Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's Pumpkin Time!

Sorry I have been MIA, but you will be happy to know (or at least I hope you are) that I finally finished my Bachelor of Science and my diploma came in the mail on Saturday! {{{{Yayy!!!!}}}
However, I am now onto my post bacc program, which means I'm still a student . . . and as such, have a student's budget. Did I mention that we are like the king & queen of all things pumpkin at my house? Or so we've been told, by my very close friend who asked me how to make pumpkin butter last fall . . . She knows who she is. lol And I love her!!! :)

Ok, so Saturday the hubby was whining about craving a Pumpkin Spice Latte . . . in August (barely). . . whilst we were picking out Orange paint for our living room.  The decade of my Island Palm (green) living room is coming to an end. 
Which got me thinking . . . I could make that stuff on my own and we could have Pumpkin Spice Lattes whenever we want. I had discussed making my own simple syrup with another friend earlier in the summer, to put in my cold brewed coffee . . . and came across the delight that is Rich, Simple Syrup. I had added a vanilla bean to it, sliced lengthwise, during the simmering process.  I doubled the batch & refilled the Starbucks' Vanilla Spice Syrup bottle I had just emptied. 
So, this time I decided to jump off the bridge and delve into Pumpkin Spice Syrup. I looked up a few recipes. One   didn't have enough pumpkin, did I mention we really love pumpkin at our house? Another didn't make enough to last a weekend at our house. However, they got me thinking and that is the important part.

So here is what I did.
Started with my Rich Simple Syrup: Which can use any variation of sugars. If you really like Frapuccinos, I recommend half Brown Sugar half Turbinado Sugar! You're welcome!
2 cups cold, filtered water
4 cups of sugar
Bring to a simmer and turn down heat (don't wanna scorch it) and stir until sugar is dissolved, then for five more minutes.  Do not continue to simmer, we are not trying to make caramel here.
Now, if you want to flavor the syrup, add your seasonings before adding heat. However, in this case, I waited until it was done to add the pumpkin.

To make Pumpkin Spice Syrup I added
- a vanilla bean sliced lengthwise
-Cardamom, Cinnamon, Ground Ginger, Nutmeg, Ground Cloves & Allspice to taste. Start with a little. You can always add more.  Too much Cinnamon or Nutmeg, especially can get bitter.

After the sugar is dissolved and you have removed the pan from heat, add 1 cup of pumpkin puree and stir well.  Let the syrup cool. Just before transferring it to a jar, add 2 Tbsp of Vodka to increase its shelf life.
Now, my vanilla syrup (with the vodka) was fine at room temperature for 2 months, but I'm not taking chances on the pumpkin going bad here. I'm refrigerating that stuff!!!
So let's recap:
Items needed:
-2 cups cold, filtered water
-4 cups of sugar, your choice
-1 vanilla bean (or more if you wanna go crazy here!)
- Warm kitchen spices of your choice (cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, cardamom & nutmeg/mace) or you can go for just Pumpkin Pie Spice.
-1 cup of canned pumpkin puree (Not the bigger jar of Pumpkin Pie Mix, it is runnier and already has spices in it).
-2 Tbsp Vodka
-Storage Jar.

This makes roughly 42 oz.
I am gonna try to make a sugar free version with stevia . . . It will be a smaller amount and I'm not even sure if it will be successful, but if it is, you WILL hear about it!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rhubarb Season!!!

Did you know it is the start of Rhubarb Season?

My hubby is a huge rhubarb fan and, in the right recipe, I am too.

I could never find a recipe that quite fit what I was looking for, so a few years ago, this is what I came up with:

2 quarts of strawberries, trimmed and sliced
3/4 lb of rhubarb stalks, chopped coarsely
zest of two clementines (mandarin oranges) & 1 small organic lime (it was all I had)
1/2 c or so Of orange juice (I juiced the Clementines and Lime)
12 Tbsp of granulated sugar (I used turbinado because it was what I had on hand)
3 Tbsp. of Tapioca (to thicken)
Cook over medium-low heat until juices are thickened.
Let rest, covered for a couple of hours (this lets the flavors meld)

Topping (sweet biscuit type):
2 cups of Buttermilk baking mix
1/2 cup of turbinado sugar, brown would work well too
1/2 cup of milk (can substitute almond, soy, etc. if you are vegan or sensitive to dairy)
blend until just mixed.

In a 9x13 inch casserole pan, spray likely w/ Pam cooking spray.
Pour filling in
Spread topping buy spoonfuls over the filling.
Bake at 350 until topping is golden brown.
Allow to cool.

Serve as is or with vanilla ice cream.

You can also double the rhubarb and omit the strawberries if your are like my hubby and a HUGE rhubarb fan!

As soon as I get the first one of the season made, I will add photos!