It’s the Great Pumpkin!

I have never baked a jack-o-lantern pumpkin before last week. I took a moment wondering why and quickly remembered that the inside usually gets yucky after spending an evening or two, carved and stuffed with a candle burning inside of it all evening. So the sad fact that I didn’t get to carve my pumpkin this Halloween turned into a great thing as I got to roast one for the first time! The process took a little bit of time but it was oh-so-very worth it! On Monday evening (last week), I cut the pumpkin open, removed the yucky and sliced it up. I baked it in the oven, face down, for one hour or so, basically until it was soft when I poked it with a fork. I was supposed to put olive oil, salt and pepper but I totally forgot. It turned out good nonetheless. After letting it cool for a bit, I removed the skin and chopped the pumpkin into smaller chunks. I refrigerated it overnight in a big bowl and by the next day, I removed all the liquid that had accumulated at the bottom of the bowl. If I were planning to make a pie, I would have cared more about removing the extra liquid but as I was planning otherwise, it wasn’t necessary.

On Tuesday, I made a pumpkin curry. As usual, I only call this a curry because it has coconut milk but I don’t pretend to really know how to make anything authentic. It’s improvisation at its best. I also made a batch of naan bread from Budget Bytes. The curry turned out to be a mixture of what I had in the fridge: onions, red cabbage, kale, Indian pepper (that grew on our little plant!), and, of course, pumpkin chunks! With the coconut milk and a bunch of spices (cinnamon, cumin, sea salt, pepper), it turned out delicious, although slightly on the spicy side for my taste. I was planning on freezing half of it but my friend who was hosting our November book club meeting asked if I could bring the leftovers for her Indian “Namesake”-inspired meal. The dish got great reviews which was a nice relief as I always worried that I might be the only one enjoying my culinary experiments.

On Wednesday, I made a potage with the leftover pumpkin. I got out the amazing cast-iron crock-pot that my mom gave me last year and finally put it to good use. I filled the crock-pot with potatoes, leek, carrots and pumpkin. I added some homemade chicken broth and some spices (fairly similar to what I put in the curry, with a few additions including curry powder…the rest was really a matter of tasting and adjusting). I cooked it all for an hour or so, basically until the vegetables had softened up. I whipped out my beloved immersion blender, added some light cream (and then later a little bit of fat free milk) to the crock-pot and blended it all together until it was nice and smooth. I had some of the leftover naan bread with it and couldn’t have asked for an easier and tastier lunch. Over the weekend, I made a loaf of Irish soda bread (with added spinach) that we ate with the leftover potage.

With Thanksgiving coming up in two days, I’m glad I got all that pumpkin fever out of my system. All in all, I think this fall season, despite my lack of time due to school work was very successful in terms of trying new recipes.

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