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.

 

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

Poached Eggs

July 25, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Eggs. 2 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.

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.

Fabric Flowers

Here are a few easy options for making flowers out of fabric. You can make these all different sizes so they can be used for fascinators, smaller hair clips and pins, corsages, brooches, hats, shoes, and so on!

  • For the Ranunculus style:

Fold your fabric in several halves to cut several at a time.
Print out the pdf I’ve provided or draw your own. Keep in mind that you need to set your printer to print at the size you are going to want. (If you’re wanting a very small flower, just use the same pattern but print it at 80% or 70% and so on.)
Use these irregular circles as your pattern. Cut out several of at least 3 sizes.  In the one above, I cut out at least 15 of 4 sizes.

Depending on what type of fabric you are using, this is the point that you may want to apply fray check to the edges of each pile as it is easiest when they are all stacked evenly.

Next, begin with your largest petal stack and re-layer them on top one another so the edges are staggered. Follow with the next smallest size, and then the next, as shown here.

This fabric doesn't photograph well but you get the idea.

Next, sew all these layers together through the center. You should add a bead or three (odd numbers tend to look best) there. I use DMC embroidery floss or dental floss for the strength. Just knot it underneath. You’ll end up hiding the knot when you attach the flower to something.
*Extra note: A lot of times, I will tie the knot but leaves some string tails. I use them later when I sew my flower to my clip or comb.

Now, you may notice all the petals are lying very flat and the flower has no oomf. We will fix that.

Begin from the bottom.
Go up about 10 petals or so.
Insert your needle from the TOP side of this petal, very near the center. Go ahead and go through 2 or three petals.
Don’t pull your thread all the way through.
Go back up through them about 1/8″ over.  Tie a knot very taught.
You will see that this “gathers” the fabric into a one little bump. Continue this a few more times throughout your flower on different layers on different sides.

Gather small parts to add some lift and texture.

Now you're ready to use your flower!

→Download Ranunculus pattern pdf here: Ranunculus

  • For the purple one on the right

All 3 kinds

Choose one size from the pattern, trace it and cut out. You want about 20 layers of this one. If you want it to look more like a peony, you can round off those tips.

Cut!

Don’t forget your fray check (like I did) before you separate and re-layer your petals.

Layered

Fold in half.

and again.

Sew up the edge. Try to get through most of the petals.

Download this flower pattern pdf here: flower
(Help me name this flower!)

  • For the pansy style

And the last one is the simplest. This one will take you 6 minutes.

*For this one you just have to make sure your fabric is a synthetic nylon type of blend. 100% cotton won’t work on this baby. You need something that will melt.

Use the first Rananculus pattern (or draw some janky circles). You only need a few for this one!

Cut them out.

Burn the edges of each petal. Be careful! If you just hold it close to the flame, it can melt without catching on fire. If it does catch on fire, just blow it out. No biggie.

Now trim any excessively burnt edges. The idea is the melting creates texture and ripples and keeps the fabric from fraying so don't cut it all off.

Stack it and sew it! This is the easiest style to make very small for bobby pins.

♥♥♥


June 8, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Art and Neat stuff. 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.

Fascinators!

So pretty!

More like….EASY-nators!…
*cringing*

O.K. That was awful but really, you don’t need much instruction. I think you may just need someone to say, “Don’t buy that! You can make it!” Here are couple pointers!

you will need:

hot glue gun
needle
good thread (or dental floss!)
plastic or metal hair combs
some pretty thingies (flowers, lace, broken jewelry, feathers, seashells, beads, etc..)
netting or tulle
felt squares

First, lay out the items you want to use. Practice putting them together and layering them. I usually start by putting down the feathers I want to use. Then I fill in any gaps with my other items. Think of it like flower arranging. Look at pictures online and try to mimic ones you like.

Play with your feathers. Try shaping and trimming them.

Next, cut a piece of felt into a shape that resembles your layout. I usually use a closed “V” shape like the black one below. That shape is particularly good on headbands as well. When it has everything on top of it, it lays very well. You can also use a rectangle. This is going to depend on how you want the comb to sit in your hair. Keep in mind you can trim it after all your pretties are in place.

To glue feathers in place, I squeeze a drop of glue from the hot glue gun onto a paper sack and then dip one side of the shaft down into the glue. If you have fabric flowers or beads you may want to sew them to the felt instead of glue.
When you have everything on your felt, you can glue it down onto your comb. If you decide you’d rather sew your felt to your comb, you will have to do that first, then add your decor.

