P-p-p-pumpkin

Where did we get the name pumpkin, when the genus name for it is cucurbita? Wikipedia says the Greek word for it is pepon. The French called it a pompon. The name pumpkin came from our own North American colonists. I like to imagine them, hungry and lean, making the most of their scarce resources as a cold winter set in…then seeing the whopping big, colorful fruits growing unmolested in a dark, bare field…MMMM! Food! Big food!

Slimy fibrous seed cavity dissected and laid open

Oh, it’s one of the grossest vegetarian things to do as a pastime, slicing open a pumpkin. It reminds me of a u…u…never mind, I can’t say it.  Lots of people just cut on them to make grotesque jack-o-lanterns, then throw the beaten, sliced and diced, candle wax-burned carcass away.  Almost every year though, I try to put aside my feelings of utter revulsion and process one myself and put it in the freezer and savor its outrageous nutrition, straight from the earth to me.

Grayzie smells something fruity

The cats had to jump up and see what was going on with this giant fruit, the same color as their holy grail favorite, cantaloupe. It turned out to be not the same for them. I gave them some catnip-flavored cat treats and they stopped bothering me for a while though.

feline foragers

The Ball Blue book recommends freezing pumpkin flesh rather than canning it. So I steamed a bunch of the pumpkin chunks, and I also roasted a small batch to see if they might do for some recipes later on. Then, when they were fork tender, I peeled the rind off and slid the chunks into freezer bags. I also roasted the seeds, picked clean of their slimy fibrous entrails, sprayed with canola oil cooking spray and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

freezer ready

roasted salted and peppered seeds

Just a little research shows pumpkin and seeds and oil from the seeds to be loaded with nutrition: fiber, vitamins, minerals. So incredibly good!

It doesn’t take long to roast the seeds, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Steaming the pumpkin flesh takes a good while, depending on the size of your steamer and the size of the pompon. Huge=a long time in the kitchen.

 

 

 

And the final result of all this work is the pumpkin bread. You may want to puree the pumpkin before putting it in bread or a pie, in case there are some stringy parts. I’ve found the home-processed pumpkin to be a bit more yellow than the darkish orange Libby’s in the can.

in the pan

pumpkin bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another 20 lbs of Pears

We took Owen and Paula out to Billy Allen’s farm so they could see his set-up and because they are interested in what he’s doing with Velvet Beans, hailed as “green manure” in Central America.  None of us were disappointed as we walked along, viewing scenes of the various projects Billy is pulling off: crop production,  chickens,  ducks,  goats,  cane,  solar hot water, tuning up mechanical engines that run 40 or more miles to the gallon of diesel, and so much more.

When we left I had another 20 lbs of pears in the rucksack, and I promised Billy I wouldn’t let them go to waste.

I discovered from Billy that of his four or five pear trees, he has varieties of Baldwin, Kieffer, and Pineapple pears. The Kieffer pear, I found out from the Internet, is a cross between the Asian pear and the European pear, and was cultivated in Pennsylvania in the 1700’s or 1800’s.  These are sometimes referred to as Sand Pears here in Florida. These varieties are hardy against fireblight, and are some of the few varieties that grow well in the south. The Pineapple pears are softer, I think, and tastier fresh than the hard but hardy Baldwins, which the lore says are better-tasting when cooked and bottled.  Even if you don’t like them a lot,  look at what great nutrition they provide! Nature’s fast food; pick and eat, and you will survive another day and wonder how you got so fortunate!

One pear per pint? Wow.

L - R: Pint jar, Kieffer, Baldwin

Pineapple pears in front

Florida Pears

I neglected to transfer over my previous blog entries before I deleted the blog, but I thought the Pears entries were worth preserving! The story, briefly, is that Billy Allen gave us at least 40 lbs. of good old hard Florida organic pears from the trees on his farm near Gainesville, and I was interested in making sure this incredible harvest didn’t go to waste! As you can see by the photo on the right, some of the pears were huge! Florida pears,  in my experience,  have the reputation of being hard as rocks,  and tasteless.  I found out, through the process, that the bad rep was for the most part, undeserved! At some point, they ripen and can be eaten fresh with no regrets! And if cooked while still on the verge of ripeness, they soften up,  sure enough!  I wanted to be sure I got some recipes that used authentic

Florida pears, not the soft and fragrant Bartlett or D’anjous, so I went to the old Ward Cookbook from the 1980’s and found Lee Weaver’s recipe for Pear Mince. On the way, I found an old recipe from Joan Stewart, for Applesauce Raisin Bread. The spooky coincidence here is that on the same page as Joan Stewart’s recipe, was another recipe right below it,  for “Joan Howell’s Best Ever White Bread.”  Who knew, that 20 years later,  Joan Stewart would remarry and her name would be Joan Howell?

 

Page from the Ocala Ward Cookbook, ca 1987

 

 

Nice recipe, lots of fiber, and used up some pears

 

 

Grayzie, desparate for pear-flesh

 

While I was in the kitchen, Grayzie bugged me non-stop for fruit samples. Grayzie and Bob, who are descended from lab animals, are obsessed with fruit.  I ended up with some pear butter, which is very sugary for my taste, but I can put it in

 

Pear Butter recipe from the Ball Blue Book

 

bread or cake, as in Joan Stewart’s bread recipe.  Then I also canned some of Lee Weaver’s Pear Mince for future holiday pies, and some Pears in White Grape Juice from the Ball Blue Book. Thank you Billy Allen,  for the pears!  How lucky can we get;  free food!

 

I did offload some of these to family members at the reunion we had with Owen and Paula and David

 

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