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Showing posts with label gardening tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening tips. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Maple Rosedale Pumpkin Pie


Maple Rosedale Pumpkin Pie

yields 1 9" pie

  • 15 oz roasted squash puree
    • Mine was from my special Rosedale pumpkin!
  • 4 oz (a generous half cup) granulated sugar
  • 3 oz (about 1/3 cup) grade A maple syrup
  • 3 eggs, ideally organic
  • 1/2 c almond milk
  • 10 coriander seeds or 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 spicebush berries, dried
    • If you can't find these, use 2 allspice berries plus 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Chinese long peppercorn 
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
    • Check out my Partners page for good resources!
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and prepare a sheet pan lined with either aluminum foil or a Silpat mat. Roll out your favorite pie crust into a glass pie dish (I prefer glass because I can see the bottom and make sure it's all cooked) and decorate as you like. I have these adorable cookie cutters that resemble leaves, and one of them looks like a pine cone. Since I tragically couldn't find my maple leaf cutter, this was the perfect alternative! All I did was let them hang out on the cool marble slab until I was ready to use them. I didn't feel the need to refrigerate the pie piece cut-outs since this pie is so quick to put together. 

Combine your hard spices into a spice grinder and blitz until wholly powdered. You can also use a coffee grinder, in a pinch! I much prefer to use whole spices in this way, as they store much better.  Then add about 2 Tbsp of the sugar and blitz together with the spices. This really helps perfume the sugar with the spices and lends more flavor to your pie!

Whisk together the squash puree with the sugars, maple syrup, and spices until well-combined. Next, mix in the eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Add in all the rest of the ingredients and taste. If it needs a bit more cinnamon or you'd like to add a dash of cardamom or clove, that's perfectly fine. This is your pie, after all!

Once everything is combined and well-mixed, pour your mixture into your prepared crust. If you've chosen to decorate your pie with leaf or pinecone cutouts, like me, now is the time to attach them with egg wash to the sides and let the other half float along the custard top. Please remember that this is, in fact, a custard pie so I don't recommend a lattice top to finish. Go and have some fun with the outer crust, instead!

Bake at 325 for 3(three) twenty-minute intervals in which the pie is rotated gently in the oven. The pie sets up beautifully when baked low-and-slow, so be sure to not try to rush it! Now that I have your attention, and while the pie bakes and cools, let's talk a bit about the brand new Rosedale Pumpkin and the complicated world of cross-pollination. 

Everyone, meet the Rosedale Pumpkin Squash!

When you grow your own produce, either in a small Victory garden or a decent-sized homestead, there's always the possibility of cross-pollination. While there are many ways to avoid it, there is a not-insignificant amount of us gardeners that simply allow the thing to happen and see what comes of it. I noticed this strange thing growing on one of my squash plants. I got several small butternut squashes from my vines this year, but nothing was quite as big as this weird little monster. It was clear that the butternut and acorn squash had cross-pollinated, and while I could have simply cut it off and let the plant continue to make more...I was frankly too curious to not let it grow. I began taking pictures of it and telling my friends about it. We racked our brains trying to come up with a name for the squash, and it never came...I settled on 'Rosedale" squash since I live in Rosedale and that's where it grew. When I harvested it on the morning of Halloween eve and told my husband about the mysterious squash, he groggily looked at the green monstrosity and said: "So, what, it's like a ... buttercorn?"


Oh, come on! We've been trying so hard to come up with a cool name and you just pull that out of the air?! Jerk. 

I actually did a live opening of this thing on Instagram. 

I've decided to call it a pumpkin because of the stem, which is woody and quite stiff once it was dried! I was so curious as to what this tasted like. I documented everything about its cooking. It had a gorgeous bright-orange flesh when cut into that quickly beaded up with drops of diamond-like dew. I roasted it slowly at 300 degrees for about 4 hours with some canola oil so it wouldn't dry out. I didn't add salt or sugar, since I wanted to taste the real thing. Sadly? It didn't taste like buttered corn, so I chose to not name it 'buttercorn.' It tasted incredibly mild, and had a texture almost akin to spaghetti squash. It had plenty of moisture in it, still, so I don't know if this wall of text is masking my disappointment well enough at the lack of distinct flavor of my little green monster. 

Oh well. I still stand by my decision to save all of the seeds for next year's planting! Who knows if the seed will be viable or not? I simply know that I'll be starting them all in seed trays and letting them hang out in the garage by the window to keep them warm and safe until they're ready to be transplanted outdoors. Maybe the second generation will be better? 

This method can be used to roast any winter squash for the sake of preserving the puree over the long winter. I highly recommend doing this, if you don't have access to a cellar (or basement) that's pest-free and is relatively climate-controlled. My deep freezer will likely see a good portion of many bags of winter squash puree this season, even though I have a good cellar that will keep all of my produce fresh over winter. These are the things you really need to think about with a global pandemic going on, and the numbers getting worse. 

