Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Through the Seasons

I've been reflecting a lot recently on how our home has looked during the different seasons we've experienced here so far. We've only lived here six months, and we moved in the height of summer, when everything was as lush and green as it could be. Now it's the darkest day of the year and everything is as un-green as possible! I'm excited to see what it looks like in the spring- especially with half the backyard surrounded by lilac trees! As we near the end of 2011, the passage of time marked by the seasons has been on my mind a lot. The half a year (!!) that we've lived here has really flown by.

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 Our backyard in July (above) and in November (below).

The front yard in September:
And with frost at the beginning of last week:

Our house from the street, in July:
 And in mid-December:

As of tonight I'm unplugging for the next week as Matt and I head for my hometown to celebrate Christmas with my family. We have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow, with wonderful family, snow, and a log house full of memories waiting at the end of it. 

May you all have a wonderful holiday week, wherever you are and whatever you may or may not be celebrating!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Afternoon of Baking

I spent almost all of Friday afternoon baking, in anticipation of a holiday party that night and the need for snacks for the coming few days and our upcoming road trip to Eastern Washington. Here's what I got up to:
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 From-scratch pumpkin pies, which we have been eating with every meal since.

Sesame-oregano Lavosh, a Middle Eastern flatbread/cracker, a recipe I have been wanting to try for a long time. It is from Annabel Langbein's The Free Range Cook, one of my favorite souvenirs from New Zealand. The recipes are glorious, and the achingly beautiful photos make me homesick for NZ.

This stuff is remarkably easy to make, and sooooo tasty. And completely addictive. 

Mmmm! Applesauce cake! 

What baked things are turning up in your kitchen this holiday season?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Re-usable Fabric Gift Bags

This year, most of the gifts I give will be "wrapped" in cloth gift bags. I was inspired by the fabric bags used by Soulemama (sorry, I can't get the link to the post to work, but if you search on her site for "fabric gift bags," you will find it), but I wanted the bags to be part of the gift, re-usable for whatever purpose, not just as wrapping. So I made mine with drawstrings, using fabric that is not specifically holiday-themed. All of the fabric was already in my scrap bag, a lot of it from a bundle I bought at a vintage shop this summer.
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These are really easy and fun to make (and I really enjoy picking out the fabric combinations!). I made the basic bags by folding the fabric face-to-face (right side in) and hemming up the sides. Then I added the band for the drawstring by essentially making my own binding. I cut a strip of fabric that, with the short ends hemmed up, was exactly the length of the opening of the bag. I folded folded the long edges under and ironed them down, then folded the "binding" in half and pinned around the fabric all around the bag opening, and sewed it on, leaving the hemmed ends of the band/binding open for inserting the drawstrings. You could also use just piece of fabric for the entire bag, doing a rolled hem for the drawstring, like you would for an elastic waistband on a skirt. I used nice sturdy wool yarn for the drawstrings, but any type of ribbon would be really nice too.

I don't like all the waste and mess that wrapping paper can create, and this is a way to cut down on that, plus it's a nice way of enhancing a gift. And they look so nice under the tree!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Green Cleaning: Dealing With Mold

I just finished up a big research project on negative respiratory health outcomes related to mold and moisture in homes and how lack of inspection of rental housing is contributing to the poor health of lower income populations. And then I realized that not once had I actually looked around our house for mold.

See, the presence of mold or continuous moisture inside a home is pretty consistently associated with poor respiratory health outcomes like asthma, strong allergic reactions, sinusitis, bronchitis, common cold, as well as other issues like fatigue and problems concentrating. If we don't look around our homes, clean up mold when we find it, and make sure our landlords (if we are renting) are responsible for any larger maintenance issues, we run the risk of damaging our bodies. You would think I would have gone and looked around our house sooner, especially since I had a sinus infection a couple weeks ago followed by a persistent cough, but no, I was "too busy." Then yesterday I pulled up a set of shades we normally leave down in the bedroom, and I found this reminder to re-prioritize when it comes to health:
Eegad- I promise we're not slobs! We just weren't paying attention when we should have been.

