Making the Perfect Chowder — November 23, 2020

Making the Perfect Chowder

Mastering Ministrone — November 19, 2020

Mastering Ministrone

So now that we’ve bought the perfect pot, found the perfect recie, bought the best veggies, sliced and diced, and so forth…

Now what?

1.Constantly keep an eye on your soup while it is cooking. This will allow you to  adjust the spices and cooking temperature as needed.

2. Cook on low heat. Don’t think that cooking your soup at a higher temperature will ensure that everything will actually get cooked instead of being raw or hard when you are ready to serve the soup.

Doing this will instead turn your meat into tough, hard-to-chew pieces…not to mention possibly ruining the bottom of that expensive soup pot that we all went out and bought after reading a previous article, right?

Instead bring your soup slowly to a boil and then allow the soup to simmer for the rest of the cooking time.

This will allow the ingredients to maintain their structure and integrity, while at the same time combining all of the ingredients into a flavorful soup.

3. Cover or not?…Depending on the finished product that you want,  leaving the soup uncovered or covering the soup with the lid is a matter of personal  reference. Leaving the lid off will make the soup base evaporate faster, creating a thicker and more flavorful soup.

4, Dig in Deep…There are many soup recipes out there that  require taking some of the soup as it is cooking and blending it and then adding it back into the soup in order to thicken the soup. Using an immersion blender will reduce the risk of your getting burned and make this job easier and neater.

Here is a list from Good Housekeeping of some of the most highly recommended immersion blenders available…

5. Use your brain when using grains…Pasta and grains that are called for as ingredients will often overcook. Avoid this by cooking them separately and then adding them into the soup just before serving.

Make Mine a Tall — October 29, 2020

Make Mine a Tall

But there are times when the smallest cup just won’t do…

And there are times when the smallest pumpkin in the PSL just won’t do either…

So let’s take a look at the tall menu…

This is the size pumpkin typically used to carve Jack o’ Lanterns, and if you’ve carved your share of these pumpkins over the last thirty years as I have, you think of these pumpkins, and probably all pumpkins in general, as one huge stringy mess widh a dry, flavorless “taste”…just sitting there begging to be carved lavishly, to be placed in a corner where they will eventually rot and have to be thrown away, or at best being used as a soup tureen.

Make Mine a Tall

This category includes pumpkins that weight from eight to twenty-five pounds, and the most common varieties include…

Fairytale

  • Best for…cooking or baking pumpkin pies.
  • Size…about 15″ around and 6″ high
  • Weight…twenty to thirty pounds
  • Skin Color…dark green turns to an orange color when ripe
  • Shape…flat
  • Shelf Life
  • Texture
  • Flesh Color…bright orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…,deep

Make mine a Venti

(15 to 25 pounds)

The following are some of the most common monster-sized pumpkins—such as the world record pumpkin that weighed over 2,300 pounds

These are the great big huge ones that are proudly shown by their owners at county fairs and international pumpkin harvest festivals…where the pumpkins compete for bragging rights—such as a award, ribbon, cash prize, and notoriety.

These pumpkins are really now grown to be eaten because these pumpkins often lack the flavor of smaller pumpkins.

These pumpkins are really not good for carving either because scooping out the pulp can be a chore.

But they do make eye-catching displays on porches and in public places.

Some of the most common otf these pumpkins are,,,

  • Atlantic Giant
  • Big Max:
  • Big Moon
  • Dill’s Atlantic Giant
  • Mammoth Gold
  • Musquee de Provence.
  • Prizewinner
The Other PSL — October 28, 2020

The Other PSL

By now if you’re anything like me, you’ve already spent half a paycheck on PSL’s, and your Starbucks membership has jumped from silver to platinum, completely hurdling over silver status.

But today I want to talk to you about another trend of this season…the other PSL…

 

…the Pumpkin Sales Lot…

The first time that I ever went to a “pumpkin patch” worth even mentioning was back when my girls were about five and seven…

That was about twenty years ago.

