Pumpkin: Journey from Market to My Plate

When I think Autumn, a few basic things come to mind. Scarves, colored leaves, brisk cool windy days, Halloween, and (of course!) pumpkins. Big huge jack-o-lanterns, little bitty ones on window sills, pureed into pies and bread and muffins and donuts... [that would be thanks to Dunkin - which I can't eat anymore, but that doesn't mean I can't still smell them!]

And so, in the spirit of my continued interest in learning how to make things from scratch, I decided that this year, I'd find me some pumpkin recipes that call for pureed/canned pumpkin, and use my own pureed fresh pumpkin instead! A couple of weeks ago, I walked myself down to my biweekly visit to the Copley Square Farmers' Market, set on buying me a nice sized pumpkin for my journey to delicious pumpkin-y goodness in my kitchen.

Now, I'm a child of the suburbs. Sure, I know that corn has to be knee-high by the 4th of July in order for it to be a good crop, since I grew up in Minnesota (we all somehow know that, maybe we're born with the information...?). Whatever - the point is, I don't know the first thing about buying a pumpkin that I'm going to cut up, roast, puree, and bake/cook into food for consumption. Is there a certain size that's best? A way to pick the ones that will taste the best? No idea. So, I asked the farmer at one of my favorite booths. It turns out, there are so many different kinds of pumpkin than those orange ones that everyone draws with the orange Crayola when asked what a pumpkin looks like.

"The orange ones aren't the best for baking," said he. "You want the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin."

"...The...what now?" I said back, rather perplexed and quite sure I'd heard him wrong.

"The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. It...doesn't actually have cheese in it," he said, laughing a little. [Well, good, thought I] "It's called that because it looks like a big cheese wheel."

[Right, of course. What was I thinking? - such are the thoughts of the suburban girl stepping into the unknown world of pumpkins...]

And with that, off we trotted to the bins full of what I thought were just butternut squash. But no, intermixed were these largish cheese-wheel shaped pumpkins with tan rinds - about the color of a butternut squash. "Choose one that's really tan - the tanner the rind, the riper the pumpkin" is what the farmer told me. Right. So I picked me out a nice tan pumpkin.

[See? Totally the color of a butternut squash!]

I'll admit, I was a little wary of this process. Afraid I'd completely flub it up or something. I'm more urban than suburban these days. What do I know about cutting up and pureeing a pumpkin? It took me about a week to kick myself into gear. On a Saturday, I opened up the link I'd found about readying a pumpkin for baking/cooking. [Wow, apparently you have to roast it before you scoop it out of the rind to puree it. Good to know.]

Things I discovered during the process:
- There are a lot of seeds inside of a pumpkin.
- A pumpkin roasting in the oven smells AMAZING. No really. A-maz-ing.
- Pureeing pumpkin in my food processor was quite possibly one of the best parts of the whole process. [Okay, that's probably just a function of my crazy kiddish excitement about pressing the on button on the food processor...]
- A medium-sized pumpkin makes way more pumpkin puree than I know what to do with.

With all of the pumpkin puree I was suddenly left with, I now had to find a lot more things to do with it than I'd originally planned! And so, I present some of the recipes I tried out. Some worked the way they were intended (the baked goodies), and one of them took me awhile to really get a handle on. You'll get the stories on all of them over the next few days - of course with pictures to go with!

My suggestion for this Autumn: get yourself a pumpkin and puree it. Do it with a friend - it's fun! And then make yummy pumpkin stuff!!!

The Baked Goods
I'm a fan of these 2 recipes because there's no dairy in them - score! Oh yeah, and they taste good, too!

Low Fat Pumpkin Bread

[I suggest clicking on this image to see it in a bigger size - you don't get the full view of how moist the crust is with this little picture...]

This is a recipe I modified slightly from this page.

2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg or allspice (I use nutmeg, but the recipe creator uses allspice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Combine sugar, pumpkin, applesauce & egg; mix well.
2. Mix together flour, cinnamon, soda, powder, salt & nutmeg (or allspice); add slowly to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
3. Pour into 2 cooking spray coated bread pans (8"x4"x2")
4. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 28 servings, according to the recipe online. The online version also included nutrition info. I guess I wasn't interested in most of it (go to the site linked above if you want the full list), but I'm always interested in the fat content: .55g of fat per slice. Nice!

Vegan Pumpkin Cake Cookies

[Again, click for a bigger size...]

I got this recipe here, but the next time I use this recipe, I'm going to see how it fares as a cake recipe - I'm not the biggest fan of cake cookies...

1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh)
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Mix together pumpkin, sugar & applesauce.
2. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
3. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheets - I suggest making them small. They bake more thoroughly instead of being overly gooey.
4. Bake 13-15 minutes (according to the recipe). I say more like 18-20, but start with 13-15 and go from there. I don't know your oven.

And, of course, these are vegan, so you noticed no eggs on the ingredient list. This means: you can lick the spoon/bowl with no worries about ingesting raw egg or salmonella or anything bad like that! That is one delicious mixture to eat unbaked!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment