There are lots of fresh foods you can store without needing a freezer, canner, or fridge.  I haven't built a root cellar, but discovered that different places in my yard, garage, and house have the right conditions for several of these foods.
Potatoes are happy on my bare garage floor until late January. After January they have to be moved up 1-2 feet, onto the cement stairs, to avoid freezing. Same with onions. Apples are better in the garage on the workbench, which is a couple feet off the ground and a few degrees warmer (but still cold). Pumpkins are happy in the basement or in a dark closet, off the floor so they avoid moisture. Carrots and parsnips are fine to leave in the ground, covered with a pile of dead leaves or a thick layer of straw if I want any hope of digging them during the winter. Otherwise they can be dug in spring, after the winter cold has made them sweeter.The link below is a 5-page handout from the University of Wisconsin which lists types of foods, their ideal storing temperature and any necessary humidity, expected length of storage, and plans for creating your own root cellar.

http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/store/wisc_vegetables.pdf

What will you store this year?



 
 
Do you feel completely inept when it comes to making pie crust? Here's a recipe you'll love! You can even make it in the microwave instead of the oven.

Impossible Pumpkin Pie
(This pie makes its own crust)

2 c. pumpkin puree
3/4 c. sugar
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk 
½ c. Bisquick (or ½ c. flour plus ½ tsp. baking powder)
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened 
2 eggs 
2 tsp. vanilla 
2 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp. cinnamon, and ½ tsp. each ground cloves,
ginger, and nutmeg)


Beat all ingredients 1 minute in a blend on high or 2 minutes with hand beater. Pour into greased pie plate. Bake at 375 about 45-50 minutes or till knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a flat, heatproof surface (not on a wire rack).

Microwave instructions: place on an inverted (microwavable) dinner plate on medium high (70% power), rotating pie plate 1/4 turn every 5 minutes (unless you have an automatic turntable- then use that). Cook until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 22 to 32 minutes.

 
 
Pumpkin Roll
Makes 18, 1" slices.  

4 eggs                                                                          
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 c. pumpkin                                                             
1 c. flour                                                                    
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. cinnamon                                                            
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
3/4 tsp. nutmeg                                                              
½ tsp. salt
1 c. chopped nuts, optional

Beat eggs until well mixed.  Gradually add sugar; this should take about two minutes.  Beat on high for another two minutes, until sugar is mostly dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale lemon-colored..  Stir in pumpkin.  Fold in flour, baking powder, spices, and nuts.  Grease and flour a 12x18" cookie sheet with 1" high sides, OR line it with parchment and grease the pan sides..  Spread batter in pan and sprinkle with nuts.  Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, or til the cake springs back when pressed gently in the center.  Remove from oven.  While cake is hot, flip cake over onto a kitchen towel sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar.  Holding one of the wide sides of the cake, very carefully roll it up with the towel, cinnamon roll style. When cool, 2 to 4 hours later, unroll slowly and spread with cream cheese frosting.  Roll the cake again, without the towel!  Slice and serve. 

You can make this ahead of time and freeze it for later use.
If you don't have a 12x18" pan, but have a 10x15 pan, cut the recipe in half.  The batter will not be as deep in the pan, so bake a few minutes less.  (Mine took 12 minutes.)  Roll as above, but hold a narrow side as you roll it up.  This will give you one 10" wide roll.

Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
(the 1-1-1-1-1 recipe)

1 stick butter (1/2 c.), softened
1 c. powdered sugar                                                     
1 Tbsp. lemon juice OR water or milk (lemon accents the zing of the cream cheese)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, chilled and cut into 8 cubes                                          

Combine butter with powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Add cream cheese, one cube at a time, beating until smooth after each.  Once they're all incorporated, beat another minute or until frosting is fluffy.
 
 
Picture
"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth", 1914, Jennie A. Brownscombe, public domain
First, a bit of trivia:  
Did you know? While pumpkins were certainly a part of the first feast of thanks-giving,  they were usually roasted or stewed.  And eaten very, very often!

For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon."


Pilgrim verse, circa 1633
______________________
Please take some time this week to gather your children, grandchildren, neighbors, or whomever you care about, and teach them of our nation's heritage of gratitude.  Some great resources are below, including what George Washington said in his Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving.  Each generation must learn this, or it dies out, leaving a gaping hole that entitlement and selfishness rush in to fill.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
— Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC), Pro Plancio (54 BC)




The following is from the Providence Foundation's Nov. 2013 newsletter.  (Thank you to them!)

Celebrating Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an uniquely American holiday. We have been giving thanks to God in private and public from the foundation of the nation. In fact, governments regularly issued official days of Prayer and Thanksgiving from the planting of the first colonies up until the present. Over 1400 Days of Prayer, Thanksgiving, and Fasting were proclaimed by colonial, state, and national governments from 1620-1815, and hundreds more have been issued since then.  

A few items to help you remember and pass on our heritage of thanking God include:

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving

You can use this article to share with your family the origins of Thanksgiving Day.

Some Early Government Thanksgiving Proclamations

1.       President George Washington, Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 26, 1789

2.       Governor Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Thanksgiving Proclamation, December 9, 1779

3.       Proclamation for a Public Thanksgiving, New Hampshire, December 10, 1778

4.       Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day, Continental Congress, December 18, 1777
Issued during the American Revolutionary War by the Continental Congress, this was the first national Thanksgiving Day in America. The explanation of the proclamation is from W. DeLoss Love, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (1895). Love lists over 1400 days of prayer and fasting and prayer and thanksgiving observed by civil governments (colonial, state, and national) from 1620-1815.

5.       Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, Massachusetts, June 29, 1676
On June 20, 1676, the Council of Massachusetts appointed June 29 as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, in response to the colonists’ victory in King Philip’s War. The broadside of this proclamation is the earliest printed thanksgiving broadside known. At the top is the seal of Massachusetts, which shows an Indian speaking the words, “Come Over and Help Us.”

 
 
How about this for a new side dish?  I love rosemary and olive oil. Or butter.  Or both.  :)

This recipe showed up at my house this week in a save-the-farmlands newsletter, of all things.  (I'm all for saving farmlands, but how about nixing the property tax instead of government paying them subsidies?!)  And since my live rosemary died over last winter and there's a bottle of rosemary essential oil in my cupboard, I adapted it to use that.

You can substitute about any squash you have on hand that is a similar size.  Or use something large, like half a banana squash or pumpkin, or kabocha squash, etc, but if you do, then double the amount of other ingredients except rosemary oil.

Caramelized Butternut Squash with Rosemary 

1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 sprigs rosemary or one drop of rosemary essential oil (better if you have a 1 ml bottle, then use  two of those tiny drops) on top of the butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds.   (You can wash, roast, and salt these, just like pumpkin seeds.)  Put the squash cut-side up on a baking tray.
Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt.  In each natural 'bowl' where the seeds used to be, add 1 Tbsp. butter and a rosemary sprig.  EXCEPT:  if using rosemary oil, melt 2 Tbsp. butter and add the drop to it.  Pour half into the cavity of each squash half.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork.

Remove from oven and pull off the foil; let cool until you can handle it.  Scoop out the flesh.  

Heat the last 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over med-hi heat.  Once melted and hot, add the cooked squash.  Gently toss until some parts become caramel-y brown.  Serve hot.

NOTE:  the photo shows the squash as it comes out of the oven, not after being scooped out and browned.  If you want it browned from the oven, do this instead:
When tender, pull off foil and brush the last tablespoon of butter over the cut edges.  Return to the oven and turn on the broiling element.   Broil, checking every minute.  (I am not kidding.  Seriously check every minute!)  If your baking tray is on the middle rack in the oven, this will probably take about 3-4 minutes.  If the tray is up high, close to the element, it might only take 1 minute, maybe 2.

