Use It Up…

One of the earlier Pie from Scratch posts was about making things from scratch… A value that Annie is being taught by her grandparents. As Thanksgiving is approaching, I keep thinking of a little sing-song-y bit of wisdom that Nana always quoted…

Use it up, Wear it out,
Make it do, or Do without.

Another treasure from the Depression Era! The reason I’ve been thinking about it, is because of a phone call from my Uncle the other day. Now, he’s not usually a chat-on-the-phone sort of guy, but he had heard a statistic about Thanksgiving that completely blew his mind. So he called us to see if we could guess the correct number to the following question…

How many pounds of turkey is thrown away after
Thanksgiving Dinner in America each year?

We’re not talking about in restaurants, or leftover turkeys in grocery stores… Just the turkey that’s left after we all sit down to eat. Thrown away.  Any ideas? My answer didn’t even come close.

280,000,000 Pounds.

Somehow that struck me as important when illustrating
a children’s book that focused on old-fashioned values.

I never “picked” a turkey until my first Thanksgiving away from home as a new bride. I’m sure it had been done in my home, but I guess I was oblivious to the clean-up process. (My poor Mother.) For our first Thanksgiving, we invited another Navy couple over for dinner (which was MUCH later than expected, because I also didn’t know it took DAYS to thaw a turkey! That morning included me and Hubby desperately trying to thaw the biggest bird we ever handled in a warm bath tub!) They brought along the wife’s mother and elderly grandmother. After dinner was over, cleaning up was the last thing on my mind, but that Grandma took me in the kitchen and showed me how to pick a turkey! (She even showed me a secret hunk of yummy turkey meat under the bird, with the admonition that “We don’t tell the men about this.”) Before I knew it, I had POUNDS of turkey meat in the fridge waiting for post-Thanksgiving meals. Like Hot Turkey Sandwiches, Turkey Soup, Turkey Stuffing Casserole… You get the idea. AND, she told me to save the carcass, and boil it the next day with some celery, onions, and carrots to make Turkey Stock to freeze!

How did I not know to do that?

I’m guessing, according to that 280,000,000 pounds statistic,
that there must be quiet a few young wives out there that also
do not know how to “use up” every bit of their Thanksgiving Bird.

Sooo…. in the spirit of Annie’s farm grandparents,
who would have “used it up” and not thrown it out…

What do you do with your Thanksgiving leftovers?

You can post a link in the comments if you have a great recipe!

Here’s one of our favorites…

Leftover Turkey Stuffing Bake

Mix in a large bowl:
2 cups diced, cooked Turkey
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 small Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Milk
Seasoning to taste… Salt, Pepper & Mrs. Dash is our choice!

Place mixture in deep casserole dish, and top with 2 cups leftover veggies.
(Peas are our favorite!)

Cover the veggies with Leftover Stuffing and bake at 400° for 25 minutes.

Top with grated Cheese, and bake for another 5 minutes.

This recipe was adapted over the years from a Campbell’s Soup Recipe, as we tried to really use up our leftovers, and also adapt it for our dairy-intolerant family members. The original recipe is yummy too!

Cooking Pumpkins…

Today, I attacked the pumpkins!

Or at least it felt like I did, considering
the big knife I needed to cut the things open!

It’s been a while since we’ve cut open a pumpkin around here. And usually we leave the hacking-in-half process to the men. However, it was just me and the chickens here, so I got to do it. These Fairytale pumpkins had a sweet scent inside… sort of like a cantaloupe… and they had bright orange flesh. It was a slightly messy adventure, so I’m glad I did at least part of the hacking and scooping outside.

I decided to roast the largest pumpkin in the oven. After scooping out the stringy middle flesh and seeds, the pumpkin halves went open-side-down on a baking pan, and into a 350°oven for about an hour and a half. (It was a big pumpkin to roast… a smaller pumpkin might only need an hour of roasting.)

The other pumpkin went into a pot on top of the stove. I cut it up into smaller pieces,
peeled the rind off the outer edges, and boiled it for about 20-30 minutes.

After both pumpkins were sufficiently cooked, (fork tender) I set about pureeing them. I needed to mash the boiled pumpkin before processing it further, but the roasted pumpkin didn’t need mashing. I first gave the “old fashioned” method a try, and ran some of the pumpkin through my hand-cranked food mill…

…And then decided that for blogging purposes,
my food processor would be faster.

