Saturday, November 29, 2008

quick tip: pumpkins

Now that fall is blending into winter, it's definitely time to cook up any of those pumpkins we still have sitting around. We had two gigantic pumpkins this year. Due to their size, I procrastinated on cooking one of them for so long that it molded on the inside before I got to it. I realized, huge pumpkins are extremely intimidating! The logistics of getting it from doorstep to freezer aren't obvious for most of us.

So here is a tip for getting those plus-size pumpkins cooked up quickly:

• Set the pumpkin up outside (porch, sidewalk, front lawn) on the lid of a large plastic tote.

• Using the largest, sharpest knife available, cut the pumpkin into pieces approximately a foot long on each side. My husband used a machete for the job. A meat cleaver might work well.

• Don't worry about scraping out the seeds -- they are much easier to remove after the pumpkin is cooked.

• In your oven, set a baking dish with an inch or so of water at the very bottom. This will catch any pumpkin juices that fall plus give moisture to your oven.

• Put the pumpkin pieces straight onto the oven racks, skin side down of course, and bake for a couple hours at 325 until very soft. When you start to strongly smell them, they are probably done. Turn off the oven until they cool. (We left ours in overnight after turning off the oven & they were fine.)

• Now you can easily scrape off the seeds & separate the skin from the flesh. Load into plastic bags, label & freeze. Voila! Pumpkin pies, muffins & soup all winter long.

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