Step away from the canned pumpkin!

Nothing says the start of my favorite time of year like pumpkins.  Our little Blueberry can sniff out a hidden pumpkin patch the way some kids know where you hide the candy in your handbag!  There are 7 large pumpkins clustered in the middle of my dining room table right now as a result of multiple trips to pumpkin patches.  If you are anything like me, you have a hard time saying no to buying yet another interesting looking pumpkin for fall decorations.  But instead of decorating them and forgetting them, think ahead and plan for reusing those pieces of decoration for your baking!  If you are thinking about trying to be a little more conscious with your food, finding fresh local produce from small farmers like us is a fantastic way to not only get to know your neighbors but it’s also a smart way to help your kids better connect with the food they eat.

To start, pick out some midsize pumpkins. If you have a choice, I recommend sugar pumpkins. They are typically easy to find and available both at farmer’s markets and your local mega mart.

Slice off the tops and then scoop out the interior. Once clean, bake flesh side up in a 350 degree oven for 20-35 minutes. Some recipes will suggest oiling them or seasoning them. I like to just roast them dry.

Just keep an eye on the pumpkins after 20 minutes to ensure that they don’t burn. A little bit of carmelization is a good thing but you don’t want them to look like the crazy tanning lady…

Once they have cooked and cooled, you can scoop out the flesh and just discard the skin, or if you are like me, make some happy little Berkshire piggies happy by giving them the leftover pumpkin.

Just because I love looking at their little selves.  Smoochie smoochie!

Just because I love looking at their little selves. Smoochie smoochie!

I just love those piggies and will use any excuse to show pictures of them: Wilbur, Spot, White Fur, Stinky and Hubert (he’s French), our baby barrow Berkshire piggies. I love them. And yes, I will eat them too…but I digress.

From there, you can freeze the flesh or use it right away. I’m more of an instant gratification kind of gal, so I made muffins with my freshly cooled pumpkin. And when I say muffins, let’s be honest…I mean cupcakes that I call muffins so I feel a little better about myself:

Blueberry’s favorite Pumpkin Muffins

For the muffins:

1 cup room temperature butter 1 to 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 cups brown sugar 1 teaspoon salt

1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon ground clove 1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon ground ginger 3 large eggs

1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 ½ cups AP flour

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (see above) ½ to ¾ cup instant rolled oats

For the topping:

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3 tablespoons butter

1 cup brown sugar 3 tablespoons AP flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter, sugar and pumpkin together with an electric or stand mixture. Then add eggs and mix until thoroughly incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients. While you can absolutely buy pre-ground spices, I strongly recommend that you invest in one of these cool little things:

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I cannot tell you how much I love this little grater. And if you are wondering what the heck that is in my needing to be manicured hand, its nutmeg. Once you have smelled freshly grated nutmeg, you will want it on and in everything. The little plastic jars of spices cannot hold a candle to this. In addition, this little grater can also help you discover the joy of freshly grated cinnamon:

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I was trying to be so cool and give you an action shot here of me grating fresh cinnamon into the mix. However, shortly after I snapped this, I managed to grate about half of my finger into the mix. You will note that I didn’t include that in the ingredient list. You are welcome.

After you have mixed your dry ingredients, slowly incorporate them into your wet mixture. The dough should be wet but not overly wet..think cookies versus cake. From there, scoop into muffin cups-about 2/3 full. From there, mix all of your topping ingredients in a separate bowl and spoon generously on top of your muffins before baking for about 20-25 minutes.

I’ll be honest; this isn’t a great shot of the muffins. By the time I took this, I had downed several of them…in the name of research, of course! However, all of that sugar made me a little jumpy. Sigh. The things I do for blogging…

Now, what I really love about these muffins is that they are idiot proof, and frankly, living my life, I need more things that are idiot proof. The first time I made this recipe, I forgot the baking soda and powder but they still turned out like rock stars…or rocks, but at least tasty rocks. If you wanted to riff on this recipe, you could substitute applesauce for some or all of the butter. You could also swap out whole wheat flour for AP flour. In addition, you could omit some of the sugar. Bottom line is that there are many ways to make and remake this recipe..just get in the kitchen and bake!

 

I think my family is trying to murder me…

…through sleep deprivation.

 

Sorry for the lack of posts/responses lately folks.  Between Sheldon’s snoring, Blueberry’s wandering and everyone’s nighttime noisiness, Blueberry Acres Farm has been far from bucolic over the last week.  It hasn’t been all zombie-like movements…We have successfully planted 12 new trees (go environment!), ordered what feels like truck loads more (I have no freaking idea where these new trees are going), gotten in another order of seeds, gotten in bedding plants and almost broke my amazingly agile and healthy 70 year old Dad as he helped us plant the latest batch of trees in the driving/cold rain.

This weekend will bring us more dog training, more garden planting, probably more trees, and apparently the building of a turkey coop THAT I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO BUILD BEFORE THE TURKEYS GET HERE IN 3 WEEKS.

I have lots more to say but no time to say it right now.  Calgon take me away!  🙂

 

A Liebster Award? But, I don’t know 11 people!

You ever heard of this-the Liebster Award?  Well, I hadn’t heard of it until recently, but I’m so charmed by the fact that Eileen over at Simply Homesteading nominated me for this award.  Thanks girl!

While I was waiting by the door for my cash like prizes to arrive, I jumped on The Bing to read a little more about the Liebster Award.  Basically, liebster is a German word meaning darling or sweetheart…so one can easily extrapolate that this is a nice recognition to help give care and attention to fledgling bloggers.   Eileen blogs on it much more eloquently, but I’ll sum up instead: it’s the blogging world’s version of a chain letter, except it’s with the best of intentions.  So, without further ado, allow me to get on with this!

