Curry Pumpkin Soup for a Fall Picnic (Gluten Free, Vegan Option)

Pittsburgh's Washington's Landing is largely a quiet place with the occasional rower skimming the Allegheny River or a runner looping over the landscaped trail. Once an industrial brownfield, it's now a small haven that boasts the brightest autumnal palette (and a connection to George Washington himself). In short, it's an ideal spot for a picnic, and fall picnics call for thermoses of piping hot Curry Pumpkin Soup!

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Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel

Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel // www.WithTheGrains.com

The weeping willow has shed so many of her tears, blanketing all but a tiny, undulating trail of sidewalk for my pup and me. Our routine walk has taken us past all her emotions- from full and boastful to drooping sorrow. Half cloaked and half unveiled, her in-between state reflects the season- not quite fall, not quite winter, all over gray with a tinge of the somber. 

Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel // www.WithTheGrains.com

If only the willow knew of sunny pumpkins and gourds, with their brilliant orange colors and comforting flavors. Or maybe she does, and the descent of her leaves is more like a sweeping embrace than an ugly cry.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel // www.WithTheGrains.com

Whole Grain Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars with Pumpkin Streusel // www.WithTheGrains.com

Like the scantily clad willow tree, these bars mark the transition of Thanksgiving to winter holiday baking. Pumpkin bar meets a gingerbread crust with a snowfall of pumpkin streusel and a garland of molasses. Though the willow may be submitting to the coming of the cold season, the fiery red trees seem to defy it, so channel them if you need a little warmth in these gray months. Or bake these, and serve with hot tea.

Bon Appétit!

Quelcy Signature


Whole Grain Pumpkin Bars with Gingerbread Crust & Pumpkin Streusel
Yield: 9×13 pan/about 24 bars

About this Recipe: Pumpkin + Spice on a gingery crust. The molasses drizzle made eaters think the streusel had raisins, so if you’re not a raisin fan, skip the drizzle. I used turmeric in the filling for color and nutrients.

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Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Spiked Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

He pushed his hands against the table, and his chair slid backward, as if the growing space between him and the table would somehow create more room in his stomach. “I guess it didn’t help that we started the day with champagne,” he said, explaining the slowed pace of his Thanksgiving consumption.

“Why did you have champagne?” his older brother asked.

“Because we don’t have kids.” 

Ohhhhhhhhhh, snap!

“We should drink champagne more,” he said to me, and I couldn’t have agreed more.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Yeah, we are that Uncle and Aunt- the childless kind who can still relish simple luxuries like sleeping in and toasting champagne for breakfast… if you call “noon” breakfast, and on Thanksgiving, we do! (The Urban Farmer is also the kind of uncle who believes someone has to torture the youngins, a role he fills diligently.)

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Our Thanksgiving morning was a very intentionally slow morning that eased into a brunch just for us… with champagne. Being that 2016 has kept me on my toes, when a sanctioned day-off hits me, I am all too happy to kick up my feet.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

As the sort of basket case that leans toward the side of “do, do, do, make, make, make, go, go, go… stress, stress, stress,” doing nothing is not my best skill. The Urban Farmer, however, has a very healthy attitude toward “couch days.” During the season of gratitude, I found myself truly relishing those times when man, pup and I can nestle into nothing.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

I try to push the bounds of my gratitude, to see beyond the obvious. Yes, I am grateful for the roof over my head, for creative work, for a family who loves me and an admirable partner, but I’m also grateful for hot showers at my fancy, for growing up routinely celebrating my birthday with parties, for having real options for my education even if money was tight. But sometimes, it’s really soul-warming just to sit on a couch, sip champagne, watch a creepy show and relish that guy who thinks I’m special, all while snuggling the furry bundle of love who holds no grudges and wants to please us all the time. Those little nothing moments are in fact everything moments.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

So we relished the morning and its lack of responsibilities. I played with flowers to gift his grandmother, and we brunched in our pajamas. Then I gladly sat at a table for which I had to do zero work. I ate way too much, then refilled my plate because gravy overrides reason.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Then there was round two- another side of the family, more plates, more refills, still no responsibilities and in the end, a game of name-that-hummed-tune and charades that made my face hurt from laughing so hard. Have a grown man do a t-Rex impression and then hum “Ring My Bell” while you try to guess what on earth he could possibly be channeling. It makes for a night to remember!

