Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Follow Up: Those Cold Fall Nights

The other day I posted about our method of covering our frost sensitive plants from freezing dead on cold nights.  I just wanted to follow up and tell you how our plants did.

I happened to wake up in the middle of the night and looked at my phone, it was 30 degrees outside!  I was so glad I covered the plants.  It was only supposed to be 34 with a chance of 32.  I went back to sleep with a peaceful mind not worrying about our plants.
Frost all over

The top is a little frost bitten
The next morning I pulled off all f the sheets to see how everything was doing.  Most everything looks pretty good.  Some of the plants had the top six or eight inches were freezer burned but he majority of the plants were in good shape.  We have only one more cold night to go then a good week of warm weather.  The next night I added some grass clippings around the base of some of our pepper plants.  We are now 2 years on three of our pepper plants and want to keep them going another year, since pepper plants are perennial they just need a little protection. 

Hang up your sheets to dry them out, ready for the next night.

We are trying to keeping our tomatoes, squash, tomatillo's and peppers going along so we can gain some harvest from  each of them.  A few of the plants we where a little late in planting so we hope that we can still gain a harvest from them before it is too cold for them.  Either way it's worth the effort.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Homemade Stuffing

A couple of weeks ago I made a couple loaves of bread that just didn't raise well. I am not sure what happened. My sweet little baby girl was helping me so maybe I didn't measure the yeast right, not sure, but I didn't want it to go to waste and I knew that it probably wouldn't get eaten, so I decided to make some homemade stuffing out of it. It worked great, so I thought I would share it with you since Thanksgiving Day is right around the corner.

I started by slicing and cutting my bread into cubes. I tried to make them as uniform as possible, so they would not only look pretty but toast up evenly too. I did a pretty good job (I even fooled Jacob who suspected they were homemade, but wasn't sure because of how evenly cut they were.) Yay, for me!

I put all of my bread crumbs into a large bowl. Then I drizzled them with about 3 to 4 Tb. of Olive Oil and tossed them to coat using my hands. Then I added some seasoning. I used garlic salt, onion powder, sage, rosemary, and some thyme, just typical poultry seasoning, but you can use whatever suits your taste.

I laid my bread crumbs out onto a baking sheet (I only did one loaf at a time). Then I baked them in a 375 degree oven until they were crispy and golden. It took about 30 minutes. Just watch them closely so you don't burn them.
Homemade Whole Grain Stuffing

Yum! They turned out great. Use in your favorite stuffing recipe or they would even be great as croutons. This is a great way to make stuffing more nutritious because you can use whole grain bread and it is also much cheaper than buying it in a box.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Those Cold Fall Nights

Sheets covering frost sensitive plants.
There is nothing better than wrapping up in a blanket on a cold cold night. 

Tonight we are having an overnight low of 32 or 33 degrees.  We still have cold sensitive plants like tomatoes, tomatillos, squash and peppers.  We still hope to harvest more from them before winter sets in.  While they may make it through the night, if they do get cold enough they will be done for.

So we loosely wrap our plants up to keep them from freezing.  This method only works with light to moderate freezes.  Really hard freezes are hard to avoid even with this method.  We wrap up the plants in old sheets, the ones we keep around for painting and for this exact reason.  Sheets work well because they are lightweight.  If you had some stakes or supports you could use blankets if you had them.

Pillow Case covering a small Pepper Plant
We cover each plant or groups of plants, trying to cover them down to the ground.  This works well to keep the freeze back.  Keeping in the heat some while keeping the wind down and frost at bay.

It is important to remove the covers in the morning so the plants and ground can be warmed by the sun.  We have made the mistake in the past of not uncovering them leading to the plants freezing the next night.  Also the other issue can arise if the sheets are damp, they are less effective.  We hang our sheets off of the swing set to dry out during the day.       

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Seed Saving: Pumpkin

 Pumpkin week has been so much fun. I have enjoyed sharing some of our favorite recipes with you. There are many more, it was really hard to decide what to post. I can't end the week without a short post on saving pumpkin seeds. It is so easy to do.  I was so excited when I cut open this pie pumpkin to can and see how many seeds it actually had in it. I decided to save them all for planting. 

All you have to do to save pumpkin seeds or any type of winter squash for planting is to scoop them out of the pumpkin, remove any pulp, rinse them, and then allow them to dry completely before putting them away for storage. These seeds came out really easily and they had hardly any pulp on them. I put them into a colander and rinsed them really well. Then I laid them out on a towel to dry for several days. That was all there was to it. I am looking forward to planting them in the spring.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pumpkin 'n' Black Bean Chili

Pumpkin 'N' Black Bean Chili
1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Sweet Pepper, any color, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tb. Olive Oil
3 to 4 Cups Chicken Stock
1 lb. Black Beans, cooked
2 & 1/2 Cups Cooked Turkey, Cubed
(canned turkey also works great)
2 Cups Pureed Pumpkin
2 tsp. Dried Parsley
1 Tb. Chili Powder
1 & 1/2 tsp. Oregano
2 tsp. Ground Cumin
2 tsp. Salt

In a skillet, saute the onion, pepper, and garlic in the oil until tender and translucent. Combine sauteed veggies with remaining ingredients in stock pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour until heated through and flavors have combined. 

You can also make this in the crock pot and let your beans cook along with everything else. I just soak my beans overnight and then drain them and toss everything else in and let it go on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the beans are tender.  Two things that I notice about doing it this way is 1. You have to increase the amount of chicken stock you use to 5 to 6 cups because the beans soak up a lot. 2. This makes a lot thicker chili, which Jacob loves, and I don't mind either, but I personally think it overpowers the pumpkin a bit to do it this way. You just don't get the same pumpkin flavor even if you increase the amount of pumpkin. You get more of a bean flavor. Both ways tasted really good, but I think I prefer to pre-cook my beans so that the pumpkin flavor really comes through. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

3 Cups Whole Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Milk
2 TB. Butter
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Baking Powder
3/4 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Pureed Pumpkin
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar (for the top)

In a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients, reserving the 1/4 Cup of brown sugar for the top. Spread into a greased 9 x13 pan. Sprinkle the reserved sugar on the top. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with warm milk.

If you like oatmeal you will really enjoy this. I love it. It is best with warm milk though, but I like everything hot, Jacob says that I like everything molten lava temperature. What can I say it is true.

I discovered this recipe for Baked Oatmeal here. Check it out to see all the different varieties of Baked Oatmeal you can try. We have made several and they have all been yummy! The original recipe calls for quick oats, but I prefer Old Fashioned Oats. You can use whatever your family prefers.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Amish Pumpkin Pancakes

Amish Pumpkin Pancakes
1 Cup Flour
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
2 Tb. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
1 Egg
1 & 1/4 Cups Milk
2 Tb. Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Pureed Pumpkin

Combine flour, soda, sugar, and spices. Combine egg, oil, pumpkin, and milk; add to flour mixture, beating until smooth. Bake on a hot, lightly greased griddle. Serve with butter and syrup. Yum! We love these!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Canning 101: Pumpkin

Be sure to save your seeds for roasting or planting.
We can't go through pumpkin week without a post on canning pumpkin at home. Store bought pumpkin is so expensive and I love, love, love pumpkin dishes. I have been canning pumpkin for several years now and up until this year I always pureed my pumpkin for canning. Last year I came across some research from the National Center for Home Food Preservation stating that it is not recommended to mash or puree pumpkin for home canning. You can find out more about the science behind it here. So because we always want to do things as safely as possible this year I am canning my pumpkin in cubes. Here is the method I use.

Use an ice cream scoop to depulp your pumpkin.

First cut your pumpkin in half. Look at all the seeds this one had. I was very excited and since this was a farmer's market pie pumpkin I collected the seeds for my garden next year. Yay! Clean out the pumpkin pulp, an ice cream scoop works great for this.
Remove the rind from the pumpkin.

Peel your pumpkin, I just used a vegetable peeler to get all of the rind off.
Cut into 1 inch cubes.

Cut your pumpkin into cubes (about 1 inch in size). Put into a large saucepan.
Par Boil your pumpkin, for 2 minutes.

Fill your saucepan with water enough to cover the pumpkin. Bring to a boil and allow it to simmer for 2 minutes.
Put pumpkin along with cooking liquid into jars.

Fill your prepared jars (clean and sterile) with your pumpkin and cooking liquid, leaving about 1/2 inch head space. Wipe off rims and place prepared lids and rings onto each jar.

Process in a Pressure Cooker - Home Canned Pumpkin

Process your pumpkin in a pressure cooker (pints 55 minutes and quarts 90 minutes). Check here to find the appropriate amount of pressure to use for your altitude.

When you are ready to use your pumpkin simply drain off the canning liquid and mash or puree.

