When I was in the 4th or 5th grade I joined a club called “Hot Pursuit”, named after the 1987 John Cusack film, which was a pretty big deal at the time. I think he was riding the coat waves of “Say Anything”. I don’t know… We watched the hell of that movie, though. Gosh, I don’t even remember the premise of the film. Was he chasing his girlfriend through the Caribbean? Or was it Berlin? Was Ben Stiller in this thing? I don’t remember.
Anyway, this club was spearheaded by the most popular, well dressed girls in our class. Picture flashdance one shoulder exposing tops, neon earrings, and thick socks in alternating colors resembling leg warmers. It was all Very 1987 High Fashion. Being asked to join that club put me in the same league with an elite group of elementary school girls. Me – the awkward nerd with an overbite. I never once questioned why I was asked to join. I was excited to be accepted into this club, because that meant I was finally cool too. And they knew it. Bam!
The President of Hot Pursuit was the prettiest girl in our 4th or 5th grade class. Our club booklet was made of folded up loose leaf paper with the words “HOT PURSUIT” emblazoned on the cover in colorful bubble letters. It was awe-some. Inside was a small list of Elite members (I was one of them!), along with meeting times, party planning, and the weekly dues of 25 cents. You know, to help pay for the parties and more loose leaf paper. Duh!
Ah… The dues… This was 1987. A 1987 with a mostly single mom, who was struggling to make ends meet. My mother STRUGGLED to pay rent, bills, put clothes on our backs, and help her siblings any way she could. She wasn’t trying to hear a word about club dues.
We were poor. We didn’t starve – Ever – But I spent my childhood overhearing we were one step away from living in Highbridge park; a park which hosted a vast array of crackheads and such at the height of the crack epidemic. I had 1 pair of party shoes at a time – Plus 1 pair of Nike hardtop sneakers at a time, which my mom purchased at the beginning of each year. The same style sneaker, the same style party shoe. Every single year. In the summer, I wore sandals. I didn’t complain.
If I was given 25 cents I was using it to stuff my face with banana Now-and-Laters. This blatant disregard of club rules eventually got me kicked out. I ate too many Now-or-Laters as opposed to paying my weekly dues. Then I realized the reason I was asked to join the club was to help fund their Now-or-Later consumption – Not because I was cool.
Because I wasn’t. I was a nerd with an overbite.
I never really joined another club.
I came across a post for Cappuccino Caramel cookies by the talented Jennifer of Savory Simple. The photos caught my eye (made them pop out of their socket, actually), and so I clicked on it. Aside from the delicious looking cookies she mentioned something called The Leftovers Club where bloggers get paired up and send each other their leftover goods.
I was in! All you have to do is mail your leftovers to someone you’re paired with, and then post your recipe on the first Thursday of each month. Its totally laid back; you only have to be mindful of dietary or allergy restrictions of the person you’re paired with, but other than that – It’s free reign. Its easy! Not to mention such a wonderful way to connect with other bloggers – And taste their goodies!
I mean, how often do you find yourself drooling over someone else’s cookies and are all like, gosh – I wish someone would send me a dozen of those!
Now they can!
Visit The Leftovers Club to lean more and JOIN!
OK – Now onto the recipe.
This month I was paired up with Ruthy from Omeletta, who coincidentally lives in NYC – And whose blog is full of mouth watering recipes coupled with kick-ass photography. I met her very (VERY) briefly at the food court of the Plaza hotel. We hugged, swapped goodies, and then I had to run out on her. There was a Woman Woman costume waiting to be sewn together.
She made a bomb-ass salted caramel bark, combining two of my loves – Popcorn and chocolate – And now I love her. That’s it. I love her.
I made some pumpkin butter – Which as you know, is apropos to the season. I make batches of pumpkin butter every November and give most of it away. Its evocative of fall – With tons of fall spices and pumpkin puree.
I love the addition of orange zest and citrus juices in this pumpkin butter. It adds a nuance of complexity and brilliance to the pumpkin and spice flavors. I can’t get enough of it.
When I reached out to Ruthy she was spending her days dipping apple slices into this pumpkin butter. She’s awesome. And this pumpkin butter is amazing.
And The Leftovers Club?
Well… That’s my new Hot Pursuit. Just don’t ask for 25 cents worth of membership dues. I’ll just use the money to stuff my face with banana Now-and-Laters again.
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- Zest of 1 orange removed in wide strips with a swivel peeler or a paring knife
- 1 1/2 cups Water
- 1 30-ounce can solid packed pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup reserved orange water with 2 teaspoons of finely minced orange zest
- 2 cups Light brown sugar firmly packed
- 4 Tablespoons Strained orange juice
- 2 Tablespoons Strained lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Table salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon Freshly grated nutmeg
- large pinch Ground cloves
- In a small saucepan, combine the orange zest and 1 ½ cups of water over medium/high heat. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the orange zest and water mixture for about 8 minutes until there is a very light orange hue to the water.
- Strain the mixture and reserve ½ cup of water. Remove the zest from the strainer and mince it very, very finely. Measure out 2 teaspoons of zest and combine with the reserved liquid.
- In a large saucepan, combine the pumpkin puree, reserved water with orange zest, brown sugar, strained orange and lemon juices, salt, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, grated nutmeg, and cloves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium/high heat, stirring constantly.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring every few minutes with a wooden spoon until the mixture has reduced and thickened, about 30-35 minutes.
- Remove from heat and ladle onto glass jars. You can process it at this point using your canning method of choice, or you can bring to room temperature, cover with a tightly fitting lid and place in the refrigerator.
- Makes enough to fill 5, 8oz jars.
- Last over 2 weeks in the refrigerator.