 
 
See the bottom of this post for photos on making the heart-swirl pattern.

A friend of mine has to avoid dairy, wheat, and oats- and we were going to be together at a potluck lunch on Thursday.  The pumpkin cheesecake last week (for a different group) was such a hit I decided to adapt it so she could enjoy it too.  But with a bit of chocolate.  Like pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies.

I wanted it to be relatively inexpensive- no quart of coconut yogurt! -that stuff's pricey. Coconut milk and coconut cream, sure.  I have that on hand.  
No recipes using those appeared to be online anywhere, though I found the chocolate-version crust here.  There were some cashew-puree based ones- but not only did I not have time to soak nuts, but wanted this to be a recipe even the nut-allergic could use. So I started with my tried-and-true 'normal' recipe, and adapted. And I was willing to buy one 6-oz cup of coconut yogurt to put in the (optional) topping. 
You won't taste the apple cider vinegar, but it adds both the tartness and savoriness you'd get from cream cheese. If you have 2 (14-oz) cans coconut milk and a 19-oz can of coconut cream, that will be exactly enough for the filling, the topping, and the ganache.

If you want to use honey in the filling instead of sugar, use just 1 cup honey plus 1 Tbsp.  Since this also adds about 1/4 cup of water, add about a tablespoon additional pumpkin powder OR a tablespoon oat or coconut flour so the cheesecake won't be too soft.

Gluten free, dairy free Pumpkin Cheesecake
Crust:
1 c. fine-shred coconut, toasted
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 ½ Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ Tbsp. cocoa powder 

Stir together and press firmly onto the bottom of a 9” springform pan.  Set aside.  
For a fall-spice crust instead of chocolate, omit cocoa powder, and instead use                 ½ tsp. cinnamon + ¼ tsp. cloves + ½ tsp. ginger

Filling:
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4  tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. (slightly heaped 1/3 c.) pumpkin powder
2 (14-oz) cans coconut milk
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 c. coconut cream

Mix all together, in order.  Don’t overmix or whip air into it, or it may crack while baking.  Bake at 350 F for  75-90 minutes in a water bath, until center jiggles like Jello and internal temperature is 145-150 F.  Cool in oven or on counter, then chill, covered, in fridge 4 hours or more.

Rum-flavor Topping:
1 cup coconut cream, well chilled
½ cup coconut yogurt
½ cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. rum extract

Whip cream until just beginning to thicken; add all else and whip.  Spread over chilled cheesecake.

Chocolate Ganache drizzle:
¼ c. (1 ½ oz) dairy-free chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. coconut cream or coconut milk

Heat gently to melt chocolate chips; whisk until smooth.  Drizzle on cheesecake.
 
 
This seasonal New York-style cheesecake is not exactly "lite", just light.  Not leaden.  But it is a little lower fat because I substituted one cup of cottage cheese in place of the original one cup of heavy cream.  :)  This gives it a higher protein content and reduces the fat.
This is an amazing pumpkin cheesecake, with just the right amount of tartness, sweetness, and spice.  I adapted it from an America's Test Kitchen recipe.  The whipped cream topping is optional but perfect.

The recipe- which is below- calls for a 9-inch springform pan.  I don't own one, but I do have a 9-inch round cake pan.  I use it instead by cutting out a circle of parchment paper and lining the bottom with it, spraying the inside edges with cooking spray, and going ahead with the baking.  When it's done, run a knife around the inside edge to help it pull away, cool and chill completely, and invert the pan over a plate.  Tap hard.  If it's being really stubborn, run hot water over the bottom of the pan (held at an angle so the plate doesn't fill with water) and try again.  
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Crust
1 sleeve (about 5 ounces) graham crackers- whack it a few times to break into chunks
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put the cracker pieces in a blender or food processor; run until finely ground.  Put the butter in a 2-cup microwave-safe container and melt it, about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Dump in the crumbs, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix well, then sprinkle over the bottom of a 9" springform pan.  Press down evenly using the bottom of a glass or something else flat.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until it starts smelling delicious.  Remove and let cool while you make the filling.