Pumpkin also freezes well so if you want to mash or puree your pumpkin you can and simply stick it into suitable freezer containers.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Spice

When making a recipe that calls for Pumpkin Pie Spice, save money by using this simple recipe.

Mixing your own Pumpkin Pie Spice saves you money.

 Pumpkin Pie Spice:
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ginger
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg   
1/4 tsp. Allspice
Makes 2 tsp. of Pie Spice

Voting Day

Lets not cast our ballot for just anyone.
Sorry, but I am interrupting Pumpkin Week...

It's voting day, have you voted yet?  So what does voting have to do with provident living?  There are many issues involved each election, many of which can impact our personal finances, employment, food supply etc. Elder Robert D. Hales defines self reliance as "Preparing for the ups and downs of life".  Our right to vote can greatly affect those ups and downs.  Keeping our heads in the sand is not a good practice, we need to have our heads up and looking around.

I hear all the time that our vote for President does little to affect anything.  While the argument can be made either way, I feel we still need to cast our vote.

There are elections where we can have real impact, both on the election but on it's direct affect on us.  Our local elections are where we can affect change, preserve rights and freedoms, and prepare for the future.  Recently I was talking with an friend and he informed me that a local city of 5000 people typically only has about 500-1000 voters showing up on local issues. It would take very little effort in those campaigns to get change the political landscape.

We can make real changes locally and on the state levels.  But we need to become at least informed enough to know something about each of the people on the ballot.  I can't tell you how many times I have looked at the names on a ballot and had no clue as to who was the best option or who shared my same ideals.  Too often those votes are just cast where ever rather than making an informed vote.  I have been bad at this, this year I have realize my folly and will be at least informed going forth if not involved too.

I feel beyond just our efforts to provide service to our communities, we need to be involved in who is running our communities.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Whole Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

In the fall, freshly roasted pumpkin seeds provide a nutritious seasonal treat. Pumpkin Seeds have many health benefits. Pumpkin seeds are a highly concentrated source of energy,  so you should eat them in small amounts to avoid weight gain. They do offer heart-healthy fats, protein, fiber, zinc, potassium and iron. Eating pumpkin seed kernels can help you meet your requirements for these essential nutrients. One oz. of pumpkin seed kernels contains 8 g of protein, 4 g of total carbohydrate and 2 g of fiber, according to the USDA. Whole roasted pumpkin seeds provide more than twice the amount of fiber as the kernel alone, 5 g per oz. The fiber in pumpkin seeds can help regulate digestive activity and bowel function. Because they are an energy dense food and highly nutritious, pumpkin seeds would make a great addition to your food storage and would also be a great item for your 72 hour kits. 

Whole Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

 Whole Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin and soak in a mixture of about 1 cup water to ½  tsp. salt. This helps remove any leftover pulp. Rinse and dry off seeds. Toss seeds with olive oil and season as desired. We like ours salted, kosher salt is really good. Roast in a 400 degree oven until golden brown.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Enjoying the Harvest - Pumpkin Week

I love the fall, the smells, the colors, the crisp feel in the air, the traditions, and I love the Harvest. I love the feeling of reaping all that I have sown over the previous months. One of my favorite flavors and scents of fall has to be Pumpkin. I can hardly wait to bring out all of my pumpkin recipes that just didn’t seem to fit into the hot days of summer, but now the crispness in the air lets me know it is once again time for the smell of pumpkin pie spice to fill my kitchen. Yum! One thing that I have found slightly discouraging to my love for pumpkin recipes is the high price of canned pumpkin in the store. So several years ago I decided that I would begin canning my own pumpkin. So in an effort to save money and let nothing go to waste I began letting my children paint their Halloween Pumpkins instead of carving them, this way after Halloween we could cut up and use all of the yummy pumpkin inside. Last year Jacob also brought home a couple of medium sized pumpkins, that he bought on clearance for $1.00 each. Of course, when we have a bit more garden space we hope to begin growing our own pumpkins again. I know we all have a large variety of pumpkin recipes that satisfy our sweet tooth, but this delicious vegetable is often forgotten in the world of savory. So in Honor of the Harvest and because of my love of all things pumpkin, this week I will be posting some of my favorite pumpkin recipes, most of them savory, maybe one that is sweet. I will also post my method for canning pumpkin and tell you how we roast our pumpkin seeds. So if you love all things pumpkin then stop back in throughout the week so we can share with you some of our favorites. We hope you have been enjoying the fall and the harvest as much as we have.