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Pumpkin Up: Smashing Pumpkins

Posted Oct 07 2009 3:10pm

Even though pumpkin slowly is returning to store shelves, many of you have told me you still can’t seem to find it. HOW FRUSTRATING. Don’t the pumpkin gods realize we’re in serious pumpkin times right now?! Check the calendars. It’s not April. Girls need to eat!!!

Then my lovely BFF Julia suggested that I could probably get pumpkin from another place…like, oh, say, the pumpkin patch! AHH! Thank God I have her. Julia is that friend whose deadpan wisdom is exactly what you need when you are as overeager and excitable as I tend to be. She’s the one shaking her head at you from across the room while you’re standing at the bar taking shots with a guy we all know is bad news. She’s also the one a week later opening the blinds, flooding your room with light, and telling you to put down the pizza, stop crying, and take your sorry ass to Econ — what did you expect from a guy like that?

Anyway. Julia’s brilliance also extends to vegetables! To the pumpkin patch I went!

Not really. That’s me going to the pumpkin patch circa 1987. This time I just went to the grocery store. There are pumpkins everywhere!

So I picked out a little guy and brought it home. And it sat. I was afraid. I was afraid of this little pumpkin. I had images of me standing in a hot kitchen, elbow deep in seeds, wiping sweat from my brow, smearing pumpkin pulp all over myself in the process.

When I finally manned up and just decided to make the pumpkin my bitch, it was so much easier. So if you’re still pumpkin-free, here’s a little tutorial!

First, select your pumpkin.

The small pumpkin I bought (about the size of the cantaloupe) yielded about a half-cup of actual pumpkin, so I’d suggest something considerably bigger. You want it to be worth the effort.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Next, wash the pumpkin thoroughly! Then use a large serrated knife to remove the stem and toss it.

Use a large spoon to scrape out the seeds and pulp.

Cut the pumpkin in half and continue to scrape out the pulp. You may be tempted to reach your hand in and pull out the pulp. I do not recommend this. It left me with the slimiest, most obscene sensation ever. Just…don’t. Use the spoon to scrape it.

Toss the seeds in a colander and rinse. Again, if you touch them at any point, be prepared to get skeeved out. Rinse them thoroughly and then place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.

Cut the pumpkin into relatively equal chunks and place skin side down on a cookie sheet.

Bake the pumpkin for at least an hour, or until the flesh is soft enough to pierce easily with a fork.

Let it cool, then remove the pumpkin flesh from the skins. (Do your best to get rid of all the really pulpy parts.)

Use a food processor to get it really smooth, or, if you want to be old-school, use a potato masher.

(I went that route, since I didn’t want to wake the whole neighborhood with my Magic Bullet.)

Done! So easy! Ready to use in any recipe!

I can’t believe how simple the whole process was. Do you remember carving pumpkins as a kid? It was messy, there was always wet newspaper involved, clothing got stained, parents got angry? I don’t get it. It’s not that big of a deal!

Also, make good use of the seeds! Toss them with a little butter, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice or go the olive oil and salt route. Bake them in a 300 degree oven for about 25 minutes, giving them a quick stir after 10 minutes.

Success! We’re so old-fashioned, picking and smashing our own pumpkins and using all the bits and pieces. I didn’t even use the Magic Bullet! I’m practically a pioneer.

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