Monday, December 31, 2012

Pump up the Pie!

2012 marks the first year I made pumpkin pie with a proper PIE PUMPKIN.  I've always only ever used a regular 'ol jack-o-lantern pumpkin and I really cannot believe the difference. Now there's a chance I just did a better job cooking the little pie pumpkin, but the texture difference was really noticeable. 
So here's the scoop (haha, pun intended!):
Quarter a pie pumpkin and roast it at 300 C, skin side up, until a knife easily pierces and goes through the flesh.

 Let cool until you can handle it enough to scoop out the flesh and leave the skins for the pigs/compost.
Put the cooked flesh through a food processor until smooth.
This next step is the most crucial, to me, since I am very particular about the texture of my pumpkin pie. I married into a family who seems to like very wet pies, but I much prefer one I can pick up like pizza and eat for breakfast without it jiggling, dripping or moving.  That is why I drain it through a fine metal colander for a while (until I'm satisfied that it's not dripping anymore).
I found the pie pumpkin to be much drier to start with, as opposed to the jack o lanterns I've used that have been very wet and took a lot more draining. 

 Now here comes the part you can easily customize to your taste.  Throw the drained pumpkin back into the food processor and add some variations of the following:

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1-2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • lots of vanilla
  • lots of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • bit of cinnamon
  • bit of ginger
 You might as well find out now that I'm a big taster and have no problem with raw eggs (ones from our farm at least) so I like to give it a whish in the processor, taste and add accordingly. 
Finally, pour that mixture into an unbaked pie shell and cook in 350 oven until knife comes out clean.

Ta Da!
If you feel like you need to, some good whipped cream is a nice addition, but I like mine naked. :)

The best part about this recipe is that once the pumpkin is drained, it can be frozen into cup or 2 cup portions, ready for a pie anytime of year!  There is nothing like warm pumpkin pie on a chilly winter day to warm the body and soul. 

Thanks to Jen for the perfect pumpkin!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Testing testing...!

So, here's my third foray into blogging.  The first, a log I maintained during a trip to The Gambia in Africa for a month.  The second, For The Love of the Soil, a blog I still maintain (when I can) about our life on our organic farm in PEI, Canada.  While it began as a sort of newsletter to 'home', once I moved to PEI, it has gradually grown into a more general purpose, sometimes ranty report from the world of organic agriculture and topics surrounding our food.
This blog began as a discussion with a good friend of mine, for whom I worked this past summer helping her out in her field as she grew veggies for 70 CSA members as well as restaurants and the occasional farm stand.  We often exchanged recipes while weeding and as I took veggies home with me, I'd return with a verdict on the final, eaten result.  Since Jen felt that some of her members struggled to find uses for all the vegetables and in general, many people have lost some of the more basic kitchen skills, we thought a food blog, using her food would be fun.

Now that is not to suggest that I am some kitchen wizard, knowing all, creating only amazing dishes and never messing up.  I call my mother about once a week with a cooking question and between Google and my well-worn copy of Joy of Cooking I am constantly still learning and eating and learning some more.  But I love to cook and I love good ingredients.
Since we started organic farming back in 2006, our diet has gradually become increasingly exclusively organic.  While it's still considered a bit of a niche by many, most big grocery stores have a growing 'natural food section', and almost anything you can buy conventionally, you can get certified organic.  Sometimes they are more expensive, but it's not the rule and often there are very good sales.  Food is a large part of our household budget because I really believe that paying for it now, will save us paying for our health in other ways in the future.  As Joel Salatin has said, "If you think organic food is expensive, have you priced cancer lately?"

We, in this house, are particularly increasingly concerned with GMOs and are making a very concentrated effort to keep them out of our diets and lives.  There is more and more evidence everyday that we are part of a huge scale science experiment and the results aren't looking exactly reassuring.  Not to mention the affect that the pesticides required to grow GMO crops are having on our agricultural landscape.  But that's a post for the other blog!

Finally, a word about my list of suppliers to the side:
I am in a unique position, being a farmer myself.  I produce some of what we think is the best meat you can get.  We grow meat birds on pasture and have laying hens for eggs.  We also produce lamb, but you won't find too many lamb recipes on here as I'm not a huge lamb meat fan and we also sell as much as we can so there's not much left.  This past summer we raised two pigs and are enjoying the fruits of that labour now.  Finally, we keep a family cow who gives us all the milk we can handle from which I make butter and sometimes cheese.  So in the protein department, we're pretty blessed.
As for veggies, I grow a garden, but after having worked at Jen and Derek's Farm this past summer, saw a really well-run garden for what it is and was inspired to get on board the CSA list for 2013.  These windy winter days make me that much more excited for week 1 to get going!  Mmm..fresh greens!!!
Our flour and most dry goods come from Speerville Flour Mill in New Brunswick who serve several bulk buying groups around the Maritimes.  Four times a year, our group orders whatever we need for the next quarter, ranging from stoneground flour to raisins, to dry beans, to sugar, to tea.  They are a great company to deal with and I am glad to have gotten on the list of the buying group when I did.  Organic raisins, bulk, are a treat in themselves, let alone stone ground flour, grown by organic farmers right here in the Maritimes.  We are blessed.
For the other things, like organic ketchup, pasta, chocolate chips, tofu, frozen veggies, etc. I prefer our local Sobeys, but our Superstore has a larger natural selection, so I often end up there when need be.
If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned Farmers Markets on this list it's because Saturday mornings can be crazy around here and I seldom get into town (or want to get into town) with all three kids in the insanity of the market.  Plus, with everything we have on the farm, I don't have much need to.  There is not a day goes by that I don't give thanks for our bounty of good, real food.

Anyway, since I'm new to this sort of thing, I took some pictures from when I made pumpkin pie back at Thanksgiving (with this project in mind).  I will try putting a post together to see how it goes!

Stay tuned, fork in hand!