but didn’t buy anything. It did make me think though how unbelievably hard it would be to find gender-neutral baby clothes. I don’t know how people who don’t find out the sex do it. Maybe it’s just Taiwan but most things seem to be very pink or very blue. The only clothes I bought so far were ones from a rummage sale a few weeks back. I got a whole bunch of gently used baby stuff for around $30 USD.

Trying to stay as gender neutral as possible actually meant buying some blue stuff. It worked out. Oh, and the orange knitted lion (Lenny) and colorful socks were gifts from Luke’s Mum – handmade in NZ (you would never find such unique, adorable things at rummage sales).

Speaking of gifts, I have been unbelievably spoiled by my family with pregnancy gift baskets. My parents and Natalie sent me a box full of goodies to satisfy all my cravings:

And Jen and Rob sent me an awesome congratulations package which included the best gift, a ‘Belly Book’, for me to record all my pregnancy memories – growing belly, scans, etc.

The beads around my neck are also from them. These awesome things are actually for the baby to chew on. They are called ‘Chewbeads’ and come in heaps of different colors – good for mama and baby. I’ve already been wearing them heaps. They’re gonna get a lot of use. They also bought me some Shout Wipes (as I will be dropping food on my growing belly) and a bag of another great American candy – Tootsie Rolls (which I had a major hankering for).

Thanks everyone for all of this stuff- for me and baby. We feel very lucky.