I'm going with Anticipation, and I'm going to give you something a bit different this week.
I offer the following in response: Autumn Means Pumpkins!
I have been sitting on edge for the last few weeks. Autumn is a season of preparation. We anticipate winter’s approach like loyal subjects for their queen, festooning trees with brightly hued leaves of gold and rust. The world seems to me like a child that cannot sit still at the midnight hour in wait for Saint Nick, watching the starry skies through frost covered windows, afraid to sleep because it might miss something.
For me, the wait begins with the planting of the pumpkin vine. I’m a bit obsessed with pumpkins, mostly because they each have their own personality, with warts and scars and farmer tans from sitting on the ground too long during their development. When no one is watching, I hug them.
Who am I kidding? I hug them even when people are watching. Don’t judge me. I never said I was normal.
Anyway, I thought I’d share the reason why I’m hovering over my pumpkin vines in wait for their perfect orange fruit. The following is my absolute favorite pumpkin recipe.
AKA: Baked Whole Pumpkin
Variations of this dish has been around at least since the colonies were established in the Americas, and was a known favorite of our founding fathers. George Washington himself was especially partial to Pumpkin Pie and requested it often from his own kitchen. Of course, the concept of pie has evolved over the centuries, from the waste not/want not use of yesteryear leftovers to the flaky crust and sweet fillings that we all know pie to be today.
For a very special holiday pumpkin dessert, give this flashback a shot:
WARNING: This is not for anyone on any form of diet for any reason. If you or someone you serve develops heart disease, diabetes, or other dietary malfunction, DO NOT BLAME ME. It is solely your responsibility to ascertain if you or those you serve are healthy enough to partake of this dish.
Now that the public service announcement has been issued, let’s begin.
Preheat the oven to 350*
Gather the ingredients:
· A small pumpkin, 3 or 4 pounds, guts removed
· 3 whole eggs
· 1 cup heavy whipping cream
· ¼ cup brown sugar
· ½ Tbsp molasses
· ¼ tsp nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
· ½ tsp cinnamon
· ¼ tsp ginger
· Fresh Vanilla bean, scraped, or a few drops of extract, to taste
· 1 Tbsp butter (real butter please, no skimping)
After guts have been removed from the pumpkin, mix all remaining ingredients except the butter and fill the pumpkin with the mixture. Top the mixture with the butter. Place the top back on the pumpkin and place in an oven-safe dish (this is to keep leakages from spilling out into the oven) and bake for 1-1 ½ hrs or until the mixture as set like a custard.
If you can wait for the pumpkin to cool before serving, you win bragging rights for self-control. While amazing at cool, this pumpkin is positively sinful while hot. Serve from the pumpkin directly at the table, scraping the pumpkin meat off with each scoop of the custard. Family style suggestion: hand everyone a spoon and announce “dig in”.
For those of you who are trying to do the vegan thing, some friends have suggested that cream of coconut works for the whipping cream, but I have no idea what to do about the eggs. You guys are on your own, but I wish you the best of luck.