Filling
2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or your own- or, better yet, use pumpkin powder)*
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or use 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice in place of these four spices)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup cottage cheese
5 large eggs room temperature

Pour the pumpkin puree on a triple layer of paper towels, spread evenly, then top with another triple layer. Press firmly to absorb the extra moisture.  The Test Kitchen said that when they didn't do this, the cheesecake was always wet.   OR- best idea ever!- use your pumpkin powder, using only half the water you normally would.  That means you'd use 6 Tbsp. pumpkin powder-- barely over 1/3 cup-- plus enough warm water to equal one cup.  (Ta-da!  aren't you extra-glad now that you made some?!)

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for a water bath later.  Put the pumpkin in a blender or food processor, and add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice, cottage cheese, and eggs.  Blend until smooth. Pour over crust. Put this pan in a roasting pan or on a jelly roll pan if that's all you have.  Put it in the oven, then pour water in that larger pan, enough to come about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the center wobbles like Jello instead of like water; a thermometer poked into the center should register 145-150 degrees F.  Run a knife around the inside edge of the cheesecake, then put the cheesecake pan on a wire rack to cool.  When cool, chill for at least 4 hours to let it firm up.  (I didn't have that much time; mine cooled on the counter for 30 minutes, then went in the fridge for 3 hours.  It was a little soft in the center, but sliced OK.  The leftovers sliced much more nicely the next day.)

Brown Sugar and Rum (flavor) Cream Topping
1 cup whipping cream, very cold
1/2 cup sour cream or 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. rum flavor*

Whip the cream until it barely starts to thicken.  Add sour cream or cream cheese (I used cream cheese since I was out of sour cream), brown sugar, salt, and rum flavor. Beat about a minute, until thick; spread on top of cooled cheesecake.

*I have a whole bunch of Stephen's Gourmet Rum Sauce mix packets; each packet makes 2 cups of sauce; I used half of one dry mix in place of part of my sugar.  But I don't know if the company still makes the mix; I got them for ten cents apiece on a clearance deal. So you can use rum flavor.  Or use 2 tsp. rum if you happen to like it.  Or, if you live nearby, call me and you can have a packet.  :)
I also cooked a bit of the sauce and used that to drizzle a design on the top of the cheesecake.  Mini chocolate chips sprinkled on top would be great instead, as would some sugared pecans or hazelnuts.  Mmm.
 
 
About six years ago I discovered my boys had a vocabulary problem.  They were using one word to describe everything that tasted good: 'heavenly'.
This bothered me for two reasons-  one, I'm sure heaven is much better than the best food, and two, they weren't expanding their vocabulary.  This was a perfect time.  So we pulled out a thesaurus and looked up 'delicious' to come up with a new word to use.  'Toothsome' had them rolling on the floor laughing, so that became the new favorite.  
I've discouraged them using 'heavenly' very often- but I'll tell you, that was the first word that popped into my head (I didn't say it!) when the first spoonful of moist, custardy, caramel-y, pumpkin dessert hit my tastebuds.  

My apologies to Heaven.
  

This is a modified version of Caramel Bread Pudding.  (The link has other ways of using up stale bread, too.)  The spices in this play a supporting role to the pumpkin flavor: just enough there to help you notice the pumpkin, not the spice.  If you want to taste the cinnamon, double or triple the amount here.

Caramel Pumpkin Bread Pudding- fills a 9x13 pan

15 slices good-quality white bread, cut into 1” pieces (about 16 cups or 20-24 ounces)- baked until crisp (about 10 minutes at 450 degrees)
1 ½ sticks butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
¼ c. honey or corn syrup  
5 tsp. vanilla, divided
2 1/2 c. half-and-half, or use the last ½ cup evaporated milk from your can (above); use whole milk for the remaining 2 cups here.   
5 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. cinnamon  OR 2 tiny drops cinnamon essential oil
1/4 tsp. ground cloves OR 1 tiny drop clove essential oil
1/2 c. toasted nuts, optional

Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan on medium-high heat.  Stir about 4 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.  Remove from heat and stir in cream or evaporated milk, corn syrup, and 2 tsp. vanilla.  Pour one cup of this caramel into a greased 9x13 pan.  

