Oct 8, 2008

Pumpkins - Not just a decoration!

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all." Stanley Horowitz Every Halloween I buy a large pumpkin to put out on the front porch, but never carve it (well, not since my kids were young). I simply use it as a decoration near the front door. Immediately after Halloween, I grab the pumpkin and head to the kitchen. First, I cut the pumpkin in half and pull out all the seeds and stringy stuff (I was going to say "guts" but that doesn't sound very appetizing, does it?!). I separate the seeds, wash them off, dry them on a dish towel and pop them onto a Pam-sprayed cookie sheet. I put them in the oven at 325 for a few hours. Yummy toasted pumpkin seeds! Next I cut the pumpkin into manageable sections and take the thick skin off. You need a very large sharp knife to do this with any kind of ease. Once the skin is off, I cut the pumpkin "meat" into fairly large chunks and put it all in a soup pot with about an inch of water on the bottom. I cover the pot and let the pumpkin just simmer and steam for a few hours, until I poke several pieces with a fork and find them soft. I drain off the liquid and mash the pumpkin with a potato masher. I put the mashed pumpkin in collander and let it sit for awhile to release some of it's liquid. Then I put it in ziploc bags in 4 cup servings, and pop it into the freezer. You may not realize that pumpkin is very high in Vitamin A and anti-oxidants, as well as 5 grams of fiber and only 40 calories per half cup! But what can you do with pumpkin? The obvious recipes are for pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pancakes. But how about these ideas? --Spread pumpkin on a slice of your favorite bread. Spread a second slice with peanut butter. Add sliced banana in between. --Add 1/2 cup pumpkin to every 1 cup of mashed potatoes. --Add 1/2 cup pumpkin to 8 oz cream cheese, add 2 tbsp honey and a pinch of cinnamon for a great bagel or toast spread. --Add 2 tbsp pumpkin and 1 tsp maple syrup to your oatmeal in the morning. --Add 3 tbsp pumpkin to 1/2 cup applesauce for a nice sweet treat. --Add 1/2 cup pumpkin to your favorite boxed macaroni and cheese mix in place of the butter/margarine! --Add 1/2 cup pumpkin to your favorite corn muffin recipe or mix. --Add 1/2 cup pumpkin for every 1 cup of rice to the cooking water or broth of your favorite brown rice. Makes a nice risotto-like rice. Whatever recipe you can find on the Internet that calls for canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree, you can replace with your own pumpkin from the freezer. And if you can wait until the day after Halloween, pumpkins are usually on sale for half price or less! It's a great nutritious ingredient to add as a staple to your kitchen. NOTE TO COMMENTS BY GRAMMY: In a comment on another post, "Grammy" asked me about the Samosas I mentioned in my Monday Menues. I can't take a picture because we ate them! I purchase them frozen, from the ethnic foods department of our local store or in local Indian supermarkets. They are small triangles, perhaps 2 inches per side, stuffed with potatoes, peas, and spices. I have been reading recipes for them, and some people use puff pastry and some use filo dough. Here's a web site for you, Grammy, that has a photo and recipes. If you make your own, let me know how they turn out! I wanted to email you, but there's no email address on your blog.


QuiltedSimple said...

Thank you so much for this info. Recently heading towards the cooking mostly from scratch, I've been puzzled how to process the pumpkins once Halloween is over. This is great - as we love pumpkin/cream cheese/cool whip pie. I'll have to try some of the other ones too.

Tina said...

Hi, Joan. I too store pumpkin for the fall and holiday baking. We raise our own pumpkins, so i try to do alot of pumpkin freezing. I cook the pumpkin a bit different....after cleaning I chunk up into large pieces and put into a glass cassarole what will fit and put in the microwave. After about 10-15 minutes, the skim peels right off, I continue to cook, until it is all soft, and then chuck and/or puree, drain, and freeze.

We also use alot of the pumpkins for carving. We all dress up for Halloween at my DDs house, and about two days prior to Halloween, we have a carving party and carve about 50 pumpkins. Lots of work, but it really sets off the front yard. Of course, lots of ghouly displays - grave yard, coffin, ghosts, witches. We have a blast!

Kimberly said...

Thanks for the comment, Tina. Your way, in the microwave, sounds much easier to me! I hate to use knives and peeling pumpkin skins' off sounds like way too much trouble, but your way really easy.

I bet your house is really spectacular at Halloween!

tipper said...

I do the exact same thing! I can never stand to "waste" the pumpkin by just carving it. Of course that's probably cause I can only afford one!