Tag Archives: Fall

Thanksgiving 2012

Night is falling on Thanksgiving and our turkey is nearly ready to take out of the oven.  I managed to get the brine finished in time so the turkey got a full 24 hours in the herbed brining liquid.  We snacked on persimmons, horned fruit, cheese, and crackers along with Thanksgiving Grog (frozen OJ, cranberry juice, apple cider, and Sprite) to tide us over until dinner is ready later this evening.  The dogs enjoyed time on the couch with us and the chickens had a Thanksgiving feast of grain treat balls, kale, and blackberries.  And we watched as our neighbor managed to get his tractor stuck in the pond.  While the pond we share with our neighbor may be dry, apparently it isn’t dry enough to drive a tractor around in.  (Yes, we did offer to help but it was declined and the poor tractor sits off-kilter in the pond by itself since its owner has left it due to the darkening skies.)

Most of the time in this part of Texas, there isn’t a lot of color in the fall.  Generally trees are dead and brown by the time there has been sufficient chilly weather to spur the trees to change colors.  While making a last-minute run into town yesterday for Turkey Day fixin’s, a few colored trees caught my eye, making it seem a little more like Thanksgiving season (despite the warm, shorts weather).

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Fresh Pumpkin vs Canned – There IS a Difference

A year or two ago, I decided to use fresh pumpkin to cook Autumn goodies with – namely pumpkin cookies and pumpkin pie.  It was a bit time-consuming cutting up the pumpkin and then boiling it till it was soft enough to dig out of the skin.  Baking was worse though, because the oven heated up the kitchen and then I still had to pick pieces of pumpkin skin out of the pumpkin.

The flavor however, was just spectacular, compared to the dark orange stuff that comes out of a can.  The goodies made with fresh pumpkin had a lighter orange color and with more flavor than when I made pie and cookies with canned pumpkin.  After that, hubby requested that I only use fresh pumpkin to make our goodies if it was at all possible.

This year, I tried using the microwave to cook the pumpkins and found it to be superior to boiling.  No heat from an oven, faster, and less of a problem getting the flesh out of the skin.  (No, it wasn’t very “Laura Ingalls Wilder” of me to use the microwave, but hey, I have the microwave available.  And as long as I know how to cook and smush a pumpkin the old- fashioned way in case of a situation where there is no modern conveniences – I’m good to go.)

I use the small pie pumpkins, although I have heard some people say that they have had good results just using the big jack-o-lantern pumpkins left over from Halloween.  Dear hubby helped me out and reminded me that we finally have a solid metal, no-moving-parts ice cream scoop which made digging the stringy “guts” out of the pumpkin a breeze.  This year I tried pureeing one pumpkin in the blender, but didn’t like the texture – had to add a little water for the blades to be able to do the job and it was just a bit too smooth for my liking.  Couldn’t find my potato masher, but a pastry blender worked well and still left some of the pumpkin texture  so it was more like old-fashioned pumpkin instead of machine-made, super smooth, mass-produced pumpkin.

I used the pumpkin today to make an old-fashioned pumpkin pie using a recipe I got from Capper’s.  And there is enough left over to make some pumpkin cookies later this week.  Gotta love Turkey Day and the special food we make for it!

If you’ve never used fresh pumpkin for your baking – you should try it once.  The flavor really is worth the extra effort.

A small pie pumpkin cut in half.


Pumpkin guts. The chickens loved eating them.


Seeds from 3 small pie pumpkins. Haven’t decided if I am going to roast them, keep them to grow, or feed them to the chickens.


After cutting in half, place the pumpkins in a microwave dish, cut side up. Add some water to the dish and cover the dish. These pumpkins were soft and ready to use after 15 minutes on high power.


Pumpkin scooped out of its skin.  After that, you just have to mash it up or put it in a blender if you prefer really smooth pumpkin.


The finished pumpkin pie made with eggs from our own chickens!



Feelin’ Like Fall!


The past couple of months have been busy.  And hot.  Trying to keep all the animals cool, watered, and eating enough despite the heat is nearly a full-time job by itself.  While Fall officially starts in September, usually we’re still trying to stay cool right up through November, with just a few scattered days being in the upper 60s -70s during the Fall season.  Having an 80 degree Thanksgiving and nearly roasting ourselves while trying to cook a turkey is not unusual.  But Mother Nature decided to surprise us this year.

It’s the first weekend in October and a cold front that brought snow to the upper Midwest has made it a bit chilly for us down here in North Texas.  Today was dark, cloudy, and misty with a chilly wind and a high temperature of 54*F (that was very brief before dropping back to 50*).

Considering that the seasons here in Texas are usually Hot, Hotter, Hottest, and Christmas; we tend to get excited when a north wind blows invigorating air our way.  The Mottled Javas loved the weather and played with their toy ball that dumps out grain when they roll it around the chicken run.  And the dogs – talk about lunatics when it’s so cool.  Even the older dogs get a spring in their steps when it actually feels like Autumn.  Especially since today was 30+ degrees below normal!

The temp has already dropped into the mid 40s, below what the forecast for tonight was.  Perfect weather for tossing logs into the fireplaces to season the soapstone and cast iron of the fireplace inserts for the winter burning season.  Despite the mess and the work that comes with a wood burning fireplace, seeing the flickering light and hearing the snapping as the flames lick at the wood, makes even this old fixer-upper house feel cozy and friendly.  Nothing like a Saturday night spent watching old Westerns, tending a fire, and listening to snoring dogs, purring cats, and the occasional rooster crowing.  Yes, we have roosters that crow after dark.  We’re weird that way.

Happy Autumn!

First fire of Autumn 2012