Saturday, September 26, 2015

pumpkin custard

Pumpkin Custard just happened.
Right before my husband scooped it he asked, "Do you think we should have some whipped cream on top?"
"Really? That's a silly question."

Pumpkin Custard
2 c. milk, scalded
4 egg yolks or 2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
2 c. mashed, cooked pumpkin
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. allspice
1/4 t. ginger
1/2 t. vanilla
 Add to hot milk and cook 4 more minutes. Cool.
Add 1 c. cream
Pour into ice cream maker and freeze.
This makes more than our freezer bowl would hold, so we had to make a second batch.
You're welcome.  <3

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

open house coloring page

Last night was open house at my school. To continue the tradition, I made another "Mrs. McCray's Open House Coloring Page."
 This design I found on pinterest and it features the verse Psalms 139:14
"You are fearfully and wonderfully made."

The kids had fun with it and when there wasn't anymore to color in, I encouraged them to draw in the empty spaces around the page.
Amen. <3

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Delicata advocate

Five years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to work on an organic vegetable farm. We learned a lot and ate a lot of vegetables. (And ice cream--wait, what??) The farm grew many vegetables that I'd never heard of. One such vegetable is now my favorite variety of Winter squash- Delicata. I am a Delicata advocate. People pass my table at the Farmers' Market and say any of the following: "I've never seen that?" "Is that a gourd?" "You can eat that?" "How do you prepare it?"
I love delicata squash because
1- the skin is so thin, no peeling required and
2- it's delicious!

Have I sold you yet?
Here is how I make my delicata squash.

Look for a squash that has deep green stripes and is buttery yellow. There should be a spot where the green lines are orange, that is side the squash grew on. Because you don't need to peel it, scrub it well.

(Preheat oven to 350 degrees.)
Cut off the ends.

Cut the squash length-wise down the middle.

Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Save for toasting or discard with the compost.

Cut each half into 1/2" crescents and then cut those into roughly, 1" pieces.

Transfer squash to your most loved sheet pan.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle on the salt and grind on the pepper. Using your hands, toss it all together, making sure each piece of squash has some olive oil love on it.

Put the sheet pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes. (Set a timer!) Using a metal spatula or [my favorite] bench scraper, turn the squash over. You don't need to get out tongs and turn every single piece, just be sure to move them around for even baking. Allow another 10 minutes and then transfer squash to a serving dish (if it makes it that far!)

Notice, I didn't add any sugar or sweetener. Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sugars and so I think that this squash is prefect the way it is. (I do make "Delicata Crescents" that involves brushing on a maple butter glaze... yeah, I'm gonna lie, they're pretty tasty...)

Please give this squash a try! It's so easy and quick to prepare. (And they're only a $1 at our veggie stand!!) <3

Monday, September 14, 2015

it's almost Fall!

Last week was a busy week.
My parents came to visit.
It was fair week.
There were lots of things to can.
Today, my husband harvested our squash.
Oh boy, that means it's almost Fall!

For our community fair, my parents, for the last two years, have come to visit us. This was the first year that my parents stayed with us now that we have our guest room.
My plan was to can pickled beets with my Mom, but because our tomatoes did better than we thought, we also canned salsa and made ketchup! (If you ever find yourself with an extra half bushel of tomatoes that you don't know what to do with, you need to make ketchup.  It is a lot of tomatoes to cook down, but it is so worth it.) We ended up with nine pints of ketchup.

My Mom crankin' the tomatoes through our tomatopress.
Cinnamon sticks, celery seed, cloves and all spice for the ketchup.

The set up; canning ketchup.

At the fair, I won a blue ribbon for my oat bread (second year in a row!) My arrangement in a teapot and our snapdragons also got first place. I had entered the crochet-along afghan I made, but it didn't place. I was surprised however to find another crochet-along afghan on display! I don't know the lady, but that was fun to see.

Blue ribbon oat bread!

My market basket got 2nd place.
Today, my husband harvested our winter squash. He said that "there wasn't a whole lot." I went out and inspected for myself...

I would beg to differ. <3

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

canned tomato soup

Yesterday morning, I made my first batch of tomato soup. (I made the juice the night before, but mixed up the soup and canned it yesterday.)

I got home from school with the intention of working out or making tomato juice for more soup. In reality, I got on facebook, checked my e-mail  and watched how-to hairstyle videos on youtube. And then ate a cookie. Good gracious, I need some motivation! On hot and humid days, turning on the oven and cooking over the stove isn't my favorite, but we have so many tomatoes I need to get moving!

Some of you have asked for my tomato soup recipe. This recipe comes from my mother-in-law. WARNING! It does have sugar and butter in it. You can try to experiment with substitutes, but spread out between several quart jars, I'm sure it's a lot better for you than a jar of soup from the store.

This is one of my favorite things to enjoy canned. I think it is a close second to pickled beets (which I'm going to can with my Mom next week!) My husband loves canned peaches the best. A perfectly ripened peach preserved in light syrup in the middle of Winter is pretty fantastic, I have to say. Ok, back to the soup, here is how my mother-in-law wrote it out on my recipe card:

Tomato Soup

8 quarts of tomatoes, made into juice*
Put in a large kettle and add:
1 stick of butter
3/4 c. cornstarch mixed with 1 c. water
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. salt
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. parsley

In a blender, mix:
1 stalk (rib) of celery, cut into chunks
1 onion, quartered
1 green pepper, seeded and quartered
2 c. water

Add this mixture to the juice and bring it to a boil.
Boil for 15-20 and pour into hot jars. Use hot lids and secure with a ring.
This recipe makes around 7 quarts of soup.
(I only got 6 1/2 quarts yesterday. The half quart jar is in the 'frige and we'll eat that sometime soon.) Process the quarts in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

To serve, pop the top, pour into a pot, heat and enjoy! This soup is not concentrated, so don't add any extra water.

*To make tomato juice, core and quarter tomatoes. Put tomatoes in a large stock pot with a cup of water. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once tomatoes are softened, carefully ladle into a food mill. The food mill separates the skins and seeds, resulting in fresh tomato juice.

Last year, I canned 30 quarts of soup (a few we gave to my husband's Grandma because she loves it so much.) I have a few more batches to go, but all the work is worth it. Winter in PA can get pretty cold and this paired with a grilled cheese sandwich is my favorite way to warm up. <3