October 15, 2008

Some Thoughts on Pumpkin

Sometimes I think I like the idea of pumpkin more than the taste of pumpkin. I mean, pumpkin ain't never good on its own, right? I've never heard of anyone sitting down to a steaming plate of pumpkin--unless it's doused with salts or sugars, spices or creams, broths or chihuahuas. However, there's something earthy and homey and comforting about pumpkins that keeps me coming back to them year after year. (Plus, babies and chihuahuas look just ADORABLE in pumpkin costumes. How can one turn their back on pumpkin when pumpkin gifts us with small mammals decorated with stems?!)

But still...do we really like pumpkin? Does it have to be pumpkin? Couldn't a pumpkin pie just as easily be a sweet potato pie? Or an acorn squash pie? Or a Palin ponytail pie? I'm not saying I don't like pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin etceteras. Hell no. I am NOT saying that. Toss that canned pumpkin into a bowl full of sugar, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and liquid, and I will suck up the entire bowl with a straw! I love all things pumpkiny...well, except for pumpkin, naked of all adornments.

So, since I would not eat pumpkin on its own, does that mean that I don't like pumpkin? No. Not liking pumpkin does NOT mean that I, uh, don't like pumpkin? Man, this is confusing. I need a metaphor to help me understand this dilemma. Here's (a lame) one: even though we can't look at the sun head-on without blinding ourselves, we still love the image of Sun, right? Think of how many ankle and lower-back tattoos have been inspired by the image of that life-giving orb of hot gases! We can never experience the beauty of the unfiltered sun with our own eyes, yet we are fascinated by it.

This same reasoning applies to pumpkin. (Stick with me here.) Just as we are unable to view the sun without solar filters, we are likewise unable to enjoy the taste of pumpkin without the filters of gentle autumnal spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg). These spices are like those solar eclipse boxes we made in elementary school--they filter out the icky & blinding & bad and leave us with the good. (This logic does not apply to my resurrected Pre-Columbian readers who love eating naked pumpkin, no filter required. Feel free to call me a "silly Post-Columbian" for voicing this culinary fallacy.)

Granted, I don't see many people with pumpkin tattoos, so something about this sun-pumpkin metaphor ain't quite workin'. But, maybe this metaphor will: think of pumpkin as a drunk uncle you cannot enjoy until you've had 3 or 4 drinks. Or more. After tying one on, that annoying uncle becomes your best friend. Before you know it, you two are hugging each other and repeating your "I-love-you-mans" while the rest of your family looks on in disgust. Come midnight, you and your uncle are on a Greyhound to Vegas singing/slurring the lyrics to "Runaway Train." Back to the metaphor: to love your uncle, you need the filter of booze; likewise, to love pumpkin, you need cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Okay. I'll cool it with the bad metaphors. Our pumpkin is not the sun. Nor is it a wasted uncle. It's pumpkin, plain and simple. And we love that simplicity (well, after complicating it with spices and sugars...and baking it...and then topping it with ice cream).

What are your favorite pumpkin recipes? Does anyone out there love pumpkin without the feather boas and purple rouge? This fall, I'm looking your way, America, for some great pumpkin recipes (wink-wink-you-betcha- gosh-darnit-tootin-uh-uh-maverick-education-policy-chihuahua-squash)!

Below you'll find some ideas for how to utilize your pureed pumpkin this fall. Some of these recipes have been tested and approved (*), while others will be experimented upon with probes & tubes in the near future.

*Pumpkin French Toast (for 2): In a bowl blend together 3 eggs, a dash of rice milk, a few tablespoons of maple syrup, a tablespoon of honey, cinnamon, ginger, crushes cloves, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and 2/3 cup pumpkin puree. Saturate 4 pieces of whole wheat bread, and fry away! Drizzle with maple syrup. Dash of cinnamon. Holy-French-Pumpkin, these are good!

*Vegan Pumpkin Muffins (makes 12, from Vegan with a Vengeance): to save me the time and energy I could better spend doing cool Post-Columbian things (like racquetball or chugging emergen-C), I will not copy this recipe from Isa Chadra Maskowitz's book. Instead, click here. Internet plagiarism just gifted me with more time to up my dosage of Vitamin C!

*Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes (makes however many you want): throw together some flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cumin (very little), ginger, rice milk, maple syrup, sugar, and vanilla. Yum.

Pumpkin Coconut Sorbet (maybe gross, but we'll see...): I will blog about this soon. Hopefully I can experiment with this recipe this weekend. I'm guessing it will include some measurements of the following: pumpkin puree, coconut milk, shredded coconut, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, sugar, and jasmine extract.

Pumpkin Milkshake (hellz yeah!): ice cream or rice dream, milk or rilk (hehe), adequate spices, pumpkin puree, and maple syrup.

*Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing (makes 24): Check out Gourmet Peasant's "Naughty and Nice Pumpkin Cupcake" recipe here. I made these last fall, and they were, by far, the most delicious pumpkiny treats I have ever digested. Coming from a true pumpkin lover (er...), that's saying a lot!

Now, look at this:

6 comments:

Hadley Gets Crafty said...

This child is going to look at this photo some day and wonder if his parents ever loved him. Sure, he looks happy NOW, but...

cormac norwich said...

Pumpkin flavored children, I hear, is a delicacy in some parts of the US. What if we go into business together -- I supply the children, you supply the pumpkins.

Ps. My pumpkin soup was about a C-. Not so great; good, not great.

gunma-gal said...

I just found your blog. Glad I did.

Also, I *love* pumpkin, but you're right, I don't like it alone, as is. I usually steam or bake loads of it, puree it, and make a smorgasbord of pumpkin deliciousness all throughout the fall. I've already started. I made pumpkin soup (well, using kabocha, but that's in the same family) about a week ago. The recipe can be found at http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cream-of-Pumpkin-Soup/Detail.aspx?prop31=1

Play w/the spices in it. I usually add more than what it calls for. Yum!

If you have a recipe for pumpkin ice cream, send it my way. I've been trying to make it for about a year now, but I've never been thrilled w/the results. Either the texture or taste is off, every time.

Hadley Gets Crafty said...

You know, I just remembered something you'll find funny. When I first got my cat she was recovering from the many ailments homelessness had lent her.

For days she was whiny and wouldn't eat. A veterinary x-ray revealed an enormous hairball in her stomach. The vet's suggestion: feed her pumpkin. All that fiber gets food moving, I suppose.

She totally loved it, and ate three of those giant cans they sell for making pie.

Breedale said...

I must go make a pumpkin milkshake after reading this! I concur on all of the above. You are absolutely right on. We will have to have some sort of pumkin potluck before the season is over to see what other dishes we can create.

Maris said...

great pumpkin recipe ideas and adorable picture! :)

totally agree with you on pumpkin. it's a great ingredient and i love just about anything with pumpkin in it but on its own? blech!