Fruit Blogging

Summer Apple, © Copyright 2008 Jade Leone Blackwater

The Festival of the Trees is a monthly blog carnival featuring posts about trees and forests.  The upcoming festival #21 is a special-edition festival featuring fruit trees and orchards.

Our hostess Peg at Orchards Forever has invited us to contribute our blog posts:

“I’d like to try and adhere to a theme of fruit trees and orchards… but virtually anything that is even loosely connected to that theme is welcome! Gardening and growing, horticulture, heirloom fruits, food and recipes, environmental and conservation issues, folklore and mythology, travel, what have you!”

If you like to blog about cooking, gardening, health, nutrition, the earth, or your own backyard, then this month you have a great excuse to share your posts about fruits and fruit trees!  Publish your blog posts and then send your links to Peg at amberapple [at] gmail [dot] com, or visit the Festival of the Trees coordinating blog for more details.

Projects and Planning

Sprouting Daffodils, Winter 2008, © Copyright 2008 Jade Leone Blackwater

While I am busy with my writing projects, hop over to see someone who is REALLY busy with garden planning: Jenny at Seeded has an ambitious planting schedule that will make you groan with envy (plus it’s a great source of ideas if you’re trying to decide what you want to plant in your garden this year).  In my gardens, the early spring bulbs are making their debut from the cold winter earth, teasing me with suggestions of gardening days to come.

How to make homemade pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin

Thanksgiving Pumpkin, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

This Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to make pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin for the first time ever.  We grew several varieties of pumpkins in our garden this year, including Sugar pie pumpkins (which are smaller, and sweeter).

I remember how proud I felt the first time I made pumpkin pie “from scratch” using canned pumpkin and canned condensed milk.  At the time, the concept of baking a pumpkin pie with an actual pumpkin seemed completely intangible – however appealing.

I’ve been teaching myself to cook for about 10 years, and I feel good about slowly navigating away from prepared foods and becoming comfortable with cooking in ways that our ancestors from just a few generations back may well have taken for granted.

Making your own pumpkin pie from scratch using a fresh pumpkin is WAY easier than it sounds, and it is loads of fun too.  Below are some simple steps to follow with pictures from my Thanksgiving last month.  (Note: this is a photo-heavy post.  If you have trouble loading the page, please let me know).

Homemade Pumpkin Pie from Fresh Pumpkin

Recipe

The Pumpkin Pie Recipe I used comes from Rebecca Wood’s Kitchen Dakini (an fantastic site – give yourself time to browse).

Wood also includes an excellent article Pumpkin Pie from Scratch, and includes a recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, as well as a simple crust recipe accompanying her Pumpkin Pie recipe.

Directions

1.  Select your pumpkin

Select a fresh pumpkin for your pie.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin with Hand to Scale, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

Ours was about 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) in diameter.  In the first picture of this post you can see where this pumpkin grew – on a little dish in the garden next to the bird bath where I like to put seeds and crumbs of bread for the birds.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin on Stove, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

(Pay no attention to the time on the oven – we have a policy in our house that all clocks must never show the actual time).

2.  Prepare your pumpkin

Give your pumpkin a good wash (especially if you picked it at the grocery store).  Using a serrated knife (and possibly a strong friend), slice your pumpkin in half.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin First Cut, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Second Cut, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Third Cut, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Split Open, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

Thanksgiving Pumpkin with Seeds, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Seeds Removed, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

Scoop out the seeds and stringers and set that part aside (for roasted pumpkin seeds).

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Seeds for Roasting, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

3.  Bake your pumpkin

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cooked Halves, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

I baked mine shell-side down for about an hour at 350 F, although many recipes suggest baking them shell-side-up.  I don’t think it mattered – the pumpkin was still nice and hot and squishy when I was done.  This picture shows them flipped shell-side-up: I pushed on the shell so you can see how soft it became.

4.  Scoop out your pumpkin

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Scooped Out, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

I scooped out the pumpkin with my icecream scoop.  It rolled right out like butter.  I know that many recipes suggest you blend the pumpkin with a food processor at this point.  I don’t own one (and the blender died in a margarita adventure this summer), but I don’t think it mattered – the pumpkin was as soft and smooth as if it had come right out of that can!

