Well friends. In case you haven’t noticed it, we are in the midst of a new month (October, of course), and a brand new season…it isn’t just fall, any more…it is officially “Pumpkin Spice Season”. Everywhere you look, and everything you look at seems to have been seasoned pumpkin spice! Coffee, coffee creamer, hummus (yes, I did see pumpkin hummus in a store recently), candles and air freshener, you name it! If it can be fragranced or flavored, chances are good there is a pumpkin spice variety on sale somewhere! Now while I do enjoy the flavor of pumpkin spice occasionally, I really believe we may have ventured into flavor over-kill!
Luckily, the traditional treats like pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, and my favorite, pumpkin cheesecake, make their appearance in this flavorful month. If you have never cooked a fresh pumpkin, it can seem a little daunting, but it truly is simple. “Pie pumpkins” are the small ones usually found displayed with assorted winter squash. I like to cook pumpkins as I do squash, that is by simply piercing the flesh a few times and bake whole until it is tender. You can also cut the pumpkin into chunks, and boil until tender in lightly salted water. After cooling, remove the skin and seeds and simply mash the flesh and voila-pumpkin for recipes! True, canned, solid pack pumpkin may be a whole lot easier and more convenient, but not as much fun!
With the passage of time, my boys have grown up and outgrown the pumpkin carving fun we always had, and my granddaughter is still too little to enjoy the experience. I still like to carve a pumpkin to celebrate the season, but I always chuckle remembering my boy’s favorite part of the process. It wasn’t the carving of the pumpkin, but the removal of the “guts” (or seeds, to those of you without boys!). I expect many of you have had the same experience. It always started out neat enough…kitchen table covered with newspaper, each boy with their own pumpkin and a big spoon to scrape the insides out with. The neatness would usually last at about 6.5 seconds, after which the first spoonful of guts would just happen to slip in the direction of the unsuspecting brother. Splat! That simple action was a declaration of war, and the ensuing battle would wind up in a laugh-fest, with those slippery, slimy seeds all over my once clean kitchen! They did eventually, however, get better at keeping the seeds on the table, rather than each other, because they always wanted me to roast them when they were done! Roasted pumpkin seeds are a favorite in our house. I simply soak the seeds in salted water over night, then drain well and spread on a lightly greased baking tray. Bake at 400* for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting. The smell is pure fall, and the taste is even better!
This weekend, why not gather the kids and head out to your local farm market and choose a few of those big, beautiful orange globes. Give each one a personality, roast the seeds and enjoy the fall decoration!
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- 4 Cups cooked pumpkin, fresh or canned
(you can substitute any winter squash)
- 4 Cups half and half
- ¼ t salt
- ¼ t cinnamon
- Dash of cloves
- Dash of pepper
If you are cooking your own fresh pumpkin, cook to very tender and mash (I like
to mash the pumpkin on the coarse side for added texture).
In a large sauce pan, bring half and half to a simmer and add the pumpkin and
spices. Blend well and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add additional milk if you desire
a thinner consistency to your soup. You may also puree the warm soup in a
blender or with an immersion blender if you prefer a very creamy consistency.
I like to serve the soup in a roasted pumpkin shell topped with sweet croutons.
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