Pumpkins and Leaves

As I was driving, I noticed how all the trees lining the streets are turning beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. This is my favorite time of year. It’s finally cool enough to go for walks outside, the foliage is beautiful, and lots of great vegetables are in season.

I find it so interesting that many of the fall vegetables are the same color as the autumn leaves. Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and many varieties of winter squashes are all in season right now, and they’re all shades of orange.

We got a whole pumpkin from Food Not Bombs on Sunday. I estimate that it weighed about 20 pounds, but none of us thought to weigh it before cutting it up. In general, pumpkins can keep for weeks or months at cool room temperatures, but this particular one had some bruises on the outside, and I wanted to cook it sooner rather than later.

Sunday night after dinner, I looked up instructions on how to prepare a whole pumpkin. Hannah ended up doing most of the actual work. First she cut the pumpkin in half, then scooped out the seeds from one half, then cut the pumpkin into chunks. That filled one large steam table pan. She repeated the process for the other half. I preheated the oven to 350 while she was cutting the second half, and baked them for about an hour. While they were baking, she cleaned the seeds and put them into 2 smaller foil pans to dry out. Before bed, I put the cooled pumpkin pieces into 2 gallon sized zipper bags and put them in the fridge.

Monday morning, I toasted the seeds. I preheated the oven to 250 degrees, then put some olive oil and sea salt on the seeds. I toasted them until they looked and smelled done, but I wasn’t watching the clock. Some of them came out whiter and some more brownish, but the whiter ones weren’t under-cooked and the brown ones weren’t burnt. This came out a LOT better than my usual technique of cooking them at a higher heat for less time. I also didn’t get any seeds popping around the oven because I dried them first.

Monday night, she made a pumpkin pie. She pureed 2 cups of pumpkin and made it into pie, leaving the rest of the cooked pumpkin in the fridge. She used a traditional recipe that called for real sugar, but added some rice flour to the batter because it seemed too watery. It was much more liquidy than canned pumpkin. It would have been logical to process all of the pumpkin and freeze some, but we were too tired by that point.

Tuesday night, I pureed about 2 cups of pumpkin, and then stirred in some agave, salt, and pumpkin pie spices, and heated it up as a side dish with dinner. After dinner, I pureed the rest of the cooked pumpkin and froze it in portions. Each baggie contains 2 cups of pumpkin puree, which is enough for one pie.

Now we can enjoy pumpkin later in the season, and something OTHER than pumpkin for the rest of the week!

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