Interim Heating and Pumpkin Processing

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Beautiful “Connecticut Field” and “Fairytale” pumpkins (a classic french heirloom pumpkin aka Musque De Provence) in my kitchen awaiting processing. They make as good decorations as they do good food! 😀

No frost yet, we have been very very lucky thus far!

Two close calls, one on October 4th where we hit a low of about 32F but it was a windy cloudy night so no frost fell…our other close call was just the other night on October 19th when we hit a low of about 34F.  Our average first frost date is October 15th so right now we are living are borrowed time…and looking at the forecast it appears that there is no chance of frost for at least the next week or so…good for the pumpkins in the garden that are still ripening on the vine and good for the heating bill!

We don’t heat the house in October if we can help it, we haven’t heated the house in October for the past three years. Every year I view it as a challenge to the body and the psyche, weaning myself of summer’s heat according to nature’s calendar, allowing myself to feel the chill and letting my body adapt.

Most people, in America at least, thanks to electric heating and air conditioning spend the majority of their lives at a comfortable 72F, but this weakens the body and what do you do when there is no electricity?  It’s yet just one more way in which to feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable in an extreme situation when, with just a little willingness to allow uncomfort onto ourselves as the situation naturally arises in our day to day living, we can become better acclimated to a wider range of temperatures.

Just three years ago, I was one of those women who got easily cold and huddled under a blanket shivering and sipping hot tea or coffee the very moment the ambient indoor temperature dropped below 70F 😆 . My husband, however, is the exact opposite, he hates heat as much as I hate cold and the moment the temperature starts to get above 76F he’s wiping his brow and moaning about the heat.. soooo we made a mutual pact to help each other adapt…he stopped using AC in the summer and I agreed to run the heat for only five months of the year (November-March) it used to be six and sometimes even seven months out of the year, and considering that he harvests the majority of the wood that we heat the house with it is a HUGE help to him!

Now, three years later, I don’t even feel cold until the temperature gets down to around 60-62F and I sleep quite comfortably with nighttime temperatures in the low 50’s as long as I have my trusty wool blanket 😀  When the temperature drops we don’t light a fire in the woodstove or turn on a heater, instead we wear extra clothes (pants combined with a t-shirt or long sleeve shirt under a fleece hoodie with socks and house slippers is all I need to feel warm, same goes for the kiddos too) and we keep all the blinds and curtains open to let in as much sun as possible and we roast all the tasty pretty pumpkins that we grew in the garden over the summer and fall!

The residual heat radiating from the oven during the pumpkin roasting keeps the house at around 64-68F during the day depending on how warm it is outside.  And then I use the tasty pumpkin puree to make everything from pumpkin pie to pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup and even pumpkin lasagna..also not forgetting to mention my newest recipe for Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream! (just do a quick search on your favorite search engine for “pumpkin recipes” there are many to choose from!)

Most of the sweet treats, like cookies and bread, I put in the freezer to use over the course of the winter for entertaining, like around Thanksgiving, or to give as a gift.  If I have too much pumpkin I also can it in cubes which requires a long duration of processing in a pressure canner, further helping to warm the house. (for a good article on pressure canning pumpkin, click here)

Pumpkin roasting is extremely easy! You just take your pumpkin, cut around the stem and pull it out and then cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy messiness (I feed all of that to the chickens, they love the seeds) rub it with a bit of olive oil on the inside and set cut-side down in your roasting pan, add a couple tablespoons of water and pop into a 350F oven for about an hour.  When the flesh is soft and easily separates from the skin of the pumpkin, remove from oven and let cool, scoop out flesh and puree in a blender or food processor (I feed the pumpkin skins to the chickens of course) …if you absolutely need to then add a bit of extra water to get it to process smoothly, but seriously try not to do so unless it is absolutely necessary…in my opinion, it keeps and cooks up so much better without the extra water!

Doing all of this feeds us well and cheaply and heats the house at the same time, all in all a win-win situation if you ask me 😀

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