Baking, Roasting, and Eating Pumpkin

First, you are going to go buy some pie pumpkins, then you will bake them, then you will have your own pumpkin for pies and breads and whatnot and then you will NOT buy canned pumpkin. Then you will roast the seeds and give them to someone who likes that sort of thing…maybe this someone is you. Then you will make the greatest pumpkin bread on Earth and then you will keep one loaf for yourself and then you will give one loaf to someone who likes that sort of thing…maybe that someone is you again. Then you will eat it for breakfast and be incapable of denying it’s magnificence.

Then you will be incredibly happy.

Ready? OKAY!

BAKING

FIRST: You are going to buy PIE pumpkins. Not jack-o-lantern type pumpkins.

The difference? Pie pumpkins are smaller and sweeter. And they are typically labeled “pie pumpkins” anywhere you may find them. (That little guy up there? The one with his brains spilling out of his head? That’s it.)
2 medium sized ones will get you plenty of pumpkin for this bread recipe with a little left over.
(It calls for 2 cups.)

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°.
  2. Take your pie pumpkins and knock off the stem. Do this with a good yank, the counter top or a good karate chop. (Not responsible for injuries obtained from inexperienced karate choppers.)
  3. Next, with a large chef’s knife, CAREFULLY cut each pumpkin in half from top to bottom. (My first 2 were pretty tough skinned and cutting them really took some effort. However, the ones I just made were incredibly easy to cut. Keep in mind that this is a possibility.)
  4. Scoop out the seeds and stringy guts. (What are you doing?!! Don’t throw that away!)
    Put them aside.
  5. Turn open side down on an ungreased cookie sheet.
    (Some people like to use water in this step. Not only do I find it unnecessary but I find it typically creates an extra step for you later on.)
  6. Bake anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the size of your pumpkins. They are ready when a fork easily penetrates the meat.
  7. Flip them and allow to cool.
  8. Scoop out meat and puree in a food processor.
    (Some pumpkins are really watery. No biggie. Allow it to sit in the fridge overnight. The pumpkin will sink and you can easily pour out the excess water. I’ve actually never had to do this though.) 

    Now you have pumpkin like in a can, but not in a can.

ROASTING

the seeds


  1. Preheat your oven to 200 or the next lowest temperature available.
  2. Get a medium bowl.
  3. Pick up one of the clumps of pumpkin string/meat/seeds and squash it in your hand. You will notice the seeds, very easily separate from the rest of the pumpkin and slip through your fingers. Keep doing this, putting the seeds in the bowl and discarding the stringy meat. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  4. Fill your bowl with cool water and swoosh around. Let sit for 3 minutes.
  5. You will notice most of the loose meat has sunk. Skim the seeds off the top and place them onto a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake these seeds at 200 just until dry. (about 5-10 minutes). You’re not roasting them here. Just drying them. No, a towel won’t work.
  7. Increase your temperature to 300°
  8. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or use 1 Tablespoon olive oil (for a semi healthier and longer lasting snack) and toss seeds in it. Add 1/2 tsp sea salt and toss.
  9. Roast until medium to dark golden brown.
  10. Receive kisses from happy husbands or sneak into the corner and keep them all for yourself.

Note: Get creative. Some people don’t want salty. They want spicy or honey roasted or ranchy or BBQ!

If you have never had roasted pumpkin seeds, I personally think they taste a lot like popcorn. Then again, I'm pregnant.

EATING

the best part
(this involves some baking too.)

 

Now, go here and proceed to bake your bread with your fancy non canned pumpkin.
Here are the only changes I make to the recipe:

  • I use fresh pumpkin and I use 2 cups of it.
  • I use 2 loaf pans that are 8 X 4 X 2 1/2″ and bake them longer.
  • I add a pinch of Cardamom.
  • I don’t allow anyone to touch it for 24 hours.

That is it. No. Don’t try subbing o.j. or applesauce or anything else for the water. (O.K. Subbing half the amount of water for o.j. or applesauce works, but really, it doesn’t make THAT big of a difference.) Don’t try changing up the spices or using any amount of brown sugar instead of regular or using a tad less flour and CERTAINLY, WITHOUT A DOUBT, DO NOT let anyone try it the same day it’s baked. Seriously. I have obviously made numerous changes to this recipe on previous occasions only to find out, they were totally unnecessary.

After mine is finished baking, I cool it on a rack. I then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and I am pretty sure just plastic wrap is the best way to store it. I then proceed to destroy the entire loaf. Luckily, this recipe makes 2.

 

November 9, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cooking tips, Recipes. 5 comments.

