Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Butchering 101

we grew pumpkins in our garden this year

this was the biggest one -- it weighed 10 pounds 8 ounces

the whole point of growing these was to make them into pies!

to get from here to pie, there is some work involved

and here are the step by step instructions

Step 1:

turn on the oven to 350 degrees

cover a jelly roll pan with parchment paper

don't try to do this on a pan that isn't at least an inch deep because there will be a lot of liquid that comes out as it cooks

the parchment paper isn't absolutely required, but it does make the clean up a lot easier

Step 2:

remove the stem of the pumpkin -- this is usually as easy as just hitting it from the side with your hand -- it should just pop loose from the top of the pumpkin

lay the pumpkin on its side and using a large sharp knife, cut it in half crosswise

this pumpkin was so thick that we couldn't just push the knife through with our hands -- we used a hammer on the back of the blade to push the knife through -- just keep tapping around the center of the pumpkin until the knife goes all the way through

this was probably one of the thickest walled pumpkins we have ever encountered!

no wonder we couldn't push the knife through the side

(and its a good thing we didn't try to make this one into a jack-o-lantern -- it would have been a really hard one to carve!)

Step 3:

clean all of the seeds and the stringy stuff out of the inside of the pumpkin

we used a large serving spoon first, then after most of the stuff had been removed, I used the sharp edge of a grapefruit spoon to do the fine cleaning of the inside

the center cavity should look like this when you get it all cleaned out

Step 4:

place the two halves of the pumpkin cut side down on the prepared baking sheet

if you are going smaller pumpkins than this, you can probably do two on a jelly roll pan

put the pan in the oven

to do 2 small pumpkins it will take about an hour

a larger pumpkin will take about 90 minutes

this one cooked for a little over 2 hours

test the doneness of the pumpkin by pressing your finger into the side

if it springs back, it's not done yet

the pumpkin is ready when the finger mark stays in the side like this

when the pumpkin is done, take the pan out of the oven and set it on a heatproof or heat protected surface (we set the pan on a thick layer of towels on the kitchen counter)

let it cool until you can handle it comfortably

Step 5:

line a large colander with a clean dish towel (not terry)

using a small sharp paring knife, peel the skin off of the pumpkin and put the "meat" into the towel lined colander

when all the pumpkin has been put into the towel, gather up the top of the towel and twist it tightly to squeeze the liquid out of the pumpkin

put the twisted towel back into the colander, set a plate on top of it and put something heavy on top (I used a gallon jug of vinegar that was about 2/3 full, but several cans of black beans or other veggies will work just fine)

be sure to put something absorbent under the colander and contain the whole set up -- I used the same jelly roll pan with an old bath towel folded up inside

let this whole set up rest for at least an hour

Step 6:

remove the weight and the plate and open up the towel

pack your prepared pumpkin in the desired size containers (I used quart zip top bags) and remember to label with what the contents are, how much is in the container and a date

these can then be frozen or just refrigerated if you're going to use it within a few days

these two bags will get turned into pies on Wednesday

need a good pie recipe to use this in? try this one

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

An easy and yummy sweet treat. It has to be healthy since it has fruit and oatmeal, right?

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

1 (18.25oz) package yellow cake mix
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
3/4 cup margarine, melted
1 cup raspberry jam
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan

In a large bowl, mix together oats, cake mix, and melted margarine so that it makes nice clumps and there is no dry mix left. Press 1/2 the oats mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. In a separate bowl, mix jam with water, and spread over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 23 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Cool before cutting into bars.

So good they disappeared from the pan in a hurry before I could get a picture.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Hard Boiled Egg Tutorial

a while back my daughter wanted me to teach her how to do hard boiled eggs that were "pretty" -- no funny green rings around the yolk

I thought this would be a good thing to add to the tutorials here in Hattie's Kitchen

this instruction is what works here at high altitude -- if you live at sea level, you won't need to boil the eggs for as long a time

that said, here we go!
when I do hard boiled eggs, I usually am boiling what's left of the OLDEST dozen of eggs in the refrigerator

I'm not sure there is any science in that, but the ones that are fresher don't seem to peel as well

be sure none of the eggs are cracked before you begin

select a pan that is the right size to boil the number of eggs you want to cook -- you don't want them to bounce around too much and crack while they are in there

put enough COLD water in the pan to cover the eggs

put the pan on the burner at medium and let it slowly come to a boil

this slow warming helps keep the eggs from cracking

when the eggs come to a boil, turn down the heat so the water just simmers

set a timer for 12 minutes (again, this is the right time here at high altitude -- at sea level or somewhere in between this time will be less because water boils at a different temperature there)

check occasionally to make sure the water continues to simmer for the entire 12 minutes

when the 12 minutes are up, move the pan directly to the sink

pour part of the hot water out and run COLD water over the eggs

add some ice cubes and let the eggs sit for 5 to 10 minutes to cool

the quicker you get them cool the more the inner membrane shrinks away from the shell which makes it a lot easier to peel them

after the cooling time, you can either put the eggs back in the refrigerator in their shells (be sure to mark the container so you know which ones are cooked!) or you can peel them right away

to peel the eggs, select a tea spoon that is fairly thin and has a "pointy" bowl (those really rounded thick tea spoons just won't do this job as well)

use the back of the spoon to hit the shell all over to break it into small sections

while you are doing this you should be able to tell where the "air pocket" under the shell is

(in this picture it is there on the side of this egg)

beginning at the spot where the "air pocket" under the shell is, slide the tip of the tea spoon under the shell and the inner membrane and start peeling them off

go slowly and rinse in the ice water from the pan as needed to get all of the shell pieces off the egg

put the peeled eggs in a zip top bag or a container with a tight lid (you don't want the eggs to absorb "smells" from your refrigerator, and since they are really porous, they will!)

if you'll be eating these "out of hand", I recommend a light sprinkling of salt before you close up the container

so there you go -- perfect hard boiled eggs!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

home made "blue ice"

two weeks ago the DH had surgery on his shoulder

since then we've been really friendly with ice packs

now we have a couple of those blue gel packs, but they don't really stay cold for a 30 minute cooling session, and they're kind of pricey

my daughter shared a recipe with me to do a home made version

I whipped up a couple of these and we've been using them at least 3 times a day ever since -- they're even better than those blue things

it is really simple and really cheap too!

Small pack:

2 - 1 quart zip top plastic bags
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol

pour the liquids into one bag, squeeze out the air and zip close, insert into second bag, zip close and freeze

Big pack:

2 - 1 gallon zip top plastic bags
2 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup rubbing alcohol

if you want even smaller ones, use sandwich bags and split the quart measurements!