Pumpkins

Pumpkins grown for decoration (such as jack o’lanterns) are not suitable for eating; look for “pie pumpkins” or “sugar pumpkins” for baking. To save effort on a pumpkin pie without giving up your good home-made flavor, avoid the canned pumpkin pie filling and look for plain canned pumpkin puree (the label may say things like “unsweetened” and “100% pumpkin”), to which you can then add whatever your favorite recipe calls for.

You should also to be aware that squash of all kinds cross readily with any gourds growing in the area. Avoid squash with “warts” on the skin (compare a normal pumpkin with one of the “knucklehead” ones to see what I’m talking about). Warty squash are likely to have taste and/or texture issues.

Dry milk

If you only use small amounts of milk, dry milk can be the way to go. Most milk powders mix in the same ratio, one part powder to four parts water. That means you can mix up a cup of milk using 1/4 cup of dry milk, or my favorite amount, a tablespoon of powder to 1/4 cup of water. Mix that up first, drop in three eggs and cinnamon to taste, and make about 6 slices of French toast (or, as it was called in medieval England, pan purdy).

As a side note, if you do have to drink the stuff, mix it up the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight to dissolve more thoroughly.

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“Tired” greens

You can rehydrate droopy greens by letting them sit in cold water for an hour or three. Be sure to drain them well before putting them away, though. This can work for certain other vegetables as well.

Many leaf vegetables such as lettuce store longer if there’s a little bit of water at the bottom of the bag so the stem(s) can “drink,” but the leaves must be kept clear of it or they’ll rot. In some cases, like with asparagus, this is best achieved by putting them in a rigid container with a little water in the bottom, vase-style. Unless you’re going to use it right away, though, drop a plastic bag over the whole thing to keep the moisture in.

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