Amazing Squash Pie!

Isn’t it amazing how conversations from different parts of your life often intersect in the most delightful ways?

A perfect example: I was, just the other day, telling my mother about the interesting squash we’ve grown in the garden. I believe it’s actually a “mongrel” variety of a Boston Marrow Squash that has been reseeding itself in our compost pile. Whatever its origins, it makes for delicious soups and isn’t bad just baked and mashed with a little cinnamon and butter. My mother told me that Boston Marrow Squashes were often used in the canning factories of her girlhood for pie fillings.Amazing Squash Pie

About the same time, I was also involved in a conversation about the excessive rain in the pumpkin patches, which is causing a dearth of canned pie fillings…just before Prime Pie Season.

Hmmm…can you see the connections I was making?

Nothing to do but give it a try, right?

Last night, I chose a likely looking squash specimen from the drying shed. I washed its face, cut off the ends, cut it in half and scooped out the seeds.Green Circle Grove I have a neat ice cream scoop that works just right for this job. Seeds and innards went into the chicken bucket—I didn’t worry about getting all of the stingy parts, although there wasn’t much.

The scooped out halves went onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet Green Circle Groveand into the oven at 350° for about 45 minutes –just until the halves were “fork tender”.

Green Circle Grove


I cooled the cooked squash for an hour or so, and then easily pulled most of the outer rind off the squash. This rind has some green between the meat and outer skin, so be sure you remove all that, too. It won’t hurt you, but makes for a more attractive final result.

As I peeled the squash, I put the pieces into the hopper of my blender –Green Circle GroveI could have just as easily used a food processor or even a vegetable masher—anything that will puree the cooked squash. My blender was closest to me, and the hour was getting late. I pureed, scraped the cooled, processed squash into a bowl, and refrigerated it. I shouldn’t start projects like this at night.Green Circle GroveIn the morning, I made a single shell piecrust, and preheated the oven to 425°. Out of the refrigerator came the squash, along with 2 eggs. I decided to use my usual pumpkin pie recipe for this experiment; it’s easy and time-tested for delicious flavor! I’ll post the recipe at the end of this story.

Green Circle Grove

To a medium bowl, I added and mixed the dry ingredients: brown sugar (if I have dark brown sugar on hand, I use that), spices and a dash of salt. Then, the squash was mixed in thoroughly. I poured in the eggs, which I had slightly whisked together in the same bowl the pureed squash had just been in. (I like to break the eggs into a bowl separate from the one with all the other ingredients, just in case there’s a bit of shell, or horror of horrors-a blood spot.) I added the eggs and the milk, mixed everything together well, and poured the whole combination into the waiting pie shell.Green Circle Grove

By then, the oven had preheated, so I baked the pie for 10 minutes, and then turned down the heat to 350°, and reset the timer for another 40 minutes. This is a good step to have in a custard-type pie recipe: the temporary high heat helps set the filling.

So far, the pie was looking like an ordinary pumpkin pie.

After the allotted 40 minutes, the pie smelled like an ordinary pumpkin pie, too.

The test for “doneness”, using a table knife into the center of the pie, showed that a little more time was needed. Amazing Squash PieTo be honest with you, I usually set the second temperature time for 45 minutes anyhow, so an extra five wasn’t unexpected. I ended up having to bake the pie for another 5 minutes (for a total of 50 minutes at 350°). I wonder if maybe the homemade squash filling wasn’t just a bit more “watery” than processed, canned pumpkin filling?

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?Amazing Squash Pie

It will be cool by dinnertime and then the Official Taste Tester can make the final proclamation, but….here’s my early prediction:

There’s no need to worry about the lack of canned pumpkin. A winter squash from the back shed works just fine. Now I’m thinking about trying again, but using one of those Butternuts….

Maybe it’s time for another conversation or two.