Up until that day I assumed that all pumpkins were orange and round, maybe even plastic since neither my parents or my husband for some strange reason never bothered to buy and carve the expected jack o’ lantern each Halloween…

We were doing good to simply put the tree up before New Year’s Day and take it down by Easter, right?!

Anyway, there I stood in that great big field of all shapes, colors, and sizes of pumpkins…and there I was with them wanting one of each different type…a white one, a green one, a blue one, a tall one, a squat ones, and obviously an orange one…

I felt the same way that I did when I lived in Germany and would travel places where the only words that I knew were numbers and the only phrases that I could say were…

“Where is the bathroom?”

“How much does it cost?”

Actually that’s the only three things that we need to know if it gets right down to it, right?

Anyway, here I was standing on American soil, speaking my native language, and all I could do was say “two” and point out what I wanted and ask how much it cost?

Flash forward thirty years…

Here I sit, fifty years old, getting ready to take the “resident four year old” to a huge pumpkin patch in the morning.

Hoping not to feel like a foreigner in my own country out in the country looking totally stupid by thinking that all pumpkins had to be orange and round…

So this year I’m brushing up on my pumpkin recognition skills, or at least taking this “cheat sheet” with us.

To keep things simple, I have grouped the most common pumpkins into three obvious, or at least obvious to any true PSL, categories—the tall, the grande, the venti, and the trenta.

And made a quick list of the characteristics of the most common varieties of each size that you are likely to see…

(I had originally planned on doing this as one post listing pumpkin varieties within each size group, but that article would have been longer than the “resident four year old”‘s  Christmas wish list and that of my two college aged daughters…so doing this in three segments)…

So looking at the smallest group of pumpkins first, let’s see what your options are…

  • Size
  • Skin Color
  • Shape
  • Shelf Life
  • Texture
  • Flesh Color
  • Vertical Ribbing

The Tall (2 to 8 pounds)

This category—the smallest available “cup”— probably are best suited for decorating the porch or front steps. even though these smallest pumpkins have a great tasting, buttery flesh that makes the very best pies, cookies, baked treats, soups-, and almost any other recipe originally calling for squash.

But if you don’t feel like taking the time to prep two dozen different pumpkins, you could always simply carve it, paint it, or hollow it out and stick a flower into it…

1.Baby Bear

  • Best for…pies, roasted pumpkin seeds…also makes an attractive bowl for serving soup, stews, and chili
  • Size…one to two pounds
  • Skin Color…deep orange
  • Shape…flattened

2.  Baby Boo

  • Best for…decorating because it’s supposedly inedible
  • Size…typically the size of your palm
  • Skin Color…bright white; which tends to turn yellow if exposed to direct sunlight
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep

4.  Baby Pam

  • Best for…pies because of its sugary, starchy, string-less, dry flesh
  • Size…three to four pounds
  • Skin Color…deep orange, yellow if immature
  • Texture…very smooth

5. Casper

  • Best for…pies and baking
  • Skin Color…bright white
  • Shape…more round than squat
  • Vertical Ribbing…slight ribbing

6.  Kakai

  • Best for…Although these pumkins are edible, they are better known for their blue seeds, which can be roasted
  • Size…five to eight pounds
  • Skin Color…gray with orange stripes or ribbing

7. Lakota

  • Best for…its butternut squash-like flavor.
  • Size…five to seven pounds
  • Skin Color…red with green and black markings
  • Vertical Ribbing… light

8. Long Island Cheese

  • Size…six to ten pounds
  • Skin Color…pale yellow or orange
  • Shelf Life…up to a year
  • Flesh Color…bright, deep orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…light

9.  Lumina

  • Best for…baking
  • Skin Color…bright white
  • Texture…smooth
  • Flesh Color…bright yellow

10.  Marina Di Chioggia

  • Best for…having a sweet flavor that makes it a favorite for cooking
  • Size…six to twelve pounds
  • Skin Color…green
  • Shape…squat
  • Texture…thick and warty​ skin
  • Flesh Color…yellow/orange