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Compost, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

(Remember to compost the parts of the pumpkin you won’t use.  If you don’t compost and want to learn how, check back in the Spring – I’ll be posting easy-to-use compost information here at AppleJade).

5. Prepare your crust and your pie filling per the recipe directions

Crust: I stuck with my usual pie crust recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 12th ed. (but substituting in one half-cup of whole wheat flour for my own personal taste).

Filling: As mentioned above, I used Rebecca Wood’s Kitchen Dakini recipe for Pumpkin Pie.  During my initial search for pumpkin pie recipes online, I found that some folks needed more sugar in their pies than their recipes suggest.  Since I’m pretty sure my pumpkin was just a small Howden, and not an actual Sugar pie pumpkin (our husky got to the Sugar pies first), I added 3/4 cup of brown sugar to my recipe – the sweetness was just right.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Filling, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

I also did not use quite as much cream as the recipe requested.  If you’ve made pumpkin pie using canned components, it’s easy to gauge by sight whether the consistency is correct.  (By the way: fresh, heavy cream is sometimes called “whipping cream” – thanks Mom for the last minute help on that one!)

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Prepared from Scratch, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

6. Bake and Party

Pop your pie in the oven and bake as directed.***

***Greetings from 2012: over the years many have asked me about oven baking temperatures. Here is the info you need:

The recipe I used for my pumpkin pie blog post at AppleJade comes from Rebecca Wood, Kitchen Daikini: http://www.rwood.com/Recipes/Pumpkin_Pie.htm

Rebecca instructs us to:

a) preheat the oven to 350 F while we make the crust and bake our fresh, halved pumpkin

b) increase the temperature to 425 F just before we mix the pie filling

c) bake the pie at 425 F for the first 15 minutes of baking

d) reduce the temperature to 350 F for the remaining 45 minutes of baking, or until pie is done.

For European ovens, I think these temperatures are:

350 F = 180 C = Gas #4

425 F = 220 C = Gas #7

Remember to cool completely, and for a delicious complement, whip up what’s left of your fresh cream with some confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Baked from Scratch, Autumn 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

Meanwhile, enjoy your holiday, and remember to give thanks (regardless of the celebration) for the fruit of the Earth, the skill of your hands, and the power at your fingertips with an in-home stove and oven.  I might think I’m pretty cool for making a fresh pumpkin pie, but it’s not like I had to gather kindling, start a fire, and keep it stoked while my pie was baking, nor did I have to feed, muck, and milk the cow whose cream blessed my meal.

I think I’ll save that for next Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving Pumpkin, Summer 2007, © Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

Looking back at Summer’s garden

Summer Harvest, August 2007, Jade Leone Blackwater

 

Tomato Harvest, August 2007, Jade Leone Blackwater

 

These images were taken in August, when our garden was just entering its peak production.  For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the cold months are well on their way in for November.

This season we’ll be discussing how to prepare your garden for the next spring and summer, and how to plan for next year’s autumn and winter garden using a simple, friendly tool: the cold frame.

Since the cold months are generally less colorful, we’ll take lots of looks back at the summer garden to help keep us dreaming of next year’s growth!

I just got over the flu, so next week: natural remedies for the common cold.

 

Good health!

Welcome to my garden!

Late Autumn Marigold, November 2007, Jade Leone Blackwater

At AppleJade, we’re going to talk a lot about foods and nutrition.  Part of our discussions will include ideas for how to grow, cook, and store your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables. I’m an amateur, self-taught gardener with about 10 years of experience.  In our discussions I’ll share what books, ideas, and experiences I’ve found useful along the way.  You will have the opportunity to see my garden while it grows and changes, and learn along with me. 

Currently my writing and creative projects have me swamped, so please enjoy some images from my garden for now.  The garden is currently going to bed for the cold Pennsylvania winter – but that’s not a problem for us.  There is still a lot of life in the garden if you look closely.

 

Above image: Today’s image is a marigold.  I grew these from seed, but I’d have to find the packet to tell you their specific cultivar – maybe giant something…

 

PS – If you like to look at nature photography, I have a whole lot more to share.  Visit me at Arboreality and Brainripples for more pictures!