Winter Squash Pie from a Pumpkin Pie Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. Mix together in medium bowl:

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar; 1 tsp. cinnamon; ½ teaspoon each: salt, ginger, nutmeg; 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

  1. Beat in 2 cups pureed winter squash.
  2. Lightly whisk together 2 large eggs and add to squash mixture.
  3. Stir in 1-cup evaporated milk. Beat until smooth and blended.
  4. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell.

Bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake for 50 minutes more, or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.

Cool, serve, enjoy—refrigerate if there are any leftovers!

Makes one 9-inch [amazing] squash pie.


This post is shared with (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop #40!

Nellie’s Favorite (Dog) Cookies!

It’s cold outside, so I like to warm up the house by using the oven. Today, because we are out of dog treats, Nellie and I are going to make a batch of her favorite cookies. She helps by keeping me company, and by reminding me to take the treats out of the oven.

Nellie is very patient.

Nellie is very patient.

This is an easy recipe, with ingredients that most everyone has on hand. It makes two big cookie sheets full of treats, too. We only have one dog now, and one batch lasts at least a month—and that includes days when little visitors come and give Nellie many extra cookies.

So, after supper, preheat the oven to 350, and mix up 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of dry oatmeal, and 1/3-cup peanut butter.nellie's favorite cookies

Nellie doesn’t have allergies, so I often use whole-wheat flour. I’ve used half whole wheat, and half rice flour, and this time I’m going to use 9-grain flour—just because that’s what came to the top. I use “old-fashioned” oats, but the quick type would work just as well.

Once you’ve mixed up the dry ingredients, and stirred in the peanut butter, add about 1 ¼ cups very hot water, and stir it all together. You should have a nice, puffy dough.Nellie's favorite cookies If it seems too sticky, add a little more flour.

Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Using a fork dipped in flour, evenly flatten the balls.Nellie's favorite cookies

This recipe will fill two cookie sheets—you can place the cookies quite close together, as they won’t spread.

Bake the cookies (both sheets) for 40 minutes. Nellie's favorite cookiesTurn off the oven and leave the cookies in the oven overnight. (This is why you wait until after supper to make them.) In the morning, they will be crisp and cool and have just the right crunch. Don’t worry—your dog will remind you that they are in the oven!

Still waiting patiently….

Still waiting patiently….

Store the cookies in a covered tin in the refrigerator.

This is a fun baking activity to do with children—the sizes don’t have to be precise, and even though it’s best if the cookies are flattened evenly—flatter ones will be crisper than the fatter ones, that’s all. And…if batter is tested (or the finished cookies, for that matter), it won’t make a bit of difference…you know exactly what’s in “Nellie’s Favorite Cookies”.


This post is shared with (mis)adventures Mondays Blog Hop and The HomeAcre Hop #109!

A Recipe Box Life

My mother and I have been sorting things.

At 96, she doesn’t see so well any more, my dad has become a bit forgetful and so in preparation for a move to assisted living, we’ve been going through what’s accumulated over nearly 75 years of marriage.

GCG-recipe box life

July 19, 1941

Last summer, the older grandchildren and I helped her paw through boxes of china, farm records, and family treasures—labeling some, exclaiming at others, tossing a few. Recipe Box life GCGIn the fall, she and I went through trunks of family history: graduation programs, old photos, souvenirs from a someone’s 1912 trip to California, the Purple Heart awarded to the uncle who was lost at Guadalcanal long before I was born. Again, we labeled and exclaimed, but this time we threw out nothing and shed a few tears. Another generation can deal with these mementos.

On wintry afternoons lately, we have been going through her recipe boxes. There are three: one heavy wooden box of Basic Recipes she had when she was studying to become a home economics teacher in the 1930’s; one small, decorated box from the fifteen winters or more spent in sunny Florida; and, a long file box containing everything else.

