Sunday, November 21, 2010

roasting a pumpkin

I've recently realized that many people I talk to have never roasted a pumpkin before. While I certainly appreciate the convenience and flexibility of canned pumpkin, I think that using fresh pumpkin is something that everyone should at least try once. I remember thinking that it must be the hardest thing in the world - turning a hard vegetable like squash into that smooth puree for pies. Once I tried it I realized how easy it really is.

Start with a pie pumpkin (or sugar pumpkin, as they are sometimes called). The only grocery store I can always count on to carry these around here is Trader Joe's. Safeway, Albertsons and the like seem to only carry other varieties of winter squash. Don't forget your local farmer's market.

Remove the stem, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits (clean and roast the seeds if you like).

Having an orange cat around as "helper" is entirely optional.

Some people like to put their pumpkin halves cut-side down. I prefer cut-side up, so they don't stick to the foil.

After roasting at 350 degrees for an hour or so, they should be easily pierced with a fork. The time really does vary, so check and adjust.

It's best to let them sit for awhile, to prevent burning your fingers as you handle them, and then scoop out the flesh from the skins.

A quick pulse in the food processor turns it from this...

... into this. A smooth puree ready for pie, cookies, or whatever else you like to make with pumpkin.

One trick I learned for dealing with leftover pumpkin puree - measure 1-cup amounts into a sandwich size Ziploc. Smooth flat and lay in the freezer. Next time you need a cup of pumpkin puree just take out a bag and let it defrost on the counter.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

a home for Rosie - update

Remember back in August when we decided we needed to separate our kitties? My wonderful family decided to welcome Rosie back into their home. This takes a huge amount of stress out of our lives. While this means that Rosie will be very far away (on the other side of the country), we know that he will have a wonderful home full of loving people and curious animals.

In order to get Rosie across the country, Joe and I will be taking him along with us (on the plane) on our trip to visit family for winter break. I'm sure it will be an entertaining trip - lugging a crying kitty through the airport, onto and off of planes (we have a layover, unfortunately), all while dealing with the usual traveling stresses. I hope to document the trip in photos so I can blog about it when I get back.

I am going to miss that face.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

sandwich rolls

I am in love with these honey wheat sandwich rolls.

I made the dough in my bread machine (cheating, I know, but a necessary short-cut for a busy teacher), and baked them up on a Sunday so my hubby and I would have sandwich bread for the week.

I've been trying to bake my own bread for sandwiches for some time. I've found some great recipes (my favorite so far is SouleMama's WHO bread). But when it comes to slicing the bread it just doesn't work well for sandwiches.

I actually made this recipe twice before I was really happy with it. The first time I used a washed tuna can to cut the dough. The rolls that baked up from that batch were just too small for sandwiches. I searched and searched my kitchen for something that would make a better size and then realized that I could just cut the dough into rough rectangles. It worked perfectly.

I hope to get into a routine of making these rolls on the weekend for the coming week's sandwiches.

How do you slice homemade bread for sandwiches?

Friday, October 22, 2010

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

mute and restless

I'm one of those people who can't stand to take a day off work. Don't get me wrong, as a public school teacher I am quite fond of school holidays. But when I'm supposed to be at work, I have a hard time thinking of anything other than what I should be doing.

Even with my germ-filled job, I seldom get sick. That's quite a feat, given that I spend my days with 150+ 8th graders. Who, by the way, have been sick quite a bit this year.

But this year has been different so far. Two weekends ago I fell ill and took a Monday off to rest. I felt good enough to drag myself to work, and with the help of some over-the-counter meds I managed to finish the week. This past weekend I had fun figuring out a three-day lesson to teach my students about the size and scale of the solar system. Monday's lesson went well, but by Tuesday I was struggling to talk. Each class period my voice became weaker and weaker. By the time I got home I couldn't do anything but whisper. And my throat hurt. A lot.

So I took Wednesday off hoping to return to work today to finish the third day of that three-day scaling lesson. I let my voice rest, drank tons of herbal tea and just generally rested. But still no voice. So I stayed home today.

I'm now able to get a very pathetic version of my voice to eek out now and then. I'm not sure if I'll be able to talk much tomorrow, but I'm determined to go to work. If I have to, I'll grab the loudest kid in each class period and appoint them my helper. S/he can repeat to the class each direction I manage to squeak or whisper.

However it turns out, it's sure to be an exciting Friday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

this moment - only a couple days late

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I love trying new recipes.

I especially love trying new recipes from ThePioneerWoman.

