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Saturday, January 1, 2011

...and on to the New

Some added comments to yesterday's post:

Pumpkin Seeds:

The method for roasting the pumpkin seeds may seem more cumbersome than the common approach to just rinse the seeds, coat with oil, and bake. The advantage to the brining is a much crunchier product and more even seasoning of the seeds.

Pumpkin Puree:

I neglected to weigh my pumpkin before roasting, so I can't give a good estimate of the ratio of uncooked pumpkin to pulp. However, as noted, I had paid less than $2 for the pumpkin, even as the price of canned pumpkin was well over $1 for the 15 ounce size. (There apparently was a significant pumpkin harvest shortfall in late 2009, so the price had jumped throughout all of 2010.) My pumpkin was "average" for the ones sold this fall; as seems typical here, pumpkins tend to be sold per fruit rather than by the pound.

What did I get for my $1.88? Eight cups of pumpkin puree and 2 1/2 cups of roasted pumpkin seeds. A good reminder to me to shop for pie pumpkins again next year, since they are so easy to prepare and can be frozen for ready use in recipes.

And how do I plan to use this pumpkin? Some will be frozen in half cup packages for adding to spaghetti sauce, chili, etc.--just as I use pureed squash, for adding to the nutrient load and building some added depth to the overall flavor.

There will also be some frozen in one cup portions for desserts. My August 24, 2009 post on this blog includes a recipe for a pumpkin apple upside down cake that makes a spectacular fall dessert. However, my personal, preferred dessert approach is pumpkin pudding, which is really just your favorite pumpkin pie filling poured into a pie plate or casserole dish and baked without any crust. Same great flavor but without the extra calories of the pastry.

If you are an ice cream lover, you can also take your favorite pumpkin pie filling recipe, omit the eggs, cut the milk in half (or omit completely), double the spices, and stir into about an equal amount of softened vanilla ice cream. Refreeze and enjoy at any season, not just when pumpkin pie ice cream might possibly be available. (You can choose to stir the pumpkin and ice cream together thoroughly for a solid effect or only marble the filling into the ice cream.)

The recipe I use as a basis for pumpkin pie, pumpkin pudding, or pumpkin ice cream is essentially the "Libby's Classic Pumpkin Pie" that you will find all over the internet--as well as on the side of Libby's pumpkin. I will admit to a couple of adjustments: the original recipe calls for 1/2 t salt, which I omit, and I often shake the cinnamon and ginger into the filling a little more generously than called for. Other than that, I try to actually follow this recipe!

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 c pumpkin, either canned or prepared at home
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t cloves
1 2/3 c evaporated milk ( 12 oz can)

Combine all ingredients, beating to be sure everything is well blended. If making a pie, place in a 9 inch prepared pie shell. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake 45 more minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


I am also going to include a recipe that I have not personally tested, since it comes highly recommended by my daughter and is one that my sister Linda made often when her kids were growing up. Looking at the amount of sugar in the recipe, it is clear that these are the kind of muffins that should be for dessert, not as a bread side--but then, that seems to be what all muffins are now. I think I'm showing my age when I say that the muffins I learned how to make in home ec class years ago were all pretty plain, usually intended as a base for some butter and homemade jams and jellies.

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

2 1/2 c flour
2 c sugar
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 eggs
1 c solid pack pumpkin
1/2 c oil
2 c finely chopped apple

Streusel Topping
2 T flour
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
4 t butter

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the eggs, pumpkin and oil and add to the flour mixture, stirring gently until just moistened--do not overbeat. Fold in the apples.

Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Sprinkle with Streusel Topping and bake for 35 to 40 minutes for large muffins, a little less for medium muffins. Makes 6 giant muffins, 9 to 12 medium muffins.

Streusel Topping
Combine flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.


And finally,

Black-eyed Peas

I started my New Year's with black-eyed peas, but not in the way I had initially planned. I decided to try a bowl of them for breakfast with only a scoop of good salsa over the top. My fears about these being too strong-flavored were instantly gone, as I found the flavor of this combination perfect as a savory start to the day and the new year.

An aside:
I had prepared the peas by soaking in salt water and then rinsing that off before cooking, and the final product didn't need any salt at all. I had written about this approach in an earlier blog but hadn't tried it until now--I would always forget and just start soaking beans, not thinking of the salting step until too late. I'd love to find a site that may have scientifically checked the sodium levels of beans prepared this way.

But back to the black-eyed peas. I decided to go for a kind of wintery salad mix instead of making a vegetarian version of Hoppin' John or anything similar, pulling out things already in the cupboard and produce drawer.

New Year's Salad

1 c cubed sweet potato (1 medium)
4 c cooked black-eyed peas, drained (probably two cans if you are not using those prepared yourself)
1 c coarsely chopped orange bell pepper (l large)
1/2 c chopped red onion (1/2 medium)
3/4 c diced celery
4 oz can diced green chiles; do not drain
1 c frozen corn
1/3 to 1/2 c chopped cilantro, or more to taste
3 T olive oil
2 T balsamic or cider vinegar--or a mixture
2 t cumin
1 t dried basil
2 to 3 T sugar, to taste
seasoning salt and black pepper to taste

Place the sweet potato cubes in a covered container with about a teaspoon of water and microwave for about 2 to 3 minutes until just tender.

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl and toss to mix well. Allow to marinate a few hours, taste for seasoning, and serve.

Not sure about any good luck this will bring, but it certainly does add a lot of flavor to any foods with which it is served!

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