We went through the file box first, because that’s what she wanted to do.recipe box life GCG I started at the front-with the divider marked “Appetizers”, and one by one, pulled out recipes and put them behind the right label. I read each recipe to her, and any comments that she had noted on the card, and as I read, she usually remembered the occasion, the event or the person who made the dish first. We talked about “Audrey’s Brown Bread”—and reminisced about dear Audrey with the houseful of children and the kind heart. Recipes for “Macaroni Salad for 150” or “Swiss Steak for a Crowd”, brought stories of aproned ladies baking pies and mashing potatoes in the floor industrial sized electric mixer for dinners sponsored by the Presbyterian Church. There were recipes from her early-married life on the farm—“Liver Loaf” and “Pickled Tongue”; we discussed my dad’s family when we found “Mother McNinch’s Gingerbread” and her own mother’s love for anything containing cranberries. Some of the recipes were handwritten on the back of an envelope; one had a grocery list on the backside, another an assortment of items needed from the hardware. We found a few letters, too—sweet reminders of Great Aunt Alice and cousin Florence’s third birthday—along with Aunt Al’s sugar cookie recipe and directions for Florence’s dad’s famous pickles. It took many afternoons to go through the whole box. I think we both purposely took our time at it, too, because there was a lot more going on than just recipe sorting.

The small green box from all the winters in Florida showed me another aspect of my mother and dad’s life. If the first box, the longest, was a history of family and daily experiences, this small, bright box was a record of retirement, relaxation, friends and fun. In the first box, there were three cards behind “Appetizers”. There were many, many more in the Florida box-dips, snacks, hors d’oeuvres. I found “Sarah’s Great Potatoes”—“…perfect,” my mother said, “for New Year’s Eve potlucks.” There were at least three dozen recipes for using oranges in various ways, and possibly the same number, or more, for using lemons. “Citrus Slaw”, “Lemon Fluff”, “Frosty Orange Pie”.Recipe Box Life GCG This little box also contained duplicates of my mother’s favorite recipes from the first box—familiar dishes to make in their home away from home. I also discovered that she began to gather recipes using yogurt, and those containing fewer calories and lower fat. There was no longer a need for hearty noon meals for a farm family; lighter lunches were the fare in the sunny South. The duplicates I set aside– for a granddaughter, perhaps?—the others, I added to the bigger file box.

The last box we tackled was the least amount of work. Some of the cards were out of place, true, but they were numbered, so easy to put back in order. This wooden box is truly a Basic Recipe Box. recipe box life  GCGIt begins with an introduction from the Head of Food and Nutrition Department at Iowa State College, copyright 1937, noting a “…need felt by the students of Iowa State College of a working tool for use in foods courses.” It goes from this, to a list of abbreviations used, directly to “Beverages”. No “Appetizers” in basic foods, apparently.

Each section in this heavy box has a list of contents, with blank spaces for adding more. Card No. 8 (Section 2) is a description of the Baking of Breads, which leads right into “Making Toast” (with variations). This recipe file hasn’t been used nearly as much, nor as recently, as the others. It’s tidy and organized, although a little dusty—much like a kitchen that’s no longer quite so cluttered from daily use.

It’s a handy file, though, for a beginning homemaker: from the recipe for Breakfast Chocolate, to Eggs/Cheese, up to Measures-which explains how to measure and level, as well as giving the approximate measure of 1 lb. of food material (3 to 4 potatoes, 40 to 50 average prunes, 4 cups flour). Beyond this, there’s a large section for Preservation – explaining conditions and principles. (“Bacteria need for growth-food, moisture and warmth. By removing one of these conditions, the growth is checked.”) This was the Depression Era, remember—anything extra was dried/canned/pickled/fermented for another time—and home freezers weren’t available.

The Basic Recipe file ends with “Vegetables”, just as the other files have done. Again, there’s a difference: the large, daily file had newspaper clippings explaining how to use excess zucchini as well as four separate recipes for “Scalloped Corn”; other than “Zesty Stuffed Tomatoes”, the Florida “Vegetables” section was entirely filled with potato recipes (“Crunchy Topped”, Cheesy Baked”, “Easy Scalloped”). The wooden file, under the same topic, has General Directions (Card No. 236: “Old potatoes have improved flavor if soaked ½ hr. before cooking.”) Ten more cards present vegetables alphabetically arranged, noting preparation for cooking details and estimated time for boiling….beginning with Artichokes and ending with Turnips. (Who’d heard of zucchini in 1937?) My mother suggested selling this box—or throwing it out. I can’t do that, so we agreed that it would go to yet another granddaughter.

recipe box life GCG

“Easy To Roll” sugar cookies

recipe box life GCG

Learning to bake bread in Grandmother’s kitchen.

