Edible Decor(tm): Homemade Pumpkin Pie from Roasted Fresh Pumpkins Promised!


As promised ...I'm posting their transformation from whole pumpkin...

into Pumpkin Pie filling (i.e., pumpkin pack).

These two, smallish pumpkins are from our Thanksgiving decor
(see Edible Autumn Decor).

I cut pumpkins in half and scooped out the seeds (as with an acorn squash).

Here are the pumpkins after I roasted them, uncovered,
for about an hour in a preheated 350 degree oven
(until they were very soft).

Once they were cool to the touch , I scooped them out and into a bowl, using an ordinary tablespoon. These were very soft, and needed no processing. However, some pumpkin varieties are tough and fibrous (usually the larger ones). You can still use them for pumpkin pack, just puree them in a food processor after they have been cooked and cooled.

Here is our freezer stash of pumpkin pack. This lasts for about 6 to 9 months without losing flavor. I'll use some for Christmas pies; we'll also have it available to bake lovely pumpkin bread, muffins, and any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin pack. I also use this pumpkin in savory recipes such as vegetable soups and's adds nutrients and acts as a slight thickener.
(Hint: We have a freezer full, thanks to a pumpkin sale after Halloween & Thanksgiving--$1.00 each).

A delicious pumpkin pie.


More Deliciously Edible Thanksgiving Decor.

HARVESTING (CANDY) CORN FROM A PUMPKIN... Not so in the natural world...but in the world of
Frugal Luxuries anything is possible!
Rosie won this faux pumpkin-tree at a school raffle a few years arrived with an array of gift cards dangling from the metal branches. I loved the presentation and thought it would be a lovely & fun addition to our Thanksgiving decor and buffet table. Adapting it, I replaced the (now spent!) gift cards with candy corn--divided up and repackaged in simple cellophane bags closed with raffia. These were tied onto the metal branches of the pumpkin.
Simple, frugal and charming!
Note: I found the candy corn at the Dollar store for...a dollar!
Two large bags filled six of the small bags that are tied to the pumpkin tree.


As you know, I'm enamored with the scalloped edges of the Acorn Squash

and use them generously in my autumn decor and ...afterwards... I eat them!

Here is yet another way to make use of this pretty and quite sturdy vegetable!

Use it as Nature's China (tm) .

Above, I cut the uncooked squash, scooped out the seeds,

then poured salsa into the center.

Surrounded by corn and flax seed chips, it's a lovely addition to your

appetizer and/or buffet on Thanksgiving day (or any time)!

After the party...rinse out the center of the squash, bake and eat!

It does triple duty!

1. Serves as decor for the autumn mantle...

2. Transforms into one of Nature's China cabinet's prettiest bowls ...

3. Provides sustenance as it is baked (with butter & sea salt) and consumed with joy!

Nature's China.

To See more ways to use and enjoy Nature's Bounty be sure to visit


To view photos and details of how to implement our eco friendly; budget friendly; nature's bounty; use-what-you-have; edible holiday decorating philosophy visit us at... .

Frugal Feasts (tm) : How to Cook & Eat Your Thanksgiving Decorations

1. Acorn Squash on the mantle...

2. Raw Acorn Squash cut in half

3. Scoop out the seeds....

4. Rub lightly with butter or olive oil...add a gentle sprinkle of sea salt...

5. Here is what they look like when they come out of the oven!

Once thanksgiving has ended, you may eat your decor (some of it).
Here is how I enjoy the Acorn squash.
1. Remove from the mantle and wash
2. Cut in half and seed (as you would a melon) I use a spoon
3. Lightly butter the inside of the squash...or rub with olive oil & give a gentle sprinkle of sea salt
4. Place both pieces, cut side up, in an un-greased baking pan--bake for about an hour in a pre-heated, 350 degree oven (baking time may be longer if the squash is on the large size). The cooked texture should be similar to that of a baked sweet potato (a little more firm).
5. Serve as a side dish. I eat mine by scooping it out of the peel/shell with a small spoon.
I do understand that not everyone thinks baked squash is as delicious as I do. That being said, you can also add it to soups and stews (peel and dice first)...or saute' it in olive oil and garlic (precook at least half-way first as it's a very hard vegetable when raw). You may also puree or mash the baked squash, by itself or with butter, herbs (sage perhaps), and minced garlic.


