Monday, March 15, 2010

Economic Woes

We're not out of the woods yet, folks. The US economy is still reeling from the aftermath of bad, careless decisions by greedy, ruthless businessmen. Then there's the effect of an entire generation growing up and living beyond their means, purely on debt. My little town in Connecticut is still hurting. For a girl who cooks as much as I do, the neighborhood grocery stores are a veritable treasure. So it's pretty disheartening to see two of my favorite ones shutting their doors for good.

One of them was a little Mom-n-Pop specialty Pakistani store, which was about a mile down the street from us. A healthier, more active person - who isn't still carrying around at least an extra 25 lbs of post-baby weight! - could easily have walked there and back. The people running it were lovely, the shop was spotless and clean, and of course, it was packed with all the goodies from India/Pakistan and the Middle East. I spent a lot of time there, just browsing the aisles of spices and grains of every variety. Sadly, they just couldn't keep afloat in this pathetic economy. How I miss NY, where the
desi stores were aplenty - one of them was literally across the street from us! (and yes, I did walk there, erm, sometimes)

The other recent closure was, surprisingly, a large chain grocery store. I went in there this past weekend and was shocked to see most of the shelves lying empty and, well, kinda desolate. I felt bad for the people working there. For me, it's just inconvenient changing stores, when you've gotten so used to one. I knew where everything was, so could run in and out in no time. Now when I go to a new store, I'll be one of those people who spend half their time just searching for what they need - going from corner A for the veggies to corner B for the milk, then back to A because I didn't know that's where they kept the cheese too! *sigh*

All around my neighborhood, things are slowly shutting down, and it feels that time is running out for me to enjoy the remaining stores and restaurants around here. I had the same sort of feeling when I looked through my food pics on my computer. There are a lot of photos there of recipes that I've tried just once. And there are a couple of recipes that I had better tell you about right away before winter disappears completely, and before I forget how I even felt about them! After all, I doubt you'll be making anything with pumpkin come June! So here's one that's great for your kids, and the kid in you.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (Erin's Food Files has the perfect recipe for these, and that's where this comes from)
Makes 8-12

Click here for printable recipe

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tbsp ground cloves
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1.5 cups pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves.

3. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Mix in the pumpkin puree. Add eggs and vanilla - whisk until fully incorporated. After that, sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk again till everything comes together.

4. Using a small ice-cream scoop (I need to get me one of those - I just used a tablespoon) drop heaping tbsps of dough into prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
5. Transfer to oven and bake 15 mins or so, until these cakey cookies are just starting to crack on top, and toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean. Let cool completely on pan.

1.5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat again. Add powdered sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla, then beat until well combined.

To assemble: Turn half the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe about a tbsp of the frosting onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that frosting spreads to the edge of the cookie. Refrigerate the whoopie pies for about 30 mins before serving.

Verdict: I'd never even eaten a whoopie pie before this, so really didn't know what to expect. All I knew was that I can't resist trying out something called "whoopie pie" because it's just too adorable, like something out of an Enid Blyton fairy-tale about a pixie feast. For those of you who have not tried these yet, I recommend that you do, but be warned - these may look like cookies, but they're nothing like 'em. The texture is more like a cake - soft, dense and chewy. Don't skimp on the frosting either. I love how it bulges out the sides as you bite down!

On a separate note, for those of you who may be wondering how my Ozzy is taking to baby B, well, I'll get into the details in another post. For now I'll just tell you that he has adjusted better than we expected, but he is still dealing with some insecurities. My own relationship with Ozzy is on the mend, as compared to what it was when I first brought B home (he was not happy with me at all!). He does stick to DH more than ever now - jumping up onto his lap every chance he gets. I'd be more jealous if I wasn't secretly relieved. At least he's getting the attention and affection he deserves from one of us - baby B monopolizes all of mine!
Ozzy my cuddly-wuddly, Mommy wuvs you!


Unknown said...

So sorry to hear about that cool shop closing down I love those kind of stores. We have one here and I love looking at all the exotic spices. HOpe those delicious whoopie pies makes it a bit easier :D
*kisses* HH

Finla said...

That is wha ti love aobut living here, have some 2 bakers just a street away, and if i go one more street away ther eis the main shopping street. If i am out of eggs or mil etc... i can tell my daughter to pop over to the smal supermarket which is just 5 minutes away by foot and get from there. I woudn't want to move from here ;-)
Love the whoopi pie after starting the blog i have seen them a lot, but have not made them yet.

Joanne said...

That really stinks about the local stores. Where I live in Manhattan, all we have is a Food Emporium...which is why I trek downtown to shop at Whole Foods and sometimes Chinatown if I'm lucky. If you ever need anything, let me know! I'd be more than happy to send it to you. Where were some of your favorite stores while you lived here?

These whoopie pies sound amazing. And I will certainly be cooking with pumpkin come June. Have no fear :P

Anonymous said...

The pumpkin whoopie pies look so good! Delicious frosting too!

nandini said...

I was thrilled to see the whoopie pies in 'tastespotting'.. The click looks truly beautiful!.

s said...

oh these look absolutely yumm....sadly cream cheese is not something we get here so will have to think of some alternative....
economic woes? well im pretty sure(hope) the worst is over....

Hari Chandana P said...

First time here.. wonderful blog.. thanks for sharing recipes.. :)

Foodiewife said...

Hey Mama! I hate seeing business close down. It's like a death of a familiar friend. As for not cooking pumpkin in June? Ha! I've got PW's frozen pumpkin puree in my freezer and I could eat pumpkin year round. Yummy! I've never had whoopie pies, and have been dying to make them. They sound... well, just like you described. So glad that Ozzie is getting love. It's an adjustment, but they eventually do.

Ann said...

I hope things start to look up again in your neck of the woods. I'm always caught off guard when you see a place shutter down overnight. Something about losing the familiarity of a place so soon....

Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

Hello Muneeba!!

Those pumpkin whoopie pies with the filling look so good & lovely too!

Very appetizing too,....

Kerstin said...

It is sad - I haven't seen too many store closings in the city, but a Gap went of business in Cambridge, which I thought was surprising.

My mouth is watering looking at your whoopie pies - the frosting sounds like it compliments the pumpkin perfectly!

Cooking with Laura said...

Came across your blog via the Duchess's blog. Your blog is sweet and so is your son, precious.


Kathryn said...

Whoopie pies really seem to be the next big trend- I keep seeing them everywhere! Do you serve them with anything in particular?