These recipe box-sorting sessions left me emotionally exhausted. It’s hard to explain what reliving more than three-quarters of a century of a woman’s life—a well-loved woman’s life—is like. We began the journey when she was a college student—unaware and uncertain of the future. We talked and shared recipes through the years of World War II, when she taught home economy to housewives rationing sugar, growing victory gardens and pressure canning on kerosene stoves. Up through the years as a mother, farmer’s wife—the church dinner/harvest meal times—when summer meant wash tubs full of peas, long hours husking, shelling, snipping, and slicing, crocks of pickles and hot kitchens—when relaxing meant picking buckets of berries or tent camping next to a stream. On into middle age, when work beyond the home resumed and grandchildren arrived. There are recipes for “Easy-To-Roll Sugar Cookies”, along with those for healthy soups, crock-pot meals, and “Master Mixes” for quick suppers. Zucchini and various herbs-seasonings beyond salt, pepper and parsley for garnish- found their way into the family’s diet, too. As life moved along, so did the recipes—there were fewer using beef, but more with chicken—lots of casseroles and not as many aspics and molded salads. The retirement years—with the need for two recipe boxes—one for summers in the cabin in the northern woods, the other for busy winters in Florida. Barbecues, punch, snacks—many now marked “lo-cal”. Finally, the years spent close to home—back up north for good. The cassette tape with my dad’s voice reading the favorite recipes for her to follow—lacking sight, she still found a way to be a cook and homemaker.recipe box life GCG

This sorting project turned out to be much more than putting cookie recipes behind the “Cookies” divider, and punch under “Beverages”. The closer we came to the end of the card files, the slower I went. I don’t want the story to end.

It won’t, of course. My mother’s days of cooking and baking may have come to an end—with the new living arrangements, meals are prepared for the residents. But, I’ve realized her purpose in having me help her sort through the boxes was not just to organize and file. It was so I could share a glimpse into the life she has led. I’ve learned new stories, and gathered new recipes for my own journey. My mom and I have shared some delightful afternoons, a lot of laughter, and many, many memories. As my dad dozed in his recliner, I was able to relive, with her, all the years of their marriage.

A few days ago, I wrote a bit about this project on the Green Circle Grove facebook page. After several sentences, I knew there was much more to the story, so I ended by saying I needed to write a blog post about it.

I’ve discovered there’s much more than a blog post here. I’ll have to write a book.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to warm up your kitchen with a wonderful smell; an easy, old-fashioned dish that’s comforting, chocolaty and not at all low-calorie…here’s…        Recipe Box Life GCG

Elma’s “Brownie Pudding”

1 cup flour                                    2 Tbs. cocoa                        2 tsp. baking powder

½ cup milk                                    ½ tsp. salt                        ½ tsp. vanilla

¾ cup sugar                                    2 Tbs. fat, melted***            ¾ cup nuts

¾ cup brown sugar                        ¼ cup cocoa                        1 ¾ cup hot water

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cocoa. Add milk, fat, vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add nuts. Pour into 8” greased pan. Mix brown sugar and cocoa, sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over entire batter. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

***I suppose when this recipe was first used, “fat” may have been butter, or whatever was available in the farm kitchen. Later on, margarine was probably used. Today, I use coconut oil.

On the back of the card, it says “Yummy-Yum!!”


This post is shared with the Sunday Social February 15 and Simple Life Sunday #57.

Quick Chocolate Truffles for Valentine’s Day

Just in time for Valentine’s Day—here’s a quick , easy and fun recipe.

