Of all the seasons, the only one I can say I’m not too fond of is winter. I’m invigorated when spring arrives with pre-season baseball, energized when summer goes full swing and we can go see our beloved Cardinals play in St. Louie and I’m absolutely in love with fall – its colors, the cool breezes, the hay rack rides, The Pumpkin Festival, wiener roasts, hot cocoa at football games, Pumpkin Pie Blizzard’s, family at Thanksgiving but pumpkin pie tops the list. I’ve tried on many accounts to cook and mush fresh pumpkin but it just isn’t the same as Libby’s canned pumpkin.
Around these parts we are known as the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” Pumpkin fields are as common as a corn or bean field. The harvest operation is one of the most interesting. You can sometimes hear them in the middle of the night…pumpkins thumping as they are scooped up to a conveyor belt into the wagon and then into the semi. I’m sure that being so close to the plant provided us with an advantage over the rest of the country. However, last year canned pumpkin was as scarce as Easter candy at Christmas.
It was an unusual year with it being so wet during the spring, most farmers didn’t finish planting until around June 1st vs. the general rule of thumb of April 15th. That set everyone up for a late harvest. Then the rain returned making the fields too muddy for the equipment. It was heart breaking to see all of the fields that had to be destroyed last year. There were pumpkin fields that went all the way through the winter. And, even a cornfield here and there. This one was just down the road from us.
For many down south it isn’t odd to see an entire field standing through the winter. Around here it’s one of those things you rarely see. Unless it’s a farmer who’s left a small patch up for the deer.
This year, when I started to see the pumpkin in stores, I was like a squirrel gathering her nuts. I have a nice little stockpile in the
storage room. My hubby’s uncle, a retired math teacher, works at the Libby plant during harvest. In the beginning, he was seeing low quality and smaller amounts of ‘meat’ per pumpkin.
Even though it was a slow start, the year turned out very well considering. I’m so thankful that we’ve had a nice pumpkin harvest and there is no longer a shortage!!
Here is one of my favorite pumpkin desserts:
The Magic Farmhouse’s Cold Pumpkin Pie
- 1/2 Graham crackers crushed
- 1/2 Ritz crackers crushed
- 1/4 c. butter
- 1/2 container Cool Whip topping
- 1 tsp. vanilla
To make pie crust, combine crumbs and melted butter; pat into a 9 in. pie plate. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min. Let cool. For filling, combine milk & pudding mix in a mixing bowl; beat well. Add pumpkin, cinnamon; mix well. Pour into crust. Chill for at least 2 hrs. Combine topping ingredients & smooth over pie. Sprinkle just a bit of cinnamon on topping for presentation.
I wish I could show you a picture of the final deal but someone dove into the pie before I had a chance to snap a shot.
What’s more, did you know pumpkin is one of the most nutritional vegetables around?
In one cup of cooked, boiled and drained, pumpkin your body consumes….
- Calcium – 37 mg
- Dietary Fiber – 3 gm
- Folate – 21 mcg
- Iron – 1.4 mg
- Magnesium – 22 mg
- Niacin – 1 mg
- Potassium – 564 mg
- Protein – 2 grams
- Selenium – 0.50 mg
- Vitamin A – 2650 IU
- Vitamin C – 12 mg
- Vitamin E – 3 mg
- Zinc – 1 mg
- And, ONLY 49 Calories!!
Last week I reviewed the Cub Scout Camp out we hosted at The Magic Farmhouse. I’m going to continue with that topic today focusing on our morning activities.
Once they were awake the boys immediately, with a capital ‘E’, ran back to the maze. I didn’t know it could be such a hit. While the kids went crazy the parents were preparing to prepare the meal. Once we had all of our ingredients outside and on our prep table we called the boys over. In groups, according to den, the boys helped make US breakfast!!
In preparation for our camp out I completed the Boy Scouts of America’s Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO). One of the activities was preparing food at the camp fire. We were each in charge of our own meal and then as a group we make a wonderful peach dessert using a dutch oven. For years I’ve listed to my hubby talk about the ovens however, I couldn’t place a face to the name. I really did know what all the buzz was about. Now I do – and I knew what it was all the time, just didn’t know it had a name. The best portion of the orientation was by far the cooking. It reminded me of ‘true’ camping. Since we purchased our camper in 2003, we’ve seldom gone tent camping. Prior to having children we would often boat and then tent camp along a nearby river. Needless to say I came home from BALOO boasting of our experiences talking quite a bit about the dutch oven and tent camping.
It just so happens that my birthday fell the week after BALOO training. Guess what my hubby and boys got me! Guess? You’ll never guess. A Dutch Oven!! I was so super excited! And that brings us back to today’s story…
Now that a dutch oven was available we merged a breakfast recipe from the cookbook which accompanied the oven and a recipe provided to me by another den leader (I will post the cookbook recipe at the very bottom of this post). Due to the size of our oven and the hungry kiddos who I knew would be getting restless we went with something like this…
The Magic Farmhouse Dutch Oven Breakfast Casserole
- 2 lbs. sausage (we used pre-cooked sausage patties which were broken up into little pieces)
- 2 doz. eggs (we pre-scrambled ours)
- 2 cups (approx.) Bisquick mix
- Milk – enough to get the mixture a fluffy consistency
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese – 2 cups or more depending on your taste buds
Rub a bar of soap around the bottom of the oven. According to my instructors, this will help with clean up time and preserves your oven. Pre-season the dutch oven using butter or cooking spray. Add eggs and Bisquick. Stir gently until it’s somewhat mixed. Then slowly add milk and stir. Continue until the consistency is just shy of being able to pour. Cover with cheese. Each den was responsible for adding the ingredients or stirring. It was a great way to incorporate some teamwork instruction. Now comes the tricky part…
Place the top on the oven and cook with 8 coals underneath the oven and 16 on top for 20 to 25 min. DISCLOSURE: We have found that these instructions will sometimes work but you will probably need to adjust things depending on how hot your coals are and what type of coals you are using. To keep things real we used hot coals left over from the fire pit. In the cookbook, they are talking about grilling charcoals.
