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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cook Once, Eat Twice

"Cook once, eat twice" is my mantra; living by this simple principle allows me to make food for my family every night. Even on super-busy "book night and dance recital" sort of nights. Friday night I made a pot roast with oven-roasted veggies and green beans. I served the food and saved all the beef drippings and put them in a small glass bowl. Today I took the leftover roast and cubed it and dusted the cubes with flour. I took a stock pot and sweated some onions and celery, then I added a the beef cubes. After they browned I deglazed the pan with some red wine and added the reserved beef drippings, 1 c. of beef stock and some water (enough to cover the beef). After they came to a boil I added the leftover carrots from last night, then the leftover potatoes and then the green beans in the last 5 minutes. If the flour from the beef does not sufficiently thicken the broth you can add a tsp or so of cornstarch mixed with water to the stew. Salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pumpkin bread!

So, something happened to me the other day, something unexpected. The pumpkin patch at church had some bruised pumpkins they could not sell so they gave me one. A whole pumpkin. A great big, partly bruised and soggy pumpkin.

I gingerly brought it home; taking care to position its bruised side up from the car floor and bringing it upstairs like a bomb squad tech cradling a live grenade. I could just imagine losing my grip on it and seeing it smash Gallagher-like down the stairs.

When I got it to the kitchen I washed off the outside of the gourd and carved it into rough quarters. I removed the strings and seeds, combing my fingers through the gooey stringy pulp to remove seeds for roasting. This was my first cooking pumpkin, I wanted the whole experience. After the insides were cleaned out I chopped the quarters into big chunks and set it in a large pot to boil. When it came to a boil I reduced the heat to simmer and left the lid on for about an hour. I fished out the steaming hot pumpkin and cut off the rind and placed the pumpkin chunks in a mixing bowl. After they were all peeled I pureed them with an immersion blender and tried bagging one cup increments in sandwich baggies for freezing. At this point Lee asked if the (still extremely hot) pumpkin puree would melt the baggies. I panicked and threw the whole bowl into the fridge to take care of tomorrow.

Tomorrow of course turned into the day after (today) where I finished bagging the puree and reserved 2 cups for making 2 loaves of pumpkin bread. I found some recipes online but used my own best judgement to cobble together my own recipe. I have never made pumpkin bread before, but I have made quick breads, most often banana bread. Here is what I came up with...

It's the Great Pumpkin Bread!

2 C. pureed fresh pumpkin or
1 (16) oz. can pumpkin
1. C. white whole wheat flour
2 1/2C. regular all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups sugar or 1 1/2 C. white sugar plus 1/2 C. brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup water if you are using fresh cooked pumpkin
2/3 cup water if you are using commercial canned pumpkin
Makes 2 loaves.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together all dry ingredients. Add pumpkin puree, water, beaten eggs, oil. Mix just to combine (do not overwork). Add nuts if desired. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Pour batter into pans. Bake for approximately one hour or until loaves are a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before they are removed to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The smell as these babies cooked is just incredible! They were delicious. I am going to experiment and see how these freeze. Banana bread freezes well so I am sure these will as well.

I washed and dried the pumpkin seeds, then misted them lightly with olive oil. I toasted the seeds for about 20 minutes all together with frequent trips to the oven to rotate the pan and check for browning and doneness. I scooped the seeds off the cookie sheet with a spatula and placed them in a small brown lunch bag with a few teaspoons of salt. I shook them in the bag to coat with salt. My daughter loved them so much she has requested they be packed in her lunch. So I think my first pumpkin deconstruction went very well overall.