It’s quick because there are only three ingredients:

3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

It’s easy because all you have to do is pour the condensed milk over the chocolate chips and melt them.GCG chocolate truffles

I put a large bowl over a saucepan about a third full of water, set it all on the stove and heat over medium heat, stirring until the chips and milk are melted together. You might wonder if the metal bowl gets too hot to handle—and no, it never has.GCG chocolate truffles

Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla to the bowl and stir.

Cover the bowl and chill for an hour or two.

Here’s the fun part: shape the chocolate into balls, roll them in whatever you desire for a coating, and ..that’s it! Store them in the refrigerator to keep them firm.GCG chocolate truffles

I used chocolate and colored sprinkles, powdered cocoa, toasted chopped pecans, crushed peppermint candies, and flaked coconut for coating the truffle balls….totally forgot that I also had confectioner’s sugar that would have been nice, too.GCG chocolate truffles

Don’t they make a pretty Valentine?

This post is shared with (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop!


Jack O’Lantern Pizza

Tomorrow evening just about dusk…

Ghosts and goblins, fairies and princesses…

Beggars and tramps, Power Rangers and Supermen…

Will be flitting, skipping, roaming, passing along the streets.

It’s All Hallow’s Eve, and in towns and villages everywhere, children will be coming to doors, calling “Trick or Treat”.

When my children were young and at home, they jumped off the school bus and hustled to get into their costumes to take part in the tradition.

I was always worried that they wouldn’t have any decent dinner before they left, so when I found a simple recipe and made it my own, this became the traditional dinner served on October 31st.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizza

Here’s what to do:

Heat the broiler, and split English muffins.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizza

Brush each muffin half with a little olive oil and broil just long enough to lightly toast the muffin.GreenCircleGrove Jackolantern pizza

Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of pizza or marinara sauce onto the toasted muffin. I make tomato sauce every fall, so it’s easy to add some basil and oregano –presto! Pizza sauce.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizzas

Separate slices of cheese; I use Provolone—and if the slices aren’t circular, I make them so. With a paring knife, “carve” jack-o-lantern faces in each slice of cheese.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizza Place the cheese on top of the sauce; broil again just long enough to melt the cheese.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizzas

We always liked these with a side dish of mandarin oranges and a tall glass of milk.

I always liked that the girls started the evening with a healthy meal—even if it ended with a bag of candy!

Hot-Cross Buns!

Hot-cross buns!

Hot-cross buns!

One a penny, two a penny,

Hot-cross buns!

GreenCircleGrove HotCross Buns

Every year for as long as I can remember, my mother has made hot cross buns during Lent, just before Easter.  Her recipe was clipped from a newspaper long before I was around, and passed to me neatly typed on a recipe card.  I’ve tried making them.  Just look at that recipe card. GreenCircle Grove Hot Cross Buns

It’s splotched and stained from years of trying – my mother’s hot cross buns were tender and light, with bits of dried fruit and a hint of cinnamon spread through.  My clumsy attempts usually led to beige colored lumps that were either hard as a rock or still gooey in the center.

I decided to try again.  One more time.  At 95, my mother doesn’t see too well, so accurate measuring is difficult for her.  It’s my turn to be the hot cross bun maker, I think.

So, today I measured and stirred up this recipe.  I am going to give you the recipe exactly as I have it, and then I’ll tell you how I changed it just a bit:


2 cups milk, scalded  (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup water)

1-cup oleo

1-cup sugar

2 pkg. dry yeast, dissolved in 1/3-cup warm water

1 egg

8 cups flour

½ tsp. salt

2 cups raisins, currants, or 1 cup candied fruit

½ tsp. cinnamon

1. Pour milk over oleo and sugar and stir to dissolve.  Cool to lukewarm.GreenCircleGrove Hot Cross Buns

I used half milk and half water, heated it in the microwave until steaming.  I used 2/3-cup coconut oil and 1/3-cup butter. (No oleo.) I reserved about 2 tsp. of the sugar to dissolve with the yeast in the 1/3-cup warm water.