11.  Musee de Provence:

  • Best for…snacking because it actually has a rich, sweet, creamy, taste…often sold in slices in French markets
  • Skin Color…pale orange-yellow
  • Flesh Color…yellow-orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep and distinct

12.  Tiger

  • Size…about 5″ around and 3″ high
  • Skin Color…yellow with orange mottling
  • Shape…flat with recessed stem
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep at the top, then fading at the bottom

13.  White Ghost

  • Skin Color…pure white
  • Shape…squat
  • Flesh Color…bright yellow

14.  Winter Luxury

  • Best for…baking
  • Size…up to six pounds
  • Skin Color…unique netted-looking pale orange
  • Shape…round
  • Shelf Life
  • Flesh Color
  • Vertical Ribbing

Other varieities of  these smaller pumpkins that you might encounter include…

  • Baby Boo (white)
  • Jack-Be-Little (standard orange miniature)
  • Jack-Be-Quick (taller, darker orange)
  • Munchkin (uniform, attractive orange fruit)
  • Sweetie Pie (small, scalloped, medium orange fruit)
  • Lil’ Ironsides F1
  • Magic Lantern
  • Lil’ Pump-Ke- Mon F1
  • Merlin F1
  • Howden
  • Howden Biggie
  • Gold Rush
  • Mystic
  • Spooktacular
  • Tallman
  • Early Autumn
Pumpkins…The Why — October 7, 2020

Pumpkins…The Why

Not only does pumpkin make such awesome treats to eat and enjoy, pumpkin can also be enjoyed as a treat to help you feel pampered and relaxed.

Why should you consider using pumpkin in your “beauty routine” in the first place?

Pumpkin is packed with vitamins—such as vatima B, vitamin C, and vitamin E… as well as beta-carotene. This means that it helps promotes healthy skin and hair.

Other ingredients commonly found in these products…or used when you’re making your own…include…

 

1.Coconut or Olive Oil…These both moisturize the skin, act as an antioxidant, and keep your skin looking younger.

2. Spices…Not only is the “aromatherapy” of the spices rejuvenating, awakening, warm, and comforting…cinnamon also stimulates better blood circulation all over the body and brings blood to the surface of the skin…resultting in plumper skin with a healthier glow, as well as healthier hair.

3. Sugar…Sugar helps the skin retain moisture and gently exfoliates dead skin away.

4. Vitamin E…Vitamin E not only benefits your skin, but also extends the shelf life of your ingredients.

 

 

Not only that…these cosmetics and concoctions will enable you to enjoy the sweet, nostalgic aroma of pumpkin all year long.

 

 

So first let’s look at what I call OTBC products…those Over the Beauty Counter products…and then we’ll talk about a few ideas that you yourself can make at home.

 


Acure-Energizing Body Wash,,,availabile at Target or Kroger…ungredients iunclude organic Argan oil, sea buckthorn oil, Moroccan Argan stem cells, coq10, and pumpkin seed oil

*

Desert Essence Organics Hand & Body Lotion–Pumpkin Spice—…available at Sprouts…other fragrance options—Island Mango, Italian Lemon, Tropical Coconut, Coconut Lime, Bulgarian Lavender, and Spicy Vanilla Chai

 One Love Organics,,,available at Nieman Marcus…ingredients include pumpkin seed oil, sunflower seed oil, green tea seed oil, kelp extract, sea buckthorn oil, chia seed extract, rosemary leaf extract, and rooibos tea extract

 

 

 

Other OTBC products containing pumpkin in some form of fashion include…

 

—Bath & Body Works Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte Super Smooth Body Lotion…available at Bath and Body Works…(go figure)

 

—Burt’s Bees® Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, Pumpkin Spice with Beeswax, $2.97, available at W-almart