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com 

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Thanksgiving put me into such a mellow state. Between that lingering food coma and the subsequent gray rainy days, I’m having a hard time bouncing back in full force. These crepes are not only a good way to use leftover stores from Thanksgiving (extra cans of pumpkin and cranberries?), but they offer a way to indulge in a weekend morning and extend that Thanksgiving laziness feeling. Eat brunch in your pajamas. Watch a creepy show. Cuddle your significant other and/or furry companion(s), and be grateful for the nothingness of it all.

Quelcy Signature


Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Whipped Cream
Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

About this Recipe: Holiday shopping surely left an extra scoop of pumpkin puree or a stockpile of cans of cranberries, so use them up in one seasonal inspired brunch. Add a dollop of the whipped cream to your coffee, and serve the whole brunch with a bottle of bubbly! It’s not pictured, but I also recommend a healthy slathering of Nocciolata on these crepes. Chocolate-hazelnut, pumpkin and cranberries are a seasonal match made in heaven.

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Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats for Julep’s 3rd Birthday

Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
-Anatole France

Introducing-Julep

Remember this wee little bean? 

Baby Julep

It feels like a mere minute ago that I was introducing my budding kitchen assistant, and yet, my fur baby is now a whopping three years old (still just as cute as ever though)! 

Rhubarb Season by With The Grains 21

In yoga they teach you how to push and stretch your lungs, inching closer and closer to breathing at full capacity. Bonding with a dog is a similar exercise for the heart- all my love for this gentle, faithful, happy creature fills my heart so as to burst the very seams. And that love for her somehow trained my heart to love even more and taught me to feel an empathy for dogs in general (i.e.: most dog videos can make me sob in a matter of seconds).  

Julep and Quelcy

We’ve been through a lot in these three short years- an aggressive dog attack I thought would surely end her, an injured paw that melted my heart, a near brush with rush-hour traffic- all these incidents enforcing how important it is to cherish this playful, sweet, snuggly creature for every precious moment I have her. 

Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats // www.WithTheGrains.com

As that Anatole fella said, Julep truly did awaken a part of my soul. She showed me a simplicity to life- friendship and play go a long way in bringing contentment to a day. Work hard, play hard and nap harder. She made me a better neighbor and taught me to expect the best from people. I’ve also watched her brighten the days of so many folks around us. 

Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats // www.WithTheGrains.com

I showed my love and gratitude for my birthday girl as I often do, through baking. Whether baking for human birthdays or four-legged birthdays, I am always concerned about the quality of ingredients and if they are appropriate for the birthday boy or girl. Accordingly, this recipe is simple and completely pronounceable. 

Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats // www.WithTheGrains.com

Reading the list of ingredients on dog foods and treats is just as confusing (if not more?) as navigating our human nutrition labels these days. With so many companies just trying to make a buck off our love for our four-legged pals, this homemade gesture goes a long way in treating our pets without unwanted fillers. Plus, you can eat them too!

Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats // www.WithTheGrains.com

Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats // www.WithTheGrains.com

Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats // www.WithTheGrains.com

Since sharing is caring, Julep shared her birthday bones with her new best friend- Lucy Lu. After Julep’s attack, she became very aggressive toward other dogs. When our very close friend brought home this curly new addition (an Aussie Doodle), we were hoping for a bond. 

Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats // www.WithTheGrains.com

Words can’t even express how happy I was to see them connect when we first introduced them. The framily bond continues to grow even stronger and is helping to rehabilitate Julep. There goes that heart bursting again!

Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats // www.WithTheGrains.com
Well behaved ladies waiting for their treats.
Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats // www.WithTheGrains.com
These homemade birthday bones are nose-licking good!

♥♥♥ Happy 3rd Birthday to Julep, my not-so little one!  ♥♥♥

Quelcy Signature

p.s: I would be remiss not to mention how The Urban Farmer adopted Julep as his own and how he added a whole new level of happiness to her sheepdog heart. Working as his farm “assistant” has made her the happiest lass on the planet!

p.p.s: As much as I love my dog and want others to feel that same joy, Julep is a BIG responsibility. Think very carefully before adding a dog to your life, especially a high-energy, intelligent sheepdog! Too many of them end up at shelters by no fault of their own. 