I know we're all sick of hearing about Covid-19, but with everything escalating and with hospitals getting overwhelmed again, it would be irresponsible to ignore it and not talk about it. I encourage all of you to contact local farms and see what kind of winter squash they're growing and if they're willing to sell you any or do a trade for them for whatever you may be able and willing to give. I'm fortunate to have partnerships with awesome farmers here in Kansas City that have paid me in produce for doing PR work for them. There are also many farmers markets out there that are participating in a Covid relief program to get good seasonal produce to families that really need them. 


Squash - winter squash particularly - are incredibly nutrient-dense. Usually, quite high in fiber, they're a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Pumpkin and squash are oddly acidic, so that means they're great at encouraging white blood cells to get amped up and protect you against disease this fall and winter. Who doesn't need that? 

Most eastern medicine - seen specifically in Chinese and Ayurvedic principles - have what are known as warming and cooling foods. There's a lot that could be said about this, but all you need to know right this moment is that a "warming food" is based on the internal nature of the food product. You should have nothing but warming foods if you are recovering from an illness or surgery. Foods like chicken, chestnuts, fresh ginger, and - you guessed it - pumpkin or squash are quite warming. It's no wonder we like it in our baked goods, the most-warming kind of food you can usually have! So, really, eating a whole pumpkin pie could be good for you...

When your pie is set to room temperature, you can cut and serve immediately, but I think it's better to chill it for a couple of hours first, just to help set the custard. After that, I do suggest letting the pie come up to room temperature to serve it. This is because the squash and spices are quite fragrant, and cold temperature dulls the beautiful aromas. This is also because eating cold foods can suppress your immune system so it's better to just let stuff be at least room temperature before you eat it. 

If you're curious about more warming and cooling foods, I invite you to have some fun researching it on your own and making informed decisions on it, all with a grain of salt! My mom, a Filipinx woman, always made sure to put extra ginger in her chicken soup whenever I got sick, and I will say it seemed to kick whatever crud I was experiencing out of my lungs. 

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Gardening: Building A Rain Barrel

Spring has fully sprung here in the Midwest and I feel fantastic about it. Not only am I in possession of a beautiful home, but with that home comes a beautiful tiny piece of the earth which sustains us. It is upon this earth that I grow a garden with which to sustain me, my family, and my soul(of course).

I truly love gardening; it's like therapy, only you get potatoes, and usually lots of them. I grew a potato tower last year, and though it was a rather short one, I still got over 50 lbs of potatoes in one crop. I also grow corn, squash, melons, spinach, and cabbage. Melons and squash are thirsty little babies that require a lot of water and sun, so anything to make it a little more sustainable to grow, I'm all for.

I grew up in Tucson, AZ, where a rain barrel is absolutely essential if you want to have any sort of garden other than caci, and even those need a little something here and there if you want them to thrive. I remember the two rain barrels in my backyard, always full of mosquitos, and getting eaten alive. In spite of that, I remember liking them. I remember being barely tall enough to see the top of it, and pretending that the reflection in that black barrel's waters was a portal into another world. I used to think I was a princess that was from a hidden mountain kingdom, trapped in the desert, and that my only way back was by looking into my magic black mirror, which was the water in the barrel. I think I made up this whole fairy tale about myself, and how the spirits of the mountain streams were trying to tell me how to get home, and sending messages in far-travelling rain clouds, collected by the rain barrel. I'd spend longer than I care to admit, just wishing to hear the voices of my people again, staring into the black waters of that rain barrel.

In reality, I was a bored child with an overactive imagination that was likely suffering from some form of heat stroke from staring at a rain barrel in the Arizona heat, possibly hallucinating. Oh well. Maybe I'll write that novel someday. Who knows? In the meantime, here's a few fun facts about rain barrels and using them:
  • Rainwater is better for your plants and soil
    • Highly oxygenated and free of softeners, flourides, etc., that might be in the water you get from the city.
  • Rain barrels help control the moisture level in the foundation of your home, which is a very good thing if you have a basement!
  • Rainwater is thifty! 
    • In Kansas City, water is roughly $0.49/gallon. My rain barrel holds 50 gallons of water, and that means, per barrel, I save $24.50. It's not much, but if it were to save me $24.50 per month, then that's a spare $294 per year.
  • Rainwater is the eco-friendly alternative to keeping compost moist
    • Tapwater isn't always the best for the sustainability practice of composting, in practice or in ideology
  • You can paint a rain barrel! 
    • Good luck painting your water bill...