—EcoLove Shampoo Orange Collection

Ecosevi Pumpkin Seed Shampoo-

—Good Earth Beauty Shampoo Pumpkin Chai Natural…available at Amazon

—Hempz Pumpkin Spice & Vanilla Chai Body Moisturizer…available at Ulta

—Native Deodorant Kit…available at Native

—Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer…available at Sephora

—Sara Happ Pumpkin Spice Lip Scrub Kit…available at QVC

 

 

*****************************

Now as far as DIY ideas…

Pumpkin Body Scrub…Combine…

    • 1C brown sugar
    • 1/2C coconut oil, room temp
      1Tbsp cinnamon
      1 vitamin E capsule
    • ½C pumpkin puree

Scoop body scrub into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to four days. Before using, let the mixture come back it warm up to room temp and stir if needed.

This scrub is best when used immediately because the longer it sits, the more the sugar will dissolve and the less exfoliating the body scrub will become.

The scrub will last for about two months as long as the airtight container hasn’t been opened.

 

 

Pumpkin Hair Conditioner…Combine the following ingredients…

  • 1/2C pumpkin puree
  • 1/4C yogurt
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1Tbsp coconut oil

Pumpkin Hair Serum…This hair serum helps repair dead ends and control “fly-away” hair.  Using apricot seed oil instead of pumpkin oil keeps the pumpkin oil from making your hair feel so weighted because the oil is so much lighter.

To use the serum, lightly spritz water in your hair…and then comb the pumpkin serum through your hair.

Pumpkin Hot Oil Treatment…Combine equal amounts of coconut oil and pumpkin puree. Heat on top of your oven over low heat. Let cool slightly. Apply to soaking wet hair, working from the ends to the roots. Wrap hair in a hot towel, Wait twenty minutes. Rinse well.

Pumpkin Oil Hair Vitamin Mist…Fill a spray bottle with two ounces of pumpkin seed oil and 1Tbsp coconut oil. Fill the bottle with distilled water. Shake before each use.

Pumpkin Puree Hair Mask…Mix together…

  • 1tsp argan oil
  • ½C pumpkin puree
    2tsp coconut or olive oil (unrefined)
    1tsp cinnamon
    1 Vitamin E capsule

Apply the concoction on your hair, making sure to cover your strands from tip to roots. Put on a shower cap to keep the goop from dripping all over while you wait. Wait at least 25 minutes before shampooing your hair. Use this mask once or twice a week to help make your hair soft, shiny and silky.

Pumpkin Seed Oil Hair Mask,,,Another option as far as a hair mask would be to use…

1 Tbsp. pumpkin seed oil
1/2 apple puree
1 tbsp. shea butter
1 egg

Process half of the apple in your blender. Add shea butter and pumpkin seed oil. Whisk egg by itself. Stir the egg into the mixture. Apply to freshly washed hair. Leave in for twenty minutes. Rinse out.

Pumpkins…The Which — October 4, 2020

Pumpkins…The Which

Ghosts and goblins, squash and pumpkins

Found on every aisle

As the shippers rush home with their treasures

Hear the whispers, see the costumes

Sitting there on display…

And above all this bustle you hear

 

 

Halloween, Halloween…

It’s creepy time in the city.

Hslloween, Halloween…

Soon it will be Halloween.

 

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks

See the kids walking by

At each door they will ask for some candy.

Hear them all say “Please” and “Thank You”

As they say “Trick or Treat”

Soon it will be Halloween.

 

Halloween, Halloween…

It’s creepy time in the city.

Halloween, Halloween…

Soon it will be Halloween.

(Original poem written by yours truly…think of it as corny or creative…your choice)

 

 

This is the only time all year that you will see the color orange plastered everywhere you look. Suddenly you look up, and there’s almost as much orange to be as you look around as there is green.

I personally love this time of year because pumpkins are about the only food out there with such a sweet, cinnamon-y taste…a taste that reminds of us Halloween and Thanksgivings as we were growing up.

Read the next few posts for some ideas for great homemade gifts to give your  neighbors, teachers, and whoever gives me an unexpected gift during the upcoming holiday season.

