Last weekend the kindergarten class had a pumpkin carving social. It was a terrific way to meet the kids and their families outside the frenetic setting of morning drop off and after school pick up. The organizers brought pumpkin carving tools, stickers, stencils and markers – everything needed to make our Jack-O-Lanterns. My little guy paged through the book of stencils and zeroed in on a complicated design featuring an owl, a moon, some branches and clouds. The book gave this design a complexity rating of two out of four possible pumpkins. More like a five out of four if you ask me. Are you sure about this one? I wanted to know. He was sure, nodding vigorously with wide eyes. Okay then. We got to work. He diligently helped me scoop out the seeds and fleshy guts, meticulously scraping the bottom free of all stringy matter. Then I got busy punching in the outline of the design. By the time that was done, the playdate was over and we had to go home. I completed the carving at home later and you know what? It came out kind of cute. Can you see the owl and the moon?
While carving pumpkins, I had a conversation with another mother who is an avid cook. We were talking about cooking with pumpkin. She confessed to tossing the porch gourds out and sticking to the can. I do the same thing. Though we buy a lot of pumpkins to decorate the front porch, I use almost exclusively canned (100% pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix which isn’t the same thing) for my recipes. A few of my favorite canned pumpkin recipes are pumpkin spice applesauce bread, pumpkin buttermilk pancakes and pumpkin brownies with maple rum cream. Want to use fresh? My savory pumpkin and feta muffins and scallops with pumpkin and herb orzo use cubes of fresh pumpkin.
Tell me how you use pumpkin. Do you roast up the real deal or turn to the can?