While today was nearly summerish here in New England - mid-70's and sunny - yesterday was cloudy, misty, cool, and later in the evening when the temperature crept up from the mid-50's to the 60's, a bit foggy. And I loved it! I love that first brisk fall day, when you walk outside, particularly if it's in the evening, and you get goosebumps. Funny thing about goosebumps - whether you get them from being chilly or being spooked, they leave you with the same feeling. Excited, on edge, a little uncomfortable and maybe a little giddy at the same time. You know, like how some people laugh when they're nervous? I love it.
And today I was just a bit spooked. Last night I was awoken a few times but the hooting of an owl. Owls are cool - I actually saw one perched on a tree branch at twilight once - but this time of year, with the chill in the air, scary movies on television and Halloween approaching, I remembered that owls can be a predictor of death.
So, to protect my family, my friends, my pets, I decided that perhaps a pumpkin sacrifice was in order. Besides, Lissaloo was looking for tips on making her own pumpkin puree...
(Insert scary psycho slasher sound effect here)
"EEEE! EEE! EEEEE!"
First, one must acquire one's victims..I mean, pumpkins! I picked up three sugar pumpkins today. These are the ones best suited for eating, in my opinion, although I have chopped up and roasted carving pumpkins. Just not the huge blue-ribbon, need-a-crane-to-lift pumpkins at the county fair. I just don't have the counter space for those.
Start by cutting them in half. I like to start at the top...
Next you clean out the entrails, I mean...well, yeah, entrails, but there's no blood. Save those precious seeds! We have plans for them later...Mwah-ha-ha-hahah!
When you've got them pretty much out, scrape the inside of the pumpkin cavity with a spoon - just to get the real tough stringy bits out. Don't work too hard though, because pumpkin flesh is pretty fibrous and stringy anyway.
Next, cut up the pumpkin into manageable pieces - I like them to cook a little quicker, so I cut them into a bout three or four inch chunks. You could actually just place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet. But you know how I love my knife...
Place them on a baking sheet, and sprinkle a little water over them - maybe like 1/4 cup for this whole sheet. Some people cover in foil to, in effect, steam the pumpkin. But this works too. You could also just boil the pumpkin, but you'll lose a lot of nutrients and flavor in the water.
I guess. I don't know, I just made that up, but it makes sense, don't it? Besides, roasting gives it such nice flavor.
Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle the pumpkin, then you'll want to remove the flesh from the skin. And as the saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a pumpkin! Scrape the flesh from the skin with a spoon...
(Blurry picture - use your imagination here!)
Some pieces you may find that you can peel the skin right off with your fingers. You decide what works best for you when you do yours.
And you should end up with this - this was one and a half pumpkins. I kept one half raw to use in a different recipe, and I made the third one watch the carnage. Mwah-ha-ha-haha!
Next, cut any big pieces into smaller chunks and toss into a food processor. Since we roasted, these pieced are a bit dried out, so we need to add some water - just enough to make the pumpkin into puree. I used 1/4 cup per batch, and this yielded three processing batches.
Puree for twenty seconds or so, scraping down the sides and/or adding more water if necessary, until you've reached the desired consistency.
Now, do I think there's anything wrong with the canned stuff?
Not really. I've used it many a time. But I think I do prefer the fresh kind. I just like the flavor better.
This freezes beautifully - in plastic zipper bags or if you have one, a Seal-A-Meal or Foodsaver kind of thing.
But I didn't do that today...I have big plans for my pumpkin puree!