Clearly, it was time to intervene. We only clean with vinegar, baking soda and other non-toxic cleaners in our house, and one of the ways that you can exacerbate respiratory problems is by using chemical cleaners. Fortunately, there are lots of good green cleaning methods for getting rid of mold. Plain white vinegar purportedly kills 82% of all mold, and tea tree oil is a strong disinfectant that is really good for getting rid of mold and keeping it from returning. That said, it is important to note that just cleaning up the mold doesn't necessarily get rid of the problem. Mold doesn't grow unless there is a moisture problem going on, and if you don't deal with the moisture problem, it will just come right back. Ususally it's a pretty simple fix, and often a seasonal problem. In our house, the place with the worst mold was this windowsill in the bedroom where we usually didn't open the shades during the day. That trapped all the condensation (from us breathing all night) between the shades and the window, leaving it nowhere to go. By opening those shades every day, the problem should mostly be solved. I did find minor mold growth on the living room windowsills, which get a lot of circulation, but moisture just gets trapped in the house regardless during the winter. It's a good reminder to open the windows for half an hour on the occasional dry sunny day to air things out.

Remember that mold isn't always obvious. Look in the places you don't normally pay attention:
  • On top of/on the underside of windowsills that are above or below your eye line. 
  • Behind furniture that sits up against a wall 
  • In crevices that might retain moisture (I found some in our bathroom in the two-inch gap between the sink cabinet and the bathtub)
  • In gaps between the lip of your kitchen sink and the backsplash- water collects here easily. 
  • Behind blinds or curtains
  • Inside cupboards that contain plumbing
  • Under loose or peeling wallpaper
I did some reading on the safest, most effective ways of cleaning up mold, and went to work. I started by wiping off as much mold as I could with a rag soaked in pure white vinegar, using an old toothbrush to get hard-to-reach corners and cracks.

I started off using a rag cut from an old towel, but found I liked using flannel cloths better. Remember leave as little moisture as possible on the surfaces you are cleaning. I cracked all the windows as I cleaned them, to allow the vinegar to dry quickly on the sills.

You can use the method I did, or else put the vinegar in a spray bottle, spray it onto the moldy surfaces, and wipe it clean with a dry rag, then spray lightly again and let it dry.

The second solution I used was a dilution of tea tree oil, made with 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil and 2 cups of water. Again, you can spray this onto moldy surfaces to dry, or do what I did, and soak a flannel rag in it, ring it out, then wipe everything down and let it dry.

Please remember to wear a face mask or a handkerchief tied over your nose and mouth while you clean up mold. You are loosening up mold spores, and you don't want to breath them in.  It's also a good idea to wear gloves- vinegar can really dry out your skin.

Remember that taking measures to prevent mold growth is more efficient than cleaning it up after the fact (now I really sound like a public health advocate!). Here are things you can do to prevent moisture from accumulating in your home:
  • Open all your blinds and curtains in the morning and leave them open all day
  • Leave doors between rooms open during the day to allow air to circulate
  • If you notice windows fogging up or condensation on the walls (this happens when I use the oven a lot), crack a couple windows to get some air circulating, and/or give the windows a wipe with a cloth to speed their drying. 
  • Check your house regularly for water leaks, excess moisture, or standing water. Places to look are your bathroom, basement, laundry, and around and under your kitchen sink.
  • If condensation is a constant problem in your home, think about installing a fan or two, or a more efficient heating system, or just use an electric space heater. If you rent, talk to your landlord and see what can be done. 
  • Air out your house regularly. We live all summer with most of the windows open day and night, but in the winter I often forget to open the windows occasionally and get some fresh air in. Try to do this on dry days, though! 
I hope this is helpful- it's an aspect of household health that often gets overlooked, but I've just been reminded by my research how important it is to prevent mold growth. Cleaning up mold is a time-consuming and nit-picky job, but it's worth it to live in a healthy home.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Traditions and Cold Mornings

I did it-I survived my first quarter of graduate school! I finished finals on Thursday evening, and after a busy day yesterday, the feeling of freedom is just starting to sink in this morning. It's pretty great. I now have a full month off from school, which will be a wonderful break, although I did truly enjoy almost every aspect of school for those first three months.

