Pumpkin Spice Cookie Bars

I’ve never had pumpkin. I have yet to have a pumpkin spiced latte, I don’t eat pumpkin pie. Something about it wigs me out. But my ma made a pumpkin roll and didn’t use the whole can of pumpkin puree. Obviously we had to do SOMETHING with the left overs. Thanks to handy dandy Pinterest, I came across this lovely recipe on A Kitchen Addiction! She titled them Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars. I adjusted the recipe just a TINY bit and didn’t do the frosting. Here is how I did it…

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter flavored shortening
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2½ C all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

1. Mix all ingredients except the flour together until well blended.

2. Slowly add flour and mix until well incorporated

3. The dough is thick. Do not fear! Press the dough into a baking dish. I used an 8×10. The original recipe suggested a 9×9 or 8×8.

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4. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Mine turned out just fine at 15! Poke the center with a knife to check it.

5. Let cool and eat slightly warm.

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For the frosting recipe, check out the original blog post at A Kitchen Addiction!

Happy snacking! 🙂

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Garden Growth

GREAT PUMPKIN! I don’t think anyone quite understands the joy of having not one, but MULTIPLE pumpkins growing right now. Last year, we had a giant plant and no pumpkins. I LOVE pumpkins. Pumpkin carving and pumpkin seeds are two of my most favorite things in the world. I have not ventured to pumpkin soup. That might change this fall though! They’re still little, and look more like our watermelons, BUT THEY’RE PUMPKINS! Yeah, I’m that excited. Like a kid in a candy store.

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Of course, the tomatoes. They are HUGE! And we have had a few start to turn red. I can’t believe how big they are this year. We must have done something right to the soil. We didn’t get very many even close to the size of these guys. By the time I get back from Antrim I will have a bajillion to make sauce with! Thank goodness I have already set a day aside to do it!

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And the chickens. They are still growing. Their combs are slowly but surly coming in. They LOVE eating strawberries and have begun to associate me with feeding them the delicious little treats. The other day I saw one of the girls “assume the position.” I had never seen a chicken lay an egg and didn’t realize it was different from when they just kind of sit down. Eric, who has a bit more experience informed me that that is how they sit when they are laying an egg! No eggs yet but hopefully that’s a sign that they are coming soon!!! 🙂 I love their fluffy little butts too!

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Babies! And Not Just the Chickens!

We have lots of “little” things around the gardens this week! I can assure you I am NOT growing one myself. Just wanted to clarify so that my mother doesn’t have a heart attack. 🙂 We are hitting that point in the summer where everything is really starting to grow. We have more than just green beans and strawberries coming in! Though, let’s face it, nobody is complaining about either of those things!

First, we’ll check in with the strawberries! They are due for another shoot cut off and bury day in the very near future! They are producing like crazy and it’s wonderful! I love going outside to pick breakfast FRESH every morning!

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Next, the mater plants. It’s like a forest. We have beautiful baby green tomatoes! By the time I get back from my mission trip the first week in August they will be ripe and ready to turn into SAUCE! 😀

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Baby watermelons are the cutest. They’re just adorable. Our watermelon plants are monsters this year and I have a feeling we will have some monster melons to go with them!

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We trimmed the pumpkin back a TON so that the main plant, some choice leaves and the blooms have been left. This helps ensure that the good stuff can go towards making PUMPKINS! 😀

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We’ve got fuzzy little sprouts on a number of our corn plants. Whether or not we get some real ears this year will be the real question! They’re growing like weeds and looking good so we’re hoping we get SOMETHING from them!

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Last, but certainly not least- the ACTUAL babies! THE CHICKENS! I don’t think I can quite call them babies anymore being that they have all of their big girl feathers. They aren’t quite laying yet but we should be getting our first eggs by the end of August! They also, after well over a month, have figured out that they can roost all together in a row on the hockey stick, seen in the first photo in the top right corner. They have all turned gorgeous shades of red, mahogany and brown. Women pay big bucks to have their hair dyed the colors of these girls. Their combs are turning red and their beaks are getting darker. They have totally made friends with Miller, through the fence of course.

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The gardens are producing, growing, and taking over. There is something humbling, earthing, and beautiful about being able to go outside and get fresh fruit for breakfast and fresh green beans for dinner.

