Happy Sunday friends! Here in the US the time changed overnight, so I am trying to use the extra hour in a productive manner. I wish I could sleep in like some folks, but my internal clock likes to rise before the sun. I'm sure I'll crash by 8pm this evening to balance it out. 😉
Yesterday I spent the afternoon working on breaking down my beautiful heirloom pumpkin from Pinewood Springs Farm that I bought at the farmers market a while back. As I was elbows deep in pumpkin seeds, it made me think about how much joy I've gotten in the past year removing the barriers of time and insecurity in experimenting so much more with making homemade goods. Of course I have been cooking and meal prepping for many years now, but up until recently I hadn't really taken the time to attempt some of the "extras" outside of the simple things like hummus and quick pickles.
Like many people, I often use the excuse that I don't have "time" to do certain things. I'll take an hour to get lost in the rabbit hole of social media, when I could be doing other things or I take too long working on something when I don't set a deadline. Home-cooked meals are always a priority as that has just become second nature now (for health, for budget, and the pleasure it brings), but it is so easy sometimes to just buy a jar of jam or grab a can of pumpkin puree instead of making them. Convenience really does make us lazy. Not that I am knocking some of those items! I know there are lots of people working full time (and then some), taking care of families, and just trying to get through the day with many obstacles taking up their precious time. For me, though, I know if I set my priorities correctly I can often carve out some space in my day or week to work on letting my inner homesteader loose!
A portion of the puree ready for freezing to use later!
Fear or insecurity about doing something correctly is also often a "block" to trying new things. I used to think I couldn't come up with my own recipes, so I always used cookbooks or blogs to plan out my meals. Fast forward a few years and I have my own little cookbook published (and outlining the next)! The same seems to be holding true for trying new things like making sauerkraut or the apple cider vinegar I have fermenting in the basement right now. I love following homesteading blogs to learn all kinds of ways to preserve locally grown fruits and veggies. Little by little I'm taking that inspiration and applying it to my own farmers market and garden hauls. Kudos as always to my amazing local farmers for growing so many interesting crops to keep me trying new things, as well. From simply having my freezer stocked full of hand-picked berries we loaded up on this summer, to now having my freshly roasted and pureed pumpkin ready for pies, muffins and smoothies, to experimenting with different jams and spreads--my repertoire (and pantry) continues to grow. I've even started coming to love the dehydrator after being on the fence the first time I tried it.
Homemade food is the best preventative medicine to maintaining your health from the inside, but it really is also a balm to the soul. You have control over each ingredient, so you can make things fit your lifestyle and health standards. It also is much more environmentally-friendly in many cases. I'm really trying to decrease the amount of waste we produce, so making things at home versus continually buying new jars or packages is a good way to work on that goal.
I was pooped after carefully cutting open my pumpkin, scooping out the seeds to preserve and also roast some for snacks, cooking the fruit, then pureeing and divvying it up for the freezer. Oh, and also making the awesome pumpkin butter I'll eventually get to below. I have so much respect for the folks who make all of their goods from scratch as it is absolutely a full time job. It is one of the most rewarding ways you can spend your time, though. I have never regretted an afternoon spent in the kitchen preparing these types of things that keep myself and my loved ones full and healthy.
I've got plenty more to learn and areas to grow (still a bit intimidated by canning), but I have lots of inspiration to continue moving forward and trying new things. Hopefully I can inspire a few folks along the way myself!
Pressure Cooker Pumpkin Butter
Makes approximately enough for 3 pint jars
- 5 cups freshly roasted pumpkin (or about 2-3 15-ounce cans of puree)*
- 2 apples, cored & roughly chopped
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoon molasses
Place all of the ingredients in an electric pressure cooker. Use the manual button to set for 10 minutes of cooking time. Use the natural release method to let the pressure come down. Once the pressure has released, carefully remove the lid and let the mixture cool down slightly. Use a hand blender to puree or place the mixture into a blender in batches if needed.
*Since I had just roasted my pumpkin, I scooped out the flesh right from the pumpkin and put it straight in the pressure cooker. One less step. 😉
Roselle (Hibiscus) Jam
On the same theme, I also couldn't help but throw in my first batch of Roselle jam, as well! I know @lenasveganliving has been waiting for the full write up on this one. My dear friend is having her next surgery later on this week, so make sure to send the queen of #fruitsandveggiesmonday some good thoughts for a fast recovery. Thanks to @joelai for the awesome recipe for me to work from!
I used coconut sugar in this jam as a sweetener. Just a half a cup was plenty to tone down the tartness a bit, and the outcome was perfect! I left the petals in, as well, and just hit the final product with the hand blender once it cooled off. Just the Roselle, water and the bit of sugar were the only ingredients needed for a wonderful jam. We still have a bit left that we are enjoying. I found it especially delicious on fresh-baked bread from the market with homemade walnut butter. I also dried some for use in teas and perhaps some other recipes.
Thanks to @naturalmedicine and @innerblocks for hosting this challenge on looking at the "blocks" we've experienced to initiating positive changes in our lives. I'm also tagging #fruitsandveggiesmonday to give Lena and the contest some love, even though I'm a little bit early today. I will try to get a monthly recap post up next week on the @vegansofsteemit page to show the wonderful entrants some love for their continued fantastic entries and dedication to the contests.
On a final note, any of my Steemit foodies may also enjoy jumping in on the latest @phctop3 contest we have going on this month. Entries to share your Top 3 Comfort Foods can come in all the way through the 9th of this month! Check out the contest post for more information to join the fun.
Posted from my blog with SteemPress : https://plantstoplanks.com/making-time-for-kitchen-experiments-homemade-pumpkin-butter-recipe/