Why I Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree from Scratch for Pumpkin Pies and More
Several years ago I began getting interested in cooking pies around the holidays. Since I really prefer to cook from scratch whenever possible, I thought the best place to look for recipes was in a collection of cookbooks that had been handed down from my grandmother. I come from a long line of Yankees and this was reflected in the types of cookbooks I reviewed - they all featured very basic recipes from the New England area.
The beauty of recipes from that region is their simplicity - both in terms of the number of ingredients, and also in the amount of steps needed to cook something. I found a pumpkin pie recipe that sounded good except for one thing. It said to use fresh pumpkin, but it didn't tell how to prepare the pumpkin. Several years later, and after many different methods were explored, I developed a way to cook the pumpkin and then process it into a puree with a consistency that makes for a fabulous pie. Baking the pumpkin lends to the process - it keeps the flavor from being parched out as it does when you boil the pumpkin. Plus, baking the pumpkin allows the sugars to slightly caramelize - another bonus in any dessert.
In this short video, you can see how to make both the pumpkin puree and the pumpkin pie. This will give you the instructions with many pictures showing the process of making the puree plus a great pumpkin pie recipe - one that I've developed over time as well. If you'd like to see the printed how-to guides, click here for the pumpkin puree process, and this link shows how to make my Best Ever New England Deep-Dish Pumpkin Pie.
The best part about this pumpkin puree is that you can store it in the freezer for quite a long time. I put mine into small Ball or Mason jars (one-quart or smaller) and use a vacuum sealer machine to close them off. Done this way, the puree can keep for many, many months - allowing you to make fresh pumpkin goods for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even July 4th if that's what you like!
Other really good things to make from the pumpkin puree include muffins, cookies, breads, cakes, pumpkin rolls, and even soup.
Though it may initially seem like a lot of effort to bake and process the pumpkins, it really isn't. Most of the time is taken up by the baking process (about 45 minutes) and then the cooling process (another 30 to 45 minutes). Take that as an opportunity for a little "me" time!
You'll find that this method of processing pumpkin is well worth the effort and that you will end up creating pumpkin-based dishes that your family and friends will love.
Originally published on Yahoo.com, October 7, 2009
Because of recent activity in Iceland, there have been many news reports done on volcano eruptions and the damages that can be caused by volcanic ash. So, just what is “volcanic ash?
It’s not what most people may envision. Typically, when most people think about ash, they picture something light and fluffy—like ashes in the fireplace or barbecue. So, when they hear that a volcano has erupted and everything is covered in ash, the natural assumption is that it is relatively harmless and can be easily swept away. Not true.
THE BLAST AND ITS COMPONENTS
Volcanic eruptions occur when gases in magma, or molten rock, expand and escape into the air. They also occur when water that is super-heated by magma abruptly flashes into steam, or when thermal contraction from chilling occurs after contacting water. Each
scenario leads to eruptions that occur with explosive force, causing escaping gases to shatter surrounding rock layers of the Earth. When eruptions occur in areas covered by glaciers, the resulting plume can contain glass-rich deposits that were created when melted ice quickly chilled lava prior to its explosion.
Material expelled from the volcano at this point is called ‘”tephra.” To better study components of a volcanic eruption, scientists have broken tephra into classifications based on size:
While the size of a volcanic bomb doesn’t seem so large, some perspective is needed. Take, for example, a storm producing hailstones of roughly the same size. They can
cause excessive damage to car windshields and even slate roofs. To a person struck by a volcanic bomb, the impact would feel something like getting hit with a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher due to the high rate of propulsion.
Volcanic bombs and lapilli do cause problems but, because they settle to the ground at a much quicker rate than ash, the extent of their damage is often not as far reaching. The tiny size of ash and its ability to readily travel everywhere means it can be a lot less apparent to ascertain the damages it can cause.
Much has been written about the damage to people, animals, air, soil and water, but less so the damage and chaos that ash can cause to other things, especially those that are technologically and/or mechanically based. Following are just a few things that could be heavily impacted:
These examples show that volcanic ash is dramatically more devastating than it appears and has a great potential to leech its way into so many things that are important to the day-to-day operation of life for everyone in areas affected by volcanic eruptions.
Getting to the Bottom of It
The words "tephra" and "pyroclast" both derive from the Greek language.
Properties of Volcanic Ash
Originally posted in Headline Discoveries, Fall 2010
I'm April Bailey, a freelance writer and editor for hire who has been writing about various topics for many years. Most of my early print work was destroyed in a major house fire. Luckily, I was able to pull some copies from an old PC and have posted them here. Other items on this blog reflect my current articles and blog posts written for online publications and copied here so I never lose my work again!