Archive for the ‘pumpkin’ Category

NumNumNumpkin Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I threw a smaller pie pumpkin in the oven today to cook up some quick baby food and lunch for myself and the youngest two kiddos. 350F for 40 minutes cooked it through, the size was about 1/2 a basketball or 2 softballs (see picture).

This was a typical pie pumpkin,  small in size, big sweet flavor (I’m trying to find the name but all the seeds I’d ordered don’t match this so it could very well be a volunteer). The flesh of this one is a bit stringier than the Rouge Vif d’Etampes which is pretty smooth. The soft-orange colored rind is a bit textured but the shape is perfect pumpkin – they could double as small jack-o-lanterns but I wouldn’t want to waste the flesh. The seeds look perfect for roasting, I rinsed them and set them aside in a colander to dry – that’ll be a project for later.

After cooking up the pie pumpkin I tried mashing it with a bit of milk and rice cereal for the babe but it just didn’t break down enough. She’s just starting foods so it needed to be smooth. I threw it in the blender and realized the amount I had didn’t even come over the blades, so I added just enough to blend thinking I’d have some extra. Not so – the babe ate the whole thing and cried when it was gone. That is one wail of a recommendation!

Pumpkin Pancakes Monday, September 20th, 2010

Whisk in a bowl:

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour

2 Tblsp. ground flaxseed

1 3/4 tsp. backing powder

3 Tblsp. sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Melt together in small saucepan over medium low (I don’t have a microwave):

2 Tblsp. butter

3/4 C cooked pumpkin

Whisk together:

1 C. milk (I use 1%)

2 eggs

Pour pumpkin butter mixture into milk and eggs mixture

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix quickly with a whisk until just mixed. Pour as desired onto med-heated flat, oiled, griddle. Flip when bubbles surface and golden on bottom. I enjoyed these plain and the kids had them with a little honey

In preparation Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The dawn before fall is nearly as good as spring when it comes to gardening, for me at least. The first plants are drying in their beds. The grass has all but stopped growing. The temperature inside need only be regulated by the opening and closing of windows. We are passed the heavy maintenance stage of weeding and watering and wrangling. All the pumpkin vines have shriveled leaving our back steps a staggering of orange orbs with only a couple looking as though they are waiting for Cinderella’s fairy godmother out in the garden bed.

Soya Envy soybeans, dried on plant, collected for next year's crop

Next steps:

  • Continue gathering seeds – so far I have edamame, marigold, pepper, tomato and butternut squash
  • Covering the tomato plants for a few more nights before picking all and leaving them to ripen on newspaper in front of a sunny window
  • Pick the last peppers
  • Make a list of what did well and didn’t for next year
  • Canning tomatoes
  • Cooking and freezing the pumpkin for pies and baby food
  • Help my parents pick apples and pears, with bonus bagfuls to take home
  • Plant fall bulbs – my pick this year was crocus
  • Plant garlic – just waiting for the order to arrive
Too-cute Cucurbits Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Or, “pumpkin” if you please.

Rouge Vif D'Etampes

These cuties are Rouge Vif D’Etampes. They’ll also been called cheesecake pumpkins or the Cinderella pumpkin given their fairytale look. Mine are just starting to orange up. A couple times a week I turn them ever so slightly, not only to get even color and shape, but to check that the sluggos or borers haven’t taken up residence on their underside. Yes, we had slugs last year that started in on our pumpkins. We could solve this by elevating the fruits onto a board, laying down some diatomacious earth, or gravel.

These are, once again, volunteers. This particular pumpkin is a french heirloom variety, grown for both looks and as an edible. I was watching PBS’ “The Victory Garden” and the resident chef on the show made a delectable looking succotash out of this same pumpkin (cubed and steamed), green beans and sweet corn – I can hardly wait! I’ll be sure to save one to make into baby food. Maybe you don’t think of pumpkins beyond pie or jack O lanterns, but they are very versatile: breads, sautees, roasted, mashed, etc. And, never EVER throw out those tasty seeds (which variety doesn’t seem to matter here)! I was just munching on some roasted ones from last year. I’ll also keep a few raw for seed-starting next year – or let the volunteers do their work.

A is for Apricot Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

I’d posted earlier that our mystery tree was an apricot afterall. This is the first year it has both bloomed and borne fruit. The Hub and The Son had stepped out one morning before us girls had awoken and found that many had swan-songed their way to the ground. The boys gathered them up and were eager to present their find.

I could almost watch their orangening sugars release – I knew we had to do something quick to maximize the quick harvest. I took the ripest ones, split them, threw out the seeds and dumped them in my, not yet christened, chinois (french colander). This is a great tool for all fruits that you want to to maintain the highest amount of pulp from but not the sometimes fibrous skins and seeds. You can also use a food processor or a good blender – these won’t take the skins off as nicely.

It just feels good turning the basic pestel round and round as it smashes the fruit through the colander leaving behind the fuzzy, bitter skins. I tried to peel a couple of the little fruits myself – what a mess. What comes out is a lovely, smooth puree.

This puree can them be made into jams, jellies, syrups, etc. What path did I take? Baby food. One of my focuses with our garden this year was to plant baby-food friendly items like squash and edible pumpkins (some varieties are only for looks and aren’t at all palatable) so I was elated that we were also privy to this unexpected bounty. The best/easiest way I know to store baby food is by using an ice cube tray – way quicker and less fussier than canning.

I ladled the yolk-hued goo into each tray pocket, tapped it on the counter a couple times to release air bubbles and then stuck it in the freezer for a couple hours. Once frozen I put the whole lot into a heavy-duty freezer bag and labeled with the month and year.

Now, in about 3 months, when my youngest daughter is ready to try some solid foods, I can offer her this sweet-tart treat, already individually portioned and needing only a brief heat-up. These should keep 6 months in a deep freeze (we have a smaller, chest-style one – awesome for this type of thing), 3 months in a fridge freezer. Can’t wait to use this same system with my pumpkins and squash!

Drip, drip boom Friday, July 23rd, 2010

With the frequent rain, I’ve yet to really miss having an outdoor faucet or house. The little supplemental watering I’ve done is with rain barrel and watering can. Glad I got the barrels. They’ve developed a scum, but that’s ok. We’ve kept mosquito dunks in them to keep mosquito larvae at bay and most recently The Hub dumped in some extra minnows . . . larvae feeders and emulsion all in one?

I have a 1/2 dozen Rouge vif d-Etampes pumpkins on the vine – these are one of my volunteers. I did end up with vine borers again but I did my best to catch them somewhat early and cut them out of the vine they were in without cutting completely through it. Then I covered a good portion of the affect vine with dirt and watered it in. Hopefully this will allow the vine to sustain the pumpkins until they get big enough to eat. I plan on making them into baby food and maybe some succotash when the beans gets growing.

Our mystery tree – Is it a plum or apricot? — has been identified and apricot it is. The Hub and The Boy were out early one morning to find that the little fuzz green fruits had ripened to yellow gold and fallen to the ground. About 3 medium mixing bowls full of apricots – we ate some as is and when they started getting even more ripe a couple days later I started making baby food out of them – post to come!