Keep in mind, no one but you will be able to see the side that will be against your hair. Also keep in mind that it really just takes practice and experience to make them look clean underneath.

After one day and just a few pointers from me, my friend went home and was on a roll!

She immediately had a knack for this don’t you think?

This is my favorite one!

She also made these adorable little bobby pins while she was at it!

eek! So cute!

Don’t forget the tulle or netting! Play with different sizes and shapes and try gathering it and glue rhinestones to it! Hell, bust out that bedazzler!

Here are some inspiring examples to get your juices flowing or to buy from if you just don’t have the time to take on another project.

Stay tuned for a real step by step on how to craft fabric flowers.

May 3, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Art and Neat stuff. Leave a comment.

Your Parents Didn’t Lie

I ate my very first Brussels sprouts about a year ago thanks to my fiance. (He cooks a few things and what he does cook, he does quite well.) I couldn’t believe it! These things are incredible! What was all the fuss about? I don’t like cabbage and I love these things. These are like the softer, prettier second cousin-that it’s o.k. to drool over-of the cabbage.
I believe you typically hear of them being bitter. Well, frankly this would be because they aren’t being cooked right. It’s a fact. If they are overcooked, a certain chemical is released which actually produces a sulfurous odor and in turn also makes them seem bitter. If you have never given them a chance, I suggest you do now. You may start a love affair of your very own.

This is our favorite way to cook them. It takes about 8 minutes and they are wonderful with the Apricot Pork below.

You will need:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • butter
  • lemon
  • salt and pepper
    *O.K. I know you’re thinking, “This isn’t really a recipe! There’s nothing in this!” If you ask any good chef, they will tell you, “Sometimes less, REALLY is more.” Also, not everyone knows how to prepare these guys and I love to teach all of all skill levels.*

Cut the bottom stalk part off of each and cut each in half from top to bottom. Discard any layers that fall off naturally. Put them flat side down in a skillet. Add 2 Tbs butter and turn heat to high. After the butter has melted, sprinkle salt and pepper over the sprouts. After 4 minutes, turn heat to medium and add 2 more Tbs butter and squeeze juice from half a lemon over sprouts and immediately cover with a lid. Steam them for about a minute or until they turn a rich green color. Remove lid and continue to cook until browned and slightly tender. When they are done, toss them in the pan a couple times to distribute lemon and salt and pepper.

♥Voila!♥

January 19, 2010. Tags: , , , . Cooking tips. 4 comments.

Got the Bug Yet?

O.K. Want to get started? If the reasons and examples I have mentioned have perked your interest in embroidery, here is a little video tutorial on one way to begin and use the knotless technique so your work looks neat and clean. I know it says it’s like, 8 minutes long but I don’t think it seems that long when you watch it. I’ve always thought of myself as a descent teacher but I have never made a video before this so it may be a couple more videos before I get the hang of it. I just hope you find this helpful.

January 14, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Stitches. 1 comment.

Try It! Maybe you’ll like it!

A few nice things about embroidery:

  • you don’t have to be an artist to do it
  • it’s an inexpensive hobby
  • it makes things pretty, personalized, and unique
  • you don’t have to know how to sew
  • you made it!

Here are just a few examples of how embroidery can really spice up your home!
You can do this!
A lovely little accent pillow from kunderwood

 

I LOVE these colors!

Fancy scissor sleeve from barncat1

simple, delicate and so pretty!

Dress up a plain skirt:

Too cute skirt! from lucyrobinson

 

adorable!

OR wonderful baby items
like this onesie from Giggly Mama and Fam

 

You can put ANYTHING on one of these!

Just imagine all of the possibilities! The reason I say you don’t have to be an artist is because there are so many resources out there now with free and cheap patterns made by actual artists. You can also come across some amazing stuff by googling “free embroidery patterns”.
Also keep in mind, you don’t have to get an actual pattern. You can use any kind of drawing you find! Does your kid have a favorite page in a coloring book? Use that! Or a picture from a bedtime story. Really. Start keeping your eyes peeled and you will start to notice how rad certain things would look embroidered on your old purse or skirt etc…

A couple favorites are:

Good luck but most of all, have fun making things beautiful!

 

 

January 14, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Stitches. 1 comment.

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