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How to make strawberry jam from scratch, WITHOUT SUGAR OR ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

I started this blog to help people do kitchen things that are different, unusual, or downright difficult, things that are neglected topics in the world of food instruction.  With the plethora of book, blogs, YouTube videos, etc out there, it’s usually pretty easy to find information and/or instructions on many, many things, even if actually doing them isn’t exactly easy.

Making traditional strawberry jam (or even novel recipes with sugar as sweetener)  is one of those topics that’s extraordinarily well covered.  While I hesitate to say there is nothing new to add to the subject, it’s safe to say that *I* personally have nothing new to add to the subject.

But making strawberry (or other fruit) jams without sugar, and without artificial sweeteners, well, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.  While I have no health reasons for wanting sugar-free jam, I personally just don’t like how sweet traditional jams are.  For a few years, I tried reducing the amount of sugar in traditional recipes, and wound up with tasty syrup.  My jam just wouldn’t set.  I tried recooking it with more pectin, to no avail.  For two years, I poured my strawberry jam onto toast and sandwiches instead of spreading it with a knife.  So in 2010, I made my last batch of strawberry jam.  Until today.

What happened between then and now was a simple but life-altering discovery: Pomona Pectin.  It is different than the pectin you can buy most places – that pectin only works if the correct amount of sugar is added, so that after cooking there is not enough water present to keep added pectin dissolved, and thus upon cooling, the pectin will gel.  Pomona is a calcium-activated pectin, so when calcium (included with the pectin) is added, it will gel regardless of the amount of sugar present.  Now that you know the secret, you can Google it and read up on the topic yourself.  What I will tell you is that while Pomona pectin works like magic, it IS different to work with and requires some experience and experimentation if you want to wander off the reservation and make your own recipes.

Let me show you how I made some strawberry jam with honey today.  Note that it is NOT my intention to teach you to make jam, or to do basic canning; I assume you are competent in this regard already.  I’m also not trying to teach specific recipes, though I hope you will like mine and the variations of it described here.  The point of this post is to teach you how to do what you know how to do already, except WITHOUT SUGAR.

Here are the main ingredients: 3 lbs strawberries, some mint from the garden, local honey, and the Pomona pectin with its calcium activator (more detail on that on a minute). Not pictured is a little lemon juice and some Meyer lemon rinds. I also added cracked black pepper and balsamic vinegar (separately and together) to a few jars.

My friend Katie sent me some Meyer lemon rinds from her tree. I use them in everything. They are beautiful and tasty.

OK, this snap technically has little to do with making jam, but I wanted to point out the difference in waste you achieve by using a huller instead of a paring knife. the difference is about 4 grams per berry. Doesn’t sound like much, except when you consider that for every hundred berries, you wind up with almost an extra pound of fruit using the huller. That lesson is consistent with the other thing we want to teach here: how to minimize waste and thus cost.

This post isn’t really about the basic mechanics of making jam, but at this point I mashed the fruit (3lbs), added 2c honey, 3 TBSP chopped mint, and a few TBSP lemon juice, then cooked gently for about 10 minutes. If you are planning to use sugar, don’t add it just yet – you can use it as a carrier of sorts for the pectin powder. Now we’re ready for the pectin, but adding it is a multi-step process that definitely *is* possible to screw up, so pay attention.

First you will need to dissolve the pectin powder (NOT the calcium) in hot water, mixing well to dissolve. IF YOU ADD THE POWDER DIRECTLY TO THE FRUIT IT WILL CLUMP AND RUIN YOUR JAM. Seriously. Guess how I know? If you are adding sugar, you can mix the sugar and pectin powder at this point, and fold it into the fruit, but that is still potentially problematic for clumping. Dissolve in water and you will be happy. In this case, I used 6 tsp pectin powder and 3/4 cup very hot water.

Here’s what it looks like dissolved – like a thick paste. Fold the paste into the cooked fruit.

Now you need the calcium activator. Add 1/2 tsp calcium power to 1/2c water and mix well.

Here’s the calcium water. You won’t use it all at once, and it keeps for months. I add about 4x as many tsp calcium water as I do pectin. In this case I used about 20 tsp calcium water – just add it to the fruit mixture containing the pectin. You should notice the jam begin to start setting. It won’t get stiff. Use the plate test to judge whether the set is sufficient – before starting, put a ceramic plate in the freezer. When you reach this step, take the plate out, and shmear a tsp of the jam on the plate. It will set to the consistency you will get in the jar. If set is insufficient, try adding more calcium water. If that doesn’t do it, add more dissolved pectin. Iterate till it’s right.

