Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some quotes to share…


The following are a series of quotes concerning New Years and are meant to make you think ...  smile ...  and reflect on while helping you make your resolutions for the upcoming year.

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right"
-- Oprah Winfrey (media proprietor/businesswoman)

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us."
-- Hal Borland (author/journalist)

"A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other."
-- Anonymous

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow."
-- Albert Einstein (the 'father' of modern physics)

"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves."
-- Bill Vaughn (author)

"We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."
-- Edith Lovejoy Pierce (English poet)

"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."
-- Henry Ford (industrialist/founder of Ford Motor Company)

"Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits."
--Anonymous

"To the old, long life and treasure;  To the young, all health and pleasure."
-- Ben Jonson (actor, typically cast in Westerns)

"It wouldn't be New Year's if I didn't have regrets."
-- William Thomas (pro football player 1991-2001)

"I never worry about action, but only about inaction."
-- Winston Churchill (British politician and statesman)

"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else."
-- Yogi Berra (baseball great)

"One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:  To rise above the little things."
--John Burroughs (American naturalist: 1837-1921)

"Write in on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (American poet)

"Don't bunt.  Aim out of the ballpark."
-- David Oglivy (British advertising executive)

"Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old:  here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold."
-- Anonymous


May the New Year bring us all happiness, good health, prosperity, peace and love.

New Year's Eve 2011


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By Diane Forrest,

I can't remember a New Year's Eve that I didn't spend in front of the TV watching Dick Clark, and the glittering ball drop in Time's Square.  I loved seeing all the people gather around, I knew they had to be freezing out there in the cold, but the excitement kept them warm.  I would watch all the musicians singing, and would long to be there, and to kiss my special someone at midnight.

That special midnight kiss on New Year's Eve has always been a dream of mine that I am still waiting to come true.  My prince charming would always be fast asleep at midnight, so I never got the chance. I did try to wake him up one year, but that was a disaster.  He would try to stay awake, but always fell short.

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New Year's Eve is a very special time; we are saying good-bye to the old year, and hello to the new.  It's time for a fresh new start, and forgets the past.  Time to make plans and dreams for the coming year.

I guess the most memorable New Year's Eve during my lifetime was December 31, 1999, and not just because of the song I'm gonna party like it's 1999.  There were so many fears and concerns about moving forward to a new century, it was even given its own name.  Y2K.  There were so many rumors about the world coming to an end and computers crashing, and banking problems, even electrical and communication problems.  But, as it turned out, no problems at all occurred, and the new millennium went off without a hitch.

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So tonight, on New Year's Eve, take some time to reflect on 2011 and all the good things that happened as well as the not so good, Sing a round of Auld Lang Syne, and if you are out celebrating, please drink responsibly.

Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?
CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pepper Pot Soup


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By Diane Forrest,

With the start of winter, something that is sure to warm your insides is a nice bowl or cup of warm soup.   To make things even hotter you can try some pepper pot soup, which is loaded with peppers.   Below is a recipe for some famous pepper pot soup.  It hasn't been around very long.  It has quite an amazing history.  The winter of 1777-1778 was extremely harsh.  This happened to be during the Revolutionary War.  Food was scarce, and soldiers were hungry.  The local farmers were selling their produce to the British, because they were skeptical of the currency being offered by George Washington's troops.

It was up to Christopher Ludwick, the baker general of the Continental Army, to gather whatever food he could find to in order to feed the soldiers. He found some tripe, some pepper corn and a few vegetables and put together this stew.

Tripe, for those of you who don't know, is the stomach lining of the cow.  Of course it is also in other animals, but the one from the cow is the one that is mostly eaten.  For human consumption, tripe must be washed and meticulously cleaned. It is ideal to boil it for two or three hours in water with salt (1 tablespoon per liter of water) to soften it and also clean it in the process.

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This soup served its purpose.  The men were saved from starvation, and warmed them up from the cold.  With their stomachs full and their moral boosted, they went on to battle and won the war, in fact it was said that this soup is the soup that won the war.
These days, you can use chicken or beef in place of the tripe, but today, on Pepper Pot Day, try warming up your insides with a hot spicy bowl of soup, you may even win a war of your own.

Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup

Ingredients
  • 1 pound honeycomb tripe
  • 5 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 quarts beef stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 4 tablespoons margarine
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Directions
  1. Place the tripe or other meat that you have selected to use in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and turn off the heat. Allow the meat to cool a bit in the water, and then drain and rinse. Cut into 1/4 inch pieces.
  2. In a large heavy kettle, sauté the bacon until clear. Add the onion, celery, leeks, parsley, and green peppers; sauté until tender.
  3. Stir in beef stock, thyme, marjoram, cloves, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and black pepper. Bring the kettle to a boil, and turn down to a simmer. Cook, covered, until meat is very tender, about 2 hours.
  4. Add the diced potato and carrots, and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
  5. Prepare the roux by stirring the flour into the melted butter or margarine, and cooking for a moment on the stove. When the soup is done to your liking, stir in the roux. Simmer, stirring all the while, until the soup thickens a bit. Correct the seasonings.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day


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By Diane Forrest,

Well this has been a very busy month, with all the parties, baking, eating and family fun is it any surprise that the end of the month would be National Bicarbonate of Soda day?  Bicarbonate of Soda, or baking soda as it is commonly called, is useful for so many things especially during the month of December.  It is used for baking all those Christmas goodies and also for indigestion after eating all those goodies.  It is also useful for cleaning and removing stubborn stains and for keeping odors out of the refrigerator.  Some more uses include:
  • Removing odor in kitty litter
  • It is used in fire extinguishers for grease and oil fires
  • It is often used as a cleaning agent
  • It can be used as a meat tenderizer
  • Put it in water with beans to minimize flatulence from eating beans
  • Polish Silverware
  • Remove burned food from a pot or a pan

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Since most of the baking for the season has been done...it will probably be useful now as an antacid.  Just mix a level teaspoon in a glass of water, mix and drink.  It has been a common staple in medicine cabinets for years, and the best part is the price.  It costs less than a dollar, and is so useful in all types of areas.  So, after you have baked, and used it for indigestion, dip your toothbrush in the soda and brush your teeth, it will whiten your smile too.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Opposite day


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By Diane Forrest,

When my son was younger, he would try to get out of homework or chores by declaring it was Opposite Day.  Then he would tell me he was supposed to have pizza for supper or watch a special movie, and I would tell him, but you said it was opposite day.  He didn't realize that it worked both ways; he wanted to get rid of the bad, but keep the good things.  At the time I thought it was just something he made up, and it wasn’t until today that I realized it was an actual "day".

Nobody knows exactly how this day came about.  There are some references to President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920's.  Apparently he said one thing but meant another.  Strange coming from a President!

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On opposite day, everything is opposite of what it is supposed to be.  So how do we even know it is Opposite Day, it could be the opposite of opposite day.

National Chocolate Day


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By Diane Forrest,

Even though Christmas is over, the warm happy feelings still linger, along with visiting family and after Christmas sales.  Another thing to linger is the candy left in my stocking from Santa.  I got chocolate kisses and peppermint bark, not to mention all the fudge I made.  This year I tried to make sure all of my family had some chocolate for the holidays.  I made 3 batches of fudge and send to all of my relatives out of town. By the time I got to the last 4 tins to send out, I went to the post office, and they only had 3 boxes left.   Since my cousin lives in the same area as my aunt and uncle, and I knew he would be spending Christmas with him, I asked if I mailed theirs to them, would he please deliver it for me.  He said that wouldn't be a problem, so I sent it on.   It had been a few days, and I still hadn't heard if they got it, then I finally got a message from my cousin.  He thanked me and told me how delicious it was, and I asked if he had taking his folks their tin.  He replied…no, was I supposed to?

