Tag Archives: fall

Pumpkin pie perfection

3 Nov

Hello blogosphere!

My name is Alison, and I currently reside in Winnipeg. I don’t know how it feels where you are, but it is most certainly, undeniably fall here. And fall really makes me want to do three things:

1) knit

2) drink tea and

3) bake delicious, spicy, wholesome foods

Since this is a blog dedicated to yummy foods made by library folk, I have decided to share my first pumpkin pie baking experience.

It began with me heading to the Organic market; sadly, they didn’t have pumpkins yet, so this baby hails from Superstore.  I brought my orange baby home, and opened my laptop and went right to Martha Stewart’s web site. Regardless of how you may feel about her, one cannot deny the woman is a genius in the kitchen. I also feel her recipes are really easy to follow, and every one I have used has turned out super yum. I grabbed this recipe from her site.

I began poking several holes around my pumpkin, placing it in about an inch of water, and shoving it in the oven. 45 minutes later, I had a steamed pumpkin.

Steamed Pumpkin

Steamed Pumpkin

Next, I cut off the top, peeled off the skin and cut the pumpkin into small chunks. I then used my food processor to mash it up.  It made a LOT of pumpkin puree.  Enough for seven pies and at least two batches of pumpkin cookies (to be made on a later date).

Pumpkin Pieces

Pumpkin Pieces

For the crust, I elected to use the Press In recipe Martha suggested. It’s an easy shortbread crust and it’s super tasty. Though, don’t use a mixer. I tried on my first go (I know I shouldn’t have, I just really wanted to get the crust going) and it pretty much failed. It turned all gooey. The second go around was a lot more successful. The dough was pretty crumbly, which made me concerned that it would end up dry and sandy, but it didn’t. It ended up absorbing moisture from the pie filling.

Press In Shortbread Pie Crust

Press In Shortbread Pie Crust

Next, I began the pie filling. Om nom nom!  I threw together the pumpkin, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and eggs in a large bowl and whisked it. After tasting it, I thought it needed more allspice and cinnamon.  I added twice as much.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Pre-Oven Pumpkin Pie

Pre-Oven Pumpkin Pie

I then stuck the pies in the oven for 60 mins. After pulling them out, I waited about an hour before I gave them a taste. They were pretty good, but the next day they were really good!

Pumpkin Pie Slice

Pumpkin Pie Slice

Overall, this was a very easy, yummy recipe.  My first attempt at pumpkin pie turned out a success! You should note, I made a double recipe, which made seven pies. There were six mighty happy people after I made this. 😉

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed my post and as Julia would say, Bon appetit! 🙂

Alison Pattern

Check out Alison’s bio on the Contributors page.

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Can you can?

3 Oct

By Tara Thompson

You know canning food is not popular when you are in Real Canadian Superstore in mid-September and learn that all the canning supplies have been cleared to make room for Halloween candy. But never fear, I found my needed 250mL jars and proceed to continue our family tradition.

Canned tomatoes in the canner
Canned tomatoes in the canner

I remember going to my Gran & Poppa’s house every fall to can peaches and pears. We would all, usually about 5-6 of us, sit around a card table set up in their kitchen and proceed to blanch, peel, cut, pack, and process about 30 jars. I even remember my Mom making pickles and relish when I was a kid. When I met my husband, we incorporated his family’s tradition of canning tomatoes, making tomato/vegetable sauce, and creating jams. Now each year is a little different depending on what is needed (tomatoes and peaches) and what recipes strike our fancy (pickles and pickled pears).

Canned pears and peaches
Canned pears and peaches

I think that besides the tradition of  “this is what is done in the fall”, I like that I know exactly what is in the jars. It’s similar to when we make stocks; I can’t figure out why there is so much sodium in store bought stock, as we never add salt to stock. This made me think of tomato juice. Whenever I’ve tried any of the store bought tomato juice, I’ve found it too salty; maybe next year I’ll try making my own.

Canning isn’t complicated, but there are a number of steps. To get started, some basic supplies are needed:

  1. Mason Jars (we like large mouth jars)
  2. Two-piece lids (sealing disc & rim)
  3. Large pot to prepare the recipe in
  4. Canner (to hold the jars… water must cover the jars)
  5. Accurate measuring spoons and cups

When you find a recipe, follow it precisely and make sure that it is a modern recipe, current with today’s health guidelines.

This year’s new discovery was Pickled Pears (with a few adjustments for our tastes):

1 large lemon
8-1/2 cups water, divided
12 medium ripened Autumn Star pears (with red skins)
1-1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
4 to 6 bay leaves (1 for each jar)
12 to 24 pink peppercorns (4 for each jar)
12 to 24 green peppercorns (4 for each jar)

Prepare the canner, jars, and lids for canning.

  • Start the water boiling in your canner (it takes longer than you think).
  • Sterilize the jars by either submersing them in boiling water or the rinse cycle of the dishwasher.
    Also while you finish working keep the jars warm to keep them sterilized.
  • Sterilize the lids by keeping them in a small pot of hot water to soften the seals. To prevent them from sticking together, put them in the water opposite each other: bottoms together, tops together.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the lemon peel from the lemon in one continuous spiral. Cut vertically into pieces (1 for each jar) and set aside.

Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl and add 4 cups of water.

Peel, quarter, and core the pears, placing them in the lemon juice solution to prevent discolouration.

Place the sugar, vinegar, and remaining 4 1/2 cups water along with the reserved lemon peel in a large pot and bring to a boil.

Drain the pears and add them to the boiling syrup. Return to a boil and remove from the heat. The syrup should be a pink colour (from the skins).

In each sterilized Mason jar, place 1 piece of lemon peel, 1 bay leaf, 4 pink peppercorns, and 4 green peppercorns. Pack the pears into the jars to within 3/4” of the top of the rim of the jar (headspace). Remove any air trapped in the jars by sliding a rubber spatula down the sides of the jar. Fill with syrup, to the 3/4″ headspace.

Wipe the jar rim with a clean damp cloth. Centre the canning lid on the jar. Apply the screw band (rim) and tighten until just finger tip tight.

Place the jars in the canner and when the water is boiling time the process for 10 minutes. The water should cover the jars by at least 1”.

When 10 minutes is up, remove the lid from the canner and wait 5 minutes before removing the jars. Place the jars on a tea towel or wooden board. Let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check that the jars have sealed properly: sealed lids curve downward. Remove screw bands and store them separately (we don’t do this, but it is to prevent moisture and rust). Wipe jars clean, label and store them in a cool dark place until ready to serve.

Makes 3X500mL jars or 6X250mL jars.

    Adapted from “Picture Perfect Pickles: Pickled Pears.” Harrowsmith Country Life. October 2009 (No. 208) pg 86 (also available online through EBSCO’s MasterFILE Premier – check your library’s e-resources!).

    Other canning recipes are available in many places.  Two good books that I found are:

    Put ‘em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton.

    You Can Can: A Guide to Canning, Preserving, and Pickling ed. Jan Miller

    Check out Tara’s bio on the Contributors page.