Jar your jam in the usual way. Here’s the batch I made today. This jar had a little cracked black pepper and balsamic vinegar added. The set was perfect, and the jam is delicious – not too sweet!

I do try to include costing info with each post to refute the notion that cooking with fresh, high quality ingredients is expensive.  I bought the strawberries at the farmers’ market for $12.  I buy my honey by the half gallon, and estimate I may have use about $3 worth.  My mint was free from my garden, but if you bought it I would have paid about $1.  The lemon juice and pectin may have been $1.  So for about $17, I got (12) 4-oz jars and one large (32-oz) jar (ran out of small jars!).  So 80 ounces of jam for $17 is $0.21 per ounce.  That’s about $1.70 for 8 ounces, which is a typical supermarket size that will run you from $3-5.  And the store jam won’t taste as good, or be as good for you.

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How to make pancetta… starting with a five-hundred-year-old pig

November 21, 2011 2 comments

OK, the pig itself was not 500 years old.  But my pancetta project started 5 centuries ago, give or take.

Pancetta, for the uninitiated, is an Italian version of “bacon”.  It starts with a pork belly, but unlike American bacon, it is salt-cured (along with garlic, pepper and other spices), not smoked.    Pancetta is typically cubed and rendered to provide flavor for any number of dishes, and to my taste is more enjoyable than American bacon, mainly because it tastes more “porky”.

Ossabaws at Cane Creek Farm, the place we bought our breeding stock.

Before I became determined to make pancetta, I became infatuated with a hog.  Not just any hog, an Ossabaw Island hog.  These pigs are descendants of the legendary Iberica swine, and were deposited by the Spaniards on Ossabaw Island, off the coast of Georgia, in the 1500’s.  As an isolated, feral herd, they are now the most genetically  pure European swine on the planet.  These are not your ordinary industrial hogs.

Fortunately for me (who lacks a farm), I have a friend as crazy as I am.  Bruce is the fourth generation on his Hillsborough, NC farm, and he agreed to raise a some Ossabaws.  We bought some gilts from Cane Creek Farm in Snowcamp, NC, later found a boar from another farmer, and soon enough we had piglets.  Bruce’s young son took care of the piglets, and in October we harvested the pig that was subject of this post.

While our piglets were bulking up, a couple of food bloggers created the Charcutapalooza Challenge.  The gist of it is that they proposed one charcuterie challenge per month, and dangled a big prize for the person who completed all the projects in an exemplary way.  They managed to get Michael Ruhlman, author of the amazing book Charcuterie, to be a consultant to the project.  As soon as I saw the project I knew I needed to be involved.

Sadly, however, I’ve only had time for one challenge – duck prosciutto – till now.  I posted on that one several months ago.  In some ways, knowing that I can’t compete for the prize was liberating.  I am now free to focus on my art, the way I want to.  And I thought that it would be pretty unusual for anyone to make Ossabaw pancetta, let alone from a pig they’ve grown.  In addition, I decided I would do the hog processing myself.  Here’s the photo tutorial.

It all starts with a hog. Bruce wisely talked me into letting him take the hog to be killed, scalded, and halved. The harvesting itself isn't such a big job, but the scalding is. So this half hog is how I took delivery of the pig. Note the beautiful fat on this pig, including the leaf lard in the viscera.

Here's the mid-section of the hog after I liberated the ham and shoulder. Since this isn'a post about how to butcher a hog, I'll focus just on the task of separating the belly that we'll turn into pancetta. Note that you don't need a lot of heavy cutting equipment to butcher an animal - a sharpening steel, a good boning knife, and a bone saw will do the job.

We start by separating the loin from the belly. We'll separate out the tenderloin, then turn the loin itself into three roasts.

We isolate the belly by removing the ribs. I also trimmed off a lot of the excess fat (which I retained for more lard). This belly is now ready for curing.

