From Garden to Pumpkin to Pie & Pecan Bourbon Pie

Ready for the oven

IMG_0199Thanksgiving is nearly upon us and if you’re putting on the feast yourself, cooking has to start at least the day before. Today I baked pies and thawed out the turkey. The bird will go in brine when it finishes thawing and be ready for roasting the morning before the feast.

In years past, on request, I’ve made pumpkin pie from real pumpkins. I learned that most of what is called canned pumpkin is actually butternut or hubbard or some kind of squash. It took some searching but I found a recipe for pumpkin pie that calls for pumpkin slurry, which I make by roasting pumpkin and putting it in a food processor. Let me tell you, pumpkin pie made from real pumpkin, fresh pumpkin is the most delicious pumpkin pie I’ve ever eaten.

Roasted pumpkin

Roasted pumpkin

This year we upped the ante. This very morning I went out and selected a lovely pumpkin that came from our very own garden. I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and roasted it in the oven. Once roasted the skin just pulled right off, no fuss no muss. The skin went into the compost bin and the pumpkin slurry went right into a mixing bowl to be turned into pie filling.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Fresh pumpkin pie filling smells good even before it has been baked. My modest 6 to 8 inch pumpkin made two deep dish pies. Already I’m having to beat back the hungry hordes who want to test them before Thanksgiving dinner is served.

Today I also made bourbon pecan mini pies. The pecan pies are mini pies mainly because I only have two pie plates and I used them for the pumpkin pies. Thankfully I have a large muffin tin that I was able to press into service for individual sized pecan pies. Although I suspect they are actually large enough to share with a friend.

Next I’ll make my grandmothers dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs and the sriracha slaw. That’ll leave only the green beans, salad, and turkey for the final day of cooking.

Pumpkin Pies out of the oven

Pumpkin Pies out of the oven

Pecan Bourbon Mini Pies

Pecan Bourbon Mini Pies

A Nerd In The Garden: Crocosima Lucifer, Carnations and Laying Out Your Flower Bed

Hummingbird in Crocosima

One Month Ago

One Month Ago

In the Garden the soil can be worked right up until the ground freezes. Take care not to compress it too much if it rains and the moisture content gets high enough for that to be an issue. So there is a fine line that has to be maintained when pushing the garden work deep into fall.

As you may recall, gentle reader, I had a section of the front flower bed I really wanted to get weeded out while the soil was soft enough to pull roots and all. That’s fine in theory but even with soft soil, grass roots are difficult. I did the best I could and actually rototilled the area and still there are some very tough and persistent roots that I could not get out.

That’s where the cardboard mulch layer comes it. I only use a single layer and it gets completely soaked and stays soaked for months so it breaks down quickly. Cardboard won’t improve your soil quality but it will kill the majority of weeds. Since I’m battling grass right now that’s my best, least toxic, option aside from digging everything out which I just don’t have the time for. Nor do I want to destroy the slope I’m working on.

Yesterday

Yesterday

I’ve put nice hazelnut shells over a part of the area as a real mulch and I will use my cat’s claw/hoe tool to plant the bulbs right through it. The forecast is calling for rain for the next week and that will soak everything quite nicely. Then I plan on digging up the Crocosima bulbs and planting them on the east side of the bed. That will be quite a job.

The nice thing about the Crocosima is that they will naturalize quite nicely wherever I put them. The bad thing about the Crocosima is that they have naturalized where I tossed them so many years ago.

I had no idea how tall they would get or how much they would spread. I got only 5 little bulbs of Crocosima Lucifer free in an order of tulips or something one year. I did not expect them to become one of the centerpieces of my flower bed. While I am glad they did, now I need to put them in a better place.

That being said, let’s talk about laying out the garden. When I first started this flower bed, lo those many years ago, I took a rather haphazard approach. I planted what caught my eye at the time, wherever I felt like planting it. While there is a certain freedom and whimsy to that approach, I would not recommend it. That is the kind of planting approach that leads to 5′ Crocosima in front of 2′ Bearded Iris and 3′ Gladiolus in front of 6″ Dianthus…um Carnations. And that is what leads, seasons later, to having to replant an entire bed.

Hummingbird in Crocosima

Hummingbird in Crocosima

Either get some graph paper or make some in Excel (it’s super easy to do) and you can plan out where you want to put your flowers, or vegetables if that’s the kind of garden you’re planting. I used graph paper for my raised beds in the back because my space was limited and I wanted to get as many beds as possible.

Last Week

Last Week

I planted a full 4’X 4′ bed of carrots and I’m loving just going out and pulling a few out of the bed whenever I need them. It’s going to be gorgeous to have these heirloom carrots for Thanksgiving this year.

