Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tip 3 on How to Winterize a House

Well Winter just jumped up and smacked us in the face here in the North East and I've been getting things done that I thought I would have more time to do.

Now I don't have a fireplace anymore but I can smell the neighbors burning away and remember what I did when I had one. So for a warm safe winter it's time to:

Get the Fireplace Ready

1. Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. This should be on in the summer too. You don't want to give your wild neighbors free access to your home do you?
2. If the chimney hasn't been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
It is very important to get this stuff cleaned out as it can spark up and start a fire.
3. Get your firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.

4. Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
Don't forget to keep it close when not using the fire place to keep your heat from going up the chimney.
5. Check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint, if necessary.

Pumpkin Bread

Ok I promised Pumpkin Recipes so here is my first one. It's for Pumpkin Bread and I use this same recipe for making muffins or mini muffins. The Bread gets served when ever the muffins are frozen for a Quick Healthy Breakfast (normal sized muffins) or tossed straight into a lunch box(mini muffins).

2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 c cooked pumpkin
1/4 c water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sift the dry ingredients together (except sugar)
Blend everything else together then slowly add dry ingredients.
Grease and flour 9X5 loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 min. Enjoy

For muffins bake for 30 min and mini muffins 12 min.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tip 2 On How to Winterize a House

Time to Schedule a Furnace Inspection.

The last thing you want is for you source of heat to break down and lets face it you know it's going to happen on the coldest day of the year. Murphy said so.

1. Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts.

2. Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly. This will help keep the air flowing smoothly and your furnace will not have to work so hard.

3. Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat. You can set it to warm the house when you need it warm. (just before you wake up or get home) and set it at a cooler temperature when you don't need it. (bed time or while at work) This will save you some cash and help use less resources.

3. If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them.

4. Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tip 1 On How To Winterize A Home

The weather is getting colder and now it the time to start preparing your home for the long cold days of winter. I'm going to offer a tip every day for the next few days to help you with getting started. By doing or scheduling to have done one a day it makes it a easy chore for anyone. Just one step at a time for a warm comfy energy saving winter.

First Tip

Drain your automatic sprinkler system. As the weather get colder and wetter the last thing your grass needs is more water. Now is a good time to drain it so when the frost kicks in you won't have pipes bursting at the seams that can cost you flooding in your home and costly repairs come spring.

1. Turn off the water supply
2. Place bucket under drain valve
3. Open drain valve and keep an eye on it. You don't want your bucket to over flow or get so full you can't lift it.
4 Leave the water off and the valve in the open position. ( I like to leave the bucket under the valve too just in case).

And your done with your first step toward winterizing your home. If you don't have an automatic sprinkler then you can obviously skip this step but don't forget to stop in tomorrow for step two.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Seeds

Ok as promised how to cook up those tasty pumpkin seeds. The first thing I do is soak them for about 10 minutes. I find it easier to remove all the strings and goop if they soak for a little bit. Then rinse a couple times till the water is no longer orange. Preheat oven to 350

Next use paper towels ,or ( I use my kitchen microfiber clothes ) and dry them off.

Place in a bowl and spray with cooking spray and salt if desired.

Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Set timer for 10 min then stir them around and set it for another 10 min. Cook until browned. If you want to use other seasoning besides salt add them on the last 10 minutes I find they tend to burn it left in longer.

Then should have a lovely brown color and sound dry when you stir them up.

Let them cool and enjoy! I find they keep well in the freezer and you can take them out and eat them with no need to thaw. It helps keep the moisture out and the crunchy in.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How To Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree from Scratch

It was baking day on Thursday and while I was waiting for some bread to come out of the oven I was looking at some of my favorite blogs. Over at Housewife Eclectic they had a guest writer: Megan from Kitschy Suburbia and she posted a yummy recipe for Pumpkin French Toast. In the story leading up to the recipe she explained how the can of pumpkin puree she was using came from her mothers kitchen in California and she was using it in New Mexico. She was hard pressed to find any in New Mexico. That got me to thinking why doesn't she just get (or grow) a whole pumpkin and make her own puree, I do it every year.

This of course gave me a DUH moment as my memory kicked in and realized maybe she doesn't know how to make it. It was only a few years ago when I figured out how to do it.

Now for me it wasn't just a matter of using the freshest ingredients possible but that is a wonderful bonus as it has much better flavor then the stuff in a can.