On April 13th, I attended a rain barrel workshop, hosted by my neighborhood association. It was a lot of fun, and I even convinced B to get out of the house and attend with me. I came, took notes, took pictures, and we went home with our very own rain barrel. The barrel itself was a 50 gallon drum that - I can only assume - once housed chilies, considering the smell. For $30, we got the supplies, and were able to assemble the entire thing in about 20 minutes using a drill, a saw, and some glue. Here's what we used:

  • A 50 gallon drum
  • Female adaptor(to go into the barrel wall)
  • Male adaptor
  • Stubby bit of PVC pipe
  • Another Male adaptor
  • A threaded ball valve
  • Metal adaptor for the hose
 These parts were pretty darn inexpensive, and the paint, brushes, and sandpaper we used to decorate the barrel weren't much more, either. I think I spent $20 on the paint and brushes, but I already had the pans, paint remover/mineral oil, and every other bit of stuff I needed.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that this is a perfect project for those that are already set up to do some handiwork of their own. B has a workshop in our garage, so tools are no problem for him. I don't know if I could have done this as easily as I did without him. Basically, I'm a strong, independent woman until I'm not.  I just figured I'd throw that in there, just in case my lifestyle blogging is giving you that false sense of ease.  I don't like to make any bones about how easy or how difficult something is. It just feels dishonest, you know? So maybe do this one with a friend, if you - like me - aren't handy.

You know what's not dishonest? Dat ass. (Don't objectify men. They probably don't like it.)
Once the supplies were gathered, we drilled a hole about an inch off the ground from the bottom, into the side of the barrel. The female adaptor went on the inside, and then we screwed the male adaptor in. (That's what B was doing in that photo.) Next, sand the inside of the other two male adaptors and the outside of the pvc pipe, then glue them in. Connect everything normally and boom! You've got yourself a spigot! All that's left now is to figure out the placement...but while you're thinking on that, you may as well decorate it.

Even though cerulean is my favorite color, I didn't think B would like a big, blue, industrial-looking barrel outside of our nice house. (I don't think I would, either, as it is a little industrial-looking.) We decided to paint it, together, and boy was it fun! It only took us a single afternoon to do, so here's how we did it.

To your left is the base coat. We lined the floor of our garage with an old tarp that we had lying around and left the door open to let any fumes out. The base paint we chose was a nice cool gray, and the accent color was called "toasted almond", but it was a creamy white color. I won't mention the brand, but it was an oil-based exterior paint that had primer in it already. Here are the supplies I used to paint the barrel:

  • 3" fan brush(the kind used for oil-based paint)
  • 4" plain paint brushes(also the kind used for oil paint)
  • 80 grid sandpaper
  • Exterior oil-based paint-primer in cool gray
  • Exterior oil-based paint-primer in warm white(almond)
  • Cloth paint tarp
  • Buckets
  • Odorless mineral spirits
  • Scrap rags for cleanup
Even though the mineral spirits(which are used to removing the paint) are odorless, they still smell. The paint smells, too, so be sure to work in a well-ventilated area. I actually love the smell of paint - I associate it with creation and renewal - but I don't want to die from paint fume inhalation. I'm certain you'd like to not die from paint inhalation, as well.

 We sanded the outside of the barrel and painted two coats of the base color for a nice matte finish. The can said to let the paint dry completely, which should take 6-8 hours, but ours dried to a relatively dry finish within a mere one hour. We also didn't care too much if it was perfect-looking, so we fudged it a little. I think we waited about an hour and a half between the two base coats, and then about 20 minutes for the next step, which was to add the trees.

I spent a good portion of my childhood watching "Painting with Bob Ross" on PBS along with my granny. She was a wonderful artist and favored pastels over paints, but I was addicted to everything he did with acrylics and oils. One of the things he said with many of his episodes was to paint on a wet surface. As the paint colors raced in yellow text along the bottom of the television screen, he would mention that he'd already coated the canvas with a liquid white in preparation...thus my reasoning for rushing through the job! The paint on the barrel wasn't necessarily wet, but it was tacky, so it took the accent coating nicely! 

Let's paint some happy little trees!
I used the fan brush to make trees using Bob Ross's technique!

I started the video at 17:03, where the particular piece of technique he uses came in handy for my own work. See, my own happy little trees?

I know they're not perfect. I don't mind so much; after all, we don't make mistakes - we just have happy accidents! My own happy little trees remind me of a picturesque scene of winter against that cool gray. I just love the birds that B painted on, and the clouds were a nice fun touch, as well.

I hope this has inspired you to do your own wonderful version of a painted rain barrel in your own home. I personally think that it's a better thing to spend an evening with your partner making something than simply just going out to dinner. Having something tangible, something that you made, some proof that you were there...well, hey, there's just something special about that, isn't there?

Happy crafting and happy gardening!

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Lusty Month of May; Welcome, Beltaine

Blessed Beltaine, one and all!

Hello, and happy May Day to all of my followers, friends...and anyone else who just happened to stumble upon my blog.