This week

This week

While I am enjoying this massive project of mine, I’m also looking forward to being done and having just maintenance to worry about. There will always be weeding to do. There will always be flowers that die off and need to be replaced. But there will not always be this huge multiple month weed-fest and border building and replanting. Also come spring this flower bed is going to be breathtaking.

When the weather forces me, at long last, indoors I have some home repair and improvement projects that I intend to get going. I’m not sure where I’ll start just yet, but there is plenty to be done to improve our home.

I also need to get working on my next cosplay. It ain’t going to make itself and comic con season is right around the corner. K.

Thanksgiving Recipes, #Godzilla Review & Some Cosplay

Garlic Mashed potatoes, cheesy corn, dressing, turkey and other delicious dishes.

Thanksgiving is this week and due to family obligations I decided to have my Thanksgiving early. I made sage and mushroom dressing (never stuffing) which is always a favorite, cheesy corn (based off my best guess from Jack’s Stack BBQ in Kansas City–if you ever get to KC do give that place a try. The BBQ is absolutely superb and the cheesy corn is so tasty) and I played with my mashed potato recipe, adding 7 o 8 cloves of garlic to the potatoes as they boiled and then a whole container of brie cheese when I mashed them along with the stapes, butter, cream and salt and pepper. They were the absolutely best mashed potatoes I’ve ever made. I tried a new green bean recipe this time: Hoisin green beans with black sesame seeds. They were delicious also. Turkey was the main protein along with gravy to go with the mashed potatoes and dressing. There were also deviled eggs and this time I tried some fresh mozzarella capris hors d’oeuvres to get people started while I carved the turkey. There were rainbow carrots at the market and I got them to make glazed carrots. So a couple of recipes for you, gentle reader:

Garlic Mashed potatoes, cheesy corn, dressing, turkey and other delicious dishes.

Garlic Mashed potatoes, cheesy corn, dressing, turkey and other delicious dishes.


Garlic Brie Mashed Potatoes
4-6 large russet potatoes
7-8 cloves of garlic, peeled
heavily salted water for boiling
1 pkg brie, rind trimmed off and cut into cubes
1 stick butter (diet food this is not)
1/2 to 1 cup milk, half and half or cream (whichever you have or want to use)

peel and cut the potatoes into cubes and cook in boiling water with the garlic cloves until fork tender. Drain water, add potatoes and garlic back to pan. Add butter, cream, brie, salt and pepper. Mash with potato ricer. Delicious by themselves or with gravy.

Hoisin Green Beans
1 lb fresh green beans, cleaned and prepared for cooking
1 jar of Hoisin sauce
2-3 TBSP of sesame seeds (white or black, I had black so that’s what I used)
1 TBSP butter

In large skillet add butter and green beans. Sauté until beans are tender but not mushy, you still want them a little crunchy. Add hoisin sauce and sesame seeds. Cook for a minute or two and serve.

Glazed Rainbow Carrots

1/2 lb carrots (more if you have more people)
3 TBSP butter
1/2 C Brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Clean and cut the carrots into coins or bite sized pieces or dice, whatever shape you like. In small sauce pan on low heat add carrots, sugar, cinnamon and butter. Put a lit on the pan and cook over low heat until the carrots are tender. Remove lid and raise heat to reduce sauce to a glaze. Yum-yum.

Now on to Godzilla. Fangirl nation did run my review of Godzilla Cataclysm Issue #4 and here is the link I promised. I have to confess that I totally gave in to my inner squeeing fangirl when writing this review. The truth is that I’m really particularly enjoying these comics and I’ve read quite a few comics in my time. I was, and still am, a huge X-Man fan. As any comic book reader will tell you, there are some stories that stand out and Godzilla Cataclysm is one of them.

Cosplay:

Mothra cosplay

Mothra cosplay

Gratuitous pic of Mothra cosplay with Dirk Benedict

Gratuitous pic of Mothra cosplay with Dirk Benedict


I still need to make some minor adjustments to my Mothra cosplay. I’ve also got a new piece for my steampunk cosplay that I’m very excited to try out at the next comic con I can get to. Honestly I don’t know how I could possibly top my Mothra cosplay and I plan to wear it to a lot of cons.

Weekend Blogging

As you know, gentle reader, I have recently gotten a new job and as a result I’ve been far too busy and exhausted to blog daily. For that I do apologize. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to keep this blog going with my schedule the way it is.

At first I thought I could write up a bunch of posts on the weekends and pre-schedule them to post during the week. That hasn’t worked out all that well, as you can tell. It takes so much time to do the research and write a decent blog post that it was eating up my weekends to write 5 posts. So I’ve decided just to blog on the weekends. A couple posts won’t take up too much time and I can give you something fairly well written and, hopefully, interesting to read about.

Today is Thanksgiving, I hope you all have a happy one. Comet ISON is going ’round the sun and we will learn her fate here before too much longer. Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends and be thankful for what you have, however little or much it may be.