2. Add dissolved yeast and egg.  Beat well.

3. Add salt and flour gradually, reserving small amount to dust fruit.

4. Add floured fruit and cinnamon to dough.GreenCircleGrove Hot Cross Buns

I mixed the cinnamon right in with the flour I used to coat the fruit.  All I had on hand today were raisins, but my favorite fruit to use is dried currants.

5. Knead well.

6. Place in greased bowl and let rise until double in bulk. (Cover).

Hot Cross Buns GreenCircleGrove

GreenCircleGrove Hot Cross Buns


This took about an hour and a half.

7. Punch down, let rest for a few minutes, shape into buns.  Place on greased cookie sheet; cover and let rise about 30 minutes. GreenCircleGrove HotCross

  1. Bake in a preheated 370° oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350° and continue baking 10-15 minutes more.
  2. Cool and frost with the shape of the cross with confectioner sugar frosting.

Makes 30 buns.  Actually, it made 32!

When the buns were still hot, but not yet “crossed”, I delivered the small pan to my mother.  I needed to see if they met her approval.  My dad ate three, and then said, “Well, they seem okay, but I think you need more practice.” And my mother said, “Oh! That’s what you always told me! They’re just perfect! So light and tender, with just a hint of cinnamon!”

Hot Cross Buns Green Circle Grove

Hot-cross buns!

If you have no daughters,

Give them to your sons;

One a penny, two a penny,

Hot-cross buns!

—Mother Goose


This post is shared with Down Home Blog Hope #80,  The HomeAcre Hop #60 , Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, From the Farm Blog Hop,   Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop and Misadventures Mondays Blog Hop March 23.


Bone Broth!

As far as I’m concerned, cooking for health starts with a nutritious base.

That’s why when the holiday ham is down to the last few scraps of meat on the bone, it goes into a pot of water –just like the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving did a few weeks before—and very like what just happened this week to the pastured beef soup bones that were in the freezer.

I love to make bone broth, especially from beef bones.  The rich, simmering scent even makes me feel healthy.  Here’s what I do:

bone broth I start with some meaty soup bones and a package of stew beef.  We buy beef from a local farmer, so I don’t worry about where it may have come from.  I slice up a couple of onions and cut up two or three carrots, drizzle olive oil over everything, stirring to be sure all the meat is coated, too.  Then, I roast it all in a shallow pan at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

In the meantime, I plug in my large crock pot.

After the meat and bones are roasted to bring out the flavor, I put them into the crock-pot, pour some hot water into the roasting pan and scrape up the little pieces that might have stuck on.  This goes in the crock-pot, too. bone broth I pour about a quarter cup of cider vinegar in, and then fill the pot with cold water—up to about an inch from the top.  Are you stuck on the cider vinegar addition?

I read somewhere that adding cider vinegar helps the bones release their nutrients as they cook.  (If you aren’t sure where your beef is from, you might skip this step.)

Turn the crock-pot on HIGH until the mixture begins to boil, and then turn to LOW and just leave it—overnight is best, 24 hours won’t hurt it a bit.  You want this bone broth to just simmer.  If you see a bubble “blurping” up every once in a while—that’s just right.  If some scum or fat comes to the top, you could carefully take that off with the edge of a spoon, but I’ve never bothered.

When you think your broth is done—and seriously—24 hours is not too long, pour it through a fine strainer into a clean pot.  Refrigerate until cool, and then carefully remove the fat that will have accumulated on the top.  You can use this for cooking, if you like, just don’t dump it down the drain. The chilled broth should be almost gelatin like—dark and rich.bone broth

The broth really is good for you.  All that calcium, phosphorus and magnesium from the bones is there for your body to easily absorb so your own bones are stronger. There’s collagen that can give you healthy skin and hair, too, and electrolytes that carry the electrical messages to your muscles and nerves.  Trace minerals, gelatin –all good things.

