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Friday, October 21. 2022
For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Pilgrim verse, circa 1633
Pumpkins are just one variety of winter squash. Winter Squash have the virtues of being harvested in the fall, and easily storable for keeping through the winter in a root cellar as long as they do not freeze. All winter squash (Butternut, Acorn, etc) taste pretty similar and are more or less interchangeable in recipes.
Winter Squash, along with string beans, maize (which we call "corn" in the US, and many other foods like peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes) were first genetically modified for agriculture by American Indians.
Eastern Indians had large fields in which they grew winter squash, maize, and beans (which climbed up the corn stalks) together. In fact, one of the reasons the Pilgrims decided to stay in Plymouth was for the 50-acre and 100-acre planting fields that the Indians (recently dead probably from European diseases brought in by explorers and fishermen) had prepared there.
The Pumpkin of the Americas quickly became a popular crop in many parts of the world. Our Philippino nanny rarely made a Phillipino stew without pumpkin chunks in it. (Loved that Oxtail stew with peanut sauce, potato, and pumpkin, or her winter squash and string bean stew with coconut milk plus some shrimp or chicken chunks.) And people who have read Alexander McCall Smith's series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, know how popular pumpkin became in the African diet. As for Pumpkin pasta recipes, there are tons of them.
Here's 41 Yummy Pumpkin Recipes.
Mashed pumpkin with salt, pepper and butter is great. Same with steamed pumpkin chunks. A little chopped fresh Sage is good with them. Never boil winter squash. Steam or roast, or it will get too soggy.
As for the olde standbys, Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Soup, those are OK too but the spices tend to obscure the subtle flavors of the winter squashes used. (Re Pumpkin Pie, the Maggie's Farm advice is to go very light on the sugar, and serve with a spoonful of whipped cream, then drizzled with 100% Maple Syrup.)
Megan McArdle wrote this: Yes, Some of US Really Like Pumpkin
Kenyan Pumpkin Curry Recipe
EAST AFRICAN PUMPKIN STEW
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I love the look of pumpkins, and carving them, but Waltham Butternut are easier to grow (less susceptible to squash borers, squash bugs, cucumber beetles, powdery mildew) and a prettier deep orange flesh which is less watery and not at all stringy. Also, butternut is naturally sweet so needs little sweetener. Only drawback --no yummy pumpkin seeds. I WISH I cd find a pest resistant pumpkin with good seeds as well as edible flesh.
We serve butternut squash as a vitamin rich starch w dinner (tastier than rice or pasta). Also squash and ginger garlic soup in a chicken stock base.
Pumpkin and squash are good for thickening pasta sauce, curry or beef gravy. My dog loves the scraped out squash skins and bits of squash. Squash thickens apple pie juices more tasty and nutritiously than corn syrup.
You can make mangoes stretch further when making chutney w pumpkin added. I use the leftover heel of a butternut squash to make squash muffins for breakfast.
Babies really love squash. I l love squash.
pumpkin (and other winter squash) is great in that it can be served sweet or savory - as you suggest with just butter, salt, and pepper as a side dish or a savory soup for a main dish or with brown sugar and spices or maple syrup for dessert. Not too many other foods can do that.
One time my vegetarian cousin cooked a pot of beans with a winter squash which was very tasty. Probably butternut.
I threw our Halloween pumpkin, uncut, onto the compost pile last winter.
What did I get but dozens of pumpkin seedlings in the Spring. Culled them but not enough as I'm overrun with vines.
Thanks to your "fried squash blossom" post I'm trying to grow squash & eggplant & pumpkins. We'll see. My late second wife could grow grass on concrete- I have trouble with simple wildflowers.
I have no idea why I was blocked for years from your comments & suddenly can, but it is welcome....
On tip which another reader passed on to me was that if you have an embedded link, to write some words after the link. If the embedded link is at the end of your comment, the spam blocker will kick in.
I recently found a recipe for sage pesto that is absolutely wonderful with pumpkin. It freezes well and I've got lots of fresh sage now, so I put a few batches up this week.
Our house had a large and dark basement. One whole corner of it had a dirt floor, kinda sandy. My father would put bushels of apples at one end. Burlap sacks of potatoes at the other. Rutabagas, carrots and beets next to the potatoes. Squash and pumpkins between the apples and beets. Home brewed beer and rootbeer inbetween where there was room. One of the jobs I hated was to pick through once a week or so to find spoiled food. Bt my favorite job was to go down and pick up whatever vegetables my mother was going to have for supper. No shelves or separate room just sacks boxes and what not laying on the bare ground. By April the Apples looked wrinkled and pruney and the potatoes had eyes growing an inch or two. The hard squashes were still solid, the rutabagas long gone and pumpkins gone by January. Beets did OK but sometimes you would have to pul off the dead leaves and such if they were still on there. The beer and rootbeer would disappear monthly.
There's a Thai restaurant near me that serves a great pumpkin curry most of the year. I'm not sure whether it is actually pumpkin or some other variety of winter squash, as there's often a tiny bit of greenish rind remaining on some of the pumpkin chunks.
I like Retriever's comments above about butternut. I actually prefer substituting fresh butternut squash for pumpkin in recipes if I have it available and if I have the time to prepare it.
This also reminds me of one of my favorite winter squash recipes I've tried in recent years, though, and that was when I found a recipe about five years ago for making a pie with acorn squash instead of pumpkin and with apples instead of a crust. The website with the link doesn't seem to be cooperating today, but here is a link to the recipe via the Internet Archive.
I'd try that. Haven't found any other way they can be made palatable.
Moroccan pumpkin stew with tomatoes and chickpeas and the whole suite of Moroccan spices is great stuff. Also a simple pumpkin soup with roasted chunks, onions, coconut milk, maybe some carrots, and any one of a number of Indonesian sambals for flavoring.
Funny the Indians never get blamed for introducing tobacco to Europeans.
Don't discard the seeds!
Collect and clean them, sort of, no water or washing. Lightly coat with oil, i prefer evoo, and salt. Bake at low temp. Cool and store. Great snack food.
Pumpkin is widely used in many pot-dishes as a staple vegetable in the Caribbean nation. They call it 'pumpkin' but it's really a tannish-colored winter squash. It's very sweet & tasty in calla-loo, and also used in stewed beef or chicken. Adds a nice flavor and consistency!
Roasted pumpkin seeds are a favorite and pumpkin spice is good all year on top of a dollop of whipped cream with coffee.
The South Texas "calabaza con pollo" for another winter squash dish and "calabacitas con puerco" when the chicken is all gone. A good recipe for a tough old gobbler as well.
In the Caribbean what they call 'pumpkin' is actually calabasa squash - which looks a lot like a pale-ish, pinkish pumpkin. It's a staple, found cut up into sections and shrink-wrapped in the produce section.
It's used for stewed beef, callaloo, curries, and many other dishes. And it's yummy.
I don't know if this is true for pumpkins. A friend of ours has a wonderfully dry and perfect-temperature cellar. Stored several squashes in there until late winter. They weighed about 5 pounds each. When she retrieved them from the cellar they were very lightweight. The cellar is TOO dry and the squash lost all their moisture. I had never thought it possible for a cellar to be TOO dry.
Pumpkin stew figures prominently in the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency' series of novels.
Pumpkin should be considered a breakfast food according to my son, who would eat it every morning---if someone would please make several pumpkin pies every week. Best served with whipped cream and black coffee.