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User of little pieces -- of time, fabric, food, land, even trash. I am fascinated with the mighty power of the Small and Bypassed to transform into usefulness and beauty. As a mother of seven, living for decades on one income, I have practice using up Every Little Bit of Every Little Thing. My treasures have grown now and I have the joy of teaching preschool. I find this gift for making practical use of the Small and Bypassed, PLUS the gift of time to create, has channeled into simple, artistic expressions of small things.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pancakes in a pinch! The recipe . . .

This Grandpa and Grandson sporting event requires giggles, guffaws and groans. I hear this from my room where I am finishing Psalms, coffee and perusing Martha Stewart, in that order, which is not important to remember. 

Slipping down the stairs I hear cheering and squealing from Grandboy, who is sitting on the kitchen counter alert and leaning forward to witness . . .

"They're touching! They're touching! I get to pinch you!" 

"Ohhhhhhh, noooooooo. You get to pinch me. LAST time, I got to pinch YOU!" Pinching and giggling ensues.
Next time, they DON'T touch and it's Grandpa's turn to pinch.
"Where do I want to pinch. hmmmmmmm. How about HERE?" and little ticklish thighs get squoze and so many peals of laughter ring out, you think that boy is a giggle bell!

This goes on for fully 20 minutes!

What is it it that's touching or not touching that allows this pinching???  Pancakes on the griddle. If they touch, Luke gets to pinch Papa. If they don't touch, the pinch privilege is in Papa's strong fingers. 

Papa has to pull his pinches as he might pull a punch in a mock fight or this would not be fun. But as it is, Papa knows just how and where to pinch, and pancakes are squoze into a little boy's memory where they will be warm and ready to serve to his own children, perhaps, someday.

My part in this play is to keep the container of pancake mix filled up, and this morning Papa has used up the last of it, so I get out my ingredients and my giant bowl and my apron, because THERE WILL BE FLOUR FLYING!

You can use whole wheat or all-purpose flour, rye flour, cornmeal or corn flour, etc. Here's my recipe.  Tweak away.  Make it your own.  Play with the spices.  Mix it up!  And use a really big bowl because it can be messy with flour and whatnot floofing up as you stir:

10 cups whole wheat flour
10 cups cornmeal
1 1/4 cup sugar or to taste. 
7 tbsp. baking powder
7 tbsp. ground cinnamon, if desired
3 1/2 tbsp. salt
3 1/2 tbsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. ground nutmeg, if desired
6 2/3 cups dried milk powder if you have it, if not leave it out and add the milk in when you make the pancakes.

Mix all this dry stuff up, turning it over and over in the bowl until all is well blended.  Store in the freezer in an airtight container or two.

To make a batch of 4 to 6 pancakes, measure out 1 cup of mix, and for every cup of dry mix add 1 egg, 1 tbsp. of oil, and 3/4 cup of water if you added dried milk to the mix, or 3/4 cup of milk if you didn't.   You need the milk to help react with the leavening so the pancakes will rise. 

The amount of water or milk you add will vary somewhat with the grains you use.  I like to make my batter a little bit on the thin side, because as we are making the pancakes, the batter in the bowl will thicken up as the cornmeal continues to absorb liquid.  So REMEMBER!  You will need to experiment with the quantity of milk or water you use.

If you did not add dried milk to the mix, that cup of mix will make a bit more pancake.

Cook them on a med-high heat on a greased griddle.  When they begin to bubble and the sides start to look dry, flip them over and finish cook them. 

I love them with the sweet spices added.  I do not add butter or syrup to mine very often as I think they taste like slightly sweet cake donuts, which I can say nothing evil about! 

Anyway, they'll do in a pinch!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Pumpkin Chronicles -- The Sequel

Today I processed two $1 Medium pumpkins from Wal-mart. 

I ended up with eight pints of pureed pumpkin . . . . six in the freezer and two in the soup we ate for supper! That's EIGHT PINTS FOR $2.  Yes and amen.

I learned two cool and important things today.  Pumpkin skin is edible!  The fact that you no longer have to peel pumpkin before use astounds me as does the fact that I did not know this until today; another reason to wash the squash.

The second sweet morsel is that you can puree it with an immersion blender.  In the pot you cook it in!  Less mess, fewer dishes to clean up.  Since I do not particularly enjoy cleaning up, this is as lovely as gossamer faerie wings highlighted with gold sprinkles and I do mean that.

The Pumpkin Chronicles

Recently, Facebook contained loads of pix of cute children in beautiful or creepy or somewhere-in-between costumes and tons of pix of Royal's fan's "Huzzahs!"  Currently, you will find red Starbucks cups monopolizing conversations.  But does anyone even mentioned that pumpkins -- the kind normally reserved for terrifying small children and beautifying porches everywhere -- were $1 each at Wal-mart?  No.  They do not.   I bought five.

Do you know how many people you can feed full with one big Jack-O-Lantern?  Up to 3,000 depending on the golden globe (World record is over 3,000 lbs).  Do you know how many healthful seeds you can get out of just one big orange squash?  Hmmmm?  No?  Rats!  Me either, but I'm curious.

And what about housing and vehicles for the masses!  Really?  No way?  Think back, friends.  Do Cinderella and Peter the Pumpkin Eater mean nothing to you?  Bibbity Bobbity Boo!  It can be done!

Seriously weirded out that the candidates haven't figured this out.  SMH!