I did want to post about this TODAY, after all.


And, after giving my 20 year-old tiny food processor a good workout…

Lots of pumpkin puree for pie-making!

The Results

The boiled pumpkin took longer to prep for cooking,
but cooked much faster and was easier to process.

The roasted pumpkin had no prep time, but took
longer to cook and to scoop out of the shell.

The finished products had the same consistency,  which
surprised me because the boiled pumpkin seemed more watery.

HOWEVER… The roasted pumpkin had more flavor!

AND… Neither pumpkin had the same thick
consistency as store-bought canned pumpkin.

I wonder how that will effect the finished pies?

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

And the Winner is…

Okay, it was Really Really Hard to pick one “best” pumpkin!

Three more pumpkins came in yesterday, so here are all the new entries…

Bekah’s Pumpkin

Love the leaf you added, Bekah!

Kati’s Pumpkin

Kati, I like how you tucked that leaf behind your pumpkin!

Cheryl’s Pumpkin

Cheryl, great perspective… you hinted at the 3-D-ness
of the pumpkin by showing the back “bumps!”

And here are the earlier entries…

Gavin’s Pumpkin

Maddie’s Pumpkin

Owen’s Pumpkin

Like I said… Picking just ONE was hard!

Harder than I thought it would be!

I couldn’t just CHOOSE

…So I put the names in a basket and
the first one I pulled out was….

I’ve got a special spot in mind for her pumpkin in
Pie from Scratch!

The other three winners are…

They’ll be getting a little pumpkin painting in the mail very soon!

I really wanted to put ALL of the pumpkins in the story…

…they were all so awesome!

Thank you all for joining in the fun!


See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

A Sunday Post…

Short post today… Enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon!

After church today, Hubby and I stopped for lunch, and then headed to our local farm produce market in search of a good “pie” pumpkin! As soon as I asked which pumpkin was the best for baking or cooking, the gal there pointed to a wagon filled with these… Fairytale Pumpkins.

I thought that was rather appropriate,
since they’re going to be part of a storybook!

What is your favorite pumpkin to use for pies?
Do you roast them in the oven or cook them on the stovetop?

I bought two, so I could see which cooking process I liked the best.

Just a few more hours left for the
Pumpkin Drawing Contest!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

From Scratch…

What does “from scratch” mean?

Evidently, the original meaning has something to do with sporting events… being at the starting line, or having to start over. Later, after boxed baking mixes became available, “from scratch” took on the new meaning of using separate ingredients rather than a mix. However, “from scratch” had an even deeper meaning for my Nana Anne.

Nana was born in 1929, the year of “The Crash”… the official beginning of the Great Depression. She was one of the “older girls” in a farm family of 12 children, and after she finished her schooling at the age of 14, she helped raise her younger brothers and sisters. Life was defined by hard work as a teen, and even as a young wartime bride. “Making do” was a necessity for all of her life, but Nana turned it into a game of sorts. She LOVED to see what she could make out of nothing… from scratch. And she passed the game on to her grandkids. I can remember digging through baskets of scrap material, ribbons, and buttons with her to make something out of nothing. Or telling her I was hungry, and the two of us peeking in the cupboards to see what we could make “from scratch.” She was an expert at whipping up a feast from leftovers in the fridge or making bread or muffins from a little cornmeal or flour.

Annie’s Pumpkin Pie Adventure has grown out of that love of doing things “from scratch.” She wants to know where the ingredients in her pie come from, and how they work together to make a finished product. I think a lot of kids are curious about such things. So much that we eat today comes from the freezer section, a box mix, or a fast-food drive-in window. I’m glad I had a Nana that insisted on making things from scratch, and that passed on her “who-needs-the-store-let’s-see-what-we-have-already” attitude!

What sort of things do YOU like to make “from scratch?”

Don’t forget your Pumpkins!!!

Like to bake things “from scratch?”
A young friend of mine is doing 31 Days of Decadent Desserts!
Pay her a visit and find some great recipes!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Painting Leaves that Pop!

Thought you might like some more painting tips!

Below is a fun way to paint leaves… Wet on Wet!