Well my jaw hit the ground... I reminded him of the long conversation we just had about him delivering it, but he forgot, and ate both tins.  Then went on to say how much of a compliment it was to me because he ate it all.  Men!  After I told him I was gonna tell on him to his parents, he promised to make some and deliver it to them.  I can say with total certainty that is never going to happen.

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My second fudge mishap happened when I ran into my parent's neighbor at church on Christmas morning.  Whenever I get in my baking moods I will take some and drop off at their house.  I will stick it in their mailbox, because they have large dogs that run loose outside, and I wasn’t want to be jumped on when they go after the food I’m bringing.  They always get it, and whoever is the lucky one to find it will usually hide it from the rest of the family.  I found a tin that had 4 snowmen on the top, so I made a label with each of their names and put under each snowman.  When I asked him if he got it, he replied no, and began to think that maybe the postman thought it was for him, and took it.  Since I am done baking for the year, and I’m not going to be parting with any of my fudge, they will have to wait til next year for some delicious chocolate, Valentine's Day will be a great time to make some more.

My third chocolate story happened when I mailed some to my stepson.  His wife doesn’t like chocolate, weird right?  So I sent her some divinity, and made the fudge for him.  He must have given some to his two year old daughter, because not long after they got it, I got a short video of her dancing up a storm after eating a piece!
Today is National Chocolate Day, of course every day is chocolate day for me.  Check your Christmas stocking and see if there is a piece left for you, or even drink some hot chocolate, or a cold chocolate shake.  Any way you have chocolate is a good way, and Im sure since it is chocolate day, the calories won’t count!

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pledge of Allegiance Day


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By Akindman (USN, Retired)

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Also according to the Flag Code, the Pledge "should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present and not in uniform may render the military salute. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute".

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BY A 15 year old SCHOOL KID who got an A+ for this entry

Since the Pledge of Allegiance and The Lord's Prayer are not allowed in most Public schools anymore because the word 'God' is mentioned.

A kid in Arizona wrote the attached NEW School prayer:

"New Pledge of Allegiance"

Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.

If scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green,
That's no offense; it's a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.

For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God's name is prohibited by the state.

We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.
They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.
We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King.
It's 'inappropriate' to teach right from wrong,
We're taught that such 'judgments' do not belong.

We can get our condoms and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles..
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.

It's scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school's a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take!
Amen


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Zoo Day


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By Diane Forrest,

During the holiday season the kids are out of school and driving you crazy.  One of the reasons there are many new movie releases at the theaters.  If it’s cold, or raining and wet, watching a movie is a great thing to do.   However, if it is a nice bright sunshiny day, Why not go to the zoo?  Today is National Visit a Zoo day.  Today, there are over 2,800 zoos in the world, and over 6 million people visit them each year!

My son loves to visit zoos and look at the animals.  I have been taking him since he was very young.  There are also petting zoos where you can actually pet the animals, and feed them food pellets.  There are also marine aquariums, which is a type of zoo where you can see and even touch animals from the deep sea.

Do you know the difference between a Northern Zoo and a Southern one?   In a Northern zoo you have the name of the animal and the Latin name underneath. In a Southern zoo you haven the name of the animal and a recipe underneath.
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My husband's aunt lives in San Diego, and visit's the famous zoo there often.  She would always take pictures to send to him since he was such a fan on zoos, but unable to get out to go to one.  In fact, his last trip out was a visit to the zoo with his son and grandson.

So today, why not take your family out to the zoo.  If it’s too cold there are many books about the zoo, or you can view websites on zoos.  Here is one to start with: http://www.sandiego.com/zoo?gclid=CLafj_ucm60CFUqb7Qod7kcTmw

Enjoy National Fruitcake Day


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By Diane Forrest,

There are some foods you only see during the holidays....the other day we talked about eggnog, and today, its fruitcake.  I don't think I have seen fruitcake at any other time of the year, or even the fruit to make it with.  Fruitcake has been around for quite a while, but contrary to Johnny Carson, it’s not the same one being passed around from person to person.
Fruitcake is cake made with chopped candied fruit, nuts and then it may or may not be soaked in spirits…such as brandy.  The alcohol preserves the cake and prevents mold and will keep it edible for many years.  In fact, one family has an heirloom fruitcake made in 1878, and in 2003 it was sampled by Jay Leno, on the tonight show.

