Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Is In The Air

I approach with aniticipation, this time of year. It is, hands down, my favorite time of year.

Fresh pumpkins, mums in full fall color blooms, the smell of hot apple cider, the vibrant fall color of the leaves as they change color, smoke burning in the fireplace, all these things remind me of fall.

We visited a pumpkin patch today, and came home with five pie pumpkins. You know what we will do with those. Several of the moms were asking about how to cook them so that you can use the pumpkin and it is not so watery. Here is how you do it.

Oil a cooking sheet that has sides on it. Cut the pumpkin on half and remove the seeds and pulp. 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. If its a small pumpkin, you can put both on the cookies sheet. Place in a 400 degree oven for 2 hours, or so, 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 from the pan 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!

Also, don't throw those seeds away. My family loves to munch on them. Here is how I process them.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

4 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried

2 T cooking oil of choice

1 t salt

sandwich bags

Rinse pulp and strings from seeds. Drain off excess water. Mix seeds, oil and salt in a bowl. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Let stand for 24-48 hours, stirring once in a while. (I just let the cookie sheet sit in my off oven for a couple days) Remove wax paper and toast seeds in oven for 40 minutes at 325 degrees. Stir once or twice. Drain seeds on paper towel. Store in airtight container.

Another favorite of ours, during this time of year is hot apple cider. Here is how we do that.

Apple Cinnamon Cider

1 gallon of apple juice or cider

3 sticks of cinnamon

1/4 t allspice

5 pieces of candied ginger

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

2 oranges, sliced

Simmer slowly for a wonderful aroma (your nose will be able to tell when it is done) and then serve in mugs. Store leftovers (if there are any) in jar in fridge and reheat in microwave for a wonderful morning treat.

I hope your fall days are delightfully bright.

Blessings, Suzie

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