Jen Pietsch
Orcas Island, WA

I love spending time outdoors, gardening, running and raising my fleeced friends!
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

postheadericon Pumpkin Pie Recipe

My son Luke decided that we really needed to make pumpkin pie out of some of our harvest we found a great recipe on the internet. Don't be discouraged by how long the recipe looks. It is easy. The bottom part is just telling you how to get the pumpkin turned into glop. Pretty intuitive if you cook often.

a pretty big pie pumpkin
A sharp, large serrated knife
an ice cream scoop
a large microwaveable bowl or large pot
1 large (10 inch) deep-dish pie plate and pie crust

1 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
one half teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)
one half teaspoon salt (optional, I don't use any)
4 large eggs
3 cups pumpkin glop (ok... "sieved, cooked pumpkin") see below for how to prep this
1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk (I use the nonfat version)

Note: if you do not have cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger, you can substitute 3 teaspoons of "pumpkin pie spice". It's not exactly the same, but it will do.

Mix up all the ingredients with a hand mixer or blender.

Note: If you can't get evaporated milk, you can substitute nonfat dried milk - make it twice as concentrated as the directions on the box say to reconstitute it. It won't be the same as evaporated milk, but it ought to come close.

Bake the pie
Bake at 425 F (210 C ) for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 F ( 175 C ) and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
I use a blunt table knife to test the pie. It comes out pretty clean, when the pie is done.

TIP: What do you do if you end up with more filling than will fit in your pie crust(s)? Easy! Of course, you can make another, smaller pie crust and fill a small pie pan... or just grease any baking dish, of a size that the extra filling will fill to a depth of about 2 inches , and pour the extra filling in.. then bake it. It will be a crustless pumpkin pie that kids especially love!
TIP: You may want to cover the exposed edges of the crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent them from burning!

Pumpkin Preparation aka how do I get the pumpkin puree?
There are several ways to cook the pumpkin; This is my preferred method.

Step One:
Cut up pumpkin and remove seeds and stringy stuff.

Step Two:
Cook the pumpkin,
Put the pumpkin in a microwaveable bowl (You may need to cut the pumpkin further to make it fit). The fewer the number of pieces, the easier it will to scoop out the cooked pumpkin afterward. Put a couple of inches of water in the bowl, cover it, and put in the microwave.

Cook for 15 minutes on high, check to see if it is soft, then repeat in smaller increments of time until it is soft enough to scoop the innards out. Normally it takes 20 or 30 minutes in total.

Step Three:
Scoop out the cooked pumpkin. Once it is cooked until it is soft, it is easy to scoop out the guts with a broad, smooth spoon, (such as a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop). Use the spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin. It should separate easily an in fairly large chucks, if the pumpkin is cooked enough.
The skin or rind will probably simply lift off with your fingers. I'll bet you didn't realize making your own pumpkin glop... err, "puree" was this easy!

Note: there are many varieties of pumpkin and some make better pies that other (due to sugar content, flavor, texture and water content. Drier, sweeter, fine-grained pies; the small (8" across) ones called "pie pumpkins" are best.

Watery pumpkin?
If your pumpkin puree has standing, free water, you may want to let it sit for 30 minutes and then pour off any free water. That will help prevent you pie from being too watery! Beyond, that, I have not found that the water makes a difference - I wouldn't be TOO concerned about it!

Step Four:
To get a nice, smooth consistency, I use potato ricer. You could use a hand blender, regular blender or whatever you have.

There you go you are on your way to the best pumpkin pie you ever had!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

postheadericon Last of the Season Tomato Soup ala Bob Nutt

We harvested the last of the seasons tomatoes and had a few more than we knew what to do with. Our friend Bob Nutt gave us this great recipe to use and we whipped it up. Froze some and ate some too!

End of the Season Tomato Soup ala Bob

6 Tb butter
6 Tb virgin olive oil
2 medium onions chopped
8+ carrots chopped
4+ celery chopped
16 large tomatoes chopped
4 c chicken stock
1 c brown rice or barley or?
2 grindings black pepper
1 t dried basil
Pinch sugar

Melt butter and olive oil in stock pot.
Add onions, carrots, celery. Cover. Cook over medium heat until veggies partially cooked @ 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes, stock, rice. Bring to boil.
Reduce to simmer for @ 1 hour.
Add pepper and basil.
Add water/stock as needed.

I didn't peel the tomatoes and it STILL came out great. I guess laziness sometimes works out!

The picture doesn't look like much but the flavor is so fresh.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

postheadericon Pumpkin Curing

The first important step is harvesting them. They should not be picked while they are still soft. Green or immature pumpkins usually will last only a few weeks at normal house temperature before they begin to shrivel or mold. Pumpkins should be fully colored with a fairly hard rind.

Picking is generally best done at the end of the growing season -- after the vines have withered and the stems have actually turned brown and begun to dry. Regardless of what the poet says, you do not want to see frost on the pumpkin, so harvest before we get freezing night temperatures.

Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut the pumpkins and gourds from the vine. Always be sure to leave about 2 – 4 inches of stem. Don’t break the stem from the fruit, since this can encourage decay.

Wash the fruits in warm, soapy water to remove any traces of soil that may be adhering to them. Then rinse them in a diluted household disinfectant solution. For this purpose a five to ten percent chlorine bleach solution works fine (one part bleach to ten parts water). This rinse will destroy the fungi and bacteria, which are the prime agents of spoilage.

After wiping off any excess disinfectant, the pumpkins and gourds can be spread out on layers of newspaper or on window screening, pallets or in my case something I found in the barn. The essential thing is to arrange a situation that will provide good air circulation.

Cure them for a week or two where it is warm – at least 70°F. This will toughen the skin and heal surface cuts. Then store in the attic, basement, garage or shed. Whatever area is chosen should be dry, provide good air movement and have temperatures between 45 and 60°F.
The pumpkins are then ready for decorating, carving or eating.

Out of doors, carved pumpkins will usually last a week of two. Painted ones will last for many months, if protected from hard frosts. Baked into a pie, the pumpkin probably won’t last more than a day!
Monday, October 19, 2009

postheadericon It is really fall!

This morning I knew it was fall, I could see my breath and the animals were all cushed outside with frost on their backs. It is wonderful to see the little outlines that their bodies leave when they get up. You can really tell where everyone slept.

Last weekend the kids and I spent much of the time getting ready for winter. Yard clean up, putting away of the yard furniture and best of all pumpkin harvesting.

About a week ago we harvested the 'pie' pumpkins (which I highly recommend growing, very satisfying) and have been curing them all week. I will post the directions for how this is done. We should be eating pumpkin through January if I did everything correctly.

Yesterday we harvested the last of the seasons tomatoes and the BIG pumpkins. It took two people, big strong people to lift a couple of them. Enjoy.