Monday, November 8, 2010

A New Recipe

I've come to the conclusion that I'm a very bad blogger. I can't seem to find the time to blog.

Of course, the fact that Blogger hasn't been cooperating with me when I try to log in might have something to do with my aversion to blogging lately. Just maybe.

But I'm here right now, so let's jump right into things.

Guess what's been on my mind lately? Well, a lot of things, but I mean in the realm of "fruit of the hands."


Ah, it's such the time of year for things like that! I can't believe it's November already. Every morning, I want to dress in short sleeves. (I'm in denial, you see.) But by 9:30 or 10:00 I end up pulling on a sweater or changing to long sleeves. I love fall clothes - love, love, love them! But, living in southern Virginia, I don't even think about cold weather until, oh...January or so. It doesn't seem right to get cold before then.

And I've been cold, let me tell you. We had out first frost Sunday morning, and my flowers and sweet basil died. The temperatures are in the upper 30s at night, or even the 20s, occasionally. (Yes, all you northerners are allow to snort and laugh. Just once. I'm telling you - that's COLD!)

But it's a great time of year for being in the kitchen. I love to bake, but lately I've been inspired to do cooking. I want to mix food without a recipe, stir something on the stove top, toss exotic spices together....

Ah, yes.

But baking is fun, too. I want to make pies. I made apple pie on Saturday. I love to make pie crusts! And do artwork on the top layer of my pie crust. This time it was an apple cut-out in the middle.

Oh, and pumpkin cookies! That's really the only food that exists this month; pumpkin. Bake it, mash it, "cookie" it, "pie" it, "cake" it, mix it with cream cheese frosting, mix it with chocolate chips, mix it with raisins.....yum. Have you ever made pumpkin stuff from scratch, with a real pumpkin? It's so easy. If you haven't, you must try it. You'll wonder why you thought it was complicated.

I'm sure you could figure this out yourself, but I'll tell you just because I want to.

Making pumpkin bake-ready:
1 - Slice pumpkin open, remove seeds and that stringy orange stuff. Get as much of it as you can, because it doesn't mash very well at all. Slice into quarters, then eighths, ...keep going until your slices are about 2 inches thick.
2 - Place sliced pumpkin in a glass casserole dish, and add an inch or so of water. Don't cover it. Just add enough so the pumpkin won't get crispy.
3 - Bake at 350 degrees for...oh, I don't know. 20-40 minutes. Somewhere in there. Just until pumpkin is very soft - skin included. But don't let the flesh part start browning.
4 - Let pumpkin cool enough to handle, and then scrap out as much flesh off the skins as you can. Discard skin. Put flesh into a bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth.

You're done! I told you it was easy. Use as regular canned pumpkin. (Not pumpkin pie mix - you have to add spices for that.) Stay tuned for a really yummy pumpkin recipe.

But cooking has been my interest lately. Aside from pumpkin and pies, that is. I stayed up late one night this week (really late), and the last thing I was doing on my computer was researching how to make the "perfect gravy."

Forgive me, but most homemade gravy isn't so good. It's lumpy, it's bland, it's watery. It's...nothing. I've never made anything good in that realm. But my brothers adore good gravy, so I want to learn to make it for them.

Wanna see what I found? Of course you do.
This site was very inspiring. Great photos. And descriptions.
And this video made me ask Mom if I can make our next Sunday dinner.

I found some other stuff, too, but those two sites were my favorites.

Oh yes - I promised you a pumpkin recipe. This is another "Amber Creation." I've been considering putting a little cookbook together, of dishes I've invented. Would that be a good idea, or not? I trust you guys; give me some feedback; would you want to read such a book? If you read it, would it be to laugh at the tales of how each recipe was birthed, or would you actually use it to cook?

This pumpkin dish isn't totally my own. I got the idea from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, when I was browsing the site, looking for gravy help. But, I promise, I didn't steal anything. I just used it as a starting point. Mine is pumpkin, hers is sweet 'taters. Mine uses less sugar and it's cheaper to make. But hers looks good too, so maybe you'll want to pay her a visit!

Anyway. On to the pumpkin.

Amber's Non-Dessert Pumpkin (so named because my siblings couldn't believe it was actually for the main meal)

2 cups mashed pumpkin
2 eggs
4 TBS butter (because that's what you have. More might have been good.)
1/4 cup milk (was it that much? Maybe only 3 TBS. Not sure. You try it.)
Cinnamon. Lots of Cinnamon.
1 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 cup brown sugar, divided

Yeah, I think that was it.
No - wait - add a dash of allspice.

Directions: Mix pumpkin, eggs, milk, 2 TBS sugar, a heaping shake of cinnamon, and that dash of allspice in a mixing bowl until smooth. (If you want to save dishes, use the same bowl you mashed the pumpkin in.) Pour into a 9x9 glass baking dish, and set aside. In another bowl, put the oats, rest of the brown sugar, more cinnamon, and the butter, chopped into smaller pieces. Cut butter into other ingredients until crumbly and yummy. (Taste to be sure!) It will want to clump a bit, 'specially if your butter is getting warm, but do your best to crumble the stuff on top of the pumpkin batter. Now bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

If you're expecting sweet potatoes, ...don't. If you're expecting pumpkin pie...don't. Expect something totally new and different, and slightly healthy. It's a squash. But yummy. Oh, very yummy. Be sure to mash the pumpkin very smooth, as the texture plays an important part in this dish.

We liked it. Let me know what you think! Happy baking and cooking to you!


julia said...

I've been making alot of pies lately too :)
Would you mind sharing your pie crust recipe sometime? Thanks! I'm going to go check out those other linked recipes now!

hannah said...

I just might try it! We haven't made anything pumpkin so far this year, can you believe it?

It was good fellowshipping with your family Sunday for the time we had to stay. You never know when we might show up somewhere you are again!;)

Oh, I meant to tell you, I finished your book and really enjoyed catching a glimpse into your family's life. I don't think there was a place in the book where I thought, "She could have said that better." I trust many people have been blessed and encouraged by it. I hope to review it/advertise for you soon.

Amber said...

Julia - Aren't pies yummy? :) I hope you enjoyed the links. My pie crust recipe is not my own; it's from "Tammy's Recipes." Are you familiar with her site? If not, let me know and I'll direct you there. It's worth a good long browse - and return visits! I've never had one of her recipes flop on me.

Hannah - We were so happy to see you again!! Thank you so much for the delightful surprise - I look forward to more surprises. :) I'm SO glad you enjoyed my book, and I would love to hear any more feedback - contructive criticism indluded. :) Blessings to you and your family!