Good Eats: Squash Pie

I’ve harvested quite a bit of butternut squash this fall. Unfortunately, I am the only one in the house who actually enjoys it. I’m working with some persnickity eaters when it comes to squash over here. It doesn’t even matter the variety, my housemates just don’t care for it. Sneaking it into a pie was the only way I could think to get some help in consuming my abundance of butternut. I just couldn’t do it myself!

This recipe transforms butternut squash into a dessert, and it’s great. It’s a twist on the veggie that I personally haven’t seen before, and one I think I may actually prefer to pumpkin pie.  Try it during the upcoming holidays.  I guarantee it will be a hit!

Ingredients

  • Pie crust
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked squash
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

* Make this gluten-free by substituting sweet rice flour or amaranth for the flour, and use a gluten-free pie crust.

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Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease pie dish and lay out pie crust.  Set aside.

Combine all filling ingredients into a blender.  Blend until smooth and poor filling into pie crust.  Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool and enjoy!

What is your favorite way to prepare butternut squash?  Have you tried it in pie-form before?

Tales of a Gardening Novice: Seed-Saving

My first seasons of gardening have been glorious. I’ve plotted, planted, harvested, and plotted again. But what do you do next? As a novice gardener, I’ve found that there are always things to do, particularly if you want to remain as self-sufficient and sustainable as possible. Beginning to save your seeds is as self-sufficient as you can get, though it’s a bit trickier than it sounds.

To start, it is important to purchase seed varieties that are not of the hybrid form. The second generation of these cross-pollinated, saved-seeds produces fruit that is tough and tasteless. Purchasing organic, non-hybrid seeds will aid in reducing the chance of experiencing this outcome, though there are still plenty of factors to consider.

As a beginner, it is important to start small. There are particular varieties of vegetables that are primarily self-pollinated and that begin to produce seeds for saving the first year they are harvested. These plants include: tomatoes, peppers, peas, lettuce, beans, and some varieties of squash.

Seed Saving

Pictured above are the seeds to a butternut squash I have saved, a mostly self-pollinated variety that is likely to produce a wonderful second generation plant!

Now comes the fun part. When harvesting for seed-saving, choose fruits that are your plant’s best-self. Retain these prize-winning seeds and separate them from the flesh of the fruit. Rinse and thoroughly dry them, before spreading them on a cookie sheet or plate. Find an area that is not particularly warm and does not have too much sun. Let the seeds dry completely. Place into a small envelope or jar, marked by the variety of seed contained within.  Store in a cool, dark place.

For more information on particular varieties, and how to save their seeds, I encourage you to visit this website.  It’s a wonderful resource, and does a great job breaking down the basics, and not-so-basics of seed-saving.

For organic seeds that won’t break the bank, try American Meadows, for beautiful seed-saving envelopes check out these, and coming soon: How to Make Your Own Seed-Saving Envelopes.

What about you?  What have been your experiences with seed-saving?

Midwestern Moments: A Hike & Visions of Autumn in the Prairie Land

A few weeks ago, my best friend came into town to pay her now Midwesterner BFF a little visit. Naturally, we went to the tastiest restaurants and spent lots of time chumming it up. A favorite activity of mine–aside from the two evenings spent singing karaoke–was our trip to Neale Woods. Housed within Neale Woods are seven miles of dirt trails, surrounded by 600 miles of conserved forest and prairie land. Needless to say, it is breathtakingly beautiful.

Visit the Fontonelle Forest website for more information.

Here are some of my favorite shots from the hike:

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 The Entrance to Neale Woods

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  In the background is downtown Omaha

Artists Conk

Artists Conk fungi

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

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Common tree algae

Dogwood Tree

Dogwood Tree

Ironwood

Ironwood Tree Seedpods

Western Wheatgrass

Western Wheatgrass

Thistle

Thistle Seeds

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 Beautiful Prairie Fauna

Smooth Sumac

Bird’s Nest Perched on a Smooth Sumac

Canada Wild Rye

Canada Wild Rye

Neale Woods Tree Tops

The Treetops of Neale Woods