I now have the time and energy to think more about the holidays and Christmas gifts, and get ready to head out of town for a week over Christmas. This is the first year Matt and I have really navigated the holidays as a couple, and it's an experience worth reflecting on. For the first two years of our relationship, we each went to our own family for the holidays, and last year we were down in New Zealand, so figuring out where and how to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas didn't prove much of an issue. This year, however, after 3 1/2 years together, it no longer makes sense (nor do we want) to spend the holidays apart. It's also the first year we've shared a home in the truest sense. And with Matt's family here in Portland and mine 450 miles away in eastern Washington (the state), and neither of them having had us around last year, we have had to figure out how to split our time while celebrating together. We both have pretty easygoing families, and it has worked out pretty smoothly so far, which is really encouraging. We spent Thanksgiving here, with Matt's family, and we're going to spend a full week over Christmas with my family in Newport and Cheney, WA. We'll get back to Portland on December 28th, and celebrate Christmas with Matt's family at New Year's. I actually kind of like it this way- it draws the holidays out and makes it like one big ongoing festival! And I'm really excited to go up to my parents' place in the winter- we haven't seen them since the beginning of September, and I haven't been up there during the snowy season in a few years, and Matt's never been there in winter. This is what it looked like a few years ago, during a particularly heavy winter:

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On the subject of combining and figuring out new holiday traditions as a couple, we've modified our Christmas tree slightly. We put it up last week, but I couldn't escape the feeling that something was missing. It was a little too dark, lacking something I couldn't identify. Then Matt suggested we get some tinsel to brighten it up and add some sparkle. I was skeptical, having never had tinsel on the tree growing up, but it's something that Matt always had as an integral memory of decorating the Christmas tree. So I stopped at the local thrift store yesterday and found a garland for super cheap, along with some little red, green and gold baubles. Matt did the honors, and our tree, now a combination of our childhood traditions, got exactly what it needed, and feels just right.

I also scored a perfect string of white LED lights to brighten up the dark side of the kitchen, and Matt strung them up.
 Now we're feeling exceptionally festive around here!

It's felt particularly wintery this past week, with a distinct lack of rain (usually December is one of our wettest months), but exceptionally cold, dry weather with very chilly nights. We've had frosts every night for a week, and finally a very hard frost two nights ago that did in everything that was still managing to grow in the garden. Time to till in the cover crops, I guess:

You can see the pock-marked soil where the frost has expanded it and then collapsed...

This morning there is a thick white frost on the south side of everything, including all the big sequoias on our street. It's so thick I can almost make believe it's snow!

When I went to let the chickens out this morning, their water was completely frozen over, with a solid centimeter of ice on it. Here's Lady Macbeth standing on top of it:

It's so good to be home and to not have to constantly think about school work or have it in the back of my mind that there is this other thing I have to be working on. Instead, I can relax (which I fully plan to do a lot of today), sew, read, clean, or just sit by the kitchen window and watch the chickens, one of my favorite pastimes.

Enjoying a winter snack of wheat and rye mash from the most recent batch of home brew. 

It doesn't get much better than this, does it?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Few Photos From This Week

I'm headed into finals week, so until it's over I'm just going to leave you with a few photos from this week. I'll be back with you sometime after Thursday evening, when I'll be giving my last presentation and turning in my final assignment for the quarter.

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Frost on the garden beds on Tuesday morning.

A collection of eggs from Penny, including the massive on on the far right, which turned out to contain two and a half yolks!

First backyard egg breakfast. So delicious. 

We put up our Christmas tree yesterday! Most of the ornaments are ones I grew up with, but my new favorites are the sailboats from Matt's parents and grandparents.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I'm completely giddy right now, because I just got home earlier than usual this afternoon (i.e., before dark) so I let the chickens out and decided to take a peek in the henhouse. Guess what I found?

Three very small but perfect eggs!

Just when we were wondering if our hens weren't going to lay until spring (having your chickens reach laying age during the shortest and darkest days of the year is maybe not the best plan ever), they have given us our first completely homegrown eggs! I'm ridiculously excited at the moment- opening up the door to the henhouse and finding these little treasures waiting there for me just sent me over the moon! I'm so proud of our girls, even if they haven't figured out the nest boxes yet --all of these were in a little nest made on the floor of the main henhouse. Our original four pullets just turned five months old on on Thursday, so at least one of them is laying right away after hitting the five month mark. We hadn't checked the henhouse in a couple of days, but I'm pretty sure that these eggs are from more than one hen- I don't think it's been so long that a single chicken could have laid three times, but I could be wrong. 