Ree takes great photos of every step, so I never have to worry if I'm doing things right. And so far, everything I've tried has turned out great.

I recently made enchiladas again, using her recipe. I made a few changes (subbing ground turkey and green sauce), but I honestly like the original version best. I think it would have been just as tasty with the ground turkey, but changing from red sauce to green sauce just didn't do it for me.

So, if you like enchiladas, give this recipe a try, exactly as it's written. You won't regret it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

cat therapy

Sometimes taking pictures of the cats looking cute is all I need to relax.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Remember when I started my raspberry liqueur project? I've finally moved on to step 2.

Step 1 was seeping the berries in Everclear for a month (I let them sit for 6 weeks... whoops).

Step 2 involved straining the berries, measuring the amount of alcohol, and adding the appropriate amount of water and sugar.

Step 3 involves waiting while it ages in the fridge.

And step 4? That's the best step of them all. When we finally reach step 4 in October I will get to taste my creation. And I sure hope it tastes good.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the Autumnal Equinox

Tonight is both the autumnal equinox (for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere), and a full moon. There are two equinoxes per year - one in the spring, and one in the fall. They are the two days where the length of day and the length of night are equal. Hence the name equinox (equi for equal and nox for night). As a science teacher, I absolutely love teaching astronomy and getting a chance to explain things like equinoxes to my students. I could go on and on about the equinox, but I'll let you look it up if you want more information.

This year, I decided that I wanted to make a autumn leaves garland out of felt. Fall is my favorite season, and I've never really done much to mark the season. Sure I decorate later on for Halloween, and I make applesauce in the fall, but I've never really taken advantage of the season.

Strangely, even though I started in August, I managed to finish my garland tonight (I swear I did not plan it that way!). So as part of my acknowledgment of the equinox I hung my garland.

It's evening and the sun has passed the horizon, so these pictures aren't the best, but I wanted to share. Please excuse my messy home (and the cat that is getting into who-knows-what in the sink).

Monday, September 20, 2010

felt leaves progress

All the dark colored leaves were stitched with gold floss. The light colored leaves will be stitched with dark brown floss. Then they will all be strung together to make a garland. I'm trying to finish before Wednesday night (the autumnal equinox). Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

nature walk

Pictures from my walk today. Joe and I wandered around our apartment complex, and over into Magnuson Park. While he was looking for objects for a sculpture project, I was busy snapping photos.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

autumn leaves

Sunday, September 12, 2010

autumn is coming

Leaves in reds, oranges and yellow on the ground. Drizzling rain. Crisp air. Autumn is coming.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

butter chicken

My recipe for butter chicken (adopted from PioneerWoman's recipe). Basically I doubled the spices and added cornstarch to thicken. Otherwise it's the same.

Combine and marinate overnight:
4-6 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 whole lime juiced

1 whole onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
1 pint whipping cream (I only use half a pint, but you can use a whole)
chopped cilantro, to taste
basmati rice

Saute onion in butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes. I drained off the liquid after this step. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on. Combine whipping cream with cornstarch to thicken, then add to chicken mixture. Serve over rice and top with cilantro.

Friday, August 27, 2010

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

fall leaves garland

Three kinds of maple - including big-leaf maple and vine maple.

Oregon white oak leaves.

Cottonwood and quaking aspen leaves.

Oregon ash

Now I just need some twine to turn these lovely felt leaves into a garland.

My wonderful husband used his amazing computer skills to turn some Google search images I found into simple stencils that I cut out and traced onto felt. The whole tracing and cutting felt part of this project took much more time than I thought, so he grabbed some scissors and helped me out. He's great like that.

In case you're wondering where I got the idea for this project, the second and third picture in this post inspired me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

peach salsa

First you need some peaches.

I used three and a half in order to get six cups (don't worry, the other half found a good home).

Add some chopped onion, red bell pepper and jalapeno.

Oh, and don't forget the cilantro.

Add some vinegar and honey, and give it a good stir.

Raw pack into jars, filling all the way to the top (it cooks down).

Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

This recipe yielded 4 pints of salsa. I was worried about spiciness, so I didn't add the jalapeno seeds. My salsa turned out very high on the tasty scale, but very low on the spiciness scale. So next time I'll add the seeds.

Peach Salsa
6 cups pitted peaches, diced
1 1/4 cup diced onion (I just used a whole onion)
4 jalapeno peppers, diced (seed these if you don't want it too spicy)
1 bell pepper, preferably red, diced and seeded (though any color will suffice)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or 1/4 c dried
3/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoon honey

This peach salsa recipe is from a Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op blog post.