A Gift of Lemons...

Rosie and I plucked these huge lemons and tiny oranges
from trees on my Dad's property in San Diego last weekend.
I found a lemon marmalade recipe at
It makes a small batch (six, 1/2 pint jars) which would be ideal for
this year's holiday gift baskets! Being a lover of all things lemon,
I have never made lemon marmalade before, but will try it out...
and keep you posted on the results!
P.S. I plan on juicing the tiny oranges and using them as a sauce over fish:
Here's the Rough recipe:
Brown a firm white fish or salmon on both sides; apply generous amounts of freshly cracked black pepper on both sides; set them aside in a buttered (or use Pam) baking dish. In the same pan you browned the fish, pour in orange juice (1/2 cup for 2 fillets, 1 cup for 4, etc.) and scrape it around with a wooden spoon to get the browned bits and extra pepper flakes. Add 2 or 4 TBS butter (depends on how much juice you're using) or olive oil, and lightly simmer for just a few minutes, stirring constantly (just until the sugar begins to caramelize--ever so slightly). Pour juice mix atop the browned fish fillets and then bake COVERED in a preheated, 350% oven for about 10 minutes (the baking time depends on the thickness of the fish and how long you browned them). The fish is done when you can flake it with a fork. You may also make this recipe using lemon juice, but it's not so sweet (obviously) and won't as camelize much.
Serve with a baked potato, or rice pilaf, a green vegetable and ??!
It's so yummy, even non fish lovers will probably like (or at least tolerate) this entree!
I know, it sounds a little complicated, but it's amazingly easy for the flavor value of the dish.


Not Grimm Bread Crumbs...


We all know the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm...
Hansel and Gretel lured into the deeps of the forest
with only a trail of bread crumbs to find their way home.
This tale has a happier ending!!
This morning I decided to clean out the various bread bags clogging the freezer.
I often save the heels of bread along with odd bits of buns and rolls
(notice the hot dog buns, broken croissants, and French bread chunks)
to make these simple bread crumbs.
The How:
Place bread pieces, single layer, on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake them at 300 degrees.
After about 15 minutes the thin pieces should be lightly toasted and hard.
Carefully (I use tongs) remove the thinner pieces .
(These cook faster than the thicker pieces and if you leave them too long they'll burn.)
Set your timer for 10-15 minutes and allow the thicker pieces to toast.
Once they have toasted remove from oven and allow to cool.
I use a food processor to grind the cooled, toasted bits of bread into bread crumbs.
You could also use a vintage food grinder, or place them in a large plastic or paper bag (sturdy)
and crush them with a rolling pin (being careful not to make a mess).
We enjoy Italian style bread crumbs, so I add a few teaspoons of garlic powder; 1 teaspoon dried basil; 1 teaspoon dried oregano; 2 teaspoons sea salt; 1 teaspoon ground black pepper.
This batch makes about 12 ounces.
A wide-mouth funnel keeps the mess down when transfering them to their container.
We use a recycled, store-bought, bread crumb container that was
purchased in a moment of weakness!
(I still lament the fact that we paid over $3 for a 15 ounce container of ground up, dried bread!)
The bonus is that you can control the ingredients in home made bread crumbs
and we don't add preservatives.

Here's what they look like in the container.
We use them to bread zuccini and other vegetables,
as well as meats and tofu (such as chicken strips and mock chicken strips).
I've even taken very thin pieces of fish fillet and
used this breading to add substance to what could have been a meagre entree.
Home made bread crumbs are surprisingly easy and take about 1/2 hour total time...
with only about 10-15 minutes actual labor.
(The remaining 15 minutes is simply keeping an eye on the baking bread).
As well, there's beauty in the fact that you're using food you might normally have wasted.


"Hospitality consists in a little fire, a little food, and immense quiet."

---Ralph Waldo Emerson


When my father returned home from [one of] his much needed vacations.....he brought with him wonderful descriptions of the miracle of autumn. Green leaves were metamorphosing into bronze-colored wisps, generously cloaking the tree branches that lined the roads leading up to the great wooded landscape of northern Wisconsin, where my father had spent his youth.He arrived at his destination at dusk. Walking toward the warm lights of his sister and brother-in-law's snug cabin home, his senses were awakened by the familiar fragrance of pine, and the faint must aroma of the surrounding forest. Upon entering the cabin he found the table gracefully set, and a delicious meal of rich savory stew awaiting him.Lake Ahmeek stew has since become a favorite meal in my father's house, as well as our own. It is not only delicious, but simple to prepare. We serve it with generously buttered, piping hot dinner rolls, and a fresh salad composed of whatever vegetables may be in season, and savor it along with the happy memories it evokes.


