Saturday, October 31, 2009

"In the sheltered heart of the clumps last year's foliage still clings to the lower branches, tatters of orange that mutter with the passage of the wind, the talk of old women warning the green generation of what they, too, must come to when the sap runs back."
- Jacquetta Hawkes

Whoooo. The remaining leaves all fell at once on one rainy windy day. The world looks as old as me, spooky for Halloween, not like last year's glorious last hurrah.
This evening I found a sweet little mouse in my kitchen; her name was Minnie.

And a beautiful purple fairy (with green woolies underneath her gossamer costume) was discovered in my living room, stealing candy, as fairies will do.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A walk in the woods

Our favorite cider mill was so crowded with tourists out for their once yearly trek to buy pumpkins and jump in the bounce house that Pa just drove right past, even though K does dearly love bounce houses.
I know, the business world is tough, and this is what brings in the spenders... sigh.
We'll be back when the bounce house is gone.

We went for a walk instead.

At the State Park, we hiked in the woods (two miles is a lot for little ones! SOME of us got carried part way) we collected pretty leaves, and we threw rocks in the lake.

We saw native Witch Hazel blooming, and found Sassafras 'mittens' shaped like Michigan.

After a snack in the pavilion, we played on the old swingset until thoroughly tuckered out.

October's flaming leaves 'lighting the way to winter', indeed.

The shame of it is, we saw a total of two other couples walking their dogs, during the whole afternoon. A few miles away, the plastic bounce house was jumpin' and shakin'. Do I worry about America? Yes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Our Big Day

Ashley was already Family, this day made it official. She was a beautiful, earnest, optimistic, lovely bride. And Tony looked dreamily happy. I wish I had more photos to post... maybe I'll get some soon.

by Noel ‘Paul’ Stookey

- Wedding Song -
He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts.
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits here has caused Him to remain,
for whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name,
There is love. There is love.
Oh, a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home.
And they will travel on to where the two will be as one.
As it was in the beginning, is now until the end:
woman draws her life from man
and gives it back again and there is love.
Oh, there is love.
Well then what's to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?
Or, if loving is the answer, then who's the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you've never seen before?
Oh, there is love. There is love.
He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts.
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits here has caused Him to remain
for whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name -
there is love. Oh, there is love.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"October's poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter."
- Nova Bair

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Recipes - Pepitas

As long as we are making squash for dinner, or pumpkin puree for recipes, or even just decorating with a carved jack-o'lantern, it seems silly not to use the seeds... they are so good for you! So, when you clean a squash - most* kinds have nice edible seeds - put the seeds in a colander to wash and toast them for snacks.
BTW, "pepita" means squash seed in Spanish.

*I have tried the seeds from various squashes. Not all are good to use. Pumpkin seed are well known taste treats, but, for instance, the seeds from the local farm stand's favorite squash, the Pink Banana, are huge... but they are all fiber-y shell and very little nutty center. Chew on a few of those babies and you'll end up with a mouthful of cardboard.

Wash the seeds, removing any stringy fiber and return to the colander. Dry with a kitchen towel. Place in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle with the scantest amount of vegetable oil. I like sunflower or peanut oil for the nutty taste.
Sprinkle with salt and, if desired, with herbs or seasoning*, tossing with a spatula to coat, and returning to the single layer.
Bake in a slow oven, turning occasionally to brown evenly. I've toasted them at 200 degrees for up to an hour, or 350 degrees, turning often, for a half an hour.

*pumpkin pie spices, barbecue dry rub, Sazon Seasoning (achiote and culantro).

Pumpkin Recipes - Quick Bread

Pumpkin Quick Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 3 loaf pans with waxed paper (a dab of Crisco will make it stick in place).

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine sugar and wet ingredients:
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (sunflower or safflower)
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

In a separate bowl, sift and combine dry ingredients:
3 1/2 cups a.p. flour
2 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. cloves
1 t. allspice

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Add about a half cup of water if the batter is too thick. Optionally, you can stir in 1 cup of chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, raisins or dried cranberries.
Pour evenly into pans, and bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick tests clean. (It usually takes at least ten more minutes.)

Note: You might have read recipes using more water. My recipe uses less water because I make my own pumpkin puree instead of using canned pumpkin.
Note: For a lower cholesterol recipe, you can use egg substitute for the eggs, and replace half the oil with applesauce. Frankly, the result is not as good (I'd call it rubber-y).
Note: I've also substituted our CSA spelt flour for the a.p. flour and loved the result.

Pumpkin Recipe - Pumpkin Pie Squares

I made these pie squares when the boys were living at home. They liked them and it was a change from the traditional pie, although I think they're a tad sweet. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut together in a large bowl:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup butter

Press crumbly mixture into a 9x13 pan. Bake 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat together:
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
pinch cloves

Pour mixture into baked crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut together:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 T butter

Sprinkle topping on hot 'pie' in oven and bake another 15-20 minutes.
Cool enough to cut in squares. Serve with a spatula. Refrigerate leftovers.

Pumpkin Recipes - Helen's Pumpkin Spice Bars

Have pumpkin, will bake.

Pumpkin Spice Bars

(A good way to use pumpkin - or any winter squash- from the kitchen of Helen E., who brought this nice sheet cake to the Genesee County Herb Society's refreshment table many years ago, and gave me the recipe.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a jelly roll pan (15X10X1").

Beat 'wet' ingredients in a large bowl:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (safflower or sunflower)
2 cups pumpkin

Add 1/2 cup raisins. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together 'dry' ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves

Beat dry ingredients into wet. pour batter into pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
When thoroughly cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting (recipe follows) and sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Cut 4 X 8 = 32 2" x2" bars. Leftovers should be refrigerated.

NOTE: in this case, cutting the oil with half applesauce (to reduce the cholesterol and the cost) doesn't seem to change the texture enough to dismiss the idea.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 3-oz pkg. Philly cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
a dash of salt

Gradually stir in, then beat until smooth and spreadable, thinning if necessary with more milk:
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad."
- Edwin Way Teale