Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yummy Fall Recipes

I was looking through some apple recipes and happened to remember that Linette had shared some great recipes last fall.

Go here for some great recipes using apples and pumpkin! (And if you know Linette, you know you can expect some good eating if she recommends it!)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spiced Pumpkin Butter

4 cups pumpkin puree or two 15 oz cans pumpkin
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 T lemon juice
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
In large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat. Stir frequently for about 30 minutes until thick. (Be careful as mixture can spatter and if so, lower heat.) Cool.
Refrigerate for up to a week or place in containers and freeze.

We enjoy pumpkin butter on crusty homemade bread or pancakes. I'm sure you could find other uses. The spices can be adjusted to suit you taste.

We just arrived home tonight from a few days of camping. Last night we were making mountain pies and Ed spread pumpkin butter, peanut butter and placed two marshmallows in his mountain pie. The combination of flavors was awesome!

For more ideas on using pumpkin - go to Tammy's Recipes Recipe Swap.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pumpkin Squares with Cider Caramel Sauce

With a cold glass of apple cider, this recipe was some good fall eating!

from Family Fun Magazine with a few adaptions

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil
2 cup pumpkin puree (or 15 oz can)
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Pour into greased 9x13 pan.
Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Cool.


1/2 cup brown sugar
1 T cornstarch
2/3 cup apple cider
2 T butter

In pan, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Add cider.
Cook over medium heat until just boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickens, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add butter.

To serve, cut cake and top with a drizzle of warm sauce.

For more pumpkin recipes go to the In-Season Recipe Swap at Tammy's Recipes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Golden Pear Cake

I love recipes using in season produce. I found this cake recipe in the Traditional Home magazine. Not only was it simple to make, and an elegant dessert, our family thought it was absolutely delicious! If you have a few pears languishing in the back of the fridge. Give it a try! It may even work with canned pears, if you have no other option!

This cake is similar to an upside-down pineapple cake. The recipe is begun in a cast-iron or oven-proof skillet, then finished in the oven. Upon completion, the cake is inverted to a serving platter. I enjoyed using my favorite Griswold cast-iron skillet that came from Ed's grandmother. This pan sees daily use in my kitchen. I love that it is a family heirloom that we can use without diminishing it's value. (Unlike the Hitchcock dining room chairs, which came from Ed's other grandmother, which may not survive our children!)

If you don't have an oven-proof skillet, just make the brown sugar-butter mixture in a sauce pan, pour into a 9-inch round cake pan, and proceed with the recipe.

Golden Pear Cake

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
Melt butter in 9-inch cast-iron or oven proof skillet. Stir in brown sugar. Cook and stir until sugar is melted and bubbly. Cool.

3 or 4 pears, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced

Arrange pear slices in skillet.

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk

Beat butter and sugar until combined. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Stir in dry ingredients with milk until just combined. Spoon batter over pears.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.
Loosen cake from pan. Invert onto serving plate.
Enjoy warm or cold!

How to Cook a Pumpkin

Buying a can of pumpkin at the store is a simple way to make a pumpkin pie. But for us "make it yourself" cooks, starting with a big hard vegetable is the way to go! It really isn't hard, just takes a little time.
First wash the pumpkin. Or winter squash. Use a pumpkin that is good for eating.

In these photos, you'll see three small Red Kuri winter squash that are similar to the Hubbard squash. I bought the seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Their selection of squashes is amazing! And overwhelming!

Do not peel the pumpkin. Pumpkin flesh is hard, if they have been cured properly. I'm sure I would cut myself if I tried to peel a pumpkin - and there is an easier solution! Cook before peeling!

Cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds. Lay the pumpkin skin side up on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or so.

Allow to cool enough to easily handle.

Now you can easily peel off the skin - or just scoop out the pulp.

Place in a blender and puree.

Sometimes I need to add a small amount of water so that it blends properly.

