Ahh – at last, a break. I flew home from Washington on Friday morning (after pulling my first all-nighter to see Harry Potter, which was excellent, by the way) and got home to Colorado around mid-afternoon. The internet didn’t work in the airport, which was interesting, particularly in light of the fact that I didn’t have my knitting or a book. I had been planning to catch up on TV, but alas – no such luck. Fortunately, I was delirious enough, and in enough emotional turmoil, that I was able to entertain myself by writing several, er, interesting pieces. Then I looked at all of my pictures from the past three or so years.
I’ve since had a very relaxing weekend, although I’ve discovered that, as I predicted, my running muscles are completely out of shape for running the hills around here – unfortunately. It’s been wonderful to be home, however, which always makes up for the initial discomfort I have when I get home (both from the change in altitude and the different running situations!) I’m hoping to bake extensively while I’m home, so I should have some good things for you when I return to Washington (including, hopefully, a vegan chocolate cake and accompanying frosting for my housemate’s birthday!)
Now – about those pumpkins you’ve had sitting out on your porches for several weeks. You should be cautious when doing this with pumpkins that have been exposed to inclement weather, but if you just bought a pumpkin, or if you have had one outside for only a few weeks and it’s been fairly chilly – well, I have the solution for you! Nobody (at least, I hope nobody) really wants to throw away those pumpkins. And while I was never a big pumpkin or squash fan before I went to college, I’ve discovered not only the wealth of pumpkin recipes, but also a love of making pumpkin puree from scratch. There’s something about this process that is horrifying, but also completely lovely. It’s much easier if you have a smaller pumpkin (less to puree), and much easier if you have a food processor (I didn’t, but it worked out anyway).
I will be posting (starting tomorrow) at least two pumpkin recipes – both of which would serve beautifully at your Thanksgiving table. One of these has regularly made an appearance at our meal for the past – five or so years? They are well-loved, and I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and pride in having made them completely from scratch. If you make the puree yourself, you also have the guarantee that nothing funny has made its way into your pumpkin. If you buy an organic pumpkin, you know that not only is it organic, but that your puree is natural in the most literal sense – nothing added at all. So, with that – let’s get started!
1. Obtain a pumpkin – as always, I’d encourage you to get it locally, from a farmer’s market. However, you can always get good ones from your grocery store – check to make sure they aren’t too squishy on the outside, as that is never a good sign. (Unless it’s a peach. Or a pear. You get the point, I hope).
2. Cut off the top of the pumpkin. I didn’t really make a wide enough opening – you want to make it wide enough that you can easily get at least one, if not two hands in the pumpkin to pull out the innards.
3. Thoroughly scrape out the inside of your pumpkin – get all the seeds out (set those aside – you can make delicious toasted pumpkin seeds!). Once you’ve gotten everything you can out by hand, carefully slice the pumpkin into sections. If your knife blade is dull, be especially careful (I got my first kitchen cut of the season in this project, so do be careful). Use the knife to scrape off the rest of the stringy, extraneous material off the actual “meat” of the pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin into slices (not too big – you want it to cook evenly).
4. Put the cut pumpkin onto baking sheets and cook in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. If they are tender after 15 minutes, pull them out. If not, add time by five minute increments. (This can also be done by steaming the pumpkin – however, baking is faster and makes judging the doneness of the pumpkin easier)
5. Pumpkin should look more or less like this once it’s done:
6. Using your knife, slice the rind away from the pumpkin (Get as much of the rind off as you can – you don’t want this getting into your puree if you can help it).
7. Put a small amount of pumpkin into either a food processor or a blender – preferably the former, if it’s available. If you don’t want lactose in your pumpkin puree, add approximately 1/4-1/2 a cup of water to 1 cup of pumpkin puree. Otherwise, use approximately 1/4 cup of milk, and gradually add in cubes of butter approximately 1/4 tbsp at a time. If using water, your pumpkin puree will contain more liquid than pumpkin puree from a can. This rarely affects the consistency of the finished product, so don’t worry to much – add liquid as needed and don’t burn out the motor of your blender!
Check back tomorrow for some wonderful pumpkin recipes!