Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers! Whether you'll be traveling like us or staying home, whether you'll be at a big gathering or with just a few friends or family members, there are a few dishes that just make it feel like Thanksgiving. Most people would agree that a pumpkin pie is one of them. Here at You Can't Eat a Lawn world headquarters, we were put in charge of that very pie for one of our families' feasts. Naturally, we started out the same way everyone does:
What? You mean everyone doesn't make a pumpkin pie from a whole pumpkin?? Okay, okay, we know the ubiquitous cans of Libby's pumpkin are really handy, and we have made our fair share of pumpkin dishes in that way. But here in Iowa (and the Midwest), there are so many places where you can get a whole pumpkin fresh off the vine, grown by a local farmer. In fact, we got our little pie pumpkin at a lovely pick-your-own patch called Wills Family Orchard, just a short drive from our house.
The Wills Family grows a whole variety of pie pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, squashes and gourds. We picked up a couple of jack-o-lanterns for carving, but we made sure to buy one pie pumpkin for baking. In theory you could use a jack-o-lantern for pie, but it doesn't really have the right qualities. Jack-o-lanterns are bred to be larger, with thin walls for easy carving. That means not much flesh for a pie. A pie pumpkin wouldn't impress sitting on your front porch, but it'll make a great pie.
So, once you've got a pie pumpkin, then what? It's actually really easy! First, cut it in half and remove the seeds and stringy guts. Be very careful when cutting, since the skins are quite tough and your knife can end up slipping. We use a very sharp knife and wear a cut resistant glove, just in case. Once you've got the pumpkin cut open, it'll look like this:
We placed the halves, cut side down, in a 9x13 baking dish, tented with foil over the top. They went into a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes, by which time the flesh had softened up noticeably. You can really tell that it's done by poking around various spots with a fork. When it pierces the flesh easily, the pumpkin is done. As this picture shows, it may not look much different, so you'll have to go by feel.
Next we scooped the flesh away from the skin. The cooked pumpkin is really soft, and it should be quite easy to scoop out with a spoon. We placed all of the cooked pumpkin directly into a blender and pureed it until it was silky smooth.
And honestly, that's about all there is to it! This puree in the blender can be used just like the canned stuff you buy in the store. But you have the added bonus that it was grown locally this season, probably by a small family farmer. You can use this in any recipe you like; we opted to make our pie using a recipe from the always-helpful Pickyourown.org. When it came out of the oven it looked like this:
Tempted though we are, we dare not cut into this pie until the feast tomorrow. If you can judge it by aroma alone, this is sure to be a delicious dessert. It may have been a little more initial effort than simply opening a can, but we're sure it will be worth it.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!