My aunt and uncle have been in the foreign service for almost 20 years. It is fun to hear about all the amazing places they have lived. But, it is also fun to see the perspective that the United States is a pretty amazing place too! Several years ago, they were "home" doing a training in Washington, D.C. before they went to their China post. We were living in the DC metro area at the same time, and we had such fun together as their youngest kids are the same age as our oldest ones. One autumn day we all went the pumpkin patch and I loved watching all 6 of their kids scout out their perfect pumpkin. As it was the first Halloween they had celebrated in the states in several years, my aunt planned a fall party and when we showed up, it was so festive! 8 big Jack-o-lanterns met us, carved into amazing faces. We also ate soup out of hollowed-out mini pumpkins on a table topped with black plastic bags and fall leaves. A few days later, they left for Bejing, but just before they went, my aunt told me to turn all the jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin bowls into puree. I had never heard of doing that before, but we did it, and we have done it every year since! And it was amazing! Here's how it is done:
- Wait to carve your pumpkin until no more than 3 or 4 days before Halloween. After it is carved, keep it in the fridge as much as possible.
- Cut up your Jack-o-lanterns and bake the pieces on a cookie sheet at 375* for an hour. Let it cool.
- Scoop pumpkin out of skins and puree with a blender (or mash with a potato masher) until smooth.
- Freeze 2 cups of pumpkin in ziplock bags (or process in jars using a pressure canner).
- Use your pumpkin to make pies, bread, muffins, pancakes, etc.
As an extra treat, make salted pumpkin seeds after you gut your pumpkin.
- Remove seeds from as much of the pumpkin strings as you can (sometimes rinsing the seeds helps).
- Spray a cookie sheet with baking spray and arrange seeds in a single layer. Spray the tops of the seeds with a light mist from the baking spray and sprinkle the seeds with salt.
- Bake at 400* until seeds are brown (anywhere from 5-20 min, depending on the size of the seeds).
I challenge you to use your Halloween pumpkin in a way you haven't before!