My Sweetie Pie Made a Pumpkin Pie

Little House in the Big Woods 001

Chapter 12

*****

 

We’d been having an unseasonably warm fall
and were spending
Every Moment Outside.

 

When my daughter invited Beka and I to a pumpkin patch
we dropped our books and headed out the door.

 

Sometimes you just gotta’ follow the sun,
especially since ya’ know once the rains come,
they don’t leave for a long, long, time.

 

Pumpkin Patch
We loved seeing fields full of pumpkins.

Although we call special outings for school
“field trips”
we rarely end up in a field.

This was a field field trip.

 

Rebekah at Pumpkin Patch

The kids loved running to and fro,
with every pumpkin they could lift  a possibility to take home.

 

 

Jana and Kids at Pumpkin Patch
My oldest daughter, Jana,
with her three Munchkins,
Brookelyn, Maddelyn and Brayden.

I found a handmade sign at a garage sale that says,
“Grandchildren are a reward for not killing your children”
but since it isn’t PC and some people don’t get
it’s a joke
I don’t display it.

But grandchildren are a reward.
After raising six kids with lotsa rules and nutrition and bedtimes,
I love having little people who depend on me for only
candy and toys.
That’s it.
My definition of Gwamma.

sunshine family 021

The pumpkin adventure wasn’t over.

The assignment only said “make Pumpkin Pie or stewed pumpkin.”
EEWWWWW.
Stewed pumpkin?
I think not.

To make sure we finished the project
and that Beka had success her first time making pie,
I opted for store bought piecrust and canned pumpkin.

Don’t tell my brothers.
Joel and Allan make amazing pie.
One Thanksgiving, Allan even brought his own rolling pin to Mom’s house
because he was in charge of making the pies.
Of course, my brothers make their own crusts,
use fresh pumpkin,
and yes, they are both single, as a matter of fact.

I don’t know why.

I am the black-sheep, pie-crust buying member of the family.
But not for long.

Pioneering Today: Faith and Home the Old Fashioned Way

Last week I read this beautiful book 
and it  inspired me to get back to my pioneer roots.
She has a simple pie-crust recipe Beka and I will be using
when we make our second pie.

It also is going to make my Christmas shopping a lot easier!
Wouldn’t this book look adorable in a basket
with a few vintage cookie cutters and a cookie mix in a canning jar?

 

sunshine family 025
We held prayer meeting in our home that evening,
so Beka got to shine serving her delicious pies as the snack.

I love to give my kids moments like these!

 

 

sunshine family 030
It tasted even better than it looks.
We had it for breakfast the next morning, too.

There was a little filling left, so we filled little graham cracker pie crusts.

They were also delicious.

 

 

pumpkin, grandparent dolls 209 

See that sweet little pie pumpkin in the middle of my fall display?

 

Hopefully, that will be in Beka’s second pie, too.
It just needs to hang around and look harvesty for awhile.

 

See that squash on the right? 
I bought it to try this recipe
from Melissa’s blog Pioneering Today,
but I bought the wrong kind. 
So, it will also sit as a decoration until I decide how I will cook it.

 

For those of you ambitious kitchen people here are some
pumpkin recipes from a blog called “Laura’s Sweet Memories.”

Farmer Boy Pumpkin Treat Squares

Farmer Boy Pumpkin Scones

Farmer Boy Pumpkin Bread

 

Anything is better than stewed pumpkins!


 

Advertisements

Snow Candy is Better Than No Candy

As a young bride, I received the bestest gift in the world. 

Betty Crocker Cookbook 001

I was thrilled  because even though I’d cooked most of my life,
I  wasn’t a great cook.  I wasn’t even a good cook.

Back then, I’d marvel at other women’s cookbooks, with their wrinkled, splattered pages, and marvel at the longevity of their marriages and their culinary skills.

Now I know the truth, a splattered, tattered cookbook doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good cook.

It could just mean you’ve spilled a lot on your cookbook.

One thing I have mastered is candy making. I don’t make a variety, but I can make
hard candy, caramel, and fudge. I also dip a lot of junk in chocolate and white chocolate. But, now that I’m thinking about it, I guess that doesn’t really make me a master candy maker.

But, I do know the stages of candy making.

When we were kids, my little brother Allan was always the adventurer, the one to figure out stuff. In a clearance bin at the Capital Hill Mall in Helena, MT,  he found a little vial of apricot flavoring. He was told it was flavoring for homemade candy.

He figured the $.25 to buy the flavoring to make a batch of candy, would give him a higher yield than buying $.25 worth of candy.