Slicing and Dicing

And now for another installment of:

Things you need to know but are too embarrassed to ask

If you don’t know the difference between chopping and mincing, your salad may turn out more like salsa. It’s really very simple. You’re basically just cutting each size in half after slicing.

Slice

Rough Chop-usually for something that will be processed further.

Chop-even sized squares

A piece that has been chopped, cut in half, is now diced:

Diced

And a piece that is diced, cut in half (or half again) is minced.

Minced

Here’s a recap!



August 21, 2010. Tags: , , , . Cooking tips, Too Embarassed to Ask. 5 comments.

Update: Summertime Golden

Silly me! What good is it to know how to cut a pineapple if you don’t know how to pick one? Thanks to a reader suggestion, you’re about to find that out too.

  1. Look at it.
    A pineapple is not ripe when it is green. This means, the higher up the pineapple you can go before seeing green, the better. Look for a nice golden color on the eyes which are at the bottom. The higher up the yellow goes, the more even the flavor. Look for brown spots. These are no good. Deep bronze color;also no good.

    That color, plus a pleasant, mild pineapple aroma at the base are the best guides to ripeness.

  2. Smell it. You should actually be able to smell the fruit through it’s skin. If it’s over ripe and on it’s way out, it will smell fermented. No bueno.
  3. Feel it. It should be firm but “yielding to the touch”.

    And according to many “The ability to pull a leaf from the crown proves nothing about ripeness, despite the enduring popularity of that myth.” So be careful.

July 22, 2010. Tags: . Cooking tips, Too Embarassed to Ask. Leave a comment.

Summertime Golden

No. Not everyone knows how to cut a pineapple. In fact, I didn’t until I was about 20 or so. And now I can honestly say I have cut over 300 pineapples.

So I’m going to start a new “section”:

Things you need to know but are too embarrassed to ask


I wish I had something similar years ago when I didn’t know how to cook a turkey or cut an artichoke or boil water.  Luckily, I don’t believe in being too embarrassed to ask anymore. And I don’t believe you should live without fresh pineapple because you haven’t learned to cut one yet.

Twist the head and the body in opposite directions. If it is not ripe, you can also hold the body firmly with both hands and hit the top of the head against a counter and it will pop off.

Slice off each end as close to the end as possible. We are trying to get the most fruit out of this.

Stand the pineapple up and slice off the skin one side at a time. Go all the way around. It's o.k. if you leave some spots. It's better to use a little knife on those so you don't keep loosing fruit. You can see how little fruit there is on the skin over there? Yeah, that's good.

Remove the core by cutting around it. Slice just off the center. If it feels hard, you're at the core so scooch outward.

Remove the last bit from the core. Then give it to some lucky champ to gnaw on.

Now take each section and slice in a grid for bite size chunks.

Yuh’ welcome!

July 22, 2010. Tags: . Cooking tips, Too Embarassed to Ask. 4 comments.

Basted Eggs

O.K. You may find this hard to believe but I make basted eggs the healthy way.  But just so you know, the alternative to using water and the more common way to baste an egg is to use butter or fat or oil. It’s totally up to you.

July 12, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Cooking tips, Eggs. 2 comments.

Over Medium & Over Hard

Over Mediums do not get their own video. I’m sure you’re relieved.  Simply add about 10 seconds to cooking time on over easy and you’ve got over mediums.

Here’s your over hard, also, sometimes referred to simply as a fried egg.

Note: You will notice I use my finger to bust the yolk. I’m a firm believer in getting to know your food intimately. Also, I DO NOT recommend using the shell of the egg because if your egg were to have a trace of any type of bacteria, it tends to be on the outer shell of the egg rather than on the inside. We’ll discuss this more later.

July 12, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cooking tips, Eggs. 2 comments.

Yolk Troubles?

This is a video response to a question from one of my lovely readers. She wanted to know how you can avoid breaking the yolk when cracking the egg. This is actually a very common problem so I decided to address it here. I believe most people are overly cautious with their eggs which actually leads to the yolk’s demise.

(Thanks for reading Elizabeth!)

Notes:

  1. “Don’t be afraid to crack it”= Don’t be afraid of cracking it too much. You can’t do that when only tapping it once.
  2. I used the word rapping instead of tapping which is wrong. Rapping implies multiple blows. Don’t do this.

June 30, 2010. Cooking tips, Eggs. Leave a comment.

Over Easy

Note:
By “a few seconds” I really mean a minute.

June 30, 2010. Cooking tips, Eggs. 7 comments.