Bruce was enthusiatic to have me turn his half of the hog into pancetta, too, hence there are two bellies here. Bruce's is a little oddly shaped because he was a little more aggressive about separating the ham from the loin. The glasses contain the curing spice mixture specified by Ruhlman: Instacure #1, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, nutmeg, thyme and crushed juniper berries. Ruhlman also calls for brown sugar, which I forgot. But I was very happy with the outcome, and would probably omit sugar on the future, too.

Here are the bellies with the curing rub on them. From here they went into a giant Ziploc, and into my reach-in to cure for a while. Ruhlman said a week, but I let them go for three weeks, just because I didn't have time to take them out sooner. I did take them out once or twice for overhauling (rubbing the spices into the meat).

After three weeks in the reach-in, the meat was ready to roll and cure. First step was to rinse off the spice mixture, and trim them to an appropriate size for rolling.

Pretty simple now... cut, and roll tightly. You could add extra seasoning now, but I didn't.

Now tie the roll TIGHT. If you don't know how to tie a roast, see this video: http://video.about.com/homecooking/Tie-a-Roast.htm

Once they're all tied, hang them in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Ideal conditions are 50-60F and 50-60% RH. Because pancetta is cooked, hanging to cure can be an inexact science.

Because the weather in NC is highly variable (and warm for several days at a time), I built a simple curing chamber out of a dorm fridge. Basically I hijacked the controls and added humidification capability. It needs dehumidification, too. Next project.

After two weeks of curing, they were ready to slice and store. The vinegar was used to wipe off small bits of chalky white mold. I checked them every few days while curing and wiped off small mold spots when they popped up (which they did, because of the high humidity while I was curing). White mold is no problem. Green and black mold is the stuff you worry about, and I didn;t see any of that.

Here it is, all sliced up, ready to package. Beautiful, isn't it?

Couldn't resist a close-up.

Vacuum seal and store for 6 months, easy.

Now that you see how to make the pancetta, let’s do something with it: pasta carbonara.

Cube a wheel or two of that pancetta.

Render it.

Cook some pasta. Yes, I was lazy and used boxed pasta. Sue me. Be sure to reserve a little of the water from boiling the pasta (maybe 1/2 - 1 cup), you'll need it later.

Get some other stuff ready: a big hunk of butter (1/8-1/4 lb), a big mound of hard cheese (2 cups pecorino romano), a couple eggs, and wine (optional, for drinking, not cooking).

Heat a big pan in the oven while the pasta is cooking. When pasta is al dente, throw the butter in the hot pan to melt.

Add the pasta, cheese, and eggs to the hot pan with butter. Yes, one of my eggs was a double-yolker. Bonus.

Mix well, adding a little retained pasta water till consistency is correct. Normally I would have added pancetta in same step, but I have one vegetarian in the house, so I mix it up veg and plate hers first.

Add the pancetta, mix well.

Plate and enjoy!

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How to make scrapple from scratch

April 20, 2011 9 comments

WARNING: THIS POST IS NOT SUITABLE FOR THE SQUEAMISH

After 12 years of living in the southeastern United States, I consider myself a southerner.  But every once in a while, my Pennsylvania Yankee roots show themselves, usually in connection with my food preferences.  And one of my guilty food pleasures is a food that is loved by some and loathed by others: scrapple.  Also known by the slightly more appetizing Dutch name of Pon Haus, or “ponhaws”, or the more descriptive name “pork mush”, scrapple is a unique Pennsylvania delicacy that does vary somewhat region to region.  The common threads, however, are that it’s a food made from pork scraps, spices and cornmeal.  Variations include the specific scraps of meat used (more specifically, whether the recipes include organs), the specific spice melange employed, and whether grains other than or in addition to corn are used.

I might not have ever been possessed to make scrapple myself, but for “the Ossabaw Project” I embarked on with a friend a couple years ago, and which is still ongoing.  To make a long story short, we bought a couple Ossabaw gilts, which my friend raised on his Orange County, NC farm.  Ossabaws are a heritage breed swine from Ossabaw Island, GA, and they are reknowned for their spectacular flavor and texture.  We bred our gilts with a Duroc boar, another breed with wonderful eating characteristics.  The resulting piglets have been some of the best pork I have ever tasted.  In keeping with my desire to minimize waste and respect the animal, scrapple is a perfect food to make from scratch.  It also happens to be exactly the kind of food that should be the focus of this blog: something that utilize “unusual” ingredients that people generally don’t know how to handle any longer.  Including me, as it turned out.