Set aside one more cup of caramel, to use as topping later.  

To the remaining caramel, add the half-and-half (or mixture of evaporated milk and whole milk).  Beat the eggs together, then whisk in pumpkin, cinnamon, and cloves.  Whisk in the half-and-half mixture.  Add remaining vanilla.  Fold in the bread, and let sit until soaked through, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Put bread mixture into the 9x13 pan, bake about 40-45 minutes, until the top is crisp and the custard is barely set.  Sprinkle with toasted nuts.  Serve warm, with the reserved cup of caramel drizzled on top.
 
 
Do you have carved - or not- pumpkins sitting around now?   Or do your neighbors?  Will they share?
If you have a pumpkin farmer nearby, even better.  Their selling season is over.  If you act fast, they're often happy to let you glean for free.  If you wait, the pumpkins will likely get tilled into the ground.

 If the pumpkins are not cut, you can store them for a couple months if you like- dry (NOT sitting on cement!!), cool (under 75 F), and dark is best.  Most often my whole pumpkins stay firm and fresh until about January or February- this is at about 65 degrees F, stored off the floor and on a layer of cardboard or newspapers to absorb moisture- but I've had a Hubbard that stored until the next July, and a spaghetti squash from a year ago!

But let's say you have a pumpkin that you'd like to cook with. 

Fresh has so much more flavor than the stuff in a can from the store.  

Smaller pumpkins tend to be sweeter, bigger ones more watery.  But you can always drain off extra liquid if you need to.  Below is a slide show on how to make your own fresh puree.  You can see here for another, more detailed post on making the puree, or see previous posts on finding,choosingbuying,storing, or dehydrating them.


Click on the "Pumpkin" category on the right for recipes.
 
 
Pumpkins are one of the most inexpensive, nutritious vegetables around... right now they're under 20 cents per pound where I live.  One cup (8 oz.) of pumpkin has more than 700% of your daily Vitamin A needs, 7g fiber, 3g protein, 19% RDA for iron, 17% RDA for Vitamin C, and 6% RDA for calcium.  All this for 83 calories and about 10 cents.

We grew a few, but the garden was pretty sad in general and we ended up buying a couple for our annual pumpkin-carving party at Grandma's house.  (To tell you how bad the garden was... the only pumpkins that survived were in the SANDBOX, where one son had spilled some pumpkin guts in late spring.  Yeah.  Go figure.  They even survived our free-roaming chickens.)

So now we have several carved jack-o-lanterns to set on the front porch for Trick-or-Treating.  The day after Halloween they'll get cleaned, sliced, and either cooked or dehydrated and turned to powder. My kids are excited at the possibilities.  Their favorite is pumpkin pie, but this shake tastes just like it, in a fraction of the time!

Pumpkin Shake
1 pint vanilla ice cream (about 4 heaping ice cream scoopsful)
1 1/2  c. milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. pumpkin powder*
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice OR 1/8 tsp. cinnamon plus a dash (to taste) each ground cloves,     ginger, and/or nutmeg
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, OR molasses, OR honey

Put all ingredients in a blender and mix on high until smooth.  Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

*If you don't have pumpkin powder, use 1/2 cup plain pumpkin puree, and reduce the milk to 1 cup instead of 1 1/2 cups.

Optional mix-ins:
2 Tbsp. raisins (add before pureeing so they get finely chopped)
2-3 oz. cream cheese
2-4 Tbsp. chocolate chips

Get this recipe and many more ways to use pumpkin, free, from The Great Pumpkin Cookbook.