Jeremiah 29:5 “ Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;”

It’s all in the Dirt

It’s been a busy week for the dirt in the gardens! At Eric’s house I plucked our first onions. They’re a bit on the wee little side but they are packing a punch and delicious!

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The watermelon plants are budding! Last year we did sugar babies and weren’t very happy with the results. This year we chose a different kind and it is flourishing! There are buds EVERYWHERE! In the world of vine plants- BUDS=YUM! This goes for the pumpkins as well. As you can see in the first picture, the pumpkin is creeping in.

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Speaking of….he’s taking over our garden! Because our one watermelon plant is doing so well we are probably going to pull the smaller of the two that is struggling just a bit. And the rest of our onions will be out shortly. We have to get those guys out so our massive octopus of a pumpkin can roam more on the free side. The next step will be hefting the vines over the fence to let it free range in the yard! On the plus side, there are a number of beautiful blossoms! I’m hoping to ACTUALLY get a pumpkin this year! 😀

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What our pumpkin looked like on June 15th. I honestly can’t even get a picture with a wide enough view to show you how big the pumpkin plant is. Trust me, it’s become a monster. I’m hoping I get MONSTER pumpkins out of it too! The second picture is from June 26th. It’s much bigger than that even. Trust me.

I spent my afternoon walking through the sea of green beans. They are HUGE! And I still have one more row left to do! I set myself up a nice little system on the living room floor so I could watch TV and not be stuck standing in the kitchen. It’s amazing how quickly that colander fills up!

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First round- Row 1

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By the second round I got smart with a bowl for the tips, a bowl for the snapped and my colander in the middle. Rows 2 and 3

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I got to repeat the process with round 3, row 4. Yeah, there’s still another row left to do.

At my parent’s, my mom and I were investigating our carrots! They’re starting to show through the dirt but they’re just not ready yet! Hopefully by the end of the month they’ll be there.

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Each set of gardeners does different things to help their garden dirt. At my parents, my mom saves our coffee grounds, saves and crushes egg shells and sprinkles it all in the garden. They have been battling first year soil. In the fall they’ll be adding lime and peat moss. At Eric’s, he does lime in the fall and again about March a few weeks before we plant so that the lime doesn’t burn the baby plants. He also adds peat moss and sand. Now that we have the chickens and the gardens are so huge he has finally agreed/decided too…. COMPOST! YAY! We have the perfect spot for it behind our sheds at the back of the property. Egg shells, grass clippings, leaves, weeds, our garden clippings, coffee grounds, chicken poop, banana peals- it’s all going in! I’m sure I’ll be posting about THAT adventure by the end of the summer. 🙂

Early Harvest and Storage Prep

The last of the potatoes are in! I’ve gotten a number of inquires from friends asking what I do to the potatoes after  we pull them out of the ground. Really, what do I do to the fruits and veggies in general.

If they are a ground plant like potatoes I first collect them in a colander. Then I rinse the mud/dirt off.

Once this is done I put the plug in the sink and fill it with warm water and about 1 cup of vinegar. With the potatoes still in the colander I put the whole thing in the sink and kind of swish them around with my hands. I let them sit for 5-10 minutes, pull the plug, rinse with water and let dry.

I usually just put paper towels under the colander and let them air dry. Place in a cool, dry place until ready to use them!

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For green beans, the process is a bit different! I collect in a colander and rinse them with water just like the potatoes.

I then throw them in a pot of boiling water for a minute or so just to blanche them. This helps clean them and gives them a nice bright green color!

I strain, let dry and cool a bit, and throw them in a freezer bag or container. Then, they are ready to make at any time!

Strawberries are tricky. I have yet to find the best secret to having them keep. I still don’t quite get how you can buy them in the grocery store, stick them in the fridge and they last a week. After we pluck ours, it’s a race against the clock to eat them before they get mushy and shriveled. If anyone has any tips on that I would LOVE them! As of right now, if we are not going to eat them right away I simply rinse the dirt off of them, and throw them in a freezer container. This way I’ll at least have a shot to cook with them, add them to ice cream or something!

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On the flip side, out pumpkin has its first blossoms and our tomato plants are fervently popping new little maters every day! I will probably be making my first jars of sauce by the end of July! 😀

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Our watermelon plants are slowly starting to creep out as well!

