October 24, 2010

Autumn Harvest in Amish Country

Nothing says Autumn more than an Amish wagon loaded down with the fall bounty of pumpkins, squash and gourds, a crisp wind and the crisp autumn leaves falling .  The harvest has been tremendous and the local Amish wagons are a testimony to that.  We are truly blessed to live in an area where we can learn so much from our wonderful neighbors.  They know the true meaning of heirloom seeds and how to grow just about anything.

October 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey

If you happen to be in our neck of the woods, and stop by for a visit, this fella might be the first one to greet you!  Meet "Supper", our pet turkey, watchdog, king of the hill and comedian.  He is a Blue Slate Turkey and he is a lot of fun......usually.  Last year, when we got a few chickens, I never thought about ever obtaining an actual turkey. 

October 12, 2010

Autumn in the Ozark Mountains

Autumn in the Ozarks has begun.  This is a picture taking a turn out of our place.  Temperatures are reaching the high 70's and lower 80's during the day with a gentle breeze, strong enough to begin to blow the leaves around that have started to fall from the trees.  The nights are staying around the low 50's even though we had a real good threat of frost last week that didn't really amount to much.  
We are attempting to pick the last apples from the trees in whatever way we can reach them, which can be pretty creative at times and between trying to catch them and getting hit from them, we all get to laughing pretty good.  I don't know how many more apples I can stand to peel and I can't help but wonder if we won't be growing tired of apples by spring.  At this rate, I might still have apples by next year's harvest!  Probably not, but I really

October 07, 2010

Autumn Pumpkin Pie made with Heirloom Banana Squash

This year has been full of exciting discoveries in the garden and in the kitchen.  Has anyone ever heard of Heirloom Jumbo Pink Banana Squash?  I never had before this year and what a delightful find!  They are extremely easy to process for fresh use in any pumpkin recipe or to store in your freezer and the result is a much sweeter, smoother and lighter squash than pumpkin.  One squash goes a long way too.  This one I worked up today measured 24" long, I'm not sure how much it weighed but they can weigh from 10 to 40 pounds.

Simply begin by cutting the squash into lengths and then slice each of the lengths in half.

Scoop out the seeds and membranes.  In order to save the seeds to grow your own Jumbo Pink Banana Squash, wash the seeds with water in a strainer and spread out on a sheet of wax paper to dry.  Let the seeds dry in a cool, dry location for about a week before storing.

Place halves, cut side down, on foil lined baking sheet.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until you are able to easily pierce the outside with a fork.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool.  Thursdays are baking days for me, and to save some time, sometimes I'll bake these up the night before and after they cool, put them in the fridge until the next morning.  

After the squash has cooled, simply scoop the insides into the food processor and blend until creamy.  I blend three to four halves at a time.  At this point, you can either spoon the squash into freezer bags or use immediately in any recipe that calls for pumpkin or squash.  Today I spooned it into a big tupperware container, used 4 cups of it for pies and put the rest of it into the fridge.  I couldn't even tell I had used any from the container, that's how much of it one squash will make.  No more buying canned pumpkin at the store, using it, eating it and then hearing on the news that there has been a recall!  Here is the Pumpkin Pie recipe I use and let me tell you that it is scrumptious!  The secret is the maple syrup!

Pumpkin Pie made with Banana Squash

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of squash (or one 15 oz. can of pumpkin)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; beat until smooth and pour into the crust.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 45 - 50 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and top of the pie is set.  Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the pie, if the knife comes out clean, it's done.  Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

Now I'm sure someone else can make a prettier pie than this one, my disposable pie pan wasn't big enough for this recipe as you can see, I filled it too full.  Just know that the recipe is more than plenty for a good deep pie.  Another nice touch to this pie, which I didn't do, is to add Maple Whipped Cream on top of it.

Maple Whipped Cream  (Very Good!)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Beat all ingredients until stiff peaks form.  Spoon onto pie and enjoy!

Everyone be sure and let me know how you like the recipe!!

October 05, 2010

Preserving the Apple Harvest

The good Lord has truly blessed us with an abundant apple harvest here in the Ozarks this year.  We have been picking apples for several weeks and there is still another few weeks of harvesting to go.

One of the best things I have been taught about preserving apples, is to simply cook them down and can them to keep for any other recipe I might use them for.  Instead of taking the time to make applesauce, apple butter, apple juice or apple cider when the apples are falling off the trees, I quickly can them up for whatever I choose to do with them after the snow flies.

These apples were not sprayed and aren't the prettiest looking apples I've seen.  In fact I sure wouldn't have paid money for them and

I questioned if it was even worth my time to work them up.  As you can see, they are covered in spots.  I was sure pleased to see the beautiful jars of golden apples when I was done with the first batch.  They were a sight to behold considering my doubts to begin with.  It made me think about what my life looked like before God began His process in me.  My life sure wasn't pretty, in fact it seemed to be one big black spot, but God cared enough to pick me up off the ground and work with me, processing me through sanctification into something that He can use for His glory.  I may not be as pretty yet, as the beautiful jar of golden apples, but I sure feel like it these days!  

I need to quickly add a thank you to my dear mother in law for giving me a wonderful ceramic knife for my latest birthday that came with a terrific peeler which will quickly whip around an apple creating one long peel.  Without it, I wouldn't be getting so many apples worked up as I have, however, as many apples as I've worked with this year, an actual apple peeler will be on my gift list for next year!

Preserving Apples 

Begin by filling a large bowl about half to two-thirds full of water and then mix in a few swigs (1/4 cup) of lemon juice.  This is what you will slice your apples into in order to keep them from turning brown while you work up enough apples to cook.

Then peel, core and slice the apples putting them right into your bowl of lemon water.  About this time, I load my jars into the dishwasher to sterilize.  If you hot water bath your jars, a good time to do that would be while the apples are cooking down.  I place the lids in a small saucepan of boiling water when the apples are almost ready, to sterilize them.

Slice enough apples to fill your biggest pot with.  Put the slices in the pot and then depending on the size of your pot, pour in one to two cups of water.  The water is simply to keep the apples on the bottom from burning before the apples release their own juices.  The pot I use is only a 20 quart pot, which I fill to the top and add 1 1/2 cups of water to it.  *Update Option:  Use apple juice in place of water*   Place the pot on medium low heat and allow to simmer until you are able to pierce the apples with a fork.  It doesn't take very long, maybe 15 to 20 minutes or less depending on the size and thickness of your pot.

When filling up the jars with the apple slices, I try to get as many slices into the jars with as little liquid as possible and then pour the liquid over the slices.  Leave 1/4" head space, wipe the tops of the jars clean and put on the lids.  Process according to your canner's instructions.

Happy canning!  Please let me know if you have any questions! 


October 03, 2010

Homesteading with Chickens

Getting chickens for the homestead last summer was one of the best choices we have ever made.  We began with five full grown chickens, which slowly became more than a dozen (and a guinea) because we had so much fun with them.  Yes, they are messy and can be extra work, but they are very enjoyable and worth their weight in gold.  We have struggled with sickness, cold temps and hawks and we cry when we lose one, however, the good really outweighs the bad.  To say the least, our first winter with chickens was a real learning experience.  When spring came, we felt more confident with what we were


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