You can use bone broth in so many ways –we love it as a base for gravy and sauces.  I’ve cooked rice in it and just heated it up as a nutritious drink for the fellow sick in bed with the flu.  (Here’s a link to a site that gives you 50 uses for bone broth!)

And then there’s soup.  Vegetable beef soup with a little barley tossed in. bone broth

I save the meat that was left when I strained the broth and cut it into bite-sized pieces.  I like to take some of the broth and add it to a pot with sliced carrots, celery, onions and a handful of chopped parsley.  Bring it all to a boil, add the meat and a handful of barley and then simmer until the vegetables are done.  Just the right thing to have on the back of the stove on a cold winter’s day.


“Bone Broth!” is shared with “Mostly Homemade Mondays Linky-Party”.

Minnesota Harvest Bars

As far as I know, Velma and Herb never lived in Minnesota.

I remember them living out by the Finger Lakes, near Cornell University where Velma worked for many years.  Velma was my mother’s cousin.

I also remember that Velma was a terrific cook.  It was always a delight to see what dish she’d brought to the family reunions.

When we put family recipes into a booklet for everyone to enjoy, we were happy to see that Velma’s daughters had sent some favorites, including this one –Minnesota Harvest Bars – that’s perfect for cool fall evenings, busy fall lunches, or well, yes, breakfast with a hot cup of coffee.

Minnesota Harvest Bars GCG


**1/2 cup shortening

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

2 eggs

½ tsp vanillaMinnesota Harvest Bars GCG

½ cup chopped dates

½ cup chopped walnuts (or any nut)

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

1/2tsp.baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

½ tsp. each: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg

confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a 2-quart saucepan, melt shortening. **The only change I made to this recipe was to use coconut oil in place of the shorteningMinnesota Harvest Bars GCG

Add brown sugar, stir. Remove from heat.

Add pumpkin, eggs and vanilla; mix thoroughly.Minnesota Harvest Bars GCG

Combine dates with 2 Tbs. flour, set aside.

Minnesota Harvest Bars GCG

Flouring dates keeps them from sticking together when added to the rest of the batter.

In another bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, except the confectioner’s sugar.

Mix dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture.Minnesota Harvest Bars GCG

Stir in dates and nuts.

Pour into a well-greased 9x9x2-inch pan. Bake 30-35 minutes.Minnesota Harvest Bars GCG

Cut into diamond shaped bars and sift confectioners’ sugar on top when cool.

Eat and enjoy!Minnesota Harvest Bars GCG


When I first read over this recipe, I thought there couldn’t possibly be enough ingredients to fill a 9-inch square pan.  What? One-half cup flour?  It works; trust me.

It’s easy, it makes the house smell good and the family happy!  And, it reminds me of family as well.


You can use the “print” button on this page if you would like to have easy access to this recipe.


This post is linked to the From the Farm BlogHop and The HomeAcre Harvest Hop.

Nina’s Freezer Coleslaw — Another Family Recipe!

Cabbages always seem to grow really well here.  This year, the weather was sort of goofy, and so our tomatoes are just now ripening on newspaper lined tables in the garage, the huge pumpkin harvest we had anticipated turned out to be seven, the lettuce and spinach bolted early, and the beans choked the sunflowers.  The cabbages, however, grew really well.GCG Freezer Coleslaw

We like cabbage, and one of us likes sauerkraut.  That one is not me, I’ll confess. To me, fermenting cabbage smells a lot like dead mice.  Except that as time goes on, dead mice quit smelling, and sauerkraut smells worse.  That’s just me, but I’ve so far—forty some years now– found enough excuses not to make sauerkraut from our many cabbages.

Cabbages keep pretty well, in a root cellar or cool spot, wrapped (I’ve used plastic grocery bags) loosely.  I leave them in the garden as long as possible– they are usually fine through the first few light frosts.  I’ve read, too, that pulling the whole plant, roots and all, and hanging it upside down in a cool cellar, is another way to store cabbage, but I’ve not tried that method.

