Friday, October 29

Exciting new adventures

So many new food things to write about!

On Monday night, Jill and I, along with our wonderful friends Pat, Alicia, Neal, Chris, Carlo and about 60 others, met in Bay View for the Milwaukee Mushroom Growers meeting. There was so much excitement in the room, as we all had a chance to inoculate our own coffee ground "logs" with oyster mushroom spawn. I am very new to mushroom growing, but over the semester have been learning about mushrooms, both on my own as well as in my Plants, Pathogens and Peoples class. They really are fascinating organisms and Jill and I are patiently (sometimes not so patiently) awaiting the first signs of life in our little mushroom logs. You can bet your bottom dollar, that there will be many a blog post about these friends.

Also, last night we had a lovely little fall potluck. And let me just say, that my friends sure know how to cook! At the end of the night, I had one happy little belly. Our menu consisted of many fall treats including homemade pizza, lasagna, cheesy pasta bake, fried rice and pumpkin pie. We enjoyed cold fall beers and warmed mulled apple cider, which was a real treat as the apple cider was from my grandpa's farm! My contribution was the pumpkin pie and the mulled cider; both of which I was pleased with. I always have loved pumpkin pie, but it is a bit of a challenge sometimes to make it, since I don't always have the necessary ingredients on hand. For instance... sweetened, condensed milk? Well, luckily for me, I found a recipe with no silly ingredients! And here it is:

Pumpkin pie
For the crust:
1 cup of flour
1 pinch of salt
1/4 cup of room temperature butter
3 tablespoons of ice cold water

1. Sift together the flour and the salt. Then, using a pastry cutter or the prongs of a fork, cut the butter into the flour and salt until the mixture is in small, pea-shaped bits. Gradually add water, and using your hands, blend until all of the dough forms a ball.

2. Flatten the ball into a patty and then roll out as even as possible. To make the pie crust-to-pan transfer, gently fold the flattened crust. Then, lay the crust into the pie pan and unfold. If it breaks, not to worry! Just use some of the extra outer crust and press it into place.

This recipe makes one 9 inch crust

For the filling:
1 cup of cooked pumpkin*
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of brown sugar
cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg to taste
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites

1. Blend the pumpkin, milk, sugar, spices and yolks until smooth. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they are stiff enough to form a peak. Then fold the egg whites into the other mix.

2. Pour into your uncooked pie crust, and bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until a knife can be cut into the center and removed with no excess batter remaining on the knife.

*To cook your own pumpkin (which is not hard at all and so rewarding, since your whole home will smell of fall!), cut your pumpkin in half. Then scoop out the seeds, and save them for roasting. Place the cleaned pumpkin halves into an oven proof dish, cut sides down. Put about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of the pan. This helps to cook the pumpkin thoroughly, by steaming its insides! Allow this to roast in the oven at about 450 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is cooked fully. It should scoop easily out of the pumpkin shell. Any extra, unused pumpkin can be used for a multitude of other recipes (like pumpkin pancakes!) or frozen, and the shell can be composted. Isn't it wonderful that just about nothing is wasted?
Also, it would be selfish to keep the recipe for mulled cider from you, since it is so delicious. It is quite similar to our mulled wine, but has a nice earthy flavor to it as opposed to the sweetness of the wine.

Mulled Apple Cider
1/2 gallon of freshly made cider (even better if its made from your grandpa's apples!)
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves

1. Heat the cider with the spices over medium heat until the desired flavor is reached.

2. Then, add brandy to tasty, and keep warm. Serve warmed in a mug, and share with your friends! Sure to warm you up, instantly!

So many fall treats, constantly. I just love to share them all with you!
Happy fall and happy eating and happy sipping

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