The Great Pumpkin



As an iconic mascot of the autumn season, pumpkins are practically perfect in every way! Large or tiny, bulging or petite, bumpy or smooth, deeply ridged or two-toned, everyone has a preference, even if the names, such as Baby Boo, Sweet Dumpling, Orange Princess, Winter Luxury, or the 25-pound “Gladiator,” are unknown. During the great pumpkin search, the victor may point, exclaiming, “That one! It’s mine!” The coveted fruit, which comes in grey, blue-green, white, and orange, cannot be ignored in this festive season!  From carved Jack-o-Lanterns to pumpkin pie and pumpkin-spiced lattes, autumn’s spotlight can include every aspect, from the seed and pulp to the meat! 

Choose Well 

Meticulously look at all areas of your chosen fruit.  It should be firm, without soft spots, and blemish-free.  Look especially at the handle and give a tug!  Check the bottom to ensure there are no signs of rot, and whether it sits level.  

The Seeds 

The act of plunging a hand into the innards of the gushy, wet pulp is part of the thrill in carving the mighty Jack-o-Lantern.  From the deep cleaning, a bowl efficiently contains the remnants—stringy inner fibers and seeds.  While they may appear to be only compostable goods, the seeds are rich in antioxidants and minerals, iron, zinc, and magnesium when eaten.    

The options: 

  • Roast:  Rinse two cups of seeds, pat dry, and place in a bowl.  Add 1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1½ teaspoons of melted butter, and 1¼ teaspoons seasoned salt.  Stir!  Spread the coated seeds evenly on a baking sheet.   At 250 degrees, stirring occasionally, bake for one hour until the coating appears crisp and golden brown.  
  • Make Granola: Mix the following in a bowl: one cup pumpkin seeds, 1½ cups rolled oats, ½ cup pumpkin puree, ½ cup sugar-free maple syrup, ¼ cup shredded coconut, 2 tablespoons unsalted melted butter, ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir! Spread evenly on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake in a 325-degree preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally and remove when crisp.  
  • Pumpkin Puree:  Add the strings to a food processor and hit the button, puree!  Place the contents in Ziploc bags to freeze for future lovers of bread, pies, and other baked goods.   
  • Save the Seeds:  After rinsing and patting dry, allow a handful of seeds to rest for a few days before placing them in a Mason jar.  Make sure you add a label and date before freezing.  Then, next year, your favorite pumpkin can grow and multiply in your care! 

The Hollowed-Out Pumpkin 

While children are busily designing or cutting faces, adults can create delicious appetizers, meals, and desserts with the remaining shell.  After stuffing it with this and that, toss it into the oven to make…  

  • Baked Pumpkin Cheese Dip:  In a four-pound pumpkin, coat the interior with a mixture of two minced garlic cloves and two tablespoons vegetable oil; then, alternate layers of toasted white breadcrumbs, Swiss cheese, and a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Add the top and bake at 350 degrees for two hours.  Serve with French bread.  
  • Roast Pumpkin with Cream, Thyme, and Parmesan: Use a three-pound pumpkin.  In a small saucepan, combine five fluid ounces of double cream, one clove of sliced garlic, one sprig of thyme, and a dash of salt and pepper. When hot, pour into the pumpkin and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese. Add the lid and bake for 1¾ hours at 300 degrees.  (Serves two.)   
  • Stuffed Pumpkin with Cranberry-Raisin Bread Pudding: In a three-pound pumpkin, brush the interior with a teaspoon of melted butter and a sprinkle of sugar.  Add the lid and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  In a lightly greased eight-inch pan, mix two eggs, ½ cup butter, ¾ cup half-and-half, ¾ cup chopped toasted pecans, and ½ cup fresh cranberries. Cut a16-ounce raisin bread into one-inch cubes. Stir together; then pour within the pumpkin and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Serve with a lemon-vanilla sauce. (Serves 12.) 

Disposal 

As plant matter, the carved pumpkin is the ideal vessel to provide nutrients for a plant; therefore, dig a hole large enough to bury the entire Jack-o-Lantern. Within its cavity, include a chrysanthemum or a woody perennial, such as Rosemary. The decaying fruit will provide fertilizer, boosting growth and good health!  

October, a month of endless recipes featuring the great pumpkin!  

 

 


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