Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall Flavors

The harvest is winding up but there are still some incredible flavors to be enjoyed.   I'm lucky to have "Farmer Tom" living right around the corner from my house.  But even if you don't have "Farmer Tom,"  I'm sure you have a local farmer's market or a veggie stand somewhere near you.  Even Heinen's will do for many things, as they support many local farmers. 

Our goal today is to make fresh pumpkin puree that you can enjoy all winter long.  Don't freak out.  It's easy.  I watched a neighbor's kid, planted flowers, and took a shower while cooking up three pumpkins separately.  Cooking one is even easier. 

First, pick up one pie pumpkin (small pumpkins especially good for baking) from a local farm stand.   If you don't have that, go to Heinen's.  But please don't buy a pie pumpkin from some big store chain that has been driven over thousands of miles when you could get one from somewhere nearby!  And please, don't buy the flavorless and nutrition zapped pumpkin puree in a can.  It's not worth the 89 cents.  

Step one:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step two:  Rinse off outside of pumpkin and then cut up the pumpkin into fourths with a serrated, sharp knife.
Step three:  Put pumpkin pieces (I usually have the skin on the bottom) into a oven-safe pan with a cup or two of water.  Tip:  The Pampered Chef stone covered bakers are fabulous for this!
Step four:  Cover and bake for about an hour and twenty minutes.
Step five:  Take out and let sit with lid off until it cools (it can sit for a couple of hours and still be fine).  Scoop out flesh with spoon, or if its soft enough, just peel the skin right off.  Put in a blender and puree until smooth.

  Now that you've got the puree, you can either use it right away or you can put it into pint-sized zip-locks and throw in the freezer.  I made three pumpkins worth, which equaled about 5 pints.  When I want to use it, I can just thaw it in the bag in a bowl of warm water for about 10-15 minutes.   

Congratulations!  You just added nutritional value and taste to your next pumpkin pie or goody.  You've also supported a local farmer (and his/her family) and saved gasoline and tax dollars!  Hopefully, you've also created a new memory with a friend or family member that helped you cook. 

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