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I love this time of the season when everything is really starting to take hold and burst with growth!

Early Summer Harvest and Chicken Changes

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WE GOT POTATOES! We had a few plants that were ready to be dug up and by golly we did it! Our biggest ones were about the size of a small lemon all the way down to about a marble. Eric was so excited I made stew with them the other night. It got chilly up here with the rain, and so that was his request. We still have about half of our tater plants in the ground so hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be pulling some more.

Some things we’ll do differently ned year-

SAND! We always add a bit of sand to the soil to help loosen it up, but being that potatoes grow underground, we’re pretty sure they only grew so much because the ground was a bit too hard. We will be cultivating a specific area with extra sand and till the ground a bit more in that specific area. Hopefully with these little changes we’ll have some bigger ones!

Not too shabby for our first time growing them!

The rest of the garden is in full bloom!

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We spent a good half hour weeding and working the strawberry patch. Eric covered shoots, transplanted whole plants and worked the whole patch. It’s suddenly gotten a bit out of hand! We had a good passing storm that uncovered half of them so we had to go back out and re-cover the shoots. Quite a few had finally taken root and were ready to be “cut off” from the mother plant. You can learn more about controlling a strawberry patch in my post Root and Shoot.

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Once again our pumpkin plant is kicking butt! Hopefully these big leaves will turn into big blooms and giant pumpkins this fall!

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We’ve got some friends hanging around the gardens too. We have little pencil toads EVERYWHERE! Hundreds of them. In the grass, around the pool, in the gardens, the chicken run- EVERYWHERE! We also have a mating pair of doves in close proximity. This pretty lady hung out in our green bean sea while we worked in the strawberry patch. She probably would have let me touch her I was able to get so close. Pandora, chatting, and walking around and through the gardens didn’t bother her one bit. It’s like she knew we wouldn’t bother or hurt her.

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AND the most exciting part of the weekend!? THE BABIES ARE OUT! They have finally been transported from their heat lamp, cozy little crate to the big outdoors! They spent the first 12 hours or so huddled in the coop in a corner. They hadn’t ever seen or been on grass before and didn’t quite know what to make of it. They sat and stared at their food and water dishes across the run for hours. By the next morning they were running around like they owned the place. One of them finally took the plunge to the great expanse of their new home. They thoroughly enjoy smooshing themselves all onto one roosting baluster and knock each other off. They are now LOVING the grass and are settling in quite nicely. It’s getting much harder to tell them apart now that their big girl feathers are all coming in! No more blondies in the group.

Blooms Away!

The plants are a blooming! A few weeks ago Eric and I got our plants and seeds in the ground!

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Back when the maters, onion, taters, and peppers were just wittle baby sprouts!

The beds had been thoroughly limed, sanded, peat mossed and turned. We tilled and limed the beds in the fall so that the lime could soak into the ground. We limed again in March so that it could get into the ground enough that it wouldn’t burn the plants. PA soil is naturally not very acidic and needs some help. We added in the peat moss and sand at this time as well. It keeps the ground loose for the roots to grow into and adds nutrients. After we planted the tomatoes we added epsom salt around the bases to help them out a bit. They LOVE it. Once they really get going Eric found a natural pesticide somewhere that worked wonderfully last year.

We lay down a breathable, water penetrating plastic between and around the plants so we don’t have to weed. We hate weeding.

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The strawberry patch kicking butt! The big bright huge green one in the center is our all-star from last season.

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So. Many. Green Bean. Plants.

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Wide view of the first garden. The far section is a few rows of corn.

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Onions….not quite sure what we’re going to do with all of them but they’re coming in tall and strong! New addition from last year.

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Our potato plants have exploded and done way better than we could have hoped and expected. These are another new addition and I’m praying the taters under ground are just as big and awesome as the plants above.

Eric and I are in competition this year as to who can grow the better tomato plant and the better tomatoes. I post mine and he puts his in cages. Obviously my way is better. I will keep you updated as to who is in the lead and the most successful throughout the summer.

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Mater plants. The ones with the white are Eric’s. The ones in the back are mine.

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Wide view of the second garden with the pumpkin, watermelon plants and pepper plants.

The potatoes have just started blooming so hopefully by the end of next week we’ll be digging them up! Our strawberry plants have been producing like crazy already this year. Everything else will take most of the summer to maturate.