I mentioned several posts ago that my husband’s pride and joy from our garden this year were the Long Island Cheese Squash. He grew a little about a dozen of these beautiful pumpkins, and we have since gone on to make soup, desserts, pumpkin gnocchi, and bread with them.
We were excited about the opportunity to turn these tasty vegetables into an offering of thanks to our close neighbors who helped us with the arrival of our third child in September. Most of our family lives in the Pacific Northwest, so we relied on the kindness and support of our tight-knit neighborhood to help us with our children while we were at the hospital bringing our now 2 month old into the world. They have since brought us dinners, desserts, homemade salsa’s, among a myriad of other thoughtful gestures. Seriously. You should move here.
How were we going to show our appreciation and gratitude? Through food, of course!
Needing a creative outlet, I decided to turn these glorious pumpkins into pies, and to bake a cake for our son’s 2nd birthday. How in the world was that supposed to happen with 3 children at home? Well, I did it over the course of 3 days, and enjoyed every minute of it. I am certain it could be done in 1-2 days, but not in this house!
Day One: I halved 3 pumpkins total, scooped out the seeds, quartered them, and baked them individually, cut side up in the oven for 1-hour at 350 degrees. I placed a baking dish full of hot water on the bottom rack.
Out came this:
After cooling, I scooped the pumpkin away from the skin and placed in our food processor.
I blended the squash for a few minutes and out came this brilliant, bright orange, creamy puree. 3 pumpkins gave me approximately 13-cups of puree.
Day 2 and 3: I turned the puree into 6 desserts. One for each neighbor, and one for the birthday boy.
I had about 1 cup of puree left, and noticed after 2 days in the fridge that the puree lost its color, so recommend using the puree soon after you make it. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days, or you can freeze it for a couple of months.
A local friend who attended the New England Culinary Institute, and was the head chef and manager of a Bed & Breakfast in Vermont imparted this bit of knowledge along to me, “Pumpkins that come out of the can are drained of excess moisture before they are canned. This intensifies the pumpkin taste and ensures a great pie crust. When you cook a pumpkin at home, once its out of the oven and you can safely handle it (it should still be warm), you should puree it and then put it into a strainer lined with cheesecloth – this extracts some of the excess moisture in it and intensifies the flavor. This can all be done on the counter top.”
I recommend both recipes for your upcoming holiday meals, and encourage you to purchase a packet of these happy little seeds for your garden next year. You will not be disappointed, unless of course they don’t grow. In that case — try again.
I know at least one green-thumbed friend who is getting a packet of these seeds in her holiday card this year!
What sorts of things do you make to give thanks to those around you?
Here are some suggestions I found using pumpkins:
- Chocolate-Chunk Pumpkin Bread from Crepes of Wrath
- Pumpkin Butter from Scratch from Oh She Glows
- Sweet Pumpkin Butter from Spoon Fork Bacon
- Pumpkin Gnocchi from Reclaiming Provincial (we made our pumpkin Gnocchi with a recipe from The Northwest Best Places Cookbook).
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from Ellen in the Kitchen
- Pumpkin Fudge from Brown Eyed Baker
- Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt from A Couple Cooks
- Gluten-free Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking
- Pumpkin Chili from Taste and Tell
I do believe there are Pie Pumpkins available this week as an add-on.
Hmmm. How convenient!