Ours cooked in about 15 min. Just in time because the kids were turning into animals. Aside from needing salt it turn out very well….nice and yummy! The boys were pretty proud of themselves which was the cherry that topped the cake!
Since the camp out we’ve been trying different recipes, dutch style. We recently made an outstanding pot of Chili. Instead of cooking on coals, my hubby decided to try it out on his grandparents’ old wood burning stove. This made for easy cleanup and a nice history lesson for the boys.
I challenge you to start going dutch with your cooking! I’ve heard it provides additional iron to your food. I can’t verify that as true however, when your anemic like me you are willing to try anything. (Yes, my hemoglobin has dropped again…another topic for another day.)
Happy cooking, dutch style!!
Mountainman Breakfast – taken from ‘Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101: from Backyard to Backwoods’ published by Lodge 1896
- 2 lbs. sausage
- 2 lbs. frozen hash brown potatoes
- 8 eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup water
- 2 cups cheese, grated
In a 12 inch Lodge Camp Dutch Oven oven full bed of hot coals, fry and crumble sausage. Remove cooked sausage and drain on paper towels. Using the sausage drippings in the pan, brown potatoes, and spread them evenly in bottom of camp oven. Place cooked sausage over potatoes. Pour eggs over sausage layer. Sprinkle top with cheese. Cook with 8 coals underneath and 16 on top for 20 to 25 min., until eggs are cooked.
Who knew we were all sitting on herbal goldmines!?! I sat down to read my newest copy of ‘Turkey Country’ the NWTF’s (National Wild Turkey Federation) member magazine and came across an article that blew my socks off. It talked about a plant that many pay big dollars to eradicate from their lawns. Being frugal and cheap we at The MagicFarmHouse just mow them over and pray they never return. Until now.
I gasped as I read all of the common ailments it may cure or relieve…
- Reduces hypertension
- Cures anemia (I’m chronically anemic)
- Improves night vision
- Acts as a mild diuretic
- Improves liver and gallbladder function
- Detoxifies the body
- Mitigate mild constipation and other digestive issues (as a Crohn’s/Ulcerative colitis and IBS sufferer my colon was kicking me in the butt)
- Clears skin problems including acne, eczema, warts, fungal infections and psoriasis
- Eases arthritis
- Stabilizes mood (I could use that all the time!)
What is this plant? DANDELIONS! I know I still can’t believe it. The author Lisa Densmore explains in the article that “It turns out the weed I tried in vain to eradicate is a nutritious herb, valued in Europe and the sub-Indian continent for myriad medicinal uses.” Who knew? Here’s one of the recipes they included with the article. Unfortunately, since all of our dandelions are gone now (they usually dominate during the early spring), I haven’t had an opportunity to make any of their recipes. I can’t wait to try them though!
Dandelion Blossom Cake
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup dandelion petals
- 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (we will exclude this since we have a son with nut allergies)
- 1/2 cup dried sweetened coconut (same as with the pecans)
Happy dandelion hunting!
This is a recipe I tried from The Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen site. It’s called Baked French Toast and is listed under the Breakfast section. Between you and me, it’s really a dessert posing as breakfast… so heavenly and magically, I’m almost certain it’s a sin to eat this for breakfast.
I’ve made this dish two times; each a bit differently. The first time I made ‘sides’ – an apple side, a blueberry side and a plain side and used a loaf of french bread as called for in the recipe. The second time was yesterday morning and it was on a whim so I used hamburger buns rather than the french bread. Since I was in a hurry I skipped on the fruit. Although it was still delectable I missed the fruit. In both cases I altered the recipe to make it a bit more healthy (see below). Even so, oh my gosh! Yummy, yummy!
Baked French Toast
Part 1: The Meat of the Recipe
- 1 Loaf Crusty Sourdough or French bread
- 8 Whole Eggs
- 2 cups Whole Milk (I used 2% to cut down on the calories)
- 1/2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream (both times I skipped this entirely and added a bit more milk instead)
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp. Vanilla
Part 2: The Topping
- 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
- 1/2 cups Firmly packed brown sugar (I didn’t pack my cup all the way full)
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. Salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) Cold butter, cut in pieces (I could not bring myself to use that much and only used 1/2 to 3/4 of a stick)
What to do…
Grease 9X13 inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan. Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. ** Add butter pieces and but into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge – I saved a bag and used a covered bowl.
When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat over to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from refrigerator and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. (If you’re using fruit, sprinkle on before the crumb mixture.) Bake 45 min. for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, crunchier texture.
Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup. (I didn’t bring out the butter and syrup…just to save on calories)
Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee on your front porch on a Sunday morning!