Pumpkin Pie!

If I handed you a pie pumpkin, would you know what to do with it? Yes of course you would, because you’re a smart individual who can follow my directions and turn it into pumpkin puree. Awesome, good for you. End of story.

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Right?

Oh, it’s not the end of the story? Hm. Pumpkin pie, you say. Interesting idea… 😉

Yes, pumpkin pie. Made with a real pumpkin (because you may or may not know that oftentimes canned “pumpkin” is actually another kind of squash). Many pumpkin pie recipes call for canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, and white sugar, so I was super excited to have one that uses cream and honey! Also, it tastes awesome.

Pumpkin Pie

From The Prairie Homestead

  • 2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 c. honey
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 3 t. pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 unbaked 9″ pie crust

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  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine pumpkin, honey, vanilla, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. Mix in the cream then gently beat in the eggs.
  4. Pour into an unbaked 9″ pie shell, cover the crust with foil or a pie shield, and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Cool and serve with (real) whipped cream!

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How to Make Pumpkin Puree

Jan and Andy gave me a huge pumpkin last week (a Tan Cheese Pumpkin… strange name, but it has amazing color and tastes great!), and I thought I’d share how to make pumpkin puree! 20160902_115204

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice your pumpkin in halves or quarters, depending on how big it is.20160908_090938.jpg
  3. Scoop out the pulp and seeds. (You can save them to roast and eat or perhaps plant next year, like I’m doing!).20160908_091038.jpg20160908_091317
  4. If you’ve got a large pumpkin you’ll need to slice it into more pieces for baking. And if your pumpkin is 14 pounds like mine was… you might have to cut it into 12 slices. 20160908_091556.jpg
  5. Lay the slices in glass baking dishes, and bake at 375 degrees for 50-90 minutes, or until they are soft when you stick a fork into them. 20160908_092247.jpg20160908_115124.jpg
  6. Let cool for a bit, then spoon the insides into a food processor (a blender might work too?). Process until smooth. If the pumpkin isn’t blending or seems too chunky, you probably didn’t cook it long enough. Stick it back in the oven for a while. 20160908_120548.jpg20160908_121524.jpg
  7. And there you have it! You can store your puree in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze it. But I’d suggest you turn it into pies or bread and eat it. 😉 20160908_123039.jpg

Stay tuned for my pumpkin pie recipe later this week!

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How to Make Onion Powder

I’ve been learning about the difference between storage onions and non-storage onions. These guys are wala walas, which are super sweet but also don’t keep for very long. When I finally got around to pulling all my onions, a lot of my wala walas were starting to get soft, meaning I had to use them pronto!

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What do you do with a bunch of non-storage onions that are starting to get soft? Dry them, of course! I’m working on turning most of my extra onions into onion powder for cooking and herb mixes. Here’s how it’s done!

How to Make Onion Powder

You’ll need:

  • a dehydrator or warm oven
  • a food processor, coffee grinder, or blender
  1. Slice your onions as thinly as you can, 1/4″ or thinner. These were from one of my first attempts, and they’re actually too thick. Some of them didn’t dry completely. If you have a mandolin slicer, I’d use that. 20160814_174029.jpg
  2. Put them on dehydrator trays or cookie sheets, and dry in the dehydrator or the lowest setting in the oven until completely dry. 20160814_170601.jpg You’ll know they’re ready when they crumble instead of bend when you try to break them. I found that the thicker slices got brown like you see in the picture, but didn’t dry as well as the thinner ones which stayed light-colored.
  3. Grind them in a food processor, coffee grinder, or blender until powdered. I used our Nutribullet, and it worked fabulously. 20160814_171351.jpg20160814_172519

There you have it! Wonderful onion powder. If your powder clumps together, most likely the onions weren’t completely dry before you ground them or your spice bottle isn’t tight.

You can also make garlic powder in this same way, which I’ve been doing as well! It just takes longer. But it smells amazing!!

 

How to Freeze Green Beans

We don’t really can food at our house. Except for tomato sauce, the summer bounty we gather is preserved in one of our freezers. Freezing keeps more of the food’s nutrition, and we like the taste of frozen food better than canned! Here’s how I freeze green beans. And stay tuned at the end for a freezer organization tip from a family of seven. 😉

1. Get your counters set up. To do this quickly and efficiently (which isn’t really necessary if you just have a quart or two to freeze. But if you have a gallon or more, it’s worth it to put thought into your setup.) you’ll need a stove setup and a sink setup.

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Here I have a bowl that held my raw, snapped beans (into 1-2 inch pieces), a metal (important) colander sitting in a mixing bowl, and a large pot of boiling water. But before you boil the water, set a colander full of beans inside the water to make sure it’ll fit and your water level is correct. You want the beans to be able to be just submerged but not so submerged that they float out of the colander and into the pot.

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For my sink setup I have freezer bags, a tub for the cooled beans, a sink with ice water in it, and a sink with cold water and another colander (this can be metal or plastic).

2. Once you have a rolling boil, submerge a colander full of beans.

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Put the lid back on and boil on high for 4 minutes. If you’re wondering why my colander is wired to the pot… it’s because it used to have a metal piece sticking out on that end that I could set on the pot’s rim. But it’s broken, so I improvised with wire. It works for now. 😉

3. After four minutes, take the colander out and set it in the mixing bowl you have nearby to catch hot water drips. Transfer the beans from the metal colander to the colander in the sink, and let it float in the cool water.

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4. Re-fill the metal colander with more beans, stick it in the boiling water, and set a timer for four minutes.

5. Transfer the colander of partially cooled beans to the ice water side of the sink.

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The reason for having two sinks going is because you need to cool the beans ASAP in order to preserve the good enzymes and bright green color. The first side of the sink will get lukewarm after a few batches, but it still cools the beans some. The second side is where they’ll spend most of their time, and since the hot edge is taken off the beans in the first sink, it stays pretty icy.

6. When the four minutes is almost up, dump the cooled beans into a tub.

7. Return to step 3, and repeat until all your beans are blanched and cool!

8. Stick the beans into labeled freezer bags – I like to use quart sized ones.

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Then pack them into your freezer, and enjoy fresh-frozen beans all winter long!

My mama is pretty good at buying food in bulk and freezing it. And for most of my life there were seven of us in the house, so we have 3 full-sized freezers! This is what one of them looks like inside.

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And how, you may be wondering, do you keep track of what all you have in their icy depths? Good question, my friend. Inside a kitchen cupboard we have a freezer inventory.

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When something goes in a freezer, we put one diagonal slash in an empty box for that item. And when something comes out of that freezer, we complete the “x” with another diagonal slash. One diagonal line means we have that item, and an “x” means it’s gone. It’s a nice system, as long as you remember to mark things off when you add to and take from the freezers! How do you keep track of all your frozen goods?

Easy Rhubarb Jam

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It kind of tastes like apple butter with a little bite. Sweet and tangy and pretty awesome. This recipe is extremely versatile, so feel free to add more strawberries to alter the taste or color or omit them altogether!

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This is a fabulous way to use up extra rhubarb after you’re tired of strawberry rhubarb pie (is that even possible?)!

Easy Rhubarb Jam

Adapted from Rhubarb Butter by Meghan Telpner

  • 4 stalks of rhubarb, cut into chunks
  • 1 apple, cored and chunked
  • A few strawberries, fresh or frozen-and-thawed (optional)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup honey, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Puree rhubarb, apple, and strawberries in a Vitamix or food processor until smooth. You might not be able to get all the rhubarb strings pulverized, but as long as it’s the consistency of chunky applesauce or jam you’re good to go.
  2. Pour into a saucepan, add honey, vanilla, and cinnamon, and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Simmer 15-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reaches desired consistency. 20160506_175658
  3. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator. You could also can this like other jams, but it should keep just fine for a few weeks in the refrigerator otherwise. Use it on bread or ice cream!

