How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Recipes

Fall is pumpkin season! Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes – everyone is going crazy for pumpkins! But let’s not forget the rest of the pumpkin – let’s remember to roast the seeds. Letting food go to waste is not the business, especially when that food can be a bit pricey when purchased in stores. Roasted pumpkin seeds make a nutritious snack that’s worth the time it takes to make them. Keep reading to learn how to roast your own pumpkin seeds at home.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • The seeds of at least one pumpkin
  • Salt, pepper or other seasonings you desire (some use pumpkin pie spice, you can also use chili powder – get creative!)
  • Olive oil, if desired
  1. Once you’ve removed the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin, remove as much of the pumpkin “guts” as you can with your hands and place in a large bowl of salted water (the amount of salt varies depending on your tastes, I use about 1/2 cup) and let soak overnight.
  2. Once the seeds have soaked, remove from the water and let dry on a foil lined baking sheet to dry overnight – cover with a paper towel if desired to help dry and keep covered.
  3. Preheat your oven to 300°F. If you would like to use olive oil, drizzle some over your seeds now and mix with your hands to coat. Add desired seasonings and mix again.
  4. Bake seeds for about 1 hour, stirring half way through. The seeds are done roasting when lightly browned and their aroma fills the air.
  5. Store in an airtight container such as a food container or mason jar and enjoy!!

How to Arrange Market Style Flowers

Ramble On

I absolutely love having fresh flowers in the house. Something about them makes everything feel brighter. The last few years, I’ve started buying the market style bunches of flowers and greenery instead of buying prearranged bouquets. This may seem like a daunting task, but once you get the hang of arranging your own flowers it’s actually cheaper and more fun to do it yourself. For example, my grocery store sells bouquets for around $15. These are the smaller bouquets with a few different kinds of flowers but not in a large quantity. Or I can get three larger bunches of flowers, which I get to pick, for only $12. This makes for a much larger bouquet made out of whatever flowers I choose. Once you start creating your own bouquets, you’ll realize how easy it is and you’ll never go back!

When buying fresh market bunches of flowers make sure to get at least one greenery bunch and a variety of sizes of flowers. In this bouquet, I only purchased three bunches – ferns, daisies and large yellow mums – but it still made for quite a full bouquet. Having a variety of sizes will make it so that the bouquet is balanced. To begin, fill a vase with water and pour in the flower food that comes with the flowers. If you don’t have flower food, you can also take some aspirin and grind it up in the water.

Start with the largest flowers first and place them in the vase. Make sure to remove all leaves that may reach the water line so that they don’t dirty the water. To figure out how much stem to cut off, I like to set my vase on the edge of the counter, then hold the flower next to the vase allowing the stem to go below the counter if necessary. Once the height of the flower has been determined, you can cut the stem to length. Place the largest flowers in the center. You can vary the heights of the stems slightly so that they aren’t all leaning up against each other. Next, prepare the smaller flowers. The smaller flowers can be arranged around the larger ones, again varying the height of the stems so that the bouquet is balanced but rounded, placing the the shorter cuts on the outside near the edge and the taller cuts closer to the center. If you have more than one variety of small flowers, you can treat these the same way. Use the smaller flowers like fillers to work around the larger flowers and fill in any gaps. You still want the largest flowers to be the focal point so make sure not to overpower them with smaller bunches of flowers (like I did in the photo below LOL).

Lastly, add the greenery. I usually like to add these in a triangular pattern. I had 5 fern stalks in my bunch this time so I put two stalks at 4 o’clock, two at 8 o’clock and one at noon. I made sure the largest flowers were still the most prominent and in the front. Take a step back and look at the bouquet fully. At this point, you can always pull stems out and rearrange if you’re not happy with the way things look. I think it’s always prettier when bouquets look a little bit more on the wild side, but to each their own 🙂 In the photos below you can see I broke my own rule on the left by adding too many of the smaller flowers to the center. This ruined the appearance of the larger flowers making them look squished into the bottom edge of the vase. The photo on the right is after I rearranged the larger flowers into the middle. I think it gives it a much more professional look and makes the mums look fuller and brighter.

So that’s pretty much it! I love how this bouquet turned out and also love that making my own arrangements means I can have flowers in the house more often. It really is the best way to brighten a room or a mood and for only $12 and about 15 minutes it’s totally worth the extra work!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

How to Harvest and Roast Sunflower Seeds

Recipes

Seeds and nuts are a great source of snacking protein. Unfortunately, some varieties can be quite expensive making it difficult to add them into a daily routine. Luckily, sunflower seeds are not usually too expensive, and are even less pricey if you grow and harvest them at home. Sunflower seeds are also a great source of Vitamin B, calcium and iron making them a great alternative to junk food type snacks. Another benefit of growing and roasting them at home is that you can control the sodium levels. Sunflower seeds packaged and sold in stores often times contain high amounts of sodium that can outweigh the nutritional benefits of this easy to produce snack.

Growing sunflowers at home is fairly easy if you start your seeds at the right time and maintain the growth of the plant. I have several blog posts on this topic if you’d like to check that out. In this post, I’m going to mostly focus on the harvesting and the roasting of the seeds themselves. I do highly encourage everyone to try growing their own sunflowers. They are fun to watch grow because they start as tiny seeds and grow into monstrous sometimes 6 feet tall flowers that follow the sun with their big golden faces. Our sunflowers were of the Mammoth variety, making them very large in size and produced loads of seeds per head. All in all, 4 flowers were originally seeded and 3 of them made it through a full life cycle. The flower you see in these images was actually the smallest of the 3, but still produced enough sunflower seeds to keep us snacking for days if not a couple weeks.