These posts will highlight ways to cook with pumpkin…make awesome coffee…decorate…and stir up your own DIY beauty concoctions, such as hair masks and facials.

But first let’s take a brief look at which pumpkins to buy so that you don’t end up leaving the produce section with a lemon.

Going to the closest pumpkin patch to pick out your pumpkin(s_ can actually end up being more stressful than you would think.

Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by all of these small round spheres in all  sorts of colors and sizes…

Which one should you actually buy?

Let’s take a quick look at your options, and your best bets.

 

 

 

***************

The Gray Ones

Kakai...These are the gray ones with orange stripes or ribbing…even though these pumkins are edible, they are better known for their blue seeds, which can be roasted.

***************

The Green Ones

Fairytale…These are the flat, dark green ones with deep vertical ribbing that are about 15″ around and 6″ high and weight anywhere from twenty to thirty pounds. Use these for cooking, especially for baking pumpkin pies.

******************

The Orange Ones

Baby Bear…These are the flat orange ones out of this grouping…and are best for…pies, roasted pumpkin seeds, and using as a bown to serve soupf, stews, and chili.

Baby Pam…These are the deep orange, ir yellow if immature. .very smooth ones. These supposedly have a sugary, starchy, string-less, and dry flesh…choose these if you are willing to spend the extra time prepping the pumpking.

Long Island Cheese…These are the pale yellow or orange ones that .have light vertical ribbing on their exterior.

Musee de Provence:…These are the yellow-orange ones with deep and distinct vertical ribbing. These are great for snacking on because they have a rich, sweet, creamy, taste. In fact slices of this pumpkin are often sold in French markets.

Tiger…These are the flat yellow ones that have orange mottling that are about 5″ around and 3″ high in size. They have a recessed stem and deep vertical ribbing the top that fades at the bottom

Winter Luxury…These are pale orange round ones with a unique netted-looking

*************

The Red Ones

Lakota…These are the red ones with green and black markings and light ribbing…and supposedly they taste like butternut squash.

 

 

 

**************

The White Ones

Baby Boo…These are the bright white palm-sized ones out of the group. Supposedly their flesh is inedible…so use these only for…decorating.

Casper…These are the bright white ones that are .more round than squat…and have slight ribbing on their exterior.

Lumina…These are the bright white., smooth ones.

Marina Di Chioggia…These are the squat green ones that have a thick and warty​ skin. They are actually a favorite for cooking because they have such a sweet flavor.

White Ghost…These are the pure white, squat ones.

Apple Pickin’ Time — June 30, 2020

Apple Pickin’ Time

 

 

 

****************************** 

Veggie Tells — June 11, 2020

Veggie Tells

But this is supposed to be a blog that slowly crawls up the Raw Foods Pyramid one tier at a time…and here I go talking about frying stuff and baking stuff and grilling stuff.

Bear with me…I obviously have ADHD, right?!

So let’s go back to where we left off in our crawl up the Raw Foods Pyramid and begin talking about fruits and vegetables, shall we?

The most important fruits and vegetables that you must include in your diet are those that are brightly-colored…such as those fruits and vegetables that are bright orange, yellow, red or green.

This is because these fruits and vegetables contain high levels of beta-.carotene…(and no that is not a fraternity or sorority as far as I know)…

Certain fruits and vegetables such as these contain carotenoids,,,this is what gives these fruits and vegetables such bright colors.

Personally I didn’t want to get all wrapped up in caretenoids and the chemical interactions..instead just know that these fruits and veggies are antioxidants…

And if you’re reading my blog because I’m supposed to be blogging about raw foods, clean eating, and so forth, then you probably already know what anioxidants are…

So what are antioxidants?

may protect cells from damage from the free radicals that can do terrible things for your body—such as causing chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, or weaking your immune system,

Making the Perfect Stuffed Bell Peppers — May 17, 2020

Making the Perfect Stuffed Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers…The Which — May 7, 2020

Bell Peppers…The Which