Coconut Flour Bacon Dog Treats
Adapted from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
Yield: ~50 cookies using this cookie cutter

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Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering (Gluten Free)

“It’s ok, they might have guns but we have flowers,” the father explained to his son, as the young boy tried to wrap his mind around the violence that had consumed his city.

Flowers and candles. Flowers to fight fears and candles to remember the fallen. The father and son’s poetic exchange, captured on camera, went viral because the world needed flowers and light during such a dark tunnel.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

Paris struck a chord with so many because so many of us have experienced the capitol’s charms. However, instead of token post cards or cinematic moments, we francophiles found ourselves retracing our past adventures through unimaginable, horrific news footage. Vicariously, we felt the threats so many feel daily, and as best we could, we conveyed our fears, our sympathies, and our allegiance to the beloved city.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

It was easy to feel for Paris. In my own case, I spent six months wandering the city’s streets, immersing myself in the language and daily life. I debated the best baguette while reading Émile Zola. I documented my routes on a worn map while trying to emulate slang expressions. I sipped coffees while admiring the perfection of the street fashion. As cliche as it was, I felt like I belonged there, like I had found my city. Though I departed, bidding farewell as an accordion player serenaded the canal, I guarded that connection.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

I have not read Arabic literature in Beirut. I have not dined with locals in Bamako. I have not sat in a cafe and admired the rich textiles and traditions of Nigerian cities. I may not have a personal history with these places, but that doesn’t mean I should close my heart to them. I have not given the victims in these cities the sympathies they deserve. I admittedly have furthered the desperation felt in those nations by not cherishing their living, but it’s a wrong I want to right.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

I recently sat in the audience for a screening of the film (T)error (which I can’t recommend enough!). At the end of the film, a Muslim woman, in the traditional hijab, addressed the director. “Thank you for making this film. Thank you for sparking a dialogue. I love Allah. I am a Muslim, but those attackers are not Muslim. They do not represent me.” She expressed the fear she feels when her eight children leave home after, hearing a man on the news say he wanted to shoot the next Muslim he saw. “I am human, and I bleed just like you.”

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

Several audience members made their way to the woman as the crowd dispersed. “Thank you for your comments,” they said one by one, touching her gently on the shoulder or leaning in close to her. Like the flowers and candles in France, this woman’s bravery was beauty in the face of fear. Her vulnerability turned fear into power.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

Thankfully, I haven’t experienced a terrorist attack firsthand, and I hope I never do. I wish no one ever would, but certain evils are prevailing. It may be easier for me to believe in flowers and candles from my safe distance, but how else can we advance positively? I choose to believe in beauty and empathy wholeheartedly, and I will pay more attention to the attacks the media slights.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

If my time in France taught me one thing, it was to appreciate quality– quality of time, quality of friends, quality of wine and the quality of a good meal shared. France taught me to slow down, to savor, to debate, to exchange and to defend time honored traditions. These luxuries are not universal, and especially in America, we ought to acknowledge and share our great fortunes.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches for those of us in the United States, it’s an apt time to remember how America formed, how generosity and gratitude gathered around a table and celebrated differences. As Thanksgiving draws near, I hope flowers and candles, beauty and empathy will prevail! I hope that our common fears will unite us and not tear us apart.

This is a recipe for sharing. It serves many, so extend the warmth of your oven to those close to you. I shared this lasagna with close friends who inspire me. Each fights, in his or her own way, for a better world. Each of these friends chooses beauty and empathy, and I’m grateful for it.

Quelcy Signature

Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna (Gluten Free)

About this Recipe: Perfect for serving a group, this lasagna tastes like the best of fall! In the spirit of simpler preparations around the holidays, I used an organic canned pumpkin puree instead of roasting my own. The hearty green layer is a quick kale pesto. Use the leftovers wherever you would use a traditional basil pesto. Brown rice noodles make for more flavor, and they make this a gluten-free, crowd-pleasing option. Serve it with Wigle Whiskey’s Walkabout (whiskey + pressed apple cider).

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