(Slow-cooked in a Crock Pot)

--1-1/2 lbs lean stew beef diced (if you're vegan or vegetarian you can omit this and add more vegetables or a soy based protein, cubed)

--3 or 4 potatoes, cut into large squares

--2 medium onions, diced

--4 to 5 stalks fresh celery, chopped

--Any other fresh vegetables you desire.

--1 to 2 cans GOLDEN mushroom soup, plus 1/2 can of water for each can of soup

--1 teaspoon salt

--1/4 teaspoon black pepper

--Crock-Pot or slow cooker

To Make:

Place all ingredients into a slow-cooker in the order they are listed above (no need to brown the meat). Cook for 8 hours on low heat. (If you don't have a slow cooker, you may use a 2-quart casserole dish and bake this stew, covered tightly, in a 200 degree oven for about 5 hours. My Father says this is the way the pioneers cooked a similar stew, using a Dutch oven.) As a variation on this recipe I often place a generous sprig of fresh rosemary on top of all the ingredients before cooking (remove the sprig before serving). Makes about 6 ample portions.



Mike (our resident carnivore) has a hard time adjusting to alternative protein sources and loves comfort food like traditional meat loaf so, I sometimes make a small batch, just for him, using mini-loaf tins, as a treat.
Simple Protein Substitutes

I used a small amount (1/2 lb) of organic, local beef for this recipe (as well as an egg) and added about 1 cup of finely cut oatmeal (any whole grain, finely cut, will work) to stretch the beef; but for those members of the family who minimize their consumption of animal proteins, you may want to try the following substitutions:

For a Vegetarian meal, follow the recipe below, instead of beef, use crumbled tofu with oats & eggs. For a Vegan meal, use crumbled tofu with oats, add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil as a light binder. These alternatives are easy, tasty, and often more budget friendly than beef.


I rubbed the mini loaf pans lightly with olive oil . To stretch the beef, I combine it with about 1 cup steel rolled Irish oats~adding one egg; salt, pepper; 1 small onion (very finely chopped or grated) or substitude with 1/4 cup or so dehydrated onions; 1 small clove garlic finely minced; quarter cup tomato sauce, or catsup, or 3 or 4 TBS of tomato paste, whatever you have on hand; a dash of cumin (my dash is about 1/2 tsp); a dash of dried thyme; a dash of dried oregano; 1 TBS soy sauce. Cook in a 350% oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.


Ingredients are in the bowl, the pans oiled and ready.


Out of the oven, I carefully take it from the pans
(loosening the sides first). Then I plate it next to home-made mashed potatoes and then top it with a simple brown gravy. It'll be served with marinated Persian cucumber slices
and a side salad.
Home Made Take-Out!

Working Ahead of Need tm

Often times, while I prepare a plate for Mike's dinner, I serve up another plate or two for the freezer (using recycled take-out containers from our favorite Chinese restaurant--a frugal luxury!). This is part of my working ahead of need philosophy. This way I have only one prep and one clean up for four meals! As well , knowing there are a few pre-made dinners in the freezer for Mike, helps on those nights when Rosie and I are busy.
Oh, did I mention the money saving aspect of this simple tactic?



A Humble Cook
“We brought back these reliefs of a humble art.”
—George Seferis

I cannot pretend to be a gourmet chef. I am but a humble cook, capable enough to produce simple dishes that celebrate the transformation of nourishing, wholesome foods into attractive and tasty meals for myself, my family, my friends. Therefore, I choose to write about feasts in much the same manner that I prepare them: using a good amount of simple, wholesome, nourishing ingredients (including information), seasoned with simple touches of artfulness, elegance, and beauty.

The art of cookery need not be complicated, as some people assume. Cooking is simply a question of mastering small bits of skill and building on them. These simple basics are the essence of the art.

Taken from Frugal Luxuries, Bantam Books, NY, 1997.