Pumpkin Classics

Our pumpkins got a bit of a late start this year. We didn’t plant the seeds until July, but they grew remarkably fast. And we were rewarded with about 6 small, bright orange, Cinderella pumpkins. They were an heirloom breed, but I think given their short growing season they didn’t attain their normal size. I was still happy – we used them as decoration, and then I did something I’ve always wanted to do – I roasted the pumpkins and made fresh pumpkin puree! While slightly time consuming, it was so worth it. As it always is, when I look at the food on my plate and think, I grew this… from seed to harvest… approximate travel, 20 feet…

I did a bit of google research to figure out method, but it was pretty easy. Like most winter squash, I cut the pumpkins in half, scooped out the seeds, put them in a baking dish face down and roasted them. I scooped out the puree and let it drain overnight. The next day I decided on my plan of attack – first I wanted to make pumpkin bread, because that is our favorite way to use pumpkin puree.

My friend Katie makes a killer pumpkin bread (with the addition of chocolate chips and millet – I may post that at a later date), but I went for something traditional and nostalgic: Mama Dean’s pumpkin bread. My college roommate’s mother was from England (but lived 30 minutes from our college), and she would periodically either make us treats or give us cooking lessons. Each fall we savored her pumpkin bread, usually accompanied with pineapple cream cheese. Best of all, the recipe made two loaves! I decided to make one loaf, and the rest of the batter into muffins.

I had 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree leftover, so I scoured the internet for recipes using such a small amount. I came across one for maple pumpkin cookies -two of my favorite fall flavors and a perfect combination, as cookies are second only to ice cream in my husband’s sweet tooth hierarchy. They turned out to be just right – slightly chewier texture than pumpkin bread, and divine with a glass of milk.

Pumpkin Puree

Cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds/membranes. Turn face down in a baking dish, and bake ~ 1 1/4 hours in a 375 oven until super soft. Scoop out the puree into cheesecloth lining a colander, and let drain 2 hours – overnight in the refrigerator. Its now ready to use – it can be frozen for a few months if you have more than you want to use in the next few days.

Mama Dean’s Pumpkin Bread

2/3 c water
1 c oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 c pumpkin puree
3 c sugar
3 1/2 c flour (2 white, 1 1/2 whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp each: nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix pumpkin, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Add water and sugar – mix well. Add all dry ingredients. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans (or 1 loaf pan and 12 muffins). Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool and remove from pans.

Pineapple cream cheese: Mix 1 block cream cheese with 1 small can of crushed pineapple. Beat together, and serve with bread.

Maple Pumpkin Cookies (original recipe here)

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream margarine and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, maple syrup and pumpkin. Mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir flour mixture into creamed mixture. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough on cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

One final image – the bees just love the borage that is growing so abundantly in the front bed! I had a photo session with one guy the other week.