First, on a heavy piece of watercolor paper, draw a leaf shape… or trace around one that you find outside. Mix a light grey-brown from orange and blue and paint the middle of the leaf… but not all the way to the edges.

While it is still wet, add other colors…I used orange on one side, and blue on the other. Paint right up to the edges this time. the edges are still dry, which will let the paint look crisp on the edge. But go ahead and let the wet colors mix inside the leaf. And then added wet drops of blue-green and blue-purple.

When it’s almost dry, touch up your edges a bit. I used a little more orange. You want the paint dry enough so the edges look crisp, but still wet enough to blend the new edge paint into the middle paint. You can blend with a damp brush, if the paint is having trouble blending. When the leaf is completely dry, add some veins with very thin lines of paint and a dryer brush. You can also outline the leaf edges with a very thin pen, such as a Pigma Micron pen.

Here’s how the leaves will look in
Pie from Scratch!

And there are a LOT of them, so I’d better get back to painting!


Oh! We’ve had some great entries for the
Pumpkin Drawing Contest!

Gavin’s Pumpkin!

Great job, Gavin! What detail!
I Love the stem and the spots on the side!

Maddie’s Pumpkin!

Beautiful Pumpkin, Maddie!
It stands very tall and strong!

Owen’s Pumpkin!

Super pumpkin, Owen!
You did a great job with those curly vines!

Here’s a link to the
Pumpkin Drawing Contest
in case anyone else want to participate!

Thanks Gavin, Maddie, and Owen for sending in your drawings!!!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

A Bit of Blue…

Adding blue to the Pumpkin Patch illustration shows how much contrast those complementary colors give you! I had a bit of a dilemma when adding just this little bit of blue… Annie’s dress was going to be blue throughout the story, but Pop’s overalls should also be denim-colored. (That’s where doing Color Roughs would have come in handy!) So, I compromised by dressing Pop in a paler blue, and being more heavy-handed with the color on Annie’s dress…

Pumpkin Patch, copyright Kim Frey, 2012

I think getting the shading right on Annie’s dress
is going to be a challenge! Lots of wrinkles and draping!

And look what happens when you start mixing Orange and Blue…

You will get some neat grey-brown’s… subtle Fall background colors that will still allow my main colors to stand out. Usually, when I want to paint a stem and leaf, I’ll reach for a green of some sort. Light and lime-y for spring scenes, Leafy green for Summer scenes, or Earthy green for Fall. Using the color that we “know” something should be is called using “Local Color.” If you ask any kindergartener what color an apple is, they will usually answer “Red.” Using local color is like that… we reach for the tube of paint that makes the most sense to our brain. However, keeping to a color scheme gives the painting a more cohesive, unified appearance. I figure that painting this whole book in the same color scheme will be like brain therapy for me! :-D

Don’t forget the

Great Pumpkin Drawing Contest!

I’d really like to be able to include someone’s Pumpkin in
Pie from Scratch!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Drawing and Painting Pumpkins… And a Contest!

There’s been a lot of talk about pumpkins around here lately.

And I think it’s about time you learned to draw them.

They are SOOO easy.

I think you can do it.

First, you make a tall oval…

And then you tuck a partial oval behind it on each side…
…Sort of like drawing “ears”…

Then you add another set of “ears”…

And you have your basic Pumpkin body!

Finally, doodle on a stem and vine…

… And a leaf and a curl or two.

I went a little crazy with this one… TWO curls.

It’s okay if your pumpkin is not symmetrical and leans to one side. Have you ever been in a pumpkin patch? Very few of them are perfectly straight. Your leaning-over pumpkin actually looks more “real.” And your stem can go any which way. Now YOU try drawing a pumpkin! I have confidence in you! So much so, that I just had a brainstorm for a Pumpkin Drawing Contest! Rules at the end of the post!!!

Do you want to try painting a pumpkin?

You just need one color for basic pumpkin painting…

Orange. Paint the whole thing pale orange…

Then, with a little bit thicker watercolor,
make a thin stripe of color on the outer edge of
each oval (or “ear”) of the pumpkin…

Mine looks a little schmookie because
I put it on the scanner when still wet.

Not a good idea.

