Monday, November 24, 2014

Bread Crumbs, Pumpkin Soup and Carrot Salad

I've had a loaf of bread in the freezer for awhile and realized after a bit that it wasn't toasting very well. The piece of toast would fall apart and make a ridiculous mess in the toaster. The first recipe I was looking into to make my Cinderella pumpkin into pumpkin soup called for bread crumbs so I decided to make those. They came out really well and very tasty, no salt necessary. 

All I did was process the bread and bake the crumbs in the oven at 350. Ta da! 

The first pumpkin soup-in-a-pumpkin recipe called for dry white wine, so I found another recipe by Alton Brown. Turns out my pumpkin was a little small and the soup was heavy on onion and garlic, but I liked it.

The pumpkin, I think, is a Cinderella. It's a beautiful pink color with lovely orange flesh. 

When I added the apple, chicken soup, onions, and milk, the pumpkin was about to overflow. But the real problems didn't start until I put stuff in the oven.

It looks nice, right?

My mom's oven, though, is rather temperamental. You set it to 250 and it jumps up to 350. But if you want it to go above 350, you set it to 300 and it doesn't heat any higher! So I had the pumpkin in for almost 2 hours and when I pulled it out, the soup was hot but the pumpkin flesh was not cooked.

But look at how pretty it is with Swiss cheese and sage!

By the time I got it out of the oven, Mom and I had to chow down before going to chorus. She didn't like it because it had too much onion and garlic, but I liked it okay. I even ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. 

Because I needed more than just that soup, I made my mom's carrot salad. I remember it being sweet with a vinegar bite. I found a recipe with mayonnaise, sugar and raisins. I added apple cider vinegar to the last bits of mayo in our fridge and shook it up with some sugar. It tasted exactly like what I was looking for. I can't remember where I got the basic recipe but if you Google "carrot salad" you're sure to find something.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

So. Much. Pumpkin.

Recently I read an article about boycotting Christmas, and even though I do like the holiday, I like it in its place - after Thanksgiving, WAY after Halloween, and ending before New Years. The prospect of the Christmas-consumer season extending into January scares me. (Yes, I know about January 6 and Three Kings Day, but that should be it. Gift receipts accepted until the end of January? Really? If you didn't like it Christmas morning, just get rid of it. )  

But I digress. My point is that in the article there is an urge for folks to keep their Halloween pumpkins on their front stoops late into November as a way to hold onto fall. So I still have a whole 35 pound pumpkin on my front porch. Eventually I'll carve it and maybe roast it, but not until after I've used up all the other pumpkin I've already roasted. (Cue maniacal laughter. I'll have pumpkin puree for MONTHS.) 

After the jack-o-lanterns began sinking into themselves, I cut them up and roasted them. For days. Literally. I had the oven on all day, just roasting pumpkin pieces in batches. 

But they made the house smell lovely and tasted amazing, especially the yummy sweet juice that leaked onto the aluminum foil. Canned pumpkin simply can't compete. 

Then I cut off the skin, picked up a potato masher and went to town.

Some of the puree went into the freezer, some went into the fridge. I experimented with adding raw pumpkin cubes to NutriBullet smoothies, but stopped when I realized that my gut could not handle it. Now I'm not even sure if I can really eat pumpkin, which is highly unfortunate considering how much I have. I seem to handle the pumpkin pancakes okay, so maybe I'll be all right in small doses.

Pumpkin nutmeg smoothies were so good in theory! 

What pumpkin dishes will you be serving up this Thanksgiving? 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spanish Rice, aka What to do with Leftover Rice

Once again I've been a very bad blogger. It's been almost three weeks since my last blog and I've been cooking since then; just haven't made myself sit down and write. But today I've got pumpkins roasting in the oven and lots of time to stay home and play catch-up. 

During my second to last day at Farmer Joe's (waah), we had Chinese food for lunch. Aaron wanted the leftover Chinese but not the rice because she doesn't like rice, so I took it home. I thus had three cartons of rice, one brown and two white. With no idea what to cook for dinner, I asked Mom for some advice. She said that her mom, my grandma Bee, used to make huge quantities of rice and throw in bacon, canned tomatoes, and whatever else she had in the fridge to feed her husband and five kids. Rice, like oatmeal, is stick-to-the-ribs food and relatively cheap, so it's great for big families. Because this dish is my grandma's, and an iteration of canned tomatoes and rice was a staple of my mom's when she lived alone, this post may be the closest I've come to the purpose of this blog in awhile. 

All you have to do is heat the rice in a skillet while making the bacon. I decided to use one of those microwaved bacon doohickeys (that's how that's spelled - I learned something today!), but you could also make the bacon in the oven. 

Add a can of diced or chopped or stewed (or fresh chopped) tomatoes and stir. You may need to add extra liquid but we didn't and it was fine.

Then break the bacon into little bits and mix in with the rice.

It's a simple, pretty dish with a lot of flavor. You shouldn't need extra salt and you can add pepper or garlic or basil; whatever floats your boat. The dish also lasts well in the fridge if you don't eat it all at once.

You can also make it with fresh rice, but I think that defeats the purpose a little bit. Part of the main idea is to use up what you've got.

What would you put in this dish?

Happy munching!