Monday, September 30, 2013

Passels of Pumpkins

Fall is my favorite season of the year in Utah. I absolutely love the exquisite colors of the changing leaves on our mountains. While I don't exactly enjoy that the hours of daylight are decreasing, I do enjoy the cooler air. Fall colors are also my favorites. As September progresses, I eagerly wait for the temperatures to get cool enough to pull out the fall clothes.

One of my favorite sights during the fall season is the abundance of pumpkins. By late September, pumpkins seem to be about everywhere. From in front of the grocery store to the roadside fruit stands to neighborhood porches, pumpkins are in abundance. 

During our 2012 summer vacation, I picked up a kit for a wall hanging featuring a group of pumpkins framed by a checkerboard border of orange and black. The kit ended up sitting in the unfinished project box until late August of this year. As you can see from the picture below, it features wool appliqué with the pumpkin pieces sewn onto a black background. Given that I didn't have my first class in wool appliqué until January of this year, it probably is a good thing that I put off working on it until more recently. I was even brave enough to do the machine quilting work myself using the walking foot attachment on my machine. 

For the second year now, we have enjoyed a successful garden with space to accommodate pumpkin vines. While we didn't have as an abundant a yield as last year, we still managed to grow an assortment of good-sized pumpkins. Here are some of them while still on the vine and here they are adorning the steps leading to the front door.

In this season of harvest, I am going to close this posting with a verse in which God is speaking through the prophet Hosea to call the nation of Israel to repentance.  Even though Israel had been faithless and would experience God's judgment, God was still calling them to to be restored to Himself. These words still ring true for us today. Are we willing to allow God to break up the fallow ground within us and truly seek Him with our whole hearts?
Sow with a view to righteousness,
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground, 
For it is time to seek the LORD
Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.
                    Hosea 10:12

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Peach Days

One of the best things about the month of September is that it is the time of year when fresh peaches are in an abundance. In fact, the small town in northern Utah where I grew up hosts "Peach Days" the weekend after Labor Day each year. Peach Days was first celebrated in Brigham City, Utah, in 1904 and is one of the longest running harvest festivals in the United States. The celebration includes a parade, Peach Queen pageant (yes, really), antique car show, window displays on Main Street, and large display composed of peaches and other produce in front of the court house. 

Our family wasn't able to go to this year's Peach Days celebration, but we did celebrate Peach Days in our own way. During the years that we lived in Layton, we planted a peach tree in our side yard. This tree produced some of the best peaches we have ever had, and we were very sad to have to leave it behind. Fortunately, the new owner has kept in touch with us and invites us to come pick peaches this year. Friday night, we picked peaches, and Saturday we canned them. Here is a brief summary of our adventures in pictures.

Lots and lots of peaches
Peeling and cutting up peaches 
Processing jars 
The finished product - 46 quarts!
Of course, peach season brings with it the opportunity to make desserts using fresh peaches. Although I do like making pies, I usually don't have the energy or counter space to deal with pie crust when I am in the throes of canning peaches. As such, we have come to enjoy peach crisp as our peach dessert of preference. Here is our recipe:

Peach Crisp
4 cups of fresh sliced peaches
3/4 cups of packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats (you may use old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats - do not use instant)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup softened butter or margarine - allowing it to soften at room temperature makes it easier to stir into the dry ingredients

1. Place the peaches in a greased 9 x 9 square pan (okay to use non-stick cooking spray)
2. Mix the brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon together in a separate bowl. 
3. Stir in the butter or margarine so that the mixture sticks together.
4. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the peaches.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes
This dessert is best if served warm and topped with ice cream.
Note: If you are reheating leftover peach crisp, warm it in the oven using the broil setting for a few minutes to allow the topping to become crisp again. With the juice from the peaches, the oatmeal-based topping can become soggy.