To begin, make sure that the sunflower head has spent enough time on it’s stalk to completely dry out. This can be determined by the stalk and the back of the flower itself turning yellow and even brown in color. Some people have issues with birds and other critters stealing the seeds as they dry, if you have this issue, you can always cut the heads of the flowers off first and dry them inside by hanging them upside down by their stalk. Once the seeds have completely dried out, you can remove the head of the flower from the stalk by cutting it with your garden shears or scissors.

Once the head is removed, bring it inside and give it a good rinse to remove any loose leaves or other outside remnants. Remove the outer leaves as well. Once removed, you can start pulling the seeds from the flower. I did this by gently bending the body of the flower head outward and popping the seeds out with my hands, sort of like an ice cube tray.

Once all the seeds have been removed, place them in a bowl of water and add salt if desired. I used a couple teaspoons of Himilayan pink salt, but you can use regular salt or leave them unsalted if you prefer. Let them soak in the water overnight. This will keep the seeds from over-roasting in the oven as well as help the seeds to absorb the salt from the water (if added).

After the seeds have finished soaking, you can preheat your oven to 300°F and place the seeds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Try to remove as much water from the seeds as you can by first straining them out of the water and then patting them with a paper towel. This step can be a bit frustrating since the seeds will want to stick to the towel, but just try to make sure that all the seeds end up in a single layer on the parchment paper. Roast the seeds for about 30-40 minutes. Mine went for 35 minutes, and I could smell them roasting at about 30 minutes. You want the shells to turn a nice golden brown color.

Let the seeds cool before storing them. I like to put them in a plastic bag or in a jar to maintain their freshness. And that’s it! Now you have a surplus of snacking seeds and you did it all from home! It’s always so fun to see the fruits from your garden being made into things you might buy all the time without thinking about how they’re made. This was definitely one of those projects for me 🙂 I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever made sunflower seeds or if you plan on planting them next year.

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Hardening Off Seedlings

Sustainability

This year, I decided to start my vegetable garden from seeds. I wanted to save some money versus buying plants from the store, but I also wanted the experience of growing my own food from start to finish. There were a couple of steps I didn’t know about until doing further research – how to harden off my seedlings was one of those steps. Hardening off seedlings is basically preparing your seedlings for life outside. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. They have been growing and living in a stable and controlled environment inside where there is no real exposure to the elements. Hardening them off gives them a transition period to get acclimated to some of the new things they’ll experience without just throwing them out to fend for themselves. In this post, I’ll explain how I’ve been doing this with my own seedlings and also provide some further in depth information you can check out on your own from people who are far more experienced than I am.

The first and probably most important thing to consider when getting ready to harden off your seedlings is the weather outside. You don’t want the conditions to be so extreme that the seedlings become shocked or die because they’ve been exposed too quickly. For my first day of this process, I waited for a day that was slightly cloudy, not too windy, and definitely not raining. I placed the seedlings under my covered patio, away from direct sunlight, and let them sit outside for about an hour. Afterwards, I brought them back inside, and made sure nobody got too tousled by the wind. We did have some light winds that day, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You want your seedlings to grow strong roots to be able to withstand wind since they will likely be exposed to it outside at some point. The early exposure to the light wind helps trigger their roots to grow nice and strong so they can keep themselves upright even with a breeze. Luckily, everything went smoothly the first day.

The second day, the weather was about the same as before. This time, I placed them outside in the same spot, but left them out for two hours instead of just one. You want to gradually increase the exposure. On the third day, I placed them outside in the same spot for several hours. The several hours was a bit more by accident on my part than intentionally, but no seedlings were damaged. I sighed a breath of relief and was proud of the little seedlings for seeming to transition so quickly. If you’re looking for a more structured set of instructions, check out the Homestead and Chill blog post about hardening off seedlings. She gives great day by day instructions. I am more winging it and learning by my own experience, but did use this blog as somewhat of a guide. So far, my less than perfect process has worked for me, but I live in a fairly forgiving climate in California. If you live in a more extreme weather zone I’d definitely recommend checking out their post.

Yesterday was my fourth day of hardening off my seedlings. I left them out almost all day. The first half of the day they were under my covered patio, but then we had some people over and needed the table, so they went out into the direct sun. I was a little nervous about this at first with it being the warmest part of the day but the seedlings did great! I was outside all day as well (it was like 72 degrees outside!) so I was able to keep an eye on them and make sure they didn’t start drooping, burning or doing anything that looked bad. I’m happy to say that they did great, and I think with a few more days of transition, they’ll be ready to be planted outside! I can’t wait!

Once the seedlings are ready to be planted outside I’m also going to install my new soaker hose irrigation system. I will be sure to document it so that I can create a post here. I’m excited to have a system set up as I’ve always watered my plants myself and it wasn’t always the best outcome. I think having an irrigation system will help me save time, money and hopefully keep my plants more luscious and alive longer too! Are you working on a garden this year? Are you to the point of hardening off seedlings yet or just getting ready to seed?

Until next time!

MelissaRose