I have been back in my "Down Home Folks Recipe Box" again. My recipe box is full of not just recipes, but memories also. The box has "memory notes" like of the days when Grandpa or Dad would take us little kids out to the pumpkin patch to find just the right pumpkins for those long awaited pumpkin pies that Grandma and Mama cooked. Yup! We learned early on that pumpkins are more than just Jack-O'-Lanterns. There are a lot of good recipes that use pumpkin.
Pumpkins have an honored place in folklore. The headless horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow hurls a pumpkin at Ichabod Crane. Cinderella rides in a pumpkin carriage. The favorite drink of the students at "Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" is pumpkin juice. Scarecrows have pumpkin heads. However, the best place for a pumpkin is in the kitchen, being turned into pie, bread, cookies, or lots of other good things by the magic of grandmothers.
A pumpkin is a squash -- and being a squash, it can be cooked like a squash. The best pumpkins for cooking are the small sugar pumpkins. A two to five pound, dark orange pumpkin is the kind to look for. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds with a large spoon. Place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Add 1/2" or so water to keep the pumpkin flesh moist. Bake at 450 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the skin.
When cool, scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the shell then puree it in a blender. For creamy smooth custards or soups it is a good idea to press the pumpkin puree through a sieve. This puree can be used right away, refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen for up to six months. Now, wait a minute -- do not throw out those pumpkin seeds! Pumpkin seeds make good and nutritious snacks. They have a lot of fiber in them.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Wash the seeds well by putting them in a colander and rinsing. Be sure to remove all the stringy parts from them. Pat the seeds dry. Season the seeds by tossing them first with a little cooking oil. Sprinkle on your choice of herbs or other seasoning, like cinnamon and cloves and mix well. Place seeds on a baking sheet making sure to separate them. Bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour, till crispy. Roasted pumpkin seeds can be eaten as snacks or tossed in a salad.
Here is a special recipe from my recipe box:
Cream Cheese Pumpkin Swirls
3/4 cup flour (all purpose)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 package cream cheese, 8 ounces, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch cookie sheet. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat eggs slightly and blend with pumpkin puree and lemon juice. Add liquids to dry mix and blend well. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes, until cake springs back when slightly touched with finger tip. Lay a damp linen towel on the counter and sprinkle with powered sugar. Carefully turn the cake onto the towel and roll the towel lengthwise with the cake inside. Let cake cool on rack.
Thoroughly blend cream cheese, butter, vanilla and one cup powered sugar with large wooden spoon.
Unroll cooled cake and spread icing on it. Immediately roll the cake back up by lifting the towel and gently moving the cake back into a roll. Do not roll the towel back into the cake. Wrap cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cake may be frozen for up to two weeks. Cut cake in 1/2 inch slices just before serving.
This is so good with a cup of hot coffee ("cuppa joe", as Grandpa used to say) or a glass of milk.
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