Fairy Tales & Jack O’ Lanterns

Ancient history, to ghosts and goblins and even a fairy tale romance, pumpkins have a storied past. But when you think about pumpkins, you likely think of pumpkin pie with dollops of whipped cream at Thanksgiving. So for you, my go-to pumpkin pie recipe is coming up in this blog. But have you ever made pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies or toasted pumpkin seeds?

A fruit and member of the gourd family, the pumpkin can trace its origins back to between 5500 and 7000 B.C. in Mexico. The basics of pumpkin pie go back to Medieval times, when pumpkin was stewed with sugar and spices and wrapped in pastry. No fancy pie shells and cartons of whipping cream back then. No pumpkin-spice lattes either! Pumpkin is extraordinarily nutritious, loaded with beta carotene and other vitamins and a good source of dietary fibre.

Field pumpkins grow well with lots of sunshine, May to September, with minimal tending, which makes them a reliable crop with good return on investment. The stuff of fairy tales, these pumpkins look like strong contenders for Cinderella’s coach to me!

pumpkin field

Photo of pumpkin field on Vancouver Island, courtesy Nancy Dolan of Seaside Designs, Victoria.

No one knows exactly when the pumpkin became central to the Halloween theme, with grinning goblin and scary monster faces carved into its firm flesh.  What we do know is that Irish immigrants brought Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) to America during the 1800s. When these settlers arrived, they discovered that pumpkins make perfect lanterns to light their way. Today, pumpkin carving remains synonymous with Halloween. Luckily its insides can be turned into sumptuous servings of pumpkin pie. Here’s my fast and easy go-to recipe, using tinned pumpkin:

pumpkin pie

Easy Pumpkin Pie

9-inch pie crust (You’ll find my go-to pastry recipe on a previous blog called Romancing Rhubarb.
2 eggs
1 1/2 C tinned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 1/4 C light cream
1 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly; blend in pumpkin, cream, sugar & spices.

Pour into pie shell and bake at 425 degrees F for l5 mins. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake about 35 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

I watched a friend icing a delicious batch of Pumpkin Spice cookies a while back and decided I just had to make them this year! This is the recipe I chose from an online blog found at https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/iced-pumpkin-cookies.  My blogging buddy and I nearly ate them all today! Photo credit: Linda Tenney at EyesOnBC Magazine

Now back to that Pumpkin Soup recipe. As a nod to pumpkin history, I chose this recipe, from The Horizon Cook Book and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking through the Ages:

South American Pumpkin Soup

1 onion, diced
6 scallions, bulbs & greens sliced separately
5 C chicken broth
2 1/2 C pumpkin puree
salt & pepper
2 C light cream
Sliced tomatoes and whipped cream

Cook onions & scallion tops in chicken broth until soft. Remove, puree and return to broth. Stir in pumpkin puree and simmer until smooth and thickened – about 10 to l5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Chill. Stir in 2 cups light cream just before serving. Top with a slice of tomato, a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of sliced green scallion tops.  I did not test this recipe, but thought it an interesting excerpt from its source. But I would definitely serve it warm and omit the whipped cream.pumpkin seeds

If you make this or any other version of pumpkin soup, try toasting the seeds you remove when carving your pumpkin, and sprinkle as a tasty topping.  Here’s a great guide for toasting and flavouring them: My favourite is the garlic / chive version. https://www.101cookbooks.com/toasted-pumpkin-seeds

If you live in the mid Island, as we do, take a hayride to pick your pumpkin fresh from the field from the 40 varieties grown at McNabs Corn Maze on Yellow Point Road. http://mcnabscornmaze.com/

No worries about turning into a pumpkin at midnight!

pumpkin carving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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