Because even though I’ve eaten my share of scrapple, I really had very little idea how to make it.  So I started where I usually start when I’m stumped: with a Google search.  It turns out there are as many scrapple recipes as their are scrapple recipe authors.  What I usually do in that situation is read as many as I can stand, and start to mentally construct my own recipes and techniques from the best of what I read.

The common threads I kept coming back to were some of the spices.  Many of the recipes leveraged one or more of three spices: salt,

Pork head. I warned you, not for the squeamish.

coriander seed and sage.  I knew my recipe would include those in some way.  I became very enamored of one recipe in particular, from the Food Network, of all places (I’m a big enough man to admit when I admire a Food Network recipe), and even more surprisingly, from Bobby Flay (I say surprisingly only because scrapple seems so unlike Bobby Flay’s usual cuisine choices).  The thing I liked about the Food Network recipe was that it specified the use of roasted cornmeal, which is exactly what we make at our coffee roastery.  Score!  I also knew that any recipe I made would have to include pork liver (because what else would I do with it), and pork head, because while many other variations are possible, using the head for this purpose is very traditional.

Here’s the recipe I ultimately concocted:

1 lbs pork jowls, trimmed of fat
1 lbs pork liver
1.5 qts water
2 bay leaves
10 whole peppercorns
1-1/2 TBSP smoked sea salt
1-1/2 TBSP sea salt
1/2 TBSP dried sage
1/2 TBSP coriander seed, toasted and crushed
1/2 TBSP ground black pepper
3-1/3 cups roasted cornmeal

Here’s the photo tutorial on how to do it:

My spice melange. Toast the coriander seeds in a skillet until highly aromatic, then smash them in a mortar.

Here is the trimmed jowls and liver, about 1 lb each. You can use whatever you want in yours - a shoulder roast will do nicely, or you can add other organs, too.

Adding the water to my pressure cooker. I absolutely LOVE my Russel Hobbs electric pressure cooker, i.e., could not live without it. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can braise for a couple hours, instead.

Add the bay leaves and whole peppercorns to the pot. Pressure cook for about 15 minutes, or if you are doing an oven or stovetop braise, cook for a couple hours.

After the meat is cooked, allow it to cool. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Then grind the cooked meats.

Add all the ingredients to a large skillet, including the reserved broth, and simmer gently until the mush is stiff enough for a spoon to stand in it, maybe 10-15 minutes.

Spoon the mush into a mold. Traditionally, bread pans are used, but I wanted smaller units. So I used pencil baskets, and lined then with parchment paper. It worked great and was a perfect size. Once in the mold, refrigerate long enough to set up. Once set up, you can freeze for at least several months.

Here is my molded loaf. Perfect size.

Cut a slice about 3/8" thick, and pan fry on each side till golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Here is what it looks like when finished.

I wish that this challenge would be raised by the charcutepalooza women, so I might actually be ahead of a challenge for a change!  Mrs. Wheelbarrow, are you listening?

In any case, if you make your own (and I highly recommend you do – like everything else of this type, making your own is infinitely superior to what you can buy), be sure to share the recipe here.  And make sure you’re drinking some fine Muddy Dog coffee when you eat it.

How to make bagels from scratch

April 17, 2011 3 comments

My family likes bagels. So I was surprised when I read about how to make them over at Georgia Pellegrini’s blog (not related, surprisingly), and realized I’ve never tried to make them myself.  As of 8:30 this evening, bagels are one more item that can no longer make it onto my bucket list.  Here’s my photo journal.

Cast of characters: 1-1/2 tsp yeast, 2 tsp sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, 2c flour, 2/3c warm water, 1-1/2 tsp olive oil (ours couldnt be bothered to make the photo shoot, EVOO is like that sometimes ever since Rachel Ray made him famous)

First the water...

Then the sugar...

Then the yeast. Stir well, then let it proof (rest) for about 10 minutes.

After the yeast has proofed, add the oil. the original post called for vegetable oil. Olives are a vegetable in our house, therefore olive oil is vegetable oil.

Add the flour and salt. Knead by hand, or with your mixer. I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer. You may need to dribble a few teaspoons of additional water to make the dough come together - it should be a slightly sticky ball. Cover the dough with a towel, and let it rise for at least 30 minutes.

After the first rise is complete, turn out the ball onto a floured surface. Knead it 8 or 10 times.

