Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eating Pumpkins

Whenever I look at the pumpkins stored in my pantry, I laugh. I get the chuckles because Barbara Kingsolver in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle states so eloquently our relationship with our food, specifically pumpkins, when she says,
"Every single recipe started with the same ingredient, '1 can (15 oz) pumpkin.' I could see the shopping lists now:
1 can pumpkin (for curry soup)
1 of those big orangey things (for doorstep).
She laments that we are perfectly capable of hollowing out and carving faces into this huge vegetable, but that we can't seem to just cut the thing up and eat it.

Admittedly, I only discovered the wonders of pumpkins (and other winter squashes) once I moved here 5 years ago and started using a CSA. I had grown up in a household where fabulous meals were cooked from scratch, but we still only used canned pumpkin (and pretty much just for pumpkin pie). This left me clueless. Once I started receiving pumpkins along with a variety of other mystery giants in my CSA box, I found myself doing a lot of internet research, and I discovered an amazing world of atrociously vitamin-rich and versatile tastiness. I also learned that I find it easier to cut open a winter squash using a sturdy paring knife rather than a big French chef and that all winter squashes have edible seeds. If those seeds make it off of the baking sheet because they have survived snacking, they go great into any dish where you might use nuts or sunflower seeds.

Here are links to a couple of my favorite pumpkin recipes:
Three Sisters Stew
This vegetarian stew can be a completely local dish if you don't use the cumin and black pepper. Either way it's delicious. I made this last year as an appetizer soup for Thanksgiving dinner.

Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce
You can do so much with this dish. It can be made ahead of time to fit your schedule. It is delicious with chicken, pork, beans, or turkey. I've used leftover holiday turkey as the filler many times now. This can also be 100% local if you make your own tortillas.

Pork with Mashed Pumpkin

This dish is fabulous, but it is also more time-consuming that the others listed above. Since it takes so much time, I typically double it so I can freeze some and have it ready-made after a great day of skiing or snowshoeing. Again, this is an almost completely local dish unless you count the cumin, coriander, and vinegar.

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