Monday, November 14

Just Your Average Pumpkin...

Passionate things. Autumn is just a passionate time of year. Passion colors abound; oranges, reds, dark auburn and smooth subtle greys. I am passionate about Fall. It's the harvest, the rain, the cool weather, the need to snuggle up with someone warm, and the need to turn on the oven. I am not an expert baker. The technicalities of how exactly the baking soda works or the time required to fluff my egg whites perfectly before folding them into whatever it is I'm making, usually escapes me. But I love fall vegetables. I Love roasting them with olive oil and sea salt, Italian sausages, or chicken. I Love pureeing them and adding them to soups and breads and cookies.

I've been fortunate the last few years to be on the receiving end of other hard working gardeners spoils. For a long time it was my great uncle Lyman, in Logan, UT. He could feed a village, and does. They have in impressively large and healthy family and  from what I understand usually take a lot their excess harvest to the food bank. Now, I know it sounds silly and selfish, but the times I heard about them sending food to the food bank, it gaves me a very small twitch in my eye to think of the amazing produce I would not enjoy at their hands. However, we no longer live close enough that I can bum a box of produce whenever there is one. But... recently my parents acquired a healthy plot of land in the same bread-basket-soiled neighborhood. Now I have a new source for winter squash and potatoes. (Internal Hip. hip. Hooray!) Recently my mom brought down an enourmous banana squash. The walls of this beautiful beast were at least 3 inches thick. I made pumpkin pie and a large pot of pumpkin (banana squash) butter for the freezer. And yet my thirst for squash and the recent harvest of now frozen-over soil is not quenched. My garden didn't do too well this year and though I did get one impressive pumpkin out of it (are you impressed?), all I have to show for it is a shelf full of tomotoes ripening and a few cans in the basement food storage.

However there is one food that I have been saving, all decked out in weather proof paint. It sits outside my front gate to mark the coming of one of the great Autumn holidays, All Hallows Eve, long since gone. An egg carton filled with paint to mix and brushes to spare is about the max in free flowing decorating that my two and three year old can handle (or is it me?) We took it outside and enjoyed one of Octobers beautiful days when Aunt Kristin was here for a visit and lately I've been on the watch to see if it has frozen over too.

And it is...a Pumpkin. Not anything special. Not a sugar pumpkin or any kind of special supposedly flavorful sweet pumpkin. Just a pumpkin. I've read that these large hollow beasts are basically tasteless and I really don't want to hear about how you can't use them for baking or eat them, I've read that the seeds are good for roasting and that's about the extent of thier usefullness outside of carving and lighting up the porch for couple of hours. I've heard all that. You've heard all that. I can't think of one food related question I've heard more at this time of year than "Do I have to use a pie pumpkin to make pumpkin pie?" Or "What kind of pumpkin do I have to use to make a pumpkin pie?" or any number of the same question with varied wording. What it comes down to is this: There are four round orbs sitting outside that I would feel really really sad throwing away. It comes down to the fact that even though I'm reluctant to share the graciousness of my uncles artfully grown garden spoils with those less fortunate than I, I still have a heart. There's something about the image in my head of starving children in far away places. The ones we think about every once in a while, not more, because it might disturb our comfortable way of going about in our big cars and eating at big chain restaurants. When I think about throwing out a genetically selected hard mass of food, what it comes down to is that it is still that: food. I can't stand to see it go to waste and I have enough scraps that go in my compost already. So I'm going to do an experiment. The name of the experiment is not: "What pumpkin makes the best pumpkin pie?". It is, "Can I make a decent pumpkin pie out of a Halloween pumpkin?". And there you have it. Stay tuned for updates on my experiment. I fully intend to take a couple to Thanksgiving Dinner (Did I mention that I'm passionate about homemade pies?) and I'm even going to try a vegan version that my Dad can enjoy. If you've ever asked yourself the same question, feel free to come by on Monday to taste the pumpkin pie filling, or just wait for it here as I take you through the process. I can't imagine that it could taste half as bad as the synthetic, overly sweet versions that are in grocery stores. To be started in the morning with roasting....DUN. Dun. dun......(Followed by eery alien whistling music....)      


Lisa and Andy said...

Wish I had a "green thumb", instead I've been relying on the farmers market. That is to change next year as we will be trying our hand at a garden without much experience. I can't wait to hear how your pies turn out. I just baked a vegan pumpkin pie yesterday and will keep looking for a better recipe. The taste was spot on, but the texture turned us off to another slice.

P.S. I made your pizza with the swiss chard and artichokes and the family loved it. Now to work on a gluten free version! (Just recently learned Gage is celiac)

Andrea K. H. Agüin said...
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