Monday, November 15, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Experiment


I am just going to come out and say it; I am not a fan of pumpkin pie. I have yet to take a bite of pumpkin pie and be wowed by the deliciousness. I would rather eat a cherry pie any day. You may have noticed that my feelings toward it has not ever stopped me from eating it. It IS pie, after all. Who says no to pie?!?

So with this being the case, I have not really been big on pumpkin. I love the orange skin and the fun that can be had by carving them. I love the feeling of squishing pumpkin guts between my fingers. I have not been big on eating pumpkin...

until this year.

I went to the grocery store with Magnus and he found these adorable little pie pumpkins and so we got one for each kid. They have been sitting on the table or on countertops since, as decoration. It was time to either use them up or throw them out.

I chose to use them. I chopped them up with a serrated knife into large chunks and scooped out the guts. I put them in a large microwavable bowl, added a half inch or so of water, covered and cooked for 10 minutes. Then I put them in a collander to cool for a few minutes. When they were cool enough so that I didn't run screaming from the kitchen when I touched them, I peeled off the skin and put all the soft flesh into a bowl. Next I got to use my potato masher and squish the soft flesh into a puree'. Easy and fun.

Now that I had this big bowl of pumpkin goop I had to find a use for it. This has proven very easy, fun and delicious!

We are big porridge eaters at our house. That could be an insult except that it is just too yummy. I decided to add some pumpkin to our porridge one morning.

Pumpkin Cornmeal Porridge
4 C Water
1 C Cornmeal
1/2 C Pumpkin puree'
1 C Sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground all spice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 Eggs
1/2 tsp Salt

Put water, salt and cornmeal into a pot and bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally with a whisk to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan and clumping. Reduce heat to medium low heat. Add pumpkin and sugar. Put a lid on the pot and let the porridge cook down until it is the consistency of nice oatmeal. I like mine kind of thick. I think it is less messy that way. At this point turn off the heat and add the eggs and spices then whisk until the eggs are fully inorporated and your porridge has a nice custard consistency. Usually the heat of the porridge is enough to cook the eggs but if yours are still slimy turn the heat on and make sure they get cooked. If you whisk the eggs in well you won't even know that eggs were included. It's my little secret porridge ingredient, adding protein and a great consistency.

Scoop into bowls and enjoy. Add nuts, raisins, cream or butter. Enjoy!

Another recipe that I think is a fun use of pumpkin is in brownies or cake. You can replace the oil in any brownie or cake recipe with pumpkin and it is delicious. I am out of cocoa powder but have some Nestle Quick powder mix and found a recipe for brownies here. I changed that recipe to this one. It was a hit. In fact, I'm pretty sure we are eating this for dinner tonight. It's got whole grains and a vegetable so that's OK, right? :)

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies
1 1/3 C Whole Wheat flour
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 C double chocolate-flavor Nestle Nesquik powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 Cup Pumpkin puree'
1/4 C water
2 large eggs

3/4 C Almonds
3/4 C Pecans

Mix well and pour into 9x13 baking dish. Pulverize the nuts in the blender or food processor and spread over top. Bake at 350ยบ for 25-30 minutes.

My kids devoured it.

What do you like to do with pumpkin? Any favorite recipes?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Give Thanks

I need to focus on giving thanks more often. All the time. Today in Relief Society a sister was talking about giving thanks with every breath we breathe and with every fiber of our being.

I love that.

I have moments of giving thanks. Every night at dinner we have been discussing things we are thankful for. Ulysses has been reminding me on nights that I forget (like tonight).

We have been discussing being thankful for things like our teeth, feet, each other, Jesus Christ, cars, Daddy, forks, thumbs and fingers, robots, imagination, school, warm houses, windows.

It is so fun to discuss why we are thankful for these things. It seems to bring an awareness of everyday objects in our world to my children. To me too.

I need to give thanks more often. I need to breathe thankfulness. Especially right now. Some days it is really hard to have Ben working so hard and away from home so frequently. It's not something I can really vocalize. I support him and want to encourage him to pursue the career that brings him so much joy and love that he has been able to support us. But sometimes I feel very alone living here in Utah. I am tired of struggling and miss the days of living in San Diego where we had health insurance, a beach within 10 minutes and friends and family so near. I have no beef against Utah. I just don't like that alone feeling.

I am thankful for the beautiful seasons in Utah. I enjoy that immensely. San Diego doesn't have that.

Today is one of those days. There is no particular reason. I just am having a hard time being patient, loving or even caring about things that need to be cared about. I'm sure its hormones. It'll pass. Whatever.

I want to print this image and put on a notebook. I am going to try to do that tomorrow. I was thinking that it would be a fun visiting teaching gift. Which is actually laughable since I am the world's least diligent visiting teacher. I could go off on a rant about visiting teaching but I will exercise restraint right now. Let's just say that I need to think really hard about it to find something to be thankful for.

Oh! I got it. I'm thankful for visiting teaching because it gave me a chance to make this notebook cover.

Ok. I have to stop typing because I keep deleting the things I am writing. I try not to complain to other people. Maybe by writing a blog post it will send my thoughts both written and unwritten off into the ethers of the Internet and I'll feel better. I better hit the publish button quickly!