Roasted Pumpkin

Today I’m here to tell you that pumpkins aren’t only for carving!

Pre-halloween is the best time to find pumpkins at the grocery store and turn them into roasted pumpkin puree! The method outlined below works for any kind of pumpkin, although smaller pumpkins will be easier to manage. Don’t be afraid to take one home and try it yourself!

Roasting a pumpkin and turning it into all-purpose pumpkin puree is really, really easy and so much cheaper than the stuff you buy in a can. Roasted pumpkin can be used in oatmeal, soups, muffins, and in many, many more applications.

Roasted Pumpkin

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree:

  1. Cut the top off your pumpkin. I find a longer serrated knife to work best and I start by stabbing a hole about 2-3 inches from the stem and cutting a circle all the way around the stem. You can then grab the stem and pull the top out. 
  2. Remove the seeds from your pumpkin. Cut your pumpkin in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the slimy orange insides. You can save the seeds to roast. 
  3. Roast your pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 400F and cut your pumpkin into smaller pieces that are about the same height, this will allow for even cooking. Roast your pumpkin skin side up on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 1 hour. Check doneness every 15 minutes or so with a fork and flip; you also want the skin to blister a bit so that it is easier to remove.
  4. Peel and puree your pumpkin. Using a paring knife to help, peel off the pumpkin skin. Puree the pumpkin in your food processor until smooth.
  5. Store your pumpkin. Keep roasted pumpkin puree in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
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Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles

Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles

Late summer/early fall is my favourite time of year. There’s so much wonderful produce available and so many options to preserve it. Preserving some of the produce you come across at this time of year allows you to experience the freshness and flavours throughout the winter. 

Today we’re sharing a quick way to keep those garden cucumbers hanging around just a little longer. This is a refrigerator pickle recipe which means we are not hot water canning it, it’s not shelf stable, and it MUST always be kept in the fridge. You can keep these in the fridge for up to two months, but I promise they won’t last that long. 

Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles

Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles
This quick and easy refrigerator pickle recipe makes about one 2-cup mason jar of pickles.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 lb cucumbers, sliced
Brine
  1. 1 clove garlic, crushed
  2. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  3. 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  4. 1/2 cup water
  5. 1/2 cup vinegar
  6. 1 tsp pickling spice
Instructions
  1. Add sliced cucumbers to a sterilized 2-cup mason jar, set aside.
  2. Add brine ingredients to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Pour brine over cucumbers.
  4. Allow jar to cool for about 1 hour and then refrigerate for up to 2 months.
Notes
  1. These pickles will taste great right away but will become more flavourful the longer they sit in their brine.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Freezing Herbs

One of my favourite things to plant in the garden are fresh herbs.  They smell fabulous and always add a great punch of flavour to many dishes – BBQed meats, salads, pasta dishes, even drinks – the list goes on!  Unfortunately, we have a VERY short growing season, so the optimal time for using these lovely fresh herbs is short.  Some herbs are hardy and you can over-winter them inside (like rosemary), others are not as hardy and love the warmth and sunlight summer provides (like basil).

There are a couple ways you can prolong the use of these herbs throughout the year that don’t include the hassle of trying (and failing) to over-winter the plants:

  • Drying: it’s easy to dry all kinds of herbs in your house.  You can cut herbs into bunches and tie them with string to hang in a cool, dry place.  Visit Getty Stewart’s site for more info on drying and preserving herbs.
  • Another great way to preserve these herbs is by freezing them.  A regular ice cube tray is the perfect way to portion the herbs out.

 

You can strip the leaves off the stalks of the plant – above is rosemary and oregano.  The rosemary leaves are not chopped and the larger oregano leaves are coarsely chopped.  Fill the cube about half full – about 2 tsp of fresh herbs.

Beside the oregano, I have added some dill to the tray as well.  

Before sliding it into the freezer, you can add either olive oil or water to these herbs to help preserve them.  For this post, I added some extra virgin olive oil to the oregano and rosemary:

 
And water was added to the dill:

Fill the cubes until the herbs are completely covered.

Once they have frozen, you can easily pop them out of the tray and into a freezer bag, which makes it super easy to take one cube out at a time.  They can be used for pretty much anything – add them to potatoes before roasting or grilling them in a package on the BBQ.  Or, you can put them in a sauce on the stove top.  

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