For me it was all about a WHO THE HECK DOES SHE THINK SHE IS ... Moment. I was sitting at the school waiting to pick up my kids for the walk home and I was listening to a older lady talk about how she was making pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin. I told her That sounds wonderful how do you cook the pumpkin to use it. (if you've ever carve a pumpkin you know it's one Hard squash). She had the NERVE to look at me and tell me "It's too hard for you dear you should stick to the canned pumpkin from the store"

WHAT??? Really!!!
Well to heck with her I'll figure it out for myself!

It turns out it's really pretty easy to take a whole pumpkin and make pumpkin puree for all your pumpkin needs.

First select your pumpkin. You don't want one of the really large ones since you'll have a hard time fitting it in your oven.

Cut off the stem like your making a Jack - O - Lantern. It will make it easier to cut it in half.

Cut it in half

and remove the seeds. Don't throw them away and I'll share the recipe for pumpkin seeds.

Place the cut pumpkin, cut side down, on a cookie sheet and pour 1 cup water around it.
(this well keep it from drying out while it bakes)

Cook at 350 for 1 hour it will turn a darker brown.
and when you push on the skin it will leave an indentation.

Let it cool off.

Then Peal the skin off. It's alot like pealing a banana.

Finally Mash or whip up in a food processor. Use it cup for cup in your Recipes and Enjoy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Found this wonderful Idea

Hop on Over to Happy Healthy Family for a great idea on a Do It Yourself Angel Wings. They are Really cute:

happy healthy families: Last Minute Costume Help: DIY Angel Wings: Got a DIY Angel Costume in mind for Halloween this year for your little one? Since my two little goblins are boys, and my daughter is de...

Tip Of The Day

Keeping your refrigerator and freezer running efficiently is a great way to save on your electric bill and here are the things you need to do to keep it in tip top shape.

1. Pull your fridge or freezer from the wall and Vacuum the condenser coils at least once a year. When the condenser coils are dirty they can't release the heat from the fridge into the air so they don't work as well.

2. Check your gasket. This is easy just take a dollar bill and close it in the door with part of it sticking out. if you can easily slide the dollar out they your gasket isn't keeping in the cold air and needs replacing. Also make sure you clean any dirt out of the little grooves on the gasket to help prevent wear and tear.

3. If your fridge is really really old then it may be time to consider buying a new one. Look at those Sunday sales ads and decide what you're looking for before you head out to the store. This will help you get exactly what you want. Keep in mind all those extra features may just suck down more electricity so decide before hand if you really need them.

4 Defrost the Freezer. If you don't have a frost-free freezer and you have more than a half inch of freezer frost then it's time for the Great Thaw. Put all your food in a cooler the fuller the better and unplug your freezer. You can help speed things up with a couple pans of hot water. Never use a knife or other tool to remove ice you can damage the inside of your freezer.

Another "small" thing you can do: when you are putting away your groceries after a trip to the store, gather all your items for the fridge in one place. Then you can open the refrigerator one time and put everything inside.

Now that it's clean and defrosted, keep your freezer efficient by filling empty spaces with old milk jugs filled with water (remember to leave an inch at the top for expansion). These jugs are great for camping trips or picnics to keep things cold without the water mess of ice cubes.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Picking Recycling and Elmo

We went to the opening day of Fink's Farm Fall Festival for some good ol fashion farm fun. It's a pretty good place to spend the day though most things are geared around the younger children. My kids still had a good time on the hay ride and the corn maze and of course picking the perfect pumpkin. Though my son got stung on the cheek by a wasp, he still would go back any day.

My Daughter picked this 31 pound monstrosity that I think will have to use as a jack - o - lantern instead of for baking it is just too big to fit into my oven.

The second largest was my sons at 19 pounds, large but will still fit in the oven for pies, cakes, breads, cookies, and pumpkin soup .... YUM!

I thought this was some very clever recycling in action this old gas tank became a piggy and and this old oil tank and milk can became a clever cow.
My kids have out grown Elmo but Elmo hasn't out grown them as he traps them in the corn t-pee trying to get a hug. It was a lot of fun watching Elmo play with the little ones some were brave and walked right up for hugs others were more leery of the giant Elmo others just cried. It was like a little flash back to when mine were little.