I'm almost entirely confident that one of the ladies who laid these is Penny, our Barred Plymouth Rock pullet. She's been far more docile than usual lately, and a couple days ago I noticed her hanging out in the area of the henhouse where I found the eggs, well after all the other chickens had headed out into the run. I knew she was up to something! Also, today I tried the old timers' trick of getting behind a hen and putting your hand out over them- if they stop and squat, that means they're ready to lay. Penny did exactly that, as did Vivian, the two-year-old Ameracauna. Maybe now that one of the younger ones is laying, Viv will go back to laying. I couldn't get behind any of the other hens, they're all too skittish still. Luckily I don't have to go anywhere straightaway tomorrow, so I'm going to do a stakeout of the henhouse early in the morning and see if I can figure out who is laying us eggs. I brought two of the eggs inside but put one in a nestbox, and ruffled up the original nest, to see if I can't convince our mystery chicken to lay in the box.

I'm so pleased that our days of buying eggs are over. We've put in five months of work raising our ladies from wee chicks, feeding them and building them a coop, adopting two more chickens and making sure they all stay well fed and watered and enjoy ranging around the backyard. I love having them around regardless of whether they are laying, but receiving eggs just feels like such a gift right now. 

And just an update for those of you who were concerned about Mimi, the younger chicken we adopted a couple months ago, she is fully integrated into the flock and is no longer being bullied. She gets pecked and chased occasionally, but most of the time all six chooks go around happily as a flock. Our remaining mystery is to figure out how old Mimi is- she's about the same size as the other four young ones, so we think she's pretty close in age, but it's hard to tell! We did have to clip everyone's wings last week, because we kept finding them all flying up to the sit on top of the coop, which is a dangerously short flight from the neighbors' fence and a yard with several dogs.

Good job chickens, and thanks for the eggs!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Traditions

In this household, the days after Thanksgiving don't mean standing in endless lines trying to score the best deals on televisions, electronics or any of the other stuff that so much of our society goes so crazy for in the name of giving gifts. Instead, we do what we do on the holidays themselves: stay home or hang out with family, relax, eat lots of good food, and be thankful for all the great non-material things we have. And eat some more good food. Namely, we eat a lot of turkey soup and have pie with every meal. It's a pretty nice way to celebrate.

I've also been reflecting on the passage of time: we realized Thanksgiving morning that the holiday marked exactly six months since we returned home from New Zealand. Six Months. Half a year. It's truly flown, and yet so much has happened since then. Time really is speeding up as I get older, and it's a little unnerving. All the more reason to be thankful for what I've got right now.

Last Thanksgiving we cooked for twelve at the Wavehaven, and this year we had Thanksgiving with Matt's family, cooking up a storm at his dad's house and eating with his parents and sister Jessa, as well as Jessa's roommate and her partner. Dinner was excellent, and we ended up bringing home at least half of the leftovers. I also brought home the turkey carcass, so tomorrow we'll be making a big pot of turkey stock. It's excellent timing, because we just used the last of our chicken stock and don't have anymore chicken in the freezer at the moment, so this is a great substitute, and will go a lot further as well.

We made fresh rolls and apple pie yesterday morning that went to K's house for baking, and I made a second apple pie that stayed home and was baked this morning. It's already nearly half gone :)

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I hope you all had a wonderful day whether or not you celebrate, and enjoy the rest of the weekend! Here are a few more pictures from our Thanksgiving:

 The full and busy kitchen.

Matt and Jessa stuffing the turkey.

 Jessa's divine pumpkin pie (from scratch!)

The lighting didn't work well for my photos of the complete dinner table, but here is one for tradition's sake:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thrifty Finds

Taking advantage of the lovely sunny (but COLD) weather this afternoon, Matt and I walked to our neighborhood thrift store to find a few things we've been wanting for awhile, to fill out our array of kitchenware. We had been keeping a short list of items for "when we have a little extra money," and last night two good friends forced payment on me for the easiest babysitting job ever, so we took advantage of a bit of the unexpected income.

We wholly believe in buying secondhand, except when it comes to most appliances. The only things I can think of in our kitchen that were bought new were the cast iron skillet and Dutch oven (several years ago), the food processor, some canning jars and my set of nesting mixing bowls. All the rest we found at thrift stores or received as gifts (or found for free on the curb...). This pretty much goes for all of our clothing, bedding, and furniture too. There is so much useful stuff out there that is in perfect condition but is given away to thrift stores, it makes no sense to pay extra for something just because it is new. And despite a few temptations, we came home with only what was on our list, plus these great aviator shades that looked so good on Matt that I refused to leave without buying them:

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Awesome, yes?