The Miller family is serious about eating symbols.  Turkey, candy, apple pie, creches, pumpkins.

The butchery began with our preschool's Class Pumpkin.  (Don't tell the children!)  Eli washed it, gutted it, cutted it, and baked it.   She baked the washed, oiled, seasoned seeds as well, which we ingested, all except for the fibers that just would not chew down -- had to spit them out.  Not worth the fight.  The goats ate all the stringiness surrounding the seeds.  No waste.  Pat pat pat.

We ate some with butter, salt and pepper.  We ate some in chili, mashed with potatoes, and as pumpkin soup.  All seriously good.  Making the soup again tonight. 

Today I used up Class Pumpkin in pumpkin spice bread. and smallish round loaves of pumpkin caraway bread that may become soup bowls, and began processing two of the post-Halloween bargains.  Pumpkin pie will have it's day.

The how-to's and recipes:

Wash the outside of the pumpkin very well.  Who knows what's on it? All those hands and maybe fertilizers or pesticides or stuff from Hades . . .  the knife will invite what ever is on the outside to the inside.  Could be nasty. 

Cut it open, scoop out the seeds and guts into a bowl and tell them to be patient.  Slice the pumpkin into pieces that will be easy to handle for peeling when cooking is complete, and that will fit in your crockpot, soup pot or baking pan. 

You see it in the crockpot in the pix, and while that method takes forever,  it has it's benefits if you have a lot going on and don't want to think about it for a few hours.  At the same time I put larger chunks in the crockpot, I put some smaller ones in the soup pot.   I added about an inch of water to each, covered and put each on medium heat and within 45 minutes we were eating pumpkin with butter, salt and pepper from the pot. 

Eli baked Class Pumpkin in the oven at 350 with water added; it took a couple of hours or more to get done because we didn't cover it.  If you have other stuff to bake, you might as well take advantage of the energy already being spent.  Put the chunks of pumpkin in a baking dish, add about an inch of water, cover with foil, and let it cook alongside what ever else you have going on in there. Start checking for "done-ness" at 45 minutes.

While that's all cooking, bake the seeds.  Wash off the stringy stuff, and put them a bowl big enough to stir them around in with a couple tbsp. of oil, and sprinkle them with seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, curry powder, chili powder . . . whatever you like. Bake them at 375 until dried and lightly tanned, stirring them around every ten minutes or so.  Keep a close eye on them.  They don't taste wonderful burnt. 

For chili -- seriously just make your favorite chili recipe and add a couple of cups of pureed or chunked cooked pumpkin.  Adjust the seasonings and there you go!  Same thing with adding pumpkin to stews and soups.

To mash them with potatoes, you can simmer peeled chunks together.  We didn't.  We had filled a big container with cooked, peeled Class Pumpkin and kept it in the fridge to add to the dishes we planned to make with it.  So for mashed potatoes, we peeled and boiled 4 medium potatoes and mashed in two cups of cooked pumpkin with 1/4 cup butter, about 1/3 cup of milk, and for extra deliciousness (and because it had been in the fridge for a long time) about 3 oz. of cream cheese.  Salt, pepper, so on and so forth . . .

There are so many recipes for pumpkin soup out there.  Here's my version that turned out really well:

1 medium onion, chopped and sautéed in 1/4 cup butter
2 or 3 cups of cooked pumpkin
1 quart of seasoned chicken or veggie broth
1/2 tsp salt -- you will adjust this and all seasonings to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. curry powder
1 cup of milk
1 cup of leftover rice -- totally optional, but I had it and theorized it would make the soup thicker and creamier since I wasn't using cream or evap. milk or half and half as many recipes call for.   It did make it a bit thicker, but not creamier because I didn't blend it long enough.  

Put sautéed onions and all the rest in a 3-quart or larger soup pot.  Blend it with an immersion blender or pour it into a pitcher-type blender, blend and return to the pot. Adjust seasonings, bring just to a simmer, remove from heat and serve.  I ate five bowlfuls of it :-).  It was that good.

For the pumpkin quick bread (see. pix) I looked up a basic spiced applesauce bread recipe and substituted the pureed pumpkin for the applesauce.  SCORE!  Any good recipe will make good pumpkin spice bread.

For the bread:

Mix the following in a bowl:

4 cups of wheat flour.  I used 2 cups bread flour, 2 cups reg. white.  I added the additional cup as needed while kneading
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. rapid rise yeast
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway seed

Stir in:

1 cup very warm water
1/2 cup room-temperature, cooked, pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup oil

When the wet stuff is fairly well incorporated into the dry, knead by hand, adding additional flour as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands.   When it is smooth and elastic, turn it over in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled in size.  Then punch it down, divvy it up into two loaves for loaf bread or four pieces to make into round loaves for soup bowls.  Cover again with the damp cloth and let rise until double.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes for loaves and 20 to 25 minutes for soup bowls.  If you may them into regular size rolls, give them 18 to 20 minutes.

Pie is the next thing on our agenda.  There are smaller pumpkins bred for pie making.  They are less stringy and slightly milder than larger ones.  I haven't caught them on sale, sadly.  Blending the larger pumpkins removes the issue of stringiness, so the slight difference in flavor is all you really need to consider once the pumpkin is pureed.  The flavor of the larger pumpkins is not strong and the warm spicy additions to pumpkin pie complement both types. 

This is a true and faithful chronicling of our pumpkin adventures thus far.  There may be a sequel. 

Finding value in the Bypassed and the Small . . .