Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes: Pumpkin Pie!

Pumpkin pie is, for me, one of those defining autumn flavors.  Most pumpkin things make me think of Halloween, but pumpkin pie is usually a Thanksgiving standard.  The smell of pumpkin and cinnamon accompanies the scarlets and golds on the trees outside.  It's the kind of thing you smell as you pull your sweaters and gloves out of storage.

We had a pumpkin that we didn't think was going to last until Halloween, so we went ahead and cut it up for cooking with.  I used the first half of the pumpkin to make pumpkin soup (one of my kindergartner's favorites...although she has a lot of favorite foods).  My husband decided to make pumpkin pie with the second half.  Plus we roasted the seeds--very easy, yummy, and nutritious.  Just stick the seeds on a baking sheet, season lightly if desired, spray with a little olive oil, and then bake for about 20 minutes.

We more or less followed this pumpkin pie recipe

To make the pumpkin puree, we cut, skinned and gutted the pumpkin and cut into segments.  Then we sprayed with a little olive oil and sprinkled a little brown sugar on top.  We baked them in a large glass dish for about 40 minutes at 350 F (180 C), until the pumpkin was very soft.  Then he just tipped it out into the food processor.  The pumpkin will probably release some juice as it bakes, so just puree the pieces first, and then add some of the juice back as needed to get the right consistency.

We also used a shortcrust pastry for the shell rather than a pre-made pie shell.

Other than that we followed the recipe, then served with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.  The results were fantastic.  I have to admit that, growing up, I only ate one slice of pumpkin pie a year (on Thanksgiving), and even then it was more out of the spirit of the holiday than because I really enjoyed it.  This pumpkin pie, though, was delicious.  I'm definitely looking forward to Thanksgiving and making another one.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Celebrating Harvest Time

This morning I had the pleasure to go see my daughter's harvest festival at school.  She's been practicing her harvest songs all week, so it was fun to get to go see her perform them with the other children.  Next time, though, I'll get there earlier so I can get either a seat in the front two rows (where you can see) or the back row (where you can stand up to see), as most of the time I could only really see other parents.  The kids sounded great though.  I'm proud of her; she's adjusted really well to school and is loving it.

We've also enjoyed harvest time in our own garden.  We've had apples (and apples and apples) and carrots and potatoes and the last of the tomatoes and pattipans (squash).  I also picked the last of the rhubarb for an apple and rhubarb crumble, and some of the salad things have made a recurrence as we haven't had a frost yet.  The girls have really enjoyed helping to dig through the dirt to find the potatoes and helping to pick apples from our trees.

If, like us, you are overflowing with apples right now, here's my apple recipe suggestion: Spiced Apple Cake.  It's delicious and will make your house smell great.
I love this time of year and enjoying all of the fresh autumn flavors.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Romsey Show

Some of our goodies from the Romsey Show.


Our family enjoyed a fantastic day out at the Romsey Show held at the Broadlands Estate.   It's kind of like a county fair.  There were animals to see.  The girls loved seeing the cows, especially since many of them had their little calves with them.  We also enjoyed seeing horses, sheep, goats, peacocks, quail, rabbits, and more.  There were plenty of children's activities, and the girls were very excited to go on some of the rides like the spinning teacups.  I particularly enjoyed the large food area with countless stalls of local food.  It would have been easy to spend a fortune, and we did buy a few things. 

Although we stopped and got some delicious treats during the day (including goodies from a local bakery and fresh strawberries), we were all starving when we got home in the evening.  So we used some of the things that we had boughten to make a delicious watercress, leek, and potato soup.  It was easy to do and based on the recipe that the farmer gave us when we bought the fresh local bunches of watercress.

Romsey Show Soup:

big bunch of watercress
knob butter
1 leek
2 potatoes
vegetable stock
salt & pepper
creme fraiche
good cheese


1. Chop all of the vegetables and put them  in a pan with the butter and a splash of olive oil.  Just put it on a medium or low heat.  When the butter is melted and coating the veggies evenly, put the lid on the pan and let it cook until the vegetables are soft.  Stir every few minutes so that it doesn't stick to the pan.

2. Add the vegetable stock.  Leaving the pan uncovered, bring it up to the boil and let it cook for several minutes. 

3. Puree the soup.  (I use my hand-held mixture for this, but if you don't have one you could pour it into a blender or food processer and then return to the pan.)

4. Add a few spoonfuls of the creme fraiche and season to taste.

5. Serve with grated cheese on top (we used a delicious local mature cheddar).  Enjoy.

(This recipe is just a foundation to work from.  You could always add slightly different vegetables depending on what you have on hand, for example, or substitute cream cheese for creme fraiche--or just leave it out entirely.  To make it vegan, just leave out the butter and cook with slightly more oil and a little stock, and then use vegan cheese or omit cheese at the end.)

It was a simple and delicious meal made with all local ingredients.  A delicious end to a fantastic family day.
The vegetables cooking in butter.

A delicious bowl of watercress soup.