...my plumage would be really pretty now. Scarlet Ibis' require beta carotene to keep their plumage bright--take a look at this guy who has clearly been eating his fair share of red crabs, or, since he's a bird in captivity, his beta carotene pills. Now look at this poor guy who hasn't been taking his supplements--wan and pale and pink, not scarlet. (Sorry not to publish the photos here--their licensing requirements are too cryptic for me to figure out).
But since I'm not a bird and I live in the Northern Latitudes and haven't been getting much sun and I don't use tan-in-a-can products, the yellowish glow to my skin is carotenodermia, which comes from consuming too many orange foods rich in Vitamin A.
Whew--this is a really long winded way of saying that I'm stumbled across a few really good recipies using sweet potatoes and pumpkin, so I'm going to shut the hell up about the birds and their plumage and tell you to try these two recipes.
One of the recipes came from the aptly named blog, Simply Recipes. I followed the recipe for Creamy Sweet Potato Soup to a T up until the final moments. The author garnished her soup with chopped celery leaves and I went a less healthy route topping each bowl with some crumbled bacon. A while back I had a bowl of sweet potato soup with bacon at Eve and thought the combo was good, though one does have to go light on the bacon or the sweet potato flavor is lost. Brian was very happy with this soup. First he said "this is good." Then he said "this is very good." Then he said "this is you-should-make-this-again good." Brian doesn't comment much on food (opposites attract, right?), so for him to express himself three times about something he is consuming means it really had an impact. I had hoped that one of the small people might taste it; if I had known she would refuse, I might have added a little bit of cayenne too. There are three representatives of the allium genus in the recipe--onion, leeks and garlic--which help balance out the sweetness; add the smoky hit from the bacon and you have a really nice soup.
The other recipe is for pumpkin bread. I know there are so many recipes for pumpkin bread out there that the world hardly needs another, but I really like this one. I don't often make quick breads for my own consumption (I do make muffins for the small people a lot) because many of them are too sweet for my taste. This one isn't.
I took this recipe from Epicurious and modified it slightly so it is marginally healthier. I've made it as bread twice and muffins once and liked it so much that, well, as I said, my skin is turning yellowish.
Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Bread
1 C all purpose flour
1 C white whole wheat flour
1/3 C ground flax seeds
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t nutmeg or mace
1 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 C canned pure pumpkin
1 t vanilla extract
2/3 C buttermilk
1/2 C dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 C coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray, or line muffin tins with papers. Sift flour, spices, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Add flax seed. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until blended. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin, then vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions each. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Transfer batter to pan. Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour (about 20 minutes for muffins). Cool bread in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn bread out onto rack.