Sunny Side Up

Here is a backwards (don’t ask) video on how to make great looking sunny side up eggs. Some things to keep in mind:

  1. I know, I know. I say “um” a lot. It’s because I like to be thorough and specific and my brain and mouth don’t work at the same speed.
  2. There’s a little “dead air” while the eggs are actually cooking. Let’s get real. I can’t figure out how to edit the videos and it’s not like this is the Food Network. I do my best. Give me a break.
  3. Yeah. I said they’re perfect. What of it?

So if you can get past these things, hopefully you will write and share a picture of your beautiful eggs with me.

A few more egg related notes:

  1. If you like smaller, thicker, softer whites such as these   ↓
    all you do is use a smaller pan, crack them further away from one another and do not tilt your pan to let the whites spread.
  2. I’m sure someone somewhere is going to disagree with me about something. Seriously, I did a search for sunny side eggs and I found basted ones. This is what I know to be correct according to the places I have cooked, the people who have taught me and the research I have done.

June 11, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Cooking tips, Eggs. 3 comments.

Tip o’ the Week

*Tips that are NEAT-tO know!*

Ready, Set, Calibrate!

A thermometer is only useful in the kitchen if it’s correct! They can get off just like a clock but more often. You want to check yours every 2 months or so, depending on how often you use it. There are quite a few different types but they are typically similar enough that this should help you figure out how to calibrate yours. This is called the ice point method.

Fill a tall glass all the way to the top with ice. Then fill with water and let stand for 3 minutes. Insert your thermometer. If it reads about 32 degrees, you're done!

With a small pair of pliers or a wrench, grip the nut below the reader. Slowly turn the head of the thermometer to 32 degrees while keeping the stem in the ice water.

Perfect!

May 30, 2010. Tags: , , . Cooking tips, Tip O' the Week. Leave a comment.

Egg Ninja

The past 12 years of my life have been all about eggs. Here’s what I know.

O.K. This is the beginning. I am going to try to teach you everything you need to know about cooking breakfast style eggs. 12 years for me, a handful of videos for you.

My first tutorial is all about how to flip your eggs (without a utensil) whether they be over medium or as an omelette. Whether there are 4 or 1. “Why would I want to learn how to do this” you may ask?

  1. You will no longer be fumbling around for a spatula.
  2. You save time.
  3. You save dishes.
  4. Your friends will think you’re cool.
  5. Your kids will think you’re cool.
  6. It’s easier.
  7. Your eggs are less likely to break.
  8. You can react faster.
  9. It’s simply nice to know.

I also wanted to do the flipping first because in the tutorials that follow, I will not be using a utensil (I never do) so I didn’t want you to feel lost.

There are just a few points I forgot to mention in this brief video demonstration. I suggest reading the following once before viewing and maybe once after.
(I would have re-recorded it but my movie editing software is not so super [as in I can’t figure it out].)

Remember: We are mimicking the movement of an ocean wave. Seriously.

Ahhh. Pretty.

O.K. Imagine you are looking at the profile of a wave. This is EXACTLY the motion you will be mimicking with your hand/pan and what your eggs are going to be doing in the pan. They simply flip over themselves. They just get a little air. Less time in the air=faster flip.
(This means they should not be hitting the ceiling in your kitchen nor should they be going any higher in the air than you are tall. Don’t be a show-off.)

One more note I forgot to mention: Yes. You may use butter also. I just don’t usually mention it because it tends to burn on beginners. With the oils mentioned, you can spend as much time as you need getting up the courage to toss food into the air.

So, grab a carton of eggs (they’re cheap) and maybe a sponge and get to crackin’! You will be amazed at how easy it really is.

Thanks so much to my wonderful assistant and videographer, Islay!
This is how I have always taught in person so I am curious to know if it all translates well into video and words. I’d love to know if you’ve used this to teach yourself. Thanks and good luck!

May 27, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Cooking tips, Eggs. 1 comment.

Tip o’ the Week

*Tips that are NEAT-tO know!*

Make your own sprinkles!

*Next time your kiddos try to talk you into spending five bucks on sparkly sprinkles tell them they can make their own!

I recommend using Sugar in the Raw (or raw sugar). It is larger and sparklier! Plain white sugar works o.k. too though. Put about 3 Tbsp. of sugar in a container with a lid. Small jars or tiny tupperware containers work really well.

Add one drop of food coloring, immediately put on the lid, and give to your kiddo to shake vigorously! When you take the lid of they will be stoked! Add one drop at a time until desired color is achieved.

♥VOILA!♥

*disclaimer: Adults are totally allowed to love sprinkles and want to make them too.
(I could have sworn I did this post already but it had disappeared from my
blog so if you have been with me from the beginning, please excuse the repeat.)

May 23, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Cooking tips, Tip O' the Week. 3 comments.

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