Then when it’s still a bit damp, blend in the stripe of color…
…You’ll still need a bit of paint on your brush…

Yup. Wet paint on the scanner again.
But you get the idea.

Finally, using only clear water on your brush…
…Not a lot, just a little…
…Blend it in completely…

Soon you can paint a whole Pumpkin Patch of Pumpkins!

Copyright Kim Frey, 2012

And now for the…

 Pumpkin Drawing Contest!

If you draw or paint any pumpkins between now and
Sunday, October 14th
I will post them here on the blog!


I will choose my favorite
LINE DRAWING of a Pumpkin

One like this… no color, no extra lines…

To be incorporated into an illustration of
Pie from Scratch!

This is your chance to jump into
Children’s Book Illustration!

Out of ALL the Pumpkins submitted…
…Painted or Unpainted…
I’ll also choose my Three Favorite, and…

The Top Three Pumpkin Artists
will also receive a tiny painting

of a Pie from Scratch Pumpkin!

Contest Deadline: Midnight, Sunday, October 14

E-Mail Entries to:
kim (at)

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Still Prepping…

Okay, I did work on this project ALL DAY,
but have yet to crack open a tube of paint!


Early this morning, I took a good long look at the
“Pouring” sketch, and thought it needed a little pizazz.

So I re-did it, adding a pumpkin vine…

And then I reworked the “Recipe Card” illustration…

And then got lost in a pumpkin patch…

I know the pencil sketches are hard to see, but
I PROMISE I will not go to bed until I add just a little color!

Drawing all these pumpkins makes me think of Thanksgiving… and the many things I’m thankful for. Today, I’m thankful for the “Reduce/Enlarge” feature on my All-In-One printer. Oh, and for the 11″ x 17″ scanning area. And for the fact the Hubby is feeling slightly better. (Enough to tackle the dishes I ignored today.) And the fact that Kate & Alex just called and are coming down with Chicken & Dumplings to make Dad feel even better. (Which means a Very Late Dinner, but no cooking for me!) And most of all, I’m thankful that today is the 25th Anniversary of us being parents!

Happy 25th Birthday, Jordan!

Our October Pumpkin!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
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Story Structure…

One of the first steps in writing and illustrating a book for children is to plan out the story. That seems a bit obvious, but I think we’ve all read stories that just ramble on and don’t seem to go anywhere. In a fictional story, the main character and his goals are introduced, and the reader is told what that character wants to do. He starts to carry out his plans, and then runs into a problem or “conflict.” Then he has to decide on a solution and attempt to resolve his problem, which leads to a “crisis,” or a “no turning back now” situation. Then,  the crisis is over, and things go back to normal… or a new normal, as the main character has had to face change. Not all stories follow this structure… “how to” books general do not include conflict. Biographies sometimes do, if the author focuses on a life-changing event. Sometimes the conflict in a children’s book is very subtle, or hidden.

I wondered about the story structure of Pie from Scratch… Annie wants to do a grown-up task, and instead of facing opposition, she finds encouragement. There’s a strong “how to” element that drives the story. And themes of hard work, “can do,” patience, and the satisfaction of a job well done. So how does that fit into the typical structure of a fictional picture book? Here’s a peek into how my storyboard for Pie from Scratch developed…

Quick sketches of illustration ideas were my first step.
Thumbnails actually came later, but I needed to
get to know Annie and her grandparents first…

And to think about what they might do together…

I drew some thumbnails…

And eventually, the whole story came together.

A storyboard is sort of like a map or plan for a children’s picture book. Because of their short, constrained structure, picture books need to be tightly mapped out. Usually the entire story has to fit within 32 pages! The “map” helps the illustrator fit everything in, and keep the story line moving along at a good pace. Looking at the book as a “whole” helps me see where changes might be needed…

Once the storyboard was created I had a good plan to begin the illustrations!

I’ve worried a bit about Pie from Scratch‘s departure from the typical story structure. I think I’ve always felt a bit more safety in the gentle type of story, the kind you can read at bedtime with no worry about bad dreams. What kinds of stories are YOUR favorites? Do you prefer stories with strong conflict and resolution? Or ones that have more of an everyday gentleness? How do you think kids feel about the story line? Do you think they’d LIKE a story about baking a pie? Honest opinions welcome!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!