Friday, October 17, 2008

Pumpkins! Pumpkins! Pumpkins!

This is a wonderful time of year for lots of baking and one of our favorite things to bake is pumpkin and all the delicious recipes that go with it. Pumpkin is very easy to cook and process. My mother used to cook them this way when I was a child. She grew up in a time when no one wasted anything, and nothing goes to waste on this pumpkin. Seeds are eaten, pumpkin processed and skin and pulp go to compost. I am thankful to mom for teaching me this.

First, when choosing a pumpkin, make sure it is a rich orange color. Any yellow or green on it means it is not yet ripe. Cut the pumpkin in half from stem to stem and remove the seeds and pulp. You can roast the seeds if your family likes them. There is a simple and delicious recipe here. My children love to eat these whole, shell and all.

Oil a cooking sheet that has sides on it. Turn half of the pumpkin upside down on the cooking sheet. I repeat this process for the second half, as I tend to pick large pumpkins. Place in a 400 degree oven for 1-1 1/2 hours until the skin becomes dark brown and blistered. The pumpkin is going to cook by steaming itself. You may think you are burning it but you are not. After it becomes brown, take it out and let it cool. It will look like it is shrivelling as it cools and that if fine. After it is cool, the skin will just peel off and that beautiful pumpkin is soft and workable. I usually process mine in the food processor and then freeze in freezer bags, 2 cups at a time. Don't add the excess liquid back in as you process, as it may make your pumpkin too thin. It will seem thinner than the canned stuff but it has never caused me a problem. Some recipes may just need to bake a bit longer. Also, the cost effectiveness of cooking your own pumpkin is phenomenal! I bought this very large pumpkin for $2.49 and it made an entire gallon of pumpkin puree! They are a great investment for purchase after October 31st if you can find them on clearence.

Here are a couple of our family favorite recipes

Pumpkin Pie
1 pie crust-9 inch
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
3/4 cups sugar ( I use sucanat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 t cloves
1 cans evaporated milk (I have used home made almond milk also)

Mix all ingredients well and pour in crust. Cook 15 minutes at 425 then turn down to 350 and bake 45 minutes more. Pie is done when knife inserted in center, comes out clean. My experience with this recipe says that it usually takes a little longer to cook, I think due to the extra liquid in the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup sucanat
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ginger
1 egg
3/4 cup milk (soy or almond is fine)
1/3 cup oil (or substitute applesauce)
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400 or 375 for dark pan. Butter muffin pan. Mix all dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add egg, milk, oil, and pumpkin. Stir until just mixed. Add raisins. Fill cups 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes.

We eat this sometimes for breakfast as I can mix it the night before and refrigerate and the children wake up to the wonderful smells of breakfast cooking and it really wasn't all that hard.

Happy baking this fall, Suzie

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Parthenon

We are currently on vacation and stopped by in Nashville last weekend for some sight seeing (ie: school field trip) before travelling on to our destination. We have been studying Ancient Greece in our Tapestry of Grace Year 1, Unit 3 and I was thrilled to find a scale model of the original Parthenon in Centennial Park in Nashville. It was the perfect field trip to go along with our studies.

Notice how huge this building is.

Here is daddy and the children on the front steps of the Parthenon.

The children are standing in front of the huge iron doors of this temple, that originally housed the goddess Athena in Athens, Greece. It was one of the many buildings in the area of the Acropolis in Greece.

Notice how HUGE these pillars. The children could not even go half way around using themselves as a chain. They were quick to tell me that these were doric columns. There was a very interesting film in the museum that told all about how the structure was built. Oldest son was especially interested in this as he has been very curious about ancient architecture.

Here is a guilded duplicate of the false goddess Athena. This was what was beyond those huge doors. She was the height of those doors as well. As the children turned the corner and got their first glimpses of her they commented, 'No wonder they wanted to worship her'. Her sheer size was overwhelming. I too was in awe.
This a photo of the serpent that was wrapped around her and the shield as she was the goddess of war and protection.
As we arrived back at our hotel, we discussed the awesomeness of her as well as how much more great that God of heaven is. We read from Acts where Paul addressed the greek people that were such prevelant worshippers of her.
"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, nor is He worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things...therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising"
Acts 17:24-34 NKJV

Have a blessed day, Suzie