There are a couple of companies that are well known for Fruitcake, one is Collins Street Bakery in Texas and the other is Claxton Bakery in Georgia.  Today is National fruitcake day, so if you got some as a gift, have a piece, if not, below is a good recipe for you to try.

Great Fruitcake Recipe

You'll need the following: a cup of water, a cup of sugar, four large eggs, two cups of dried fruit, a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of salt, a cup of brown sugar, lemon juice, nuts, and a bottle of whisky.

Sample the whisky to check for quality.

Take a large bowl. Check the whisky again. To be sure it is the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again.

Make sure the whisky is still okay. Try another cup. Turn off the mixer. Break two legs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the turner. If the fried fruit gets stuck in the batterers pry it loose with a screw driver.

Sample the whisky to check for consistency. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whisky. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find.

Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window, check the whisky again and go to bed.

White Fruitcake Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup chopped candied pineapple
1/2 cup chopped citron
3/4 cup finely chopped or shredded almonds
1 1/2 cups coconut
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
6 egg whites

Preparation:
Prepare fruits and almonds. Measure the sifted flour and reserve a few tablespoons to dredge fruit. Sift remaining flour into a bowl with baking powder and salt.
In mixing bowl cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
Stir in sifted dry ingredients, alternating with the milk.
Beat well and add the dredged candied fruit, shredded or chopped almonds, and the coconut. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter.
Line a greased loaf pan with waxed paper or parchment paper and grease the paper. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.
Bake at 300° for about 90 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted around center of cake comes out clean.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day?


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By Diane Forrest,

Today is Boxing Day, a holiday that is celebrated in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth nations. In Ireland, it is recognized as St. Stephen's Day or the Day of the Wren.  Growing up I always thought that Boxing Day was the day to box up all your decorations from Christmas to put them away for the next year. But actually it’s a really nice holiday.

Boxing Day is a bank holiday that was started in 1871 by the Bank Holidays Act.  It allows for the banks to be closed the day after Christmas, and employees given the day off with pay.  If this day falls on a weekend, then the next business day is taken.  It also coincides with the Feasts of Stephens, a religious holiday celebrating the first Christian martyr.  No one is quite sure how Boxing Day got its name.  Some believe it was named that because the churches would place metal boxes outside the church to accept donations for St. Stephen's celebrations.  Others say it was a custom for in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly; their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food).

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Today, in addition to having the day off, there are huge shopping sales to pick up some good buys.  While we don't observe Boxing Day in America, we still have the opportunity to attend great after Christmas sales, and it is also a great time to make charitable donations.  Not only will you feel great when you donate, but you will also be able to claim it as a tax deduction for the tax season.  Or if you aren't able to shop or donate, at least you can box up your decorations and store them for the next year.  Happy Boxing Day

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Thank You


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By Diane Forrest,

What kid doesn't like opening presents at Christmas?  Surrounded by toys, clothes, treats?  When I was young we would have several Christmases, going from one grandparent to the next, then seeing aunts and uncles.  A week full of parties, fun and food.  Every year, after all the gifts were open, and the decorations came down, I had to start writing thank you notes.  That was worse than homework.  While it was great getting the gifts, it wasn't as great having to write the notes.  Then it hit me, these people, my family and friends, cared enough about me to brave the stores, find the perfect gift, wrap it and deliver it to me.  Just that thought alone made me appreciate their kindness, even if I didn't like the pajamas or Jean Nate' splash.

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a stickler for thank you notes.  I send them out as soon as I receive a gift.  I want to make sure the giver knows how much their gift means to me.  While I prefer sending a card in the mail, it is acceptable these days to send email, even a phone text will do.  I remember a while back reading a Dear Abby letter from a grandmother who never received thanks from gifts she sent to her grandchildren.  Abby's advice was to send a box of thank you notes at the next gift giving occasion.  I think about that often, and haven't ruled that advice out.

