Ideas and Suggestions

1. I read Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan, for the first time in my life this past weekend. I picked it up off the shelf in the library and had to ask the librarian if it was an abridged version since it was so thin. She said that no, it was the real thing. I read it to the kids in three days (we could’ve easily done it in one sitting) and finished it up on Sunday night. I don’t normally cry when I read to the kids (I do get a little choked up sometimes), but somewhere in the last chapter I started crying and I didn’t stop till I finished the book. I don’t mean a little sniffle cry; I mean, a tears-streaming-down-my-cheeks-and-Miss-Becca-Boo-flying-into-my-lap-to-hug-me type of cry. It is an exquisite book.

2. My Aunt Valerie gave me a new tip when she last visited me. She told me to save all the fruit juices that you have left in the bottom of your jars and use them to replace some or all of the water in your granola recipes. So in my last batch of granola I included sweet cherry juice, the dregs of the jar of apple cider, and some peach juice. I don’t detect a change in the flavor, but it makes me feel kind of smug to do it.

3. I have always cut up my squashes and pumpkins and boiled them till tender and then scraped out the flesh to use in pies and other dishes, but this year I decided to learn how to roast them. All you do is wash the pumpkin, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, cut it into smaller chunks, and set the chunks skin-side-down on cookie sheets.

Cover the pumpkin with big sheets of tinfoil (I save them for the next time I do a pumpkin bake) and bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for a couple hours till the pumpkin is fork-tender.

After the pumpkin cools for a bit,

scoop out the meaty flesh.

Allow the scooped-out pumpkin to sit in the bowl for a little because some more liquid will ooze out which can then be poured off.

Pack the pumpkin into pint-sized boxes and pop them in the freezer.


  • 40winkzzz

    Fuzz & I seperately read Sarah Plain & Tall earlier this fall –the first time for her but not for me. She LOVED it. So then we read Skylark, Caleb's Story (also called Winter's End), More Perfect Than Moonlight, and Grandfather's Dance. Did you know there are FOUR sequels to SP&T? I didn't until now. (Is it proper to say "four sequels", or are they called a sequel, a triquel, a quaquel and a pentequel? And now I suppose I am mixing languages. Should pentequel actually be quinquel?)

    ANYWAY… imho, the last 2 books are not as good as the 1st 3 (which may be why they were never made into movies), but still worth the read.

    And speaking of the movies, we liked those too. Although Fuzz didn't care as much for the 3rd one b/c it deviated too much from the book. She's become sort of a snob about those things. (Hee hee; I did that.)

    Oh, and the reason she & I read the books individually rather than me reading them to her is that we are reading the Little House books together.

    I hope you followed all that.

  • Anonymous

    Regarding #1 above: Yes. Exquisite book indeed.

    In fact, I also read it for the first time this past weekend, to Sophie on the train en route to Goshen, in three sittings, the last one being the longest since we just couldn’t stop after chapter seven. So simple and evocative and beautiful.


  • Kate

    I used to peel and cut butternut squash until I learned the handy baking method from my mother-in-law. It’s so much easier!


  • James W.

    I also save the top peaches and pears, you know the darkish ones that nobody wants to eat, and blend them up with the juices. I do notice a subtle flavor difference with the fruit added.

    To save those juices which add natural sweetness and keep your pumpkin the most flavorful, place the cut side down on a baking sheet and bake uncovered until they are totally mushy and the skin is a deep rich brown at the high spots. Remove from the oven, let set(most of the remaining juices will be reabsorbed) until cool enough to scrape out with a spoon, being careful to scrape as close to the skin as possible. Blended all together the flavor is so rich, sweet,and a deep orange color.

    One other pumpkin pie tip for those out there using raw milk, the pies get much nicer if you scald the milk first. Better yet, evaporate it by simmering it in a heavy bottom kettle until half the moisture is out. The finished pie is exquisite. This eliminates the watery layer at the bottom of the pie.

    Aunt Valerie

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