Cut the kneaded ball into four or six pieces, depending on how large you want them. I cut in fours since this was a dinner bagel. Roll each piece into a snake about 1" in diameter - it should be long enough to wrap around your palm. Wet each end (lightly!) and press together. When all teh bagels are formed, cover with a towel and let them rise again, at least 30 minutes.

When the bagels have risen, parboil each one in boiling water. Boil for one minute on each side, then remove to a towel to wick off excess moisture. Then transfer to a baking sheet.

Bake at 450F for about 20 minutes. I put convection on about 5 minutes before the end of the cycle to get a nice brown crust.

I should get back to providing costing info with these recipes.  Flour goes for about $2.99/5 lbs, so that’s 19 cents per cup, or 38 cents for the recipe.  It requires a packet of yeast at $0.80.  Figure another $0.25 for salt, sugar and oil.  So $1.43 to make four large bagels.  That’s about $0.36 per bagel.

Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee from Muddy Dog Roasting Company.  My current favorite is a new arrival, Yemen Mohka Sana’ani.

The world’s best pork chop biscuit, from scratch

The World's Best Porkchop Biscuit. Seriously. Lousy photo. Awesome biscuit.

My work on this planet may be just about done.

After a dinner of the Best Porkchops Ever (from heirloom pigs we selected, crossed with a farmer’s hybrid boar from friend farmer Tim, grown with love by our friend Bruce at his farm), I asked daughter Courtney what she would like for school lunch tomorrow.

Answer: pork chop biscuit.

Be still my heart.

So I set about making biscuits.  Only to have Southern grandma-channeling daughter Emily hop up to coach me on my biscuit prep skills.  Because this girl can make her some biscuits.

And together, we made the World’s Best Porkchop Biscuit.  I have eaten me some porkchop biscuits in my time, including the famous ones at the NC State Fair.  And I am not exaggerating, this is the best ever.

And it dawned on me, how many of you have never had a porkchop biscuit that didn’t come from Hardee’s?  Or Biscuitville. Whatever.  This is another one of those foods that is crazy-easy to make, and everyone loves.  So here’s how to do it:

Biscuits (Alton Brown’s recipe, it’s the best):

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter (or a little bigger), being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that’s life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

For the porkchop:

Obtain the highest quality porkchop you can find.  A thick one, at least 3/4″.   None of that boneless crap, either.
Brush it with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper (I like smoked salt for this).
Grill it till about 155F.  Just a little pink inside.  Yes, it’s safe.
Remove bone and excess fat. Slice it about 3/8″ thick (probably in half).  Cut such that it fits on the biscuit.

Place porkchop slices on biscuit and prepare for the magic to happen.  A little pat of butter on the biscuit first won’t kill you.  Quickly.

Try it paired with a nice of of Nicaragua El Limoncillo Pacamara Peaberry from Muddy Dog Roasting Company.

Funche: hot, satisfying, inexpensive breakfast cereal

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Classic funche

Now that we’ve started making roasted cornmeal again, I figured it was time to trot out one of my favorite dishes: funche.  Traditional funche is a cereal made from cornmeal.

I fell in love with funche during the time I spent in Puerto Rico, but every culture around the world has a dish that’s similar: grain cereal cooked in milk and/or water.  Ours is kicked up a notch because we *roast* the corn before stone milling for a sweet, nutty complex corn flavor.

Puerto Rican funche is dead simple to make: Mix equal parts (by volume) cornmeal, milk and water.   For a small family, a good starting point for proportions is 1.5 cups each cornmeal, milk, water.  Simmer on a low burner, stirring occasionally, until it’s thickened, about 20 minutes or so.  You can add anything you like, but it’s especially good with a few pats of butter (25 grams), a few tablespoons of brown sugar, and a 1/2 cup of raisins.

Want to buy the roasted cornmeal we used for this dish?
http://www.RoastedCornmeal.com

How to make Pumpkin Pancakes from scratch

September 26, 2010 1 comment

One thing I’ve never understood is pancake mix.

Even if you’re not a creative cook, even if you’re a lazy cook, I’ve never understood the value proposition of pancake mix.  It’s not any easier than making pancakes from scratch.  Pancakes are one of the simplest foods you can make, and all a mix does for you is pre-blend a handful of dry ingredients.  You still have to add the messy, and relatively more expensive ingredients to the mix: eggs, fats, etc.