Today is the 1st of May, Beltaine, a Sacred and beautiful holiday of the Pagan denomination. It is known as the Opposite of Samhain(pronounced SOW-wehn), which is the time of year when the Veil between the worlds of the living and the worlds of the Fae are the thinnest. Beltaine is also a 'veil thinning' holiday, only the Fae come across to dance and make mischief and merriment for the celebration of summer to come instead of winter.

"are you gonna kiss me now or do i have to
lie to my diary"
Beltaine is basically a big "phew" in saying "OMG WE GOT THROUGH THE FROST, YAY!!!" and planting season is now upon us. It's also the time of The Great Marriage, in which God and Goddess marry in High Summer and proceed to celebrate all year. I think it goes without saying that this is a holiday of fertility.

In the Pagan community, sex isn't really the kind of thing you shame or put a value on in the sense of someone's virginity is a sacred thing. Sex is a sacred act, indeed, but it is done so with respect, versus restraint. It's not solely for the marriage bed, but a sacred gift, an expression of love, and not meant to shame one or another. Sex in the Wiccan culture, especially, is quite revered and celebrated, and seen is a natural and beautiful thing in which two(or three, or four, whatever) consenting adults can worship each other's bodies in their own respective ways...be that vanilla or butt stuff. Honestly, Pagans love banging. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I really love the anti-slut-shaming movement that's happening right now. It's always bothered me that virginity is solely a girl's issue in some respects. What if we treated boys' virginity like a girls'? My virginity was a societal constraint placed upon me, meant to hold me on a pedestal as if it increased my value, somehow, as a human being. I lost my virginity when I was sixteen to my long-term boyfriend. My first time was great; when I look back on that moment, I remember it being safe and loving and with someone I really cared about. I got this healthy attitude from my religion, which told me that it was just as important to them as it was to me, and that I should be respectful of both their body and mine. My religion taught me consent. My religion taught me respect, not shame. I'm not saying that my religion is better than everyone else's, I'm just saying that this is the correct path for me; I repeat: FOR ME.

We all choose our own path; I respect yours, so long as you respect mine. Respect yourselves, respect your bodies...and don't call each other sluts. Seriously, ladies, don't call each other sluts; it makes it okay for boys to call you sluts, which is fucking stupid because boys are encouraged to get laid and party, put marks on their bedposts...it's really not fair to our young men.

I digress.

I celebrate my religion with joy. I celebrate Beltaine with happiness. I celebrate life all around me, and one of the many ways I worship the Earth is by gardening. I love gardening! Gardening is like therapy, only instead of paying someone upwards of $300 per session, you get free tomatoes. It's very relaxing to have control and responsibility over another living thing. Here are a few pictures of my own garden!

My hand for scale
 Here's a purple potato plant; I've got seven in total! And the potatoes really are purple, too!

It's not grass; trust me
This is garlic, which is excellent for all things healing! Plus, it goes great with literally everything...even chocolate. No, really! Many mole recipes have garlic in them. This particular variety is called Spanish Red Garlic. I can't wait until July, when I can harvest them!

Hi, cutie!!
These are the sprouts for a variety of watermelon called Moon and Stars. Google the pictures of a Moon and Stars Watermelon, sometime! They're seriously magickal, and I could think of nothing better to be in a Witch's garden! I'm really excited for these ones to show up!

This is the sprout of a Royal Purple Bush Bean. I actually planted the seeds for the beans sometime last July, but they never sprouted. I came out to my garden sometime last month and noticed a bunch of very similar-looking sprouts all in a row, all in the places I usually plant seeds. "What's this??" I thought. "Elementary, my Dear Watson!" piped back the little sprout.

"Good show, old bean!" I said. Then I fed it some plant food and we had a chuckle. They've sprouted all over, including in the crack in the driveway I remember spilling some of the seeds last year. No, really! They're growing in the crack of my driveway! (At least I think they are...the plant looks really similar. We'll know when autumn comes.)

I am the Tomato King! Water me and I shall grant you a Boon!
This variety of tomato is called Indigo Rose Tomato. It's said to be one of the healthiest varieties ever! I've never grown tomatoes of this size before, so it'll be interesting to see how I'll do! I'm used to the little guys...oh well!

Oh. My. Gods.
This is my pumpkin patch. The sprouts are large. I tried to get all of them in the picture, but I couldn't. Literally every single pumpkin seed I planted has sprouted. Do you know what's funny, though? I have no idea which is which. I saved all of the seeds from the pumpkins I ate and carved last  year, but they got mixed up in the drawer...so it's basically a mixture of Rambutan, One-Too-Many, or Long Island Cheese pumpkins....maybe. And I'll only know in the autumn. Oh well! I always did like surprises.

Do you garden? Post pictures of your garden below!

And Happy Beltaine!