We don't have very much silverware, and it has become clear that we need a few more sets, particularly for when we have company. We also have a nice collection of mugs and teacups, but all of them are quite small, and we wanted to get a few larger ones (how very American of us):

Since moving into this house we have been talking about how we need a second, larger saucepot, because just having one complicates things sometimes, and we had enough of that while living out of the van in New Zealand. We also only have four bowls for a household of three, and none of the wide bowls that are nice for things like chicken and dumplings and stew, until now:

The other thing I love about shopping at thrift stores is that we can pick out individual items that go with our current collection of dishware, and have a huge variety to choose from. We were able to bring home an assortment of cheap mugs and bowls that go with our mismatched but coordinated bright aesthetic, and that makes me really happy.

And all for less than $20!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Practical Gift Sewing

I've been thinking a lot about sewing projects lately. I have a couple different things planned and underway, but I feel like I keep falling back to the same types of projects- simple skirts or square household things. I need some new ideas! I like all my sewing to be useful and practical, things I can wear or use around the house or give as gifts that will be appreciated, not just something that takes up space.

 I am looking for ideas of things that I can make with the variety of fabric scraps I currently have (quite a few, varying in size, enough to stuff a pillowcase full) without needing to buy any new fabric.

I am relatively new to sewing but I think I could take on something besides square linens! Does anyone have ideas for unusual but relatively easy gifts to sew? (or craft in other ways, too).  I've done a lot of poking around on blogs but I feel like there must be more ideas hidden away out there somewhere! What do you give as simple, homemade gifts?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Winter Wellness

I think I've mentioned (possibly in every post for the last month...) that Portland winters are particularly dark, dreary and dismal. And dank and somewhat depressing. And other alliterative things too. It rains a lot, the days are short and dark, it doesn't snow, and there isn't much sun.

In the face of the Long Dark, as I've been calling it this year, it's sometimes difficult to keep happy, energetic and optimistic. I think most people in Portland, and a lot of other places in the Pacific Northwest, experience some form of season affective symptoms between October and April. For me, it's not particularly severe, it just takes more work to keep myself in a good mood and keep my body feeling healthy when there's not as much to do outside and so few hours of daylight available. I've lived in Portland nearly ten years now, but I don't think I'll ever get used to the winters. Where I grew up, winters are cold and very snowy, and that makes things bright and fun and cozy, which is a very different mental experience. This year, as glad as I am to experience the change of seasons once more, I'm feeling the bite of the gross weather more keenly, it having been a full two years since I've experienced a Northwest winter.

 Scarlet runner beans drying next to the kitchen stove.

I think it has taken me until last week to really get used to operating in the cold wet weather again and to get truly settled into my routine of school and internship. Figures that it takes me almost till the end of term to get really use to it- only two more weeks of classes and then finals! Since I started my internship, I was commuting by bus on the four days each week that I come downtown, because it's extra-far to bike all the way to my internship. But last week I totally crashed, energy-wise, and realized that somehow I needed to integrate biking back into my routine in a manageable way. I was doing lots of walking, to and from the bus stop, from internship to school, around campus, etc, but was still feeling achy and stir-crazy from lack of a good workout. So now I've decided that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will bike to campus, lock up my bike and ditch any extra gear in my locker, then catch the streetcar across downtown to my internship. This way I don't feel the pressure to bike every day (it's a long ride...) but I still have it as a regular part of my week--and I can already feel the difference. I am also working on integrating yoga classes into my week, at the rec center on campus.

I also realized I was feeling sluggish because for the last few weeks, on weeknights I wasn't keeping up with the things around the house that generally fulfill me- usually I would get home, Matt and I would throw together some dinner, and then get in bed to read or go straight to sleep. We were leaving the bed unmade, clothes piled on the floor where we dropped them, and dirty dishes on the counter for several days at a time. At the same time I started biking again, we started trying to make more of an effort to keep things tidy during the week, and it makes such a difference. Just taking five minutes to make the bed in the morning, put away clothes, wash dishes (or put them in the dishwasher) and wipe down the counters makes the house feel so much better and helps me feel much more put together.

