Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ummm... So what do I do now?

Hubby thinks it's time to start making Christmas cookies. Now, I don't disagree. His butter cookies improve with age and it certainly will save time later. Except...

Except that letting Hubby into the kitchen is sometimes disastrous, and tonight was no exception. After all was said and done, we ended up with two beautiful batches of butter cookies and a bowl full of 4 1/2 cups bread flour and 1 1/2 cups sugar*. Yep, bread flour. Can't use bread flour for cookies!

So, the question is, what do I do with a bowl full of bread flour and sugar? My first thought was to make challah, since that is a fairly sweet bread, but there is enough suger mixed with the flour to make EIGHT loaves of challah, following the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. I don't need that many.

Any suggestions?

*In his defense, last Christmas, there was only one tub of flour on the counter. Now there are two, one bread flour and the other all-purpose. Since they aren't labeled, they both just look like flour, as he so aptly put it. And he is a great cook.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh, Pumpkins!

I love pumpkin. There is something about that orange color and squashy taste that just fills me with warmth and contentment. Perhaps I didn't always love pumpkin as well as I do now, but that's just because I didn't know where good pumpkin came from.

Apparently, there are two general categories for pumpkin: eating and carving. Now, you can always eat carving pumpkins. I grew up eating our Jack-O-Lanterns before they got (too) moldy. My mom would cut them up (and cut out the mold), steam them, puree them, and freeze them in convenient sized bags to use all year long. And who am I to question this order of things? It is the way it must be done!

So, last year after carving our pumpkins, I did what I was supposed to do and processed the pumpkins (they were not moldy). But I did something different without really intending to. While at the pumpkin patch, I fell in love with a beautiful pumpkin. It was a brighter orange than I had seen before and, while rather too squat and heavy for a jack-o-lantern, I knew I needed to have it. Back at home, it was dutifully carved and, within a day or two, processed into puree. Initially, I was astounded by only the orangeness of the puree. And then my mom made a pumpkin pie out of it. Wow.

To make a long story short, I'm not going back. In the future, I will be purchasing some pumpkins to carve and some to eat. I've already done that this year, getting not one, not two, but three Rouge Vif D'etampes pumpkins (two of which have already gone the way of the freezer).


A helpful hint when processing your own pumpkin:

Drain your pumpkin. I line a colander with paper towel, pour my pumpkin in, and then let it sit for a long time, often overnight in the refrigerator. The pumpkin doesn't stick to the paper towel once it has drained enough.

And some words of wisdom (ie don't repeat my stupid mistake):

Don't try and use a food strainer to remove the skin from the pumpkin. I have a pumpkin screen for mine and I thought I would try it out. Of course, I tried to do things right and looked online for instructions, but wouldn't you know, there is nothing worthwhile to be found searching under "food strainer pumpkin how to". So I tried just one. Sure enough, little pieces of skin came through. (Now, I'm not sure why you would use a food strainer to do your pumpkin if you have to scrape the flesh out with a spoon anyway. I'll take my stick blender anyday.)

And because I can't help it, one of the few photos of my cute little pumpkins.


And what do you do with pumpkin puree? I like the Joy of Cooking pumpkin pie recipe, or my mom's pumpkin pancake recipe.

Or you can try these:


And because I just can't help myself, here is one more pumpkin treat to enjoy.