Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkins and good times

Now, I am a serious pumpkin lover! I love pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie and pumpkin rolls. I even love carving pumpkins or painting on them. I will glitter, glue, stencil and display pumpkins proudly. Knowing all that, it is strange that it has taken me this long to work out how to make my own pumpkin puree`.

First step is to find appropriate pumpkins for pureeing. I did this by heading to a nearby (fairly relative term as I live in Los Angeles, CA)pumpkin patch. By talking to the staff and explaining my plans for using the pumpkin, they suggested a few varieties. The two suggested for puree and bread were the fairytale and the Lumina pumpkin. Now the fairytale is a greenish pumpkin that eventually matures into a browner pumpkin. The Lumina is a beautiful white baking pumpkin that reminds me a little of cinderella's coach. The key in both is that I asked for a "baking" pumpkin and I found someone a great deal more knowledgable than myself to guide me!

Second step is to then...well, bake the pumpkin. There are several suggestions for how to do this including some given to me by the pumpkin experts that helped me choose the pumpkins. After gathering some suggestions I went with the one that sounded the least challenging and the most fun. I say most fun because the method I chose allowed me to use the cleaver! Laura from Heavenly Homemakers cooks the whole pumpkin. She is terribly brave! The folks at the pumpkin patch suggested peeling the pumpkin, removing seeds and cutting it into cubes. Then boiling the cubes until tender. Remove from water and puree`. I went with my friend, Sarah's recommendation. She suggests cutting the pumpkin in half horizontally. Immediately, I pulled out the cleaver and whacked into the Lumina. The dogs ran and hid. Next, you need to remove all seeds and stringy stuff. Clean off the seeds and save them for roasting if you are so inclined. Then bake each half in a preheated 350 degree oven for 60 to 80 minutes. Mine took about 75 minutes. When done, take out of oven and scrape out insides. Mash in food processor and enjoy the puree`.

I decided for the Fairytale pumpkin I would cube some of it and use it in my butternut squash recipes as a substitute. Yep, I did not get too far with that. It looked so good that I simply threw about two cups of cubed pumpkin into a bag with some olive oil (maybe a quarter cup), a tablespoon of chili powder and a tablespoon of Jamaican jerk seasoning. Shook it up and poured all contents onto a baking sheet. I baked for 40 minutes at 425 degrees. So good!

Thus, this year in making my mother's pumpkin bread recipe I used pumpkin puree that I made by hand. I don't think I will be able to go back the canned pumpkin again. This stuff is just too good.

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