Monday, November 14, 2011

2 Weeks Full- Part One

It is so hard to stay inside when all this beautiful fall weather and sunshine is beckoning outdoors.

It's been a full 2 weeks. everytime I say that phrase- 2 weeks, I am reminded of the movie with Tom Hanks, "The Money Pit" in which everytime he asks how long a renovation or step in the renovation will take they flippantly respond "2 weeks"

I have been going over to the Assateague island refuge to practice my nature photography and have been pretty pleased with some of the images.

This Crane has a fish in it's mouth having just plucked him from the water

This Great Blue heron tried to swallow his fish so fast he actually gagged, that's his tongue hanging out. In subsequent shots, he coughed up the fish and then swallowed him back down. Yum.

More to my liking is the pumpkin butter I made with help from the grandkids while they were here after only a half day of school on halloween.
Remember the neck pumpkin I told you about that we bought while on the field trip a few weeks ago? Well, that is what we used and I promised if it turned out well, we would share the recipe

It turned out well enough that when shared with people at our restaurant, their tongues look much like that of the heron and everyone was asking for the recipe. If you like apple butter or pumpkin pie you're sure to like this.

The littlest halloween witch helping me stir the pumpkin butter, is that a spell she's casting?
Pumpkin Butter

1 cooking pumpkin, we used the neck pumpkin
Peel the skin using a vegetable peeler, empty seeds ( we spread ours out on paper towels over a few pages of newspapers to dry and try to plant next year)
Cube the pumpkin flesh and put into a pot of water big enough to cook until tender ( about 20-25 minutes)
Drain in a colander
Place the cooked pumpkin in a blender  ( or food processor) and puree.
Empty the blender into a glass measuring cup or bowl and continue pureeing the cooked pumpkin until it is all pureed.
We got 12 cups of puree out of the one pumpkin, each will vary depending on the size.
Once measured, place all the puree into a crock pot large enough to hold it and add the sugar and spices.
The puree to sugar ratio is 2 to1,  2 cups of puree to 1 cup of sugar.
You can use all light brown sugar or half white half brown.
For ours we used 3 cups of white, 3 cups of dark brown to the 12 cups of puree.
You can add individual spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice to taste but we used the McCormicks Pumpkin Pie Spice and used 2 tsp. for the batch. You can taste it and add more if you like but I liked this amount.
Stir all ingredients together well in the crock pot, turn on low  and prop the lid sideways to allow for the steam to evaporate as it cooks down.
I placed mine on 10 hours low which went through the night and automatically went to warm about the time we got up.
Once it really starts to cook, it will bubble and thicken and i used a wooden spoon to stir it all around about once an hour until going to bed.
Once it is as thick as you would like, the consistency of a butter spread, I ladled it into hot ball jars and secured the lids but DID NOT process in a water bath but placed it in the refrigerator for keeping.
There are conflicting ideas about canning pumpkin butter. There are instructions where you can process in a water bath for 40 minutes and also directions for a pressure canner, but the USDA recently suggested keeping it in a refrigerator instead of canning. Your call. I have purchased canned pumpkin butter at fairs and have lived to tell the tale. I may try that in the future.

Both grandchildren took a jar into their class to share along with some crackers.
It is great on toast or homemade biscuits and is the perfect fall treat!


  1. Your photos from the refuge are amazing! I wish we had something like that around here.

    Your sweet little helper is a doll!

  2. Hi Laura, The photos of the birds are beautiful. I think I will try the Pumpkin Butter but be lazy and use caned pureed pumpkin. It may not turn out as good as yours but it is worth a try. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  3. Hey Laura! Your photos from the refuge are beautiful! I can't believe you got a shot of a blue heron with it's tongue hanging out because it's chocking on a fish...too funny! I'm going to try the pumpkin butter, it looks YUMMY!!

    Your little helper is adorable!

  4. Your photography is looking wonderful. I happen to have a real affinity with great blue herrons. I find them quite magnificent birds. I've never heard of pumpkin butter. This looks so good. I need to go out and find some pie pumpkins for Thanksgiving. I might have to pick some extra.

  5. The birds are beautiful, and keep the blue heron in your neighborhood. We have one in my area, not sure why (I am an hour from the Chesapeake Bay), but it loves to steal my fish out of my little pond. The blue heron is bigger than my pond! It is a beautiful bird but it does get on my nervous as my fish disappear.

    I too amy going to try the pumpkin butter!

  6. Nothing better then regurgitated fish....why didn't you take a picutre of that??? hahahahaha The pumpkin butter sounds quite delicious and I love everything pumpkin!!!

  7. Laura, it is sure good to catch up with you. I loved seeing you last week - and it's been a full week now. Where has the time gone??
    I agree with all of the above, you nature photography is incredible!

  8. My hello from France! After having visited your blog, I e could go without comment. I congratulate you on your blog!
    Maybe I would have the opportunity to welcome you on mine too!
    Have a nice day

  9. What a great photographer you are! Love these images! Thanks for taking the time to visit me from the Hot Wax class :)


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