Use the puree just like canned pumpkin in recipes. I have found that cooked pumpkin spoils quickly. If I don't plan to use it within three days, I freeze in 1 or 2 cup portions. I've also pressure canned pumpkin, but this year I am nearly out of jars.

The skin and seeds may not look appealing to your, but our chickens think it is wonderful!
The final product form my pumpkin puree was pumpkin bread, muffins and pumpkin pie squares! And none of this went to the chickens!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What to do with Pumpkins!

Photo: Baby Pam pumpkins (also called pie pumkins)

Last fall, my daughter asked if we could grow pumpkins! It was a little late for last year, but I put pumpkins on the list for this year! I ended up growing four different kinds of pumpkins/winter squash. And they ALL grew well!!!

Photo: Red Kuri squash

I was hoping for a good crop as any extra pumpkins I could always feed to the chickens. They have devoured all of our extra produce that we have given them this summer. They weren't thrilled with green beans but gobbled up the zucchini, tomatoes, and kale. Pear and peach skins they eat like candy. The chickens even pick watermelon rinds clean! So I figure they will eat pumpkins, too and save on feed costs.
Photo: Green and white striped cushaws - a popular winter squash in our area.

You all were so good at giving me ideas for using kale and zucchini, I thought maybe you would do the same for pumpkin! I have some favorite recipes that I'll share but I would love to try your recipes as well! I'd especially like to see some main dish recipes featuring pumpkin/winter squash! Thanks!
Photo: Sweet Dumpling acorn squash

Monday, September 21, 2009

Applesauce Bread Pudding

When I bake bread, I usually make about seven loaves at a time. I like to slice all the loaves before freezing the bread for convenience later. Usually I separate the loaf ends or heels to use to make bread crumbs, filling, croutons, or bread pudding!

Bread pudding is one of the ways our grandmothers used up old stale bread. I imagine in the days before Tupperware and plastic bags, stale bread was more common then today. But stale bread or not, our family enjoys bread pudding, especially for breakfast. Recently I was able to acquire my grandmother's copy of the More-with-Less Cookbook. I have enjoyed looking through it and reading some of my grandmother's notations. I found this version of bread pudding that we think is even better then my former recipes! I like to make it up the day before and refrigerate overnight so it is all ready to go for breakfast. Here is the recipe with a few Gina adjustments!

Applesauce Bread Pudding

In greased 9 inch square pan, arrange
4 slices of bread, cubed


2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Spread over bread. Top with
4 additional slices of dry bread, cubed

Beat together:

2 eggs
2 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
dash of nutmeg

Pour over bread.

Optional: Top with 1/2 cup applesauce and sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar.
Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes.

Note: I added extra bread and left the topping off. (I'm nearly out of applesauce.) Next time I may spread it in a 9x13 pan so that it takes less time to bake.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm back!

No, I didn't give up blogging. Our computer just decided to take an unannounced vacation! Since we are a one computer family, that ended my on line life temporarily!

I actually was thinking of going on a blogging vacation. At the beginning of September, I was feeling very overwhelmed. Not only did I never find the end of my "to do" list but it seemed to be growing arms and tentacles and was threatening to choke me. Maybe I just enjoy doing too many things, but there is always far more that I'd like to accomplish then I ever find time for. To the busy canning and gardening season was added my wish to get on a better family routine and be more consistent in homeschooling our five year old. At the same time the five month old decided to wake up multiple times at night. I really wasn't having a good attitude and thought that a computer fast might not be a bad idea. The computer is one time hog that I could easily do without. But it was just something I was thinking about until the computer crashed and getting online was no longer an option!