I love pancakes.  They’re easy, inexpensive, and most people like them.  They are also really forgiving, so once you have the basics locked into your memory, you can make them without any recipes, and modify them on the fly to suit ingredients on hand.

So on this beautiful fall morning, I figured I’d make a post on pancakes.  And since my favorite veggie is pumpkin, and we have pumpkins in abundance right now, I figured I’d make pumpkin pancakes.  Even if you have no pumpkin, or prefer not to use pumpkin, the basic procedure works for plain pancakes.

Dry Ingredients. Mine is dark because I use demerara sugar (less refined sugar).

Let’s break the task into two parts: dry ingredients, and wet ingredients.  The core dry ingredients are flour (about 1.5 cups), sugar (optional, I use 1/4 cup),  sea or kosher salt (generous pinch) and baking powder (couple teaspoons).  Mix well.

Wet Ingredients (including pumpkin, in this case)

Basic wet ingredients are eggs (two), oil (1/4 to 1/2 cup, more oil = softer crumb), milk (start with 1/2 cup and add more if resulting batter is too thick).  Mix well.

For basic, plain pancakes, that’s it.  Let’s talk about how to make pumpkin pancakes.

Some people use pumpkin from a can.  While there’s no shame in that, this time of year it’s so easy to just go from scratch.  When it comes to cooking pumpkins, there is so much noise out there about which kind of pumpkin is best.  About the only consistency in all that noise is the notion that somehow the garden variety jack-o-lantern pumpkin is no good for eating.

Phooey on that.

My considerable experience is that ALL pumpkins are good for eating.  Some are better than others, it’s true.  But I say that the best pumpkin for eating is the one that you have on your counter.

Here's our kitchen counter this morning. This time of year it tends to fill up with lots of winter squashes and such. The green pumpkins are from our garden, and yes, they continue to ripen after harvest. Some of those will last us till about spring.

With that in mind, go ahead and hack up some member of the Cucurbitaceae family.  Remove the seeds, and whack it down into pieces that will fit into your steaming vessel.  (What’s that, you say you have no steaming vessel?  Do you have a pot?  Than you have a steaming vessel.  Just add a little water and put the gourd in skin side down, then close it tightly with a lid.)  Steam enough pumpkin to yield about 2 cups of flesh.  When in doubt, just steam extra, it’s great mixed into mashed potatoes, or eaten straight.   Steam till flesh is soft and can be spooned from the skin easily, maybe 20-30 minutes.  Let it cool, or run under cold water so as not to burn yourself while processing.

Here's half a small pumpkin in my steamer. I don't know what kind it is because it volunteered from my compost. Whatever its variety, it was delicious.

Now spoon it out and mash it as best you can. I use a Cuisinart.

Ready to use. You can use pumpkin puree is just about anything.

I put the pumpkin flesh into a food processor, but a hand masher, immersion blender, or blender works fine, too.  A big fork will do the job, as well.  No excuses, just mash it as best you can.  Chunky texture is just as nice in some ways as smooth.

Add the mashed pumpkin to your pancake batter.  I like to add a little pumpkin spice seasoning, too (maybe a couple teaspoons).

Then cook your pancakes.

That’s all there is to it!

I had a Muddy Dog customer stun me recently by saying “I can’t afford to eat like you” (meaning whole, fresh seasonal, local foods).  Another reader of this blog suggested that I provide some costing estimates for the meals I propose.  To dispel the myth that eating well is expensive, I’ll start giving estimating a try here:

dry ingredients (guesstimate) $1
eggs (@$4 per dozen) $0.67
cannola oil (guesstimate) $0.25
milk (guesstimate) $0.40
pumpkin – mine was free from our garden, but figure $1 worth of a farmer’s market gourd
Marco Polo ingredients, e.g., spices (guesstimate) $0.25

Grand total $3.57.  The batch I made this morning served eight.  That’s about $0.45 per serving.  Add a couple more 33-cent eggs, some butter and syrup, and suddenly you’re at about a whopping $1.40 per serving.  Add a cup of Muddy Dog Roasting Company Pumpkin Spice coffee, and that adds $0.45, so you eat a great breakfast for under $2.  Is that too expensive?

Our $1.40 per serving breakfast this morning.

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