Easy Focaccia

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One of my best friends from college and his wonderful significant other visited me this past weekend, and we made a feast. A summer feast. All things meant to be eaten cold, which worked well in 90-degree heat. Orechiette with beef and arugula tossed in fresh balsamic vinaigrette (thanks Giada), salada chilena, and berries and fresh vanilla bean whipped cream.

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And also, of course, something baked. Specifically, this ridiculously easy, totally delicious focaccia. We plucked fresh herbs from my apartment building’s urn garden, bright parsley and fragrant basil.

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Sprinkled liberally with tangy, lasting grey sea salt and a hint of black pepper, we baked the softly puffy dough till it was golden and crisp and ready to serve (and snack on, while pasta was cooking).

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I am generally fearful of things that require yeast (yes, even pretzel buns), but this focaccia doesn’t even make me break a sweat, and it only takes a short afternoon to fix up. Couldn’t be easier–or more impressive.

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Spiced Pumpkin Bread

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Today was miraculous. Here is why: It snowed. A lot. Like almost two feet. And it was windy. So windy my windows were bowing in last night and the cats were wailing helplessly as they ran through the apartment. This is what happens in Wisconsin when the wind gusts reach speeds of over 40 miles per hour.

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But the real miracle was not the crazy weather. Below zero cold and lake effect winds are all in a day’s walk to work around here. No. The miracle was that today, we had a SNOW DAY.

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This never happens. The public school district called off school the day before (unheard of!); city buses weren’t running this morning (insane!) my workplace sent a reluctant email telling us not to come in (surprising!); and the media called for the life-threatening storm of the millennium (not at all unexpected. Way to dramatize things, as usual, Milwaukee media).

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Naturally, this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime event called for celebration. In the form of something hot and comforting and spicy that went with coffee so that I could snack on it all day long. Translation: Pumpkin bread.

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Pumpkin bread that was sweet, but filled with heavy spices–ginger, fancy cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves. Speaking of icing, sweet bread needs a topping that knocks the sugar around a little–thus a tangy cream cheese glaze was absolutely necessary.

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Also, just so you know, I cheated. These are not really bread. They’re little cakes masquerading as bread. I mean, come on, there’s even icing. But let’s just go ahead and call it bread because it will make us feel better about eating a few loaves right out of the oven, yes? Yes.

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So if you need me, I’ll just be over here, downing slice after slice of cake–I mean, bread–for every meal today, while I watch the glorious Party Down on Netflix Instant and hope my snow day, and my supply of pumpkin bread, never ends.

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