Pumpkins to me are the ultimate symbol of fall. I have very fond memories of going to a family friend's farm and picking out pumpkins every October. My parent's had only one rule for my brother and I for this process, we had to be able to carry it back to the car on our own. This was a definite test of strength to young Sam and I am happy to report that neither Max or I had a dropped-and-smashed pumpkin incident.
The carving of the jack-o-lantern process was a staple in the Autumn festivities, and an especially creative one at that considering both of my parents went to art school. No matter how busy we were between homework, gymnastics practices, work deadlines, etc., it was always somehow fit into our schedules.
I never liked having to scoop out the pumpkin guts (especially since my entire arm usually had to reach in to reach the bottom of the biggest pumpkin I had managed to carry to the car) but it was all apart of the process. Max and I drew our Jacks' expressions and after my dad cut to our design, they came to life by candle light. The family always walking out to the street to admire the illuminated faces on our porch.
I got this baby a few weeks ago at the farmer's market. Toootally worth trying to ride it home on my bike at 10pm after a shift at the co-op...
1 c water
Wash pumpkin and remove stem (I did this by hitting it against my kitchen counter. Good times were had).
Cut pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and fibers. Save the seeds for a roasted pumpkin seed recipe!
Preheat oven to 350F
Coat the cut surfaces of the pumpkin halves with canola oil.
Place the pumpkin halves cut side down in a baking pan and add water to the pan.
Bake the pumpkin for 60-90 minutes. The flesh will be tender when poked with a fork.
Remove pumpkin from oven and allow to cool.
Scrape the flesh out and puree in a food processor until smooth.
Line a colander placed in a bowl with cheese cloth, paper towels, or coffee filters and allowing the pureed pumpkin to drain overnight (or at least 2 hours) in the fridge.
At this point, the pumpkin can be used immediately in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin, stored in the fridge for 24 hours OR can be frozen in measured quantities in an airtight container (apparently up to 3 months). I froze 1 c portions in glass cups and transferred the cup-shaped pumpkin solids to a Ziploc bag!
Not sure what I will do with my pumpkin now, perhaps pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread... Any suggestions??
Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Seeds from 1 small pumpkin
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t salt
Preheat oven to 350F
Mix together ingredients and spread seeds onto baking sheet.
Roast for 20-30 minutes, mixing every 5-10 minutes, until the seeds are dried out and starting to brown.
Take out of oven and salt to taste.