Monday, October 17, 2005

Time for monarchs -- and yummy pumpkin flan

Well, cooler weather is here... we just spent the weekend out at Guadalupe River State Park, wading in the river with the kids (note to self: buy water shoes to avoid rock bruises) and enjoying chilly nights huddled around the campfire. There's nothing better than hot coffee at a campsite first thing in the morning, followed by pancakes and sausage or bacon and eggs... particularly if your spouse is the one slaving over the stove while you're drowsing by the fire, watching the sun creep up in the sky! (I *do* wash the dishes, at least.)

Our timing was good this year; I happened to look up in the sky late Friday afternoon and see a huge influx of monarch butterflies! I've spotted one or two from time to time, but I've never seen anything like this. At any one moment, I could spot ten to fifteen of them, all at various heights, soaring or fluttering southward. I looked it up on Monarch watch when I got home. It turns out some of them travel 1500 miles to their overwintering spot in Mexico, and they can migrate fifty miles a day! Wow. These little orange guys came to the Guadalupe all the way from Canada. In past years, I've seen them on the frostweed (a big plant with white umbels of flowers), but the flowers are already past their peak this year. I wonder what kind of fuel they're using instead? It's certainly cheaper than what I put in the minivan.

I also made a fabulous pumpkin flan this week: I think Natalie may have to cook this up for her guests in the Gray Whale Inn one morning, but in the meantime, you can try it at home...

Pumpkin Flan

1 cup plus 3 T milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 t grated orange peel
1/4 t ground ginger
scant 1/2 t ground cinnamon
scant 1/2 t salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plus 3 T pureed cooked pumpkin (I used canned)
6 T brown sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine milk, brown sugar, orange peel, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Stir thoroughly, then add the lightly beaten eggs and the pureed pumpkin. Beat vigorously with a spoon until the mixture is smooth. Spray ramekins with cooking spray (see below for 'caramel sauce' option) and fill with pumpkin mixture. Place the ramekins in a large pan in the middle of the oven; pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean.

NOTE: For proper 'flan' with caramel sauce, press 1T brown sugar into the bottom of each ramekin before filling.

This is good with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream with a touch of vanilla added.

Yum. I think I'll go whip up another batch...


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