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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Cooking > Fruits & Vegetables

A pumpkin patch of tidbits, tips and recipes!
by Faith Heinauer

When the Colonists first came to North America, they discovered the Native Americans growing and using pumpkins. The pumpkin was wholeheartedly embraced and later became a Thanksgiving tradition.

The pumpkin is a member of the gourd family, which also includes watermelon and squash. It has an orange flesh, with a mild and sweet flavor. Fresh pumpkins are available in the fall and winter. Choose pumpkins that are free from blemishes and heavy for their size.

Some Other Pumpkin Tidbits:

Last years world record for pumpkin weight was 1,262 pounds!

Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A and potassium. They are also high in fiber.

Pumpkins were once recommended as a cure for freckles and as a remedy for snakebites.

Some pumpkin carving tips:

  • Use an ice-cream scoop to clean out your pumpkin.

  • Coat the cut surfaces and inside of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly immediately after cutting. The petroleum jelly acts as a barrier to seal in moisture.

  • If the pumpkin shrivels, it can usually be restored back to the original condition by soaking it in cold water overnight.

  • Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice in the Jack O' Lantern to give it a spicy, seasonal scent.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoon melted butter or oil
  • salt to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Clean off any major pumpkin fibers and strings.
  3. Toss seeds in a bowl with melted butter or oil, and seasonings of your choice.
  4. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

This savory, creamy light soup has a little heat and a little hint of sweetness. For an extra gourdtouch, serve the soup out of small hollowed-out pumpkins.

  • large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 - 29 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 4 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
  • 1 cup water *
  • 1 Tablespoon curry
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dashes nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

  2. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, water, curry, brown sugar, cumin, pepper, salt and nutmeg (everything else but the thyme). Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Transfer the vegetable soup to a blender (working in batches) and puree until smooth. Add the thyme and taste for additional seasoning.

  4. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
* May need to thin out the soup with additional water (especially when re-heating).

Pumpkin Fudge

Enjoy sweet bites of soft and creamy pumpkin fudge that is lightly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. This fudge makes of oodles of candy. Share the sweets! Place the fudge in small plastic bags and wrap with orange ribbon. If desired, gently press a pecan half or candy corn on each square of fudge.

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 1 -5 1/3 oz. can (2/3 cup) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 -12 oz. package butterscotch morsels
  • 1 7 oz. jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Butter a 13 x 9-inch pan.

  2. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter, milk, pumpkin and spice.

  3. Cook over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture reaches 234°, about 15 - 20 minutes. (The mixture MUST reach 234°. It is the Soft Ball stage of candy, and needs to reach that heat for the candy to set up.)

  4. Remove from heat; quickly stir in butterscotch morsels, marshmallow crème, nuts and vanilla. Mix until well blended.

  5. Quickly pour into greased pan and spread evenly.

  6. Cool and cut into little squares.

  7. Seal the candy in an airtight container and keep it at room temperature for up to two weeks.
A candy thermometer is a must with this recipe! It is a cheap baking tool that you can find in most grocery stores (trust me, you'll end up using the thermometer for more than candy recipes). This recipe is great to make with a friend, but can definitely be made solo.

Faith Heinauer is a chef, cookbook author, columnist, and the creative force behind her website, Break Eggs.

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