I can't say that I've accomplished tons more then usual since being without keyboard distractions. Hopefully that means I am succeeding in my goal of keeping my computer time in balance. But I do feel much less overwhelmed. Whether it is because the garden is coming to a conclusion, or the baby is sleeping better, or the lack of computer - I don't know. Perhaps, I've just put that massive blood-sucking "to do" list in it's rightful place. My goal is to glorify God, be a help meet to my husband, a joyful mother to my children, and reflect Christ to the world. The list is only important as it reaches those goals! At least that is what I'm learning!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Make it Yourself - Barbeque Sauce

I found this recipe somewhere on the web. (I can't remember where to give them the credit.) Most recipes call for starting with tomato paste but this one truly starts from scratch. I made a batch last summer and we really enjoyed it! The ways to personalize the seasonings are endless!

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

2 gallons chopped tomatoes
4 chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery (optional, in other words, I didn't have it and it turned out okay!)
3 cups chopped red or green sweet peppers (mixed is good)
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
3 T Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp crushed red pepper (more or less depending on your preference)
2 T paprika
2 T dry mustard ( or 3 T wet mustard)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp liquid smoke of your choice (hickory, mesquite, or whatever)
1/2 tsp pepper
any other seasonings use wish (I added cumin, lemon pepper and chili powder.)

Cook tomatoes until soft. Drain off extra water. Run through food mill.
Cook onion, celery, peppers, and garlic until soft. Blend in blender. Put through food mill.

Return tomatoes and vegetables to large pot and simmer uncovered for about an hour to hour and half. Mixture should thicken.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and any other seasoning of your choice. You could add 1/2 cup honey and reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup. Make it more or less smoky as your family desires. Simmer for about an hour on very low heat. If still not thick enough, you could add clear gell or cornstarch, mixing it with a little juice before adding to the pot.

Place in jars and process in canner for 20 minutes.

Disclaimer: Though this recipe has worked for me, it has not been tested for safety by the experts. Please use at your own risk.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How to make Sun Dried Tomatoes

I love sun dried tomatoes but think they are way overpriced. With abundant tomatoes in my garden I decided to find a way to make my own. A quick google search (or make that Swagbuck search!) I found it could not be simpler to make at home!

First I washed the tomatoes. I squeezed out some of the juice and seeds, just what would come out easily. I then sliced them thickly. No need to skin.

The directions I found (you can read them here.) said to dry using a dehydrator, low oven, or hot car. Since I could borrow a dehydrator, I chose that method.
I layered the tomatoes as close as possible on the dehydrator trays. Next time I want to salt or season them, maybe with basil. In about 10 hours, most of the slices were dry. (I know the picture is terrible but you should be able to see that the slices have shrunk considerably. The goal is for them to be dried to the texture of a raisin- chewy, not crispy. The slices with holes dried best. The top and bottom of the tomato took almost twice as long. Next time I'll use that part of the tomato for another use.

The result was delicious! Because they can quickly reabsorb moisture and mold, I stored a few in a bag in the fridge to use immediately and the remainder I froze.

Next I'd like to try making my own vegetable powder. My idea is to dry tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and onions and blend them into powder. It would be a quick way to add flavor to soup and other dishes. Has anyone tried it?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fruit Slush

Fruit slush is one of our favorite treats in the summer. I thought everyone knew how to make fruit slush until I was talking to the lady at the orchard where I buy my peaches and she asked for the recipe. There are many variations but here is how I made it this week.

The cast of characters

1 quart diced peaches

3 to 6 chopped bananas

1 large can of pineapple
2 cup orange juice
2 cup apple juice
Mix together, place in containers and freeze.

I like to save yogurt containers and use them for fruit slush. Recently it seems that most yogurt is only covered with foil, but the ones with plastic lids are perfect. We like to carry them on picnics. They keep the other food cold and are thawed perfectly for eating in a few hours. They also work well in a lunch boxes.

I also put the slush in quart freezer boxes. Or in paper cups with a little plastic wrap. Glad Press and Seal works best, I've found.

When strawberries and blueberries are in season, I often add them, using canned peaches. Since the peaches contain syrup, I often eliminate the apple juice. I'm sure there are other variations you could come up with!


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