Sunday, October 30, 2011


"Halloween Mummy" [courtesy of Leah]
The day started innocently enough. We set mousetraps last night and for obvious reasons I didn’t want to be the first downstairs. However, after waiting 20 minutes for Mike to get up, I gave up. Donning my clothes so that I’d be ready for anything, I went downstairs.

We had left one of those sticky traps in the dog dish, baited with a few nuggets of chow. Would you believe it! The little so-and-sos managed to steal the chow without getting stuck! The traditional traps had not been sprung, but ironically there was a mouse in the commercial box trap. Go figure.

My task today was to make another batch of elderberry jelly with juice on hand. I accomplished that easily. I had a cup and a half of juice leftover, so I combined that with an equal amount of honey, and that also went fine. I was cleaning the kitchen as I went along.

I think it was 10:30 when I decided to tackle the three “pie pumpkins” that have graced the front porch. Mike came to lend a strong arm to cutting them open. I scooped out the seeds and put the six halves in the oven to roast. I had forgotten about the troublesome innards, but no matter – I’ll roast the seeds later.

“We should get out this afternoon,” suggested Mike. “We could hike around the farm or go geocaching.” I just looked at him. I could already see where this day was heading.

The pumpkin meat was tender in about an hour, and once they cooled it was simple enough to remove the shell. Now I have seeds, shell for the composter in an upturned lid, and a big bowl of pumpkin to puree. But I had to take time out to fix a light lunch.

When the lunch mess was cleared away, I began the consideration of how to puree in earnest. I found the old “Foley Food Mill” and set it up, but my arm just didn’t go round fast enough to make it worthwhile. Then I tried the old food chopper that came with my mixer, but what came out wasn’t smooth enough to suit me. My next idea was to blend it. Useless!

So, all of these utensils are cluttering my counter. None of them is doing the job for me, but they all need to be washed. That’s when I remembered the juicer. And that actually worked pretty well. However, the pumpkin was very dry and in order not to clog the juicer, I would pour in some apple juice from time to time. But oh! What a mess! I have nightmares like this. In addition to the used appliances, I had bowls and pots of every size containing pumpkin puree.

At this point, having finished the puree, I realized I could have tried the meat grinder attachment, though I don’t know if the product would be smooth enough. If I’d thought of it, I would have tried it.

Fortunately I found freezer boxes for the puree – 5 pints. I also had another 3 ½ cups of puree to be cooked for pumpkin butter. The first recipe I read seemed light on the spices, so I used a second which was attributed to Martha Stewart. A little too spicy, I think. I should have followed the tried and true adage, “You can always put it in but you can’t take it out.” Oh well. It would probably make a good base for pumpkin bread or I wonder if I couldn’t mix it with some straight puree for pie.

It’s late afternoon now. The kitchen is mostly cleaned. It only remains to roast the seeds. Mike and Nellie went out to hike without me. Fortunately we have leftovers for supper. Frankly, I’m in no mood to cook! KW


Chris said...

Oh my!! But it sounds like it's all been cleaned up by now. I think you should leave the jars on the counter for a few days so you can enjoy the "fruits of your labor." :-) I used to do than when I was canning dozens of quarts of fruit. Just seeing the shining jars for a day or two made all the work worthwhile.

Leah said...

I guess the moral to your story is that you now know what each appliance will or will not do when the going gets rough. How did women mash pumpkin meat 100 years ago?

Kathy said...

Yes, I did accomplish quite a lot actually -- elderberry jelly, elderberry syrup, pumpkin puree, pumpkin butter, and roasted pumpkin seeds. What isn't in the freezer is lovely on the counter.

I don't know how they mashed their pumpkin. I suspect they didn't have the smooth product we buy in cans. I do know that they didn't grow pumpkin here at Gilbert -- growing season too short. Undoubtedly it grew in the valley, though.

Hallie said...

I made some elderberry syrup yesterday, too. I don't think I boiled it long enough because it didn't thicken. I need to find the exact right balance between that batch and Nick's batch that cannot be poured out of the bottle.

Leah said...

Hallie, so funny. That's what's called "learning to cook." Your elders (myself included) have all gone down that path.

Kathy said...

I just mixed the elderberry juice and honey in equal parts and cooked to blend it. Was I supposed to cook it longer? What's in Nick's syrup? Will it pour if you warm the bottle a little?

Hallie said...

Nick's is equal parts juice and honey, but he boiled it for about 15 minutes. I suspect it would liquify if heated--we'll probably find out soon.

Leah: I've finally learned to take notes on the recipes I like. It's so easy to find recipes online or make up my own based upon several recipes, but unless I write them down, they won't be replicated. Last year, I worked to find a great Irish stew and soda bread. We ate a LOT of stew and bread and I kept notes on how we liked each version.

It's been fun, but sometimes I wish I came upon the solution faster. :)