I am constantly sending gifts to family members.  I will give them a few days to let me know they got it before asking about.  Not only to see if they liked what I sent, but to also make sure they received it in the first place.  Occasionally the post office will lose a package, or it will get stolen.  I mail things to my stepson frequently, but didn't hear back from him on his birthday.  I finally called to see how he liked it, and discovered he had not recieved it, so I was able to check with the post office, and even though it couldn't be found, I was able to replace the gift.

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One year I sent my elderly great aunt an arrangement of flowers.  I always believed it was the law to immediately call and say thank you.  After 2 days of not hearing anything I began to get concerned.  She lived alone, and there was no family near.   She took frequent trips with her group from church, so I contacted the church to see if a trip had been scheduled.  There wasn't one, and upon further investigation I learned that she had not been to any activities for that week, which was unusual for her.  As my concern began to grow, I called other family members to see if they had heard from her, no one had.  It was now the third day, so I decided to call the local police station and ask if they could go by and check to make sure she was ok.  When they went by she was not at home, but her neighbor saw the police arrive, and assured them that my aunt was alright, she was at the store at the time.  While I was relieved that she was alright, my aunt was livid that I had sent the police to her home.  She called all the relatives complaining about my actions, however she was reminded that the same thing happened to a friend of hers, who had fallen and had no help for 3 days.  While this helped to calm her down, my name was removed from her greeting card list.

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So today, on National Thank You Note Day, take some time to write a note of thanks for the gifts you received, and also remember to thank each time you receive a gift, such as graduation, wedding, birthdays, holidays anytime you receive a gift.  You don't want the police knocking at your door!

P.S.  The reason my aunt hadn't called to thank me for the flowers was because she thought I was in town, and would be coming by to visit, and was waiting to thank me then.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy National Pumpkin Pie Day


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By Diane Forrest,

I am not much of a pie maker, I make cookies, candy an occasional cake, but pies are somewhat frightening for me.  I think it’s the meringue.  I have never quiet mastered it, so I just steer clear of pies, well except for pecan. Those are pretty easy.  Thanksgiving was coming around, and I got to thinking about pumpkin pie.  It is the only time I ever get any, and I love it.

I was talking to a friend who asked how I made them, and since I usually buy them already made, I just told him to get some canned pumpkin.  He was in shock.  With all the baking you do, you don't make one from scratch?  So, I took this as a challenge.  I knew nothing about real pumpkins, except for carving faces in them and sitting them on my porch.

I did some research about how to prepare the pumpkin then went to the store to gather all the ingredients.  Did you know that pumpkins come in a smaller size just right for baking pies?  I was so glad about that cause all I could think of was those big huge porch sitting pumpkins.  I wasn't very hard at all to prepare the pumpkin.  All I had to do was slice a few holes in the pumpkin and place it the oven at 350 for about an hour.  Once it was baked, all I had to do was cut off the top, scoop out the seeds, and then scrape the sides with a spoon. By this time I was feeling so much like Martha Stewart I even washed and roasted the pumpkin seeds. Once you scoop out the pumpkin, just put it in a food processor and puree it, or you can use a potato masher or even hand mixer.

After getting the pumpkin ready, I was going to start on the pie filling, but as luck would have it my husband's aunt called and gave me her easy no fail recipe.  i was so happy, because the recipe I found didn't sound very good, I later found out that it was a diabetic recipe, using honey instead of sugar.  The recipe she gave me used alot of sugar, so if you aren't diabetic, I recommend you try it the next time you need a pumpkin pie.

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Since today is National Pumpkin Pie Day, why not bake one now for your Christmas dinner?  You can also have a pumpkin pie shake, cheesecake, coffee or even beer.

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 large can condensed milk
1 pie shells
*  This recipe does not call for added spices, however you may add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or pumpkin pie spice.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Mix all ingredients and bake for 45 minutes, or until done. 
Makes 2 pies 
Top with whipped cream.

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