So, he opened my mom’s cookbook, found a recipe and made apricot hard candy.

We’ve been making hard candy ever since.

Candy Stages 001

I diligently typed this out with an old fashioned typewriter I musta’ borrowed  and glued it on the very back page.

I’ve trusted this chart over any candy thermometer I ever purchased.

Here’s a great website that explains how to do the cold water candy test.
They recommend using a candy thermometer and the cold water test while you’re making candy.

Candy making is simple.  You boil a sugar mixture until it’s the right stage.
Then you eat it.

Icing or glaze is cooked to thread stage.

Fudge is cooked to soft ball stage.

Divinity is cooked to firm ball stage.

Caramel is cooked to hard ball stage.

Toffee  and salt water taffy are cooked to soft crack stage.

Lollipops and peanut brittle are cooked to hard crack stage.

The longer you cook it, the harder it gets.
Easy Peasy.

Ma Ingalls  made molasses candy for her kids. I can imagine her dropping little bits of the candy into a bowl of cold water, explaining the stages to her girls.  I
can also imagine their impatience. It takes a LONG time to make candy.

We found the recipe for Snow Candy on a website by HarperCollins for Children.
They have a lot of valuable resources for Little House on the Prairie series,
including the recipes, quizzes, teacher resources and biographies. 

Since I am such an expert candy maker, I thought this would be a cinch.

home school projects 118

How hard could it be?  Two ingredients, a kettle, something to stir with and some snow.

That’s right.  I needed snow.  The sun was shining, I was dreaming about sun bathing, but  I needed snow.

I live in a place, FINALLY, after decades in North Dakota, where there is almost no snow.

Since I grew up with the survivalist mentality of Make-Do-or-Do-Without, I knew I could conquer this.

home school projects 121

With our little Igloo, we made snow.

home school projects 124

With my cookbook propped open to teach Rebekah the candy stages, we began our Candy Making Quest.

home school projects 125

However, as soon as she dumped in the two ingredients, she bailed.

She was playing Bananagrams on the dining room  table, ”because I’m practicing Spelling, Mom.”

I was going to say something, then realized we were really following Little House protocol.

Ma made the candy, the kids waited impatiently.

So, with all the pioneer spirit I could muster, I stirred and stirred and stirred, calling her over when I was dropping stuff in the water.

home school projects 129

Then I stirred some more.

Notice how cleverly I magneted the recipe to my stove?

Notice how I didn’t clean off the counters for that perfect blog picture?

Notice the double chin I don’t know how to Photoshop off?

Yea, so this is the real deal, here folks.

No “I have the perfect life” fake bloggy stuff for me.

home school projects 130

If ya’ happen to be stirring and stirring, and your rubber spatula is getting smaller and smaller, ya’ better take out  a wooden spoon to stir until you can go out  and buy a new spatula.

Candy making is challenging on those things, and I  have the proud claim to fame that I’ve melted a Pampered Chef spatula while making candy. This one is from one of those expensive cooking stores.

home school projects 127

Remember my bragging about my candy making skills? This thick stuff was hard to test.

At the end I wait for the candy to speak to me, because when  it’s at the hard crack stage it will literally crack in the water.  I usually yell at the kids, “Be quiet!  Be quiet!  I can’t hear my candy!”

The molasses candy wasn’t cracking a lot, but it was starting to smell burnt.

home school projects 135

We pulled it off the burner and  tried swirling designs on our “snow” like Laura and Mary.

home school projects 136

Yea, so big deal.  No fancy designs that would be worth writing about in my memoire.

I poured the rest in a buttered pan.  As it cooled, we began playing with it.

home school projects 138

OK, so we had a few shining moments. The ribbon candy is kinda’ cute.

home school projects 145

Just don’t leave your utensils in the pan with the candy, like I did.

How did it taste, you wonder?

If you like molasses, you would like this candy. If you hadn’t had sugar or sweets for a year, like Laura and Mary who are thrilled to get one piece of candy on the rare occasion Pa goes to town, you would like this candy.

But, if you’ve eaten Laffy Taffy or a Jolly Rancher, you’ll be thankful you weren’t a pioneer child.

So, to not leave you hanging on the verge of disappointment, I’m gunna’ give ya’ a freebie.

My favorite candy recipe.

Homemade Butterscotch 001

It’s amazing.  I always thought it was interesting that there is no added flavoring, but it really is butterscotch.

butterscotch p. 2 001

It’s delicious, I promise.

And it will REALLY make you thankful you aren’t a pioneer kid
who’d never seen a town and had to be content crunching on molasses candy.