When I was growing up, my mom would always take my siblings and I around to different stores and pumpkin patches to find the perfect pumpkins. My brother was insistent he had the largest one. I wanted a big one, too, but I also looked for one that had limited blemishes. Once we each chose our pumpkin we would head home with our prizes. My mom would cover the kitchen table with newspapers and we would go to work gutting and carving. It was a complete mess, but somehow my mom managed to clean it all up and roast the pumpkin seeds.
Now I look back fondly on these times as I gut and carve up my own pumpkins. Only this time I’m not making faces or scary scenes, I’m carving it to be roasted and pureed. The seeds still get salted and toasted, but now (after a few smashed pumpkins from neighborhood kids) my pumpkins get roasted and pureed, then turned into delicious meals and sweets.
Currently, my favorite pumpkin treat, by far, is pumpkin butter. It is filled with all the best favors of fall and little chunks of pumpkin.* The best part is that when I smear it on my bagel in the morning I feel slightly better than when I use cream cheese, because at least I’m getting my vegetables (even if they are sweetened with brown sugar).
*If you use canned pumpkin puree it will not have little chunks, which is disappointing, but it’s still good. I recommend trying your hand at roasting and pureeing a pumpkin, but I understand if you don’t have time and reach for the canned.
Pumpkin Butteradapted from Smitten Kitchen** 3 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 29-oz can) 3/4 cup apple juice 2 teaspoons ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1 1/3 cups brown sugar 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Stir all the ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and them simmer for 30 minutes, until the butter thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature on bagels, breads, oatmeal, ice cream or anything else your heart desires.
**Smitten Kitchen gives directions for canning, but I find mine doesn’t last long enough to warrant canning. Also, I prefer to freeze it, because I don’t trust myself to can it properly.