Sunday, 24 October 2010

Pumpkin into Food for Now and Later

This is how we roast pumpkin to make pumpkin puree for pies and soups. Under each half is a tablespoon of salted butter. This variety is small sugar pumpkin. I like it for processing this way the best of all the pumpkins recommended for pies and soups mostly because I can do three at a time, the vine produces quite a few and they ripen before the vine gets mildew or attacked by stink bugs. They store well too. All around a great pumpkin.

I remove from the oven (set at 350-400 degrees F) after about an hour or when I start to see the skin split.

I let cool until I can easily touch them without being burned. Then the skins will have started to curl off, and they easily peel off by pulling with my finger or prodded with a butter knife. I turn them over and scrape the seeds out of the center, but I leave the stringy part mostly. It all goes into the food processor and gets pureed, why waste it?

After whirring a bit in the processor (a blender works too), I scoop into freezer bags or jars in about 2 cup (16 oz) amounts. That's what most recipes call for. From there I can make mashed pumpkin (like mashed potatoes with more nutrients, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, or pie filling.

For pie filling I actually cook the pumpkin goo for a little bit on the stove top with butter and cream and seasonings (I like cinnamon and nutmeg), puree it again to get the texture just right and then use whatever recipe calls for a "can of pumpkin" but this way it's free of preservatives and can stuff.

See? Pumpkin IS food and not just porch decoration. ;)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Reverse Bucket List

These are not the things I hope to accomplish, but those I already have. 

1)Became a mom. This only started with pregnancy and actually took months after Lil's birth. It wasn't an "oh here's the baby, now you are a mom," deal. 
2)Became a wife. Same deal. Took years. 
3)Fell in love, stayed in love, still in love.
4) Had my writing published. 
5) Led a protest rally and march. Had it work. Saved the jobs of my friends and colleagues who were not allowed to march on their own behalf.
6) Restored a house.
7) Started a farm.
8) Learned to garden.
9) Learned to render.
10) Learned to can my own food without killing my family.
11) Learned to sew. 
12) Stated emotional boundaries and stood up for myself. 
13) Had lunch with Forbes in their townhouse and got a private tour of their Faberge collection.
14) Hugged Tori Amos.
15) Had my picture taken with one of the Johns of TMBG.
16) Watched shooting stars and had wishes come true.
17) Lunched with Iowa "Governor" Ray without knowing who he was. Talked his ear off for about 2 hours.
18) Visited New York before.
19) Got my Masters or Arts degrees. 
20) Sat in a Whaddya Know audience. 
21) Drove a truck in 4 wheel drive.
22) Drove a truck in 4WD hauling a lift and (after getting stuck) hauling it out of a snow embanked ditch.
23) flew in a hot air balloon
24) chased and outsmarted pigs.
25) loved, laughed, cried. 
26) Saw Peter Gabriel perform live with Sindade O'Conner
27) Saw David Bowie perform live with Trent Reznor
28) Saw the Clash (actually Big Audio Dynamite 2, but really they will always be the Clash) perform live
29) Had film footage of myself and a friend get used in a U2 zootv concert. That was my very first live concert, too.
30) climbed to the top of Ruby Mountain mostly on foot. 
31) Advocated for someone in front of City Council and won.
32) Served on a City Commission as a professional/expert
33) Served on a State Board of Directors as a professional
34) Hosted a Statewide conference on Historic Preservation (though it tanked)
35) survived.
36) stood up to a health care provider who was wrong and disrespectful about being wrong
37) told the truth, and in the face of being called a liar and crazy, did not back down.
38) made apple pie from scratch
39) felt confident and pretty without wearing make up
40) saw the moons of Jupiter

Things I would like to do:
1) swim in the Mediterranean
2) walk inside a building that is more than a 1000 years old
3) drink milk still warm from the cow
4) finish my novel(s) 
5) help someone else succeed at breastfeeding

Friday, 15 October 2010

Dreaming of a White Christmas

If anyone ever asks....there is a downside to buying in bulk. This is what 50 lbs of local bread flour looks like after a "flour party".  I had a student freak out about an assignment revision and had to take a 10 minute phone call.....the girls called up the stairs and ask if they can have....I heard....a "flower party!" Sigh. What was I thinking?

I was in shock. I came down to find them slip n' sliding through three rooms, giggling maniacally, and I just scooped them up and stuck them in a bath. After about five minutes I realized that water + flour= glue, but it was too late. Their scalps and hair were solid flour glue. That was really quite punishment enough. 5 lather and rinses later, it just stung and their hair was breaking off. (The next day I got some cradle cap conditioner, left it in for 30 minutes, and used a lice comb to get the bits out. It worked, but they were really in tears by that point.) Oh and then they thought it was funny to flood the bathroom floor. On a roll, my girls.

The night of the flour party, Chad got home and talked to each girl. They in turn apologized and helped clean up, but we still have flour on everything, two incapacitated-until-we-clean-them vacuum cleaners, and did I mention flour dust on EVERYTHING? They also dumped out my yeast jar in an attempt to make couch bread.

Oh, and I had just cleaned the downstairs to "company is coming" clean (note the video shelf organized?).....because we had company coming. Luckily they were understanding enough, delayed a day, and we had time to vacuum 50 more times. Not like it helped though.

Is it funny? Maybe it will be in a few years. Or maybe they have pushed my sanity past its limit and that's why I am laughing. When my girls do something, they really go BIG.

That said, we might be gluten free for a while. ;)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Adding to the Farm Equipment

We (or at least I) moved to the farm to start an orchard, the pigs were a side operation that kind of took on its own life. We are happy there is demand and that the pigs are paying for more of the farm to be built up. But, at least for me, the orchard is still the prize we are working towards. This summer I took up beekeeping. We will plant 25 more trees in the next few weeks, and I have been searching high and low for a cider press that we could afford and worked and was in good condition AND that would double as a cheese press.

Then we found one for sale online, pretty near the major city to the north of us. At a great price, when we happened to have the money.

It needs to be sanded down and the wood re-oiled with food grade mineral oil but other than that it is in fantastic shape. We will do our first pressing of apples next weekend. The pigs will get the apple pulp and we'll freeze the yummy juice.

We also inherited 2 antique hand churn ice cream makers! They too need work, but not only were they free, but carry part of our family history! 

What amazing things have you found at garage sales, wanted/for sale adds, or in a friend's basement?