My 11 random facts:

1) I have to sleep in a neat bed.  I often make it again right before getting into it.

2) I have a class M drivers license.

3) I am OCD about my eye brows.  They. Must. Be. Neat. At. All. Times.

4) I loathe putting away laundry.  Like, I’d rather bathe a plague ridden leper with scabies (no offense if that is part of my readership) than put away laundry.

5) I adore The Blueberry, but sitting at her karate lessons (as I am right now) bores the ever living poop out of me.

6) I hate talking on the phone unless I’m being paid for it.  No, not like a 976 operator.  My day job involves consulting on the phone and via web.  I love doing that.  But sit on a phone saying nothing, I’d rather do number 4.

7) I have inadvertently taught my child the art of deal making because she tries to negotiate for everything.  Sheldon is afraid that she is going to grow up and be in sales.  I think worse things could happen.

8) When I was a little Shellie, I dreamed of being an Astronaut.

9) I cannot make an Apple Crumble to save my life, despite many many many efforts.

10) It’s been on my short list to go back to school and get my Masters for like 10 years.  Needless to say, it’s a long short list.

11) I have a significant bug phobia.  Like screaming, yelling, run away run away phobia.  Yeah, I know I live in the country.  Life is full of little ironies like this.

Ok, now here are my answers to the questions given to me:

  • What color shirt are you wearing right now?  Black, but technically I was wearing purple when I first read this.  Did I get this one right?
  • What is your favorite day of the week and why?  Friday night because it’s family movie/mommy wine night!
  • If you could do without one piece of electrical equipment what would it be?  My smart phone.  I have been known to be standing out in a field looking something up…not easy to do with even a tablet.
  • What would your perfect yearly weather be?  Oh my-I love all seasons.  Fall and Winter are my favs.  We live in a moderate climate here in Missouri, so I’m good with all!
  • If you had unlimited acres, unlimited money, how many different kinds of animals would you have?  Hmm..I don’t have a good answer to this bc we have enough acreage to have what I would want.
  • How many photos of family do you have up in your house?  Uh, I don’t know…some?  More than 3, less than 20?
  • How many hours a day are you on the computer? Be honest!  Well, during my “work days”, it’s close to 8.  During “Mommy Fun Days” and weekends, it’s closer to an average of 1 or less.
  • If you had unlimited money what charity would you support?  Hmm..I struggle with this one too because I think people can always give to charity even if it’s just time, extra stuff or good press.  We typically support the churches that we like, a local homeless shelter by the name of Souls Harbor in Rogers, AR and various womens shelters and pet rescues.
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?  Ugh.  5-7 at best.
  • What one chore would you never do again if someone else were to do it exactly as you do?  Dishes.  Laundry.  Cleaning the litter boxes.
  • What is your favorite store to shop at?  What’s shopping?  Seriously-I do most shopping on line.  Does Amazon count as a store?

Ok, so if I have the drill right, from this point, I’m supposed to select 11 other bloggers (with less than 200 followers) who blog in the same type of areas as us to nominate for the Liebster Award thereby continuing to spread the love and traffic with other bloggers.  Alas, this is my challenge.  This blog is literally minutes old.  I think the ink is still drying on my domain agreement.  So, we’re still getting to know the other bloggers out there.  In addition, because our lives are dual (like so so many of you), I blog both about homesteading and work stuff.  As a result, I’m going to break with tradition a bit and just give you some other blogs that I think you should look at because I think these folks are awesome and they deserve the recognition.  She’s not on the list, but I like her blog, so check out Simply Homesteading too please!  And if these folks feel like it, here are my 11 questions that I would be curious about:

1) Are you a country or city homesteader?

2) Why do you do it-the homestead/farming/back to basics life?

3) If you could go back in time a year, what would you change?

4) If you could have any super power, what would it be?

5) Imagine it’s your last meal on earth…what would you have?

6) What do you wish someone else could teach you?

7) What do you take in your coffee?  Sugar?  Cream?  Baileys?  (Yes to all three for me in case you were wondering)

8) If you could visit any country, where would you go and why?

9) Last thing you learned that you were afraid to learn

10) Do you shout out the answers to Jeopardy questions like me?

11) What’s your secret vice?  I don’t mean vice vice people.  This is a nice girl blog.  I mean like cookies.  Sheesh.

Ok, that’s it!  Without further ado here is my list of people that I just think you should check out because their content and writing is worth it:

1) My Eclectic Life  Excellent blog on lots of topics.  Duh-the name?

2) Burleigh’s Waiting  This is the story of one of my new favorite families and their journey to adoption from outside the US.

3) The gorgeous food porn of my pal Lisa at What Lolita Eats

4) The work seriousness from a seriously awesome lady at Pamela K Henry & Associates because just like me, this blog isn’t only about homesteading.

5) The Dad point of view at Homestead Dad.

6) Simply because one of the first things I read on this blog was about her dog peeing on kale, I must also say The Yellow House.

7) Because she’s a Missouri girl too, check out Wolfwoods

And while I could pick some others, I am struggling with coming up with more blogs because as my title alludes, this blog is like 2 minutes old.  But check back later and I will be able to sing the praises of even more folks.  Ok, that’s it!  Don’t wait at the door for your prize money-it ain’t coming.  But do think about spreading the word on the blog-o-sphere and help other bloggers be found!