Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pumpkin Puree

The second, and long awaited, installment of my Pumpkins Aplenty series...

One of the easiest things to do with a Sugar Pumpkin (The little ones used for pies) is to puree.  A fresh, whole pumpkin will last for about 6 months in a cool dry place.  But if you are like me, a cool dry place is still on the wish list.  Frozen pumpkin puree will be good for much longer and you can enjoy the flavors of home grown pumpkin year round!

My first attempt at pumpkin puree did not go as planned.  I was hoping to cut the pumpkin into chunks so they would roast faster.  Trying to cut a raw pumpkin proved too much for me and my little knives.  Instead, I found that roasting the whole pumpkin was much easier.  

Preheat the oven to 350

Place whole pumpkins on parchment lined cookie sheets (In case of leakage which is unlikely but its good to be prepared)

Roast for 1-2 hours depending on size (The pumpkins will be ready when you can easily insert and remove a knife from the skin)

Let cool until they are easy to handle

Cut in half, remove seeds and set aside for roasting later

At this point, the meat should easily scoop away from the skin. 

Remove all the meat and puree in a food processor or blender.
Refrigerate for use in the very near future or freeze for year round enjoyment!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Holidays without Hubby

Or wifey…or whichever loved one happens to be out of town at the holidays.

Being part of a military family means that, inevitably, your soldier/sailor/marine/airman will miss holidays and you may not be able to spend them with the people you traditionally get to see.  This does not mean that the holidays have to be a sad, lonely time of year. 

You may not be able to carry on every tradition your family is used to, but it is important to keep up with as many as possible especially if you have young children.  When mom or dad is away, little ones need familiarity to stay strong.  Trim the tree on the same day each year.  When we were kids we always trimmed the tree on my father’s birthday no matter what.  It was a big deal for my sisters and me.  Use the same decorations if you can.  It brings a bit of *home* with you on each move.  In the military, we are always moving so it’s hard to establish a *home*.  But with little things like common decorations, you can add some much needed nostalgia to the holidays.  My son and I always go to my mother’s for the holidays, we are lucky enough to be able to stay close to family, but I still set up daddy’s little Christmas tree every year and we cover it in tiny little ornaments (it’s only about 2 feet tall and sits on the kitchen counter).  This way, even when my husband isn’t home for the holidays, we have a little bit of him shining through the house every night. 

This time of year is perfect for Skype, Facetime, or any other live video chat.  Have your loved one there when you carve the turkey, light the tree/menorah, or sing Christmas carols.  This day in age, it is so easy to spend time together even when you can’t physically be together.  Phone calls are great but seeing their faces when gifts are opened or when daddy sings their favorite song is priceless.

If you are being left to your own devices this year (no kids, no parents) make sure you don’t spend them alone.  I spent one Easter pregnant and alone in NC and I bought myself dinner at IHOP.  I do not suggest that for anyone…it was not an enjoyable evening.  Hopefully you have been at your current duty station long enough to make at least one friend but even if you haven’t, the military community is extremely friendly.  One of the other families may invite you over for dinner, there may be a command sponsored event, or even a local community dinner.  Heck, invite everyone over to your place if you are feeling spunky!  Just don’t sit at home with your frozen turkey dinner and boxed wine (not that there is anything wrong with boxed wine on any other occasion). 

I hope everyone has a lovely holiday season and that you all get to spend as much time with your friends and family as possible!