Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cooking and freezing pumpkin

Before the hard frost, I brought in all of my pumpkins. Now, I've started to cook the pumpkin to make a puree that I freeze in two cup packages for various recipes. 

First of all, I wash the outside of the pumpkin. Taking a long sharp knife I then proceed to cut into the pumpkin and if not too large, I slice the pumpkin in half. Take a large spoon and scoop out all of the insides and seeds of the pumpkin into a large bowl, set aside. Next, I take a large roaster and pour about an inch of water into the bottom. Now I cut the pumpkin halves into smaller but good size pieces. The lid goes on next and I pop them into the oven to cook at 350F until soft, about an hour. The roaster is then taken out, the lid removed and the pumpkin allowed to cool enough to handle. Next, with a large spoon, the cooked pumpkin is removed from the skin and placed into a large bowl. Once all scooped out, I take my hand blender and puree the pumpkin. The puree is then measured out into two cups and placed in containers or freezer bags and frozen.

I love pumpkin pie but hate making pie crust. So when I found this Pumpkin Pie Square recipe in Taste of Home Magazine in the '90s, I had to try it. I have not made pumpkin pie with a pie crust ever since. My family loves this square and I serve it often.

Here is the link to the recipe: Pumpkin Pie Square

Don't throw away the seeds, here's the link on how to cook them up! Cooking pumpkin seeds

Since I have so much pumpkin this year, I will also be freezing uncooked peeled pumpkin that has been cut into chunks and frozen to add to soups and stews. Pumpkin is such a versatile and delicious squash!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The quick way to make sauerkraut

The best part of gardening is that you get to make really good food with the most delicious ingredients! I picked ten medium sized cabbages. So I went looking for a good sauerkraut recipe. My mom made some every fall for us and we use to love to sneak and steal it and eat it raw. I still have the crocks to make it in but I wanted to downsize as it's only my husband and I now most of the year. I didn't want to can anything, just don't have the time to spend doing that. So I researched making sauerkraut and found it it's now called Fermented vegetables.

There are three videos that are pretty good:

1) A very technical one with all the measures and correct temps for fermentation...well worth the watch:

2) a kitchen cook's version:

3) a fun version to watch: (not too sure about the feet stomping lol

I used half gallon canning jars that my mom had stored in her basement. I went with the directions in the first video and will store them in the refrigerator when fermentation is done and eat them within three months. Upon doing some research on the health benefits of fermented vegetables, I came across these two videos:

I found them interesting in regards to regaining health and living a healthy life. I'm always looking for healthy ways to eat and cook good fresh ingredients.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The BIG one

Our squash harvest for 2012. They're announcing frost for later this week, so, while I had extra men in the house, we picked garden most of the weekend. My pride and joy is this huge Atlantic Giant pumpkin that weighed in at 65 pounds! What is even more amazing is that we haven't had rain in over three months. I shudder to think what size it would have been had it rained! The other giant pumpkins weighed in between 36 to 38 pounds. For the most part, the squash crop was average this year...except for the Atlantic Giant that took a couple of guys to bring into my kitchen. Lots of yummy pumpkins seeds!

The above two photos are examples of our freely growing squash that came up all by themselves in the garden. Guessing that these are a cross between an ornamental gourd and a spaghetti squash. We left them be and never watered them...the darn things did remarkably well for what little they had. Cut open one of the bi-color ones and this is what they looked like inside. They smelled like pumpkin. The rind was pretty tough and so the horses got them. They thought they were rather chewy.  Anybody have any really good squash recipes?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Great Potato Barrel Myth

As you can see, the potato plants in the barrels have died off and were ready for harvest. Each barrel had 10 seed potatoes planted at the very bottom, so we should have harvested at least ten gallons of the least.

As we tipped the barrel on it's side, the results looked really promising....

As we started to dig, we found very few potatoes...3/4 of a gallon in the first barrel to be more precise and about the same in the second barrel. We had a few larger potatoes but most of them were small.

So what went wrong? I had done my homework and looked at all kinds of blogs and Youtube videos telling about their successes and their disappointments. Potatoes like lots of room to grow, so I had made sure that the soil was rich with peat moss. At the bottom of the barrel where I planted the seed potatoes, I had placed about 6 inches of good rich garden soil to get them started. There was good drainage. I watered regularly. The only thing I can think that stopped the growth of tubers was the barrel was too hot. The barrel should have been full of spuds, they had perfect growing conditions by all accounts from my research.
So this potato barrel growing myth is BUSTED in my opinion. Growing potatoes in the barrel took a lot more watering and so for that reason alone, is not viable for me. Although, if I had gotten my ten gallons of spuds per barrel, I may have had a different opinion. I guess I did have a bit of suspicion when I found all kinds of videos on the net showing how to plant a potato barrel but only one harvesting a descent crop. There was one video of a fellow that had I think 1 potato that he harvested out of his potato box. The other videos of how to do the barrel planting never posted an after video of their crop. I guess they couldn't because they didn't have a crop. Ah well, c'est la vie!