Seeing the pumpkins reappear at the farmers’ markets makes me feel really happy. It’s a sign that autumn is back and it happens to be my favorite season of all. Although I was especially excited to see these bright orange gourds again, it was a slightly sad week for me. About four years ago, my younger brother came to visit me and my husband in Prague. His month-long visit turned out to be a four-year stay. In the ex-pat world, it is quite uncommon to have a close family member live nearby. I considered it a luxury to have my little brother living in the same city as me and to have a piece of home just around the corner. I felt very lucky.
However, all good things do come to an end. In the four years that my brother lived here, he made an effort to enjoy every minute of his life abroad. He appeared in poster ads and I saw his face every time I exited the metro. He acted in a few commercials. He started a handyman business that catered to the English-speaking community to support himself. He completed a degree in Computer Science and Business. He made a lot of friends from many parts of the world. Occasionally, he drove me a little crazy in the way that only one’s sibling knows how to do. In those four years, I became a home owner, traveled to far away places, a blogger and a stay at home mother of twins. It’s strange how people’s comings and goings can quickly remind us of the changes that occur in such a short period of time.
I wasn’t thrilled about his decision to return back to our hometown of NYC. I knew I would miss him, but mostly I felt disappointed that he wouldn’t be around any longer to witness the changes and growth of my daughters. Since the birth of my children, I long to be closer, geographically closer, to my family. For a huge chunk of my childhood and adult life, I was always surrounded by a large extended family. My parents didn’t have to raise my two brothers and me alone, they had plenty of extra hands. Without my brother around, the city feels a bit empty, a little less comforting and a teeny bit lonesome. Fortunately, I do have a local tribe that I can rely on here, as most of our friends have a similar situation. Reuniting with our families means having to cross time zones and travel long distances to see them. I think I would call this being in a state of family-less, which is why we tend to recreate a new family structure in our adopted city.
This week’s post is dedicated to my brother Rhyan, who was often a frequent visitor at our dinner table. This was one of his favorite treats. He said “It’s like eating a piece of cake but in the size of a cookie.” This pumpkin dessert is tender, moist and has a fluffy texture. It also has a spicy kick that recalls the crisp cool feel of autumn. I will miss sharing these with my brother over a cup of coffee and listening to the stories of his adventures in Prague. Now, when I eat these, I will be reminded of him and remember all the good times we shared.
Fluffy Pumpkin Cookies (adapted from One Smart Cookie Cookbook)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup freshly baked pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (the original recipe calls for molasses, but this can also be substituted with honey, maple syrup or pomegranate molasses)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups raisins, dried cranberries or chocolate chips or a mix of them all. (I used cranberries and carob chips)
Preheat oven to 350/180 degrees
In a medium bowl, combine flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the remaining ingredients together, except the dried fruits or chocolate chips.
When the wet ingredients are mixed smoothly, add the dry ingredients. Stir by hand until it is well combined.
Then add your choice of dried fruits or chocolate chips and stir until blended.
On a greased cookie sheet, drop large, round spoonfuls of the batter. Be sure to leave some space in between each cookie.
Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy with a cup of tea and good company!