Classic Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

20160506_202507Old cookbooks are pretty much the best. I could read them for fun! My Mama has 1973 Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, and whenever I’m looking for a classic, tried-and-true recipe with real ingredients that’s where I turn.

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Since I had fresh rhubarb but no fresh strawberries (yet), I made this recipe with frozen strawberries from last summer and it turned out fabulously.

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Classic Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 pound rhubarb (or about 3 cups, chopped), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (if they’re frozen, set them out an hour or two ahead of time to thaw partially)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 9-inch pie crust with enough dough to make a lattice top
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine sugar, tapioca, salt, and nutmeg. Add rhubarb. 20160506_184940
  2. If you’re using frozen strawberries, let them thaw in a colander until they’re soft enough to slice. Slice them before they get too mushy, then drain for about 10 more minutes before adding to rhubarb mixture. If you’re using fresh strawberries, slice and add immediately.20160506_190245
  3. Mix to coat fruit, then let stand 20 minutes. 20160506_192824
  4. Prepare the crust, and pour in filling. Dot with butter and arrange a lattice top.20160506_19090620160506_19181020160506_192957_00120160506_193502
  5. Bake at 400° for 35-40 minutes, until juice is bubbling thickly. If the pie is very full, slide a cookie sheet in a lower rack in the oven to catch any overflow. And enjoy with your family! 20160506_20225420160506_202307

Dandelion Greens with Toasted Garlic and Almonds

Dandelion | Taraxacum officinale | Best known as a weed although it holds medicinal properties and value as (free) (nutritious) food. All parts (leaves, root, stem, and flower) can be eaten. The leaves contain lots of vitamins A and K, phosphorus, calcium, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, and flavonoids.

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Wild Garlic | Allium vineale | These taste and smell more like onions than garlic. The whole plant can be eaten, and  it can be found all over North America growing as a weed.

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This dish looks pretty fancy and it smells absolutely wonderful. But it’s basically free if you forage for the greens and wild garlic and use leftover bacon grease*! Now that’s my kind of cooking.

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Dandelion Greens With Toasted Garlic and Almonds

Serves 2

  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens
  • 4-6 wild garlic bulbs (or green onions) including 1-2 inches of the green stem if you’d like
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 T. bacon grease (or olive oil)
  • Small handful of toasted, sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt

(You should check out that video – I made it) Start a medium pot of water boiling. Coarsely chop dandelion greens and add to boiling water. Stir occasionally until they turn bright green (30 seconds – 1 minute). Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and press with a towel to remove excess water. At this point your greens will look like they went through the washer and dryer – limp and shrunken. Never fear! They’ll look more appetizing once you get them in the skillet. But really, what does it matter if they taste amazing?

Heat your cooking fat in a medium skillet. Finely chop wild garlic and garlic. It’s not super garlicky, I promise. The wild garlic tastes more like onion than garlic. Cook in skillet until they begin to brown, stirring occasionally (30 seconds – 2 minutes). Add dandelion greens and stir for 30 seconds. Add almonds and salt and serve warm.

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*I only recommend saving and using bacon grease if your bacon is high quality. That is, if it doesn’t have antibiotics, steroids, or additives and preferably was pasture-raised. The reason for this is that pork fat is where toxins are stored, so if your pig was raised in a toxic environment you would be eating those toxins. If, however, your pig was raised correctly in a healthy environment… that bacon grease is a (amazing tasting, mind you) great source of animal fat for cooking and you don’t have to worry about toxins. So there is a real reason people shy away from bacon and the resulting fat – but it’s because of the quality of the bacon, not bacon in general. So get yourself some high quality bacon and enjoy it! (Good) Bacon is good for you!!