This year, I’ve been looking forward to using one of the family recipes from the book my mom and I put together last winter.  My mother says she remembers this coleslaw being served as a side dish on Sunday dinner tables in January.  I’m hoping it’s as good as she remembers!



2 gallons shredded cabbage

2 tablespoons saltFreezer Coleslaw GCG

2 sweet peppers (I used one red and one green)

4 carrots  ( I had three –but one was twice the size of the others)

1 cup water, boiling

2 cups cider vinegar

4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons celery seed


Mix cabbage and salt well and allow to stand 1 hour.  I have an older wooden mandolin slicer that works very well to shred cabbage. And fingers.  I don’t like to use my food processor for shredding, so I took my friend Becky’s advice and used a long serrated knife.Freezer Coleslaw GCG

Add vinegar and sugar to boiling water.  Boil 1 minute and cool.

Chop peppers and carrots. (I did use the food processor for this.)Freezer Coleslaw GCG

Squeeze salt water out of cabbage (you’ll be surprised how much there will be). Discard liquid.

Add chopped vegetables and celery seed to cabbage.

Add cooled vinegar-sugar mixture and mix well. Isn’t it pretty? Freezer Coleslaw GCG

Let stand ½ hour, package and freeze.

I found that it took three cabbages to make 2 gallons of shredded cabbage, and those 2 gallons filled 2 quart and 3 pint freezer bags. When I’m ready to use them, I’ll thaw them overnight in the refrigerator, drain and toss into a serving bowl.Freezer Coleslaw

The coleslaw looks great, and the little taste I saved out was crisp and flavorful.  Now I wish I’d made a double batch!


Post shared with From the Farm Blog Hop and Tasty Traditions.


I’ve always thought eggplant exotic looking and oh, so pretty.  Up until a year or so ago, though, they never appealed to me as something I would want to eat.

I tried them, truly I did.  I grew them one year, too, and was secretly relieved when an early frost kept me from having to do something with them.

Last year, we split a share in a local, sustainable CSA.  The weekly share included many things I had passed over – baby turnips, kohlrabi, and a couple of kinds of …eggplant.  The week the eggplant arrived in the share, we also received some summer squash, onions, peppers, garlic, tomatoes – I searched for a recipe that would allow me to use all those veggies and found ratatouille. Ratatouille, Green Circle Grove The directions for many recipes for this French vegetable stew were quite precise and intricate, but one, under Easy French Food, sounded like a possibility.  It was supposed to take only a little over an hour from prep to table, and it was marked “easy”.

I chopped, stirred, cooked, smelled (mmmm…..), chopped some more, stirred some more, minced, simmered and tested.  My first thought was, “where’s the eggplant?” and my second was, “oh, WOW! This is GOOD!”

I’ve adapted this recipe to fit our small family – but it is easy to expand depending on family size and vegetable availability.  If there’s any left, it’s possibly even better on Day Two, because the flavors have melded.


“Ratatouille Express”

3 T. olive oil

1 onion, slivered

2 bell peppers, cut into squares.  (I used green and purple.)

1 eggplant, cut into small cubes

1 summer squash, cut into small cubes.  (I have used zucchini, yellow crookneck,

patty pan.)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound tomatoes, chopped.

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

salt, pepper

3 T. chopped fresh basil

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pot over medium heat.  Sliver onions and add to oil.
  2. Chop the peppers and add to pot, stirring well.
  3. Chop eggplant, add to vegetables in the pot, stirring to coat eggplant pieces with oil. Stir until vegetable begin to soften.
  4. Chop the summer squash and garlic and add to pot.  Stir.
  5. Chop and stir in tomatoes.
  6. Add thyme, salt, pepper (to taste).  Stir and cook for about two minutes.
  7. Turn heat to low, cover pot, simmer about 40 minutes until everything is soft and blended.
  8. Stir in basil, remove from heat, serve.

ratatouille GreenCircleGrove


Let me know what you think!



This post is shared with The HomeAcre Hop #34 and Tuesdays With A Twist.

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