I also remembered recently that in previous winters I have taken Vitamin D supplements to help cope with the lack of sunshine, and it has been really helpful. So I've gotten myself back onto a daily regimen of Vitamin D3. Also, I've been eating a lot more fruit than usual, because of a behavior intervention project for my Health Behavior class. We each had to choose a health behavior in ourselves that we would try to change using self-regulation techniques, and I chose to increase my fruit intake, to at least two servings per day (I was absolutely terrible at eating fruit before, sad to say). It worked, and I think my body and mind are both a lot happier for getting a more well-rounded diet and more fruit sugars and vitamins.

I've often found myself reading silly websites or watching stand-up comedy on Youtube when I need to put a smile on my face, but it's never totally fulfilling. Then I discovered The Perennial Plate, and I think this is my new go-to site for cheering myself up. Real people, real food, and real goodness. I can't recommend it enough. It makes me feel whole again, no matter what else has been going on.
What do you do to keep yourself well when the weather outside is frightful?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Loaf and How to Process Winter Squash

Matt's sister Jessa asked me last week how I prepare pumpkin for pies, and I thought it might be useful to post directions for cooking up pumpkin for use in breads, pies, and other dishes. Fresh, plain pumpkin tastes so much better than store-bought pumpkin pie filling or canned pumpkin, and it's surprisingly easy to prepare. These instructions apply to any kind of pumpkin or winter squash (Matt and I actually prefer to use "true" squashes like Red Kuri and the type below for pies rather than jack-o-lantern type "pie pumpkins." We think the flavor is exponentially better and the texture of the flesh is much smoother and thicker). 

I happen to have photos of the process because on Friday evening Matt and I set about preparing a massive pumpkin we got at the farmer's market, to make up some yummy breads for snacks and breakfasts this week. 
First, preheat your oven to 350 F. Then, using a strong, sharp knife, cut your squash in half or into quarters, depending on how big it is. The pumpkin we were using was so big we just kind of hacked it apart. Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh from the cavity. You can put the seedy stuff aside at this point to make roasted pumpkin seeds

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I love this variety- Queensland Blue. The taste and texture are amazing, and the flesh-to-seed-cavity ratio is great!

Your pumpkin needs to be cut into manageable pieces that will fit into baking dishes and also your oven! We had to rearrange the oven racks and carefully arrange all of this pumpkin to fit it in. The thinner you slice it, the faster it will bake. Bake until you can stab the pumpkin flesh with a fork and meet little to no resistance- our big chunks took about 45 minutes. Also, baking squash releases a lot of moisture, so be prepared for a big cloud of steam when you open the oven!

Remove the baked squash from the oven and let it cool in the pans. Once it is cool enough to be comfortably handled, scoop the flesh away from the rind and into a bowl. I do this with my fingers because the rind is usually so soft at this point that a spoon will puncture it. 

Now you are ready to use your baked squash, or freeze it for use later. You can puree it in a food processor before freezing it, or else freeze it as is, in freezer bags or other containers, to puree and use later. I did a little of both. I used four cups of squash in baking, and still had three large containers' worth to go in the freezer! That one pumpkin cost us $3, and will last us a long time!

Looking at recipes for pumpkin breads, it seemed like almost everything called for at least 3 eggs, and while we had plenty of eggs on hand, I wanted to make them last awhile, so I went looking on the internet for eggless recipes. I found a promising recipe, modified it a bit to cut down on sugar and increase the use of pumpkin, and came with this vegan recipe that is a definite keeper:

5 c. flour 
3 c. brown sugar 
4 tsp. soda 
1 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. cloves 
1 to 3 tsp. cinnamon 
4 1/4 c. solid-pack pumpkin 
1 c. canola oil 
1 to 2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Sift the dry ingredients together. Blend in pumpkin and oil. (It's not necessary to puree the pumpkin here, because mixed with the oil it stirs in smoothly). Fold in nuts. Pour into small loaf pans lined with parchment paper or greased and floured. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Makes 3 to 4 loaves.
This bread is so. good. It came out deliciously moist and perfect for breakfast or with a cup of tea. I got three good loaves out of it, and put one in the freezer, because even we wouldn't be able to eat through all of that before it goes bad! 

Happy pumpkining!