Monday, September 26, 2016

The Gift of Garden Abundance

Once upon a time people used to deposit large zucchini at my door, and run.  That has not happened in a few years now, but this year I was asked if I wanted a few pumpkins.  I had planted pumpkins myself this year, and though I watered them every day, one day the plants all just decided to die. So yes, I said I'd be pleased to have some.

I did specify "I don't have freezer space for much pumpkin stuff, so don't get too generous. Think jack o lantern or other decor, and I'll cook up what I need from that." 

The pumpkins were dropped off at my hubby's place of employment, and he trotted them into the house and deposited them on the table, and just looked at me.   I'm glad I told his cousin not to be too generous!

Obviously there are far more than I can cook up, so I set about searching out ways to use them.  I was looking for ways to use them as autumn decorations, but mostly I found Halloween ideas, or how to cook them. I have always just boiled up peeled chunks of pumpkin and then drained and mashed it, much like I would potatoes. The cousin cuts them in half and bakes them, cut side down, in the oven. I discovered they could also be cooked in the microwave as well.  That sounded like the best energy saving option.

When I laid out the pumpkins on my front step, to show you, I discovered one that was quiet rotten (it's not in the picture) and another that looked like it would go bad next if it wasn't used up.  I decided to try the microwave version of how to cook it.  Now, keep in mind that these are not huge pumpkins, but even so, I had a hard time fitting even one into my 2 quart casserole dish.  Eventually I peeled and cut up one section of it, just to get it into the dish in a way that allowed me to get the lid on.  I added a little bit of water to the bottom of the dish, covered it, and put it in the microwave on High, for 15 minutes.
I figured I'd have to leave it there longer, but would check it at that point, and then guess at  how much longer it would take to make it tender.  It was done perfectly in just 15 minutes! I also found it was extremely easy to scoop off the shell. This may be my new way to cook pumpkin from now on, though I think I'll give the  oven method a try too, just for comparison's sake.

I don't like to freeze cooked pumpkin. It's too easy for me to ignore.  So, the next order of business was to make some muffins.  Of course, I also roasted the pumpkin seeds while I had the oven on.  

Over the weekend one of my grandson's suggested we make some cookies. He's quite the baker, that one.  I got out all the ingredients, and found myself making the cookies on my own, while he artfully rearranged all my fridge magnets. Both the cookies and the muffins were very well received, and I still have enough pumpkin left to bake up something else.  

I notice one of the other pumpkins has a hole or two in the skin, so it will be the next one to be cooked.  My grandson pointed out one of the others, and laid claim to it. I believe he's planning to carve that one closer to Halloween. His little brother will be wanting in on that action too, with a pumpkin of his own, so I'm more and more sure we will find a use for this pile of pumpkins.  

As much as I love baking with zucchini, this year I'm glad I don't have to deal with the usual baseball bat sized one, and the pumpkins too.

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