The great pumpkin is not just a myth

It’s been a busy week or so at the Home Baked house.  Rehearsals, concerts, karate belt tests, garage makeovers…but not very much photo-taking or blogging.  We still needed food to fuel all that activity, though.  I don’t have a photo of the “best pumpkin pie ever,” but apparently I’ll have to make it again for Thanksgiving.  The not-so-secret secret?  Start with a real pumpkin, not a can.  I have always skipped this step, because, really–what’s wrong with letting someone else cut up the pumpkin, cook it, scoop out the pulp, and puree it?  That seems like an awful lot of work to do before you can even get to the pie-making stage. 

But this year my kindergartener went on a field trip to the pumpkin farm and returned with a cute little pie pumpkin, and she asked if we could make it into a pie.  Who could refuse?

I learned that if you use a pie pumpkin, the process is not so arduous.  Rinse it off, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and strings.  Then roast it as you would any winter squash.  I put the pumpkin, cut sides down, in a pan with a little water and covered it with foil.  Then I slid it into a 400 degree oven.  In less than an hour, it was tender, and when cool, the flesh slipped right out of the skin. I barely mashed it with a fork and had exactly two cups of pulp–perfect for the Joy of Cooking pumpkin pie recipe.  I did this step early in the week, and kept the pulp in a container in the refrigerator.

Fast forward to Sunday, after a long day of cabinet installing, karate, cleaning and singing.  It was nearly 6 p.m. and everyone was hungry.  Chicken was ready in the slow cooker, and while the vegetables were cooking, there was just enough time to assemble a pie.  I had a disk of dough in the refrigerator, so I rolled it out, whisked up the pumpkin filling, and put it in to bake.  Warm pumpkin pie was ready shortly after we finished dinner.  We worked hard all day and deserved a home cooked meal!

Now, I’m still going to use canned pumpkin.  It’s great to keep in the pantry–I got some out this morning and had muffins ready in 30 minutes (20 minutes was baking time). You may have noticed my love of muffins.  They are everything I want in a baked good:  quick and easy to make, satisfying our sweet tooth without guilt.

I still have half a can left…do I see pumpkin pancakes in our future?  Thanksgiving is so close…I’ll be getting a couple pie pumpkins this week so I can roast them ahead of time.  What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?  Are you planning ahead for your Thanksgiving feast?

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