Friday, February 15, 2013

Fifteen Pumpkins

We got these from my grandma's church when they were through using them as fall decorations. You may remember reading about that here.
The following will be several pumpkin related pictures and I will try to get as many of the recipes I used as I can into this post as well.

It is very simple to cook a pumpkin but not exactly super easy. 
 First thing you have to do is to have your strong younger brother cut it open for you. Then you scoop out the membranes being sure to save the seeds. Bake it on a pan WITH SIDES because pumpkin is very wet and will drip all over the oven and make a terrible brown sticky mess. There is no need to add water to the pan to help it from drying out. When it is soft and mushy then you take it out and ether peel it or turn it inside up and scoop out the flesh. It is best to squeeze out all the extra water (there will be lots of it) but I never figured out how to do that or why it was necessary until about half way through my pumpkin saga.

How to squeeze pumpkin:

Get two big bowls, a smaller bowl, an old tea towel, a strainer a blender (to puree the pumpkin), and your younger brother.

It is necessary to puree the pumpkin BEFORE squeezing otherwise when you go to cook you will realise that the pumpkin is still stringy and then you will have to go to all the trouble of pureeing all the wet ingredients for your recipe along with the pumpkin right before you are ready to bake it because of course now the pumpkin is too dry to puree and needs all that extra milk and butter and eggs just to get your blender blades to spin and then just your luck you will get lots of creamed butter and pasty orange goo all over the counter and it will be very frustrating. >Say all of that really fast<

Put the strainer in a big bowl and the pureed pumpkin flesh in the strainer. Lay the towel over the other big bowl and scoop about two cups of flesh into the cloth. Have your brother lift up the cloth and squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until you think his arms are about to fall off because for sure yours would have about five minutes ago.

After the pumpkin is squeezed dump the water into the smaller bowl (when it is full get up and dump it in the sink) or dump the water in the sink directly. Use a spatula and scrape the squeezed pumpkin into the empty big bowl.

Now repeat this process many time over and then when it is all done you can put it in freezer bags so later when you want to cook you can pretend this was all very easy. All you have to do is pull it out of the freezer and thaw!

I wanted to see if maaaaybe, possible, we might be able to find a way to eat the membranes.... ickh! That stuff was naaasty! So I now know why everybody always throws that part away.

Okay, well that was disappointing. I can't find nearly as many pumpkin pictures as I thought we had.

[All of these recipes use cooked, pureed pumpkin. Any recipe that I found that used raw pumpkin cubes I just used sweet potatoes instead because that was easier.]

So what did I make?

Pumpkin Bread: my favorite banana bread recipe only modified to serve the needs of pumpkin. I suggest you try your favorite banana bread recipe for pumpkin.

Pumpkin Pasta: Make it just like an alfredo except for the addition of pumpkin of course.

Pumpkin Soup: 1. Make an extra thick pumpkin alfredo but use instead half and half milk and chicken broth. Add in your favorite vegetables and some chicken. 2. Make another basic pumpkin alfredo but this time I followed a recipe that had me use peanut butter, a little sugar, and some allspice in it. This was not my favorite but it was presentable. 3. Make vegetable soup and add pumpkin! If you like you can use raw pumpkin cubes. I never did that.

4. Then I tried a coconut pumpkin creamy soup but since I didn't follow the directions properly (evidently this recipe does not do well with multiple substitutions.) and it came out awful. We ended up dumping the whole thing and I could barely choke it down and Dad refused it entirely! Ick! But, I would be willing to try it again. Next time I will do exactly what it says. Here is the link to where I got the recipe:

Stuffed Pumpkin: This turned out great!
I added breakfast sausage, didn't use nuts, and made my own mushroom soup... with onions and know mushrooms. ;) ... actually I don't think I really followed this recipe at all, I added and changed so many things, but this is what gave me the idea.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: I made two kinds. Worshtisire and plain salted. I didn't really like either of them I liked the Worsh best of the two.

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins: Used a basic muffin recipe.

Bonanza bread: Using my banana bread recipe for a starter I added pumpkin, dried cranberries, kumquats, shredded coconut, shredded carrots raisins and pecans.

Pumpkin Pie: Mom made these and don't know what recipe she used. But everybody already knows about pumpkin pie anyways.

Pumpkin Pancakes: Make sure you find a real pumpkin pancake recipe. I kinda did my own thing and although they tasted good this was before I started pureeing the pumpkin so it was pretty stringy and I didn't have enough liquid. The pancakes were very thick and took too long to cook. When they were done however they tasted wonderful!

Pumpkin Pizza Crust: I'm still working out the kinks in this on but this is the recipe I started with. It does however need some improvement to get it to work with pumpkin. I haven't tried it with squash.

There are a few things I never got to try though. :( Like pumpkin hummus. and probably some others but I can't think of them right now. As for the seeds I would have liked to try several different kinds but it got to be just too much bother and so we threw most of the seeds in the compost pile and saved some for planting. The ones in the compost pile sprouted up a few weeks later and now we have them in pots and hope to plant them in our future garden soon.

Something odd that happened while we still had pumpkins coming out of our ears. Late one night my brother and I went canoeing on the river behind Grandmas house. We went up river and found something white floating in the water. It was another pumpkin! So now we had a total of SIXTEEN! Mom didn't want to eat it because who knows how long it had been in that dirty river (it really is kinda dirty). I think it would have been fine but oh well.
Total we did not eat six pumpkins. Three we gave away and three rotted.

Now since I'm already started I will take the time to tell you shortly about our seventy-five pounds of carrots. Mom found at Winn Dixie a twenty five pound bag of organic carrots for only ten dollars! Since she made this discovery we have bought three of those bags and over all at the most  only five pounds have gone bad. We haven't bought any in the last couple of weeks but we were going strong on pumpkins and carrots for quite a while. I have found many different ways of using carrots and that could take a whole 'nother post itself but I don't think I will. It would be very similar to this one but all about carrots and really I can't remember what all I've done. I just know I put carrots in everything and have a few specifically made for carrots recipes.

Man! I am amazed we haven't turned orange!

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