4 posts tagged with “pumpkin”

  • A sense of occasion: Pumpkin gnocchi with red Thai curry sauce

    I credit my daughter with much.

    She helped me get over my aversion to eating food covered in another person’s drool, for one.

    She’s also made Christmas more enjoyable for me, child of divorced parents, who for years wished the day could be wiped from the calendar so she could really enjoy peace this season.

    Still, even in my most ‘Bah humbug’ days, when I’d email my editor in July and beg him to make me work Christmas, I felt compelled to ensure others weren’t being short-changed of cheer. I put in the extra effort at the office potluck, making something I was sure my co-workers would enjoy rather than phone it in with a grocery store fruit tray. I’d bring coffee to the photographer who begged not to work Christmas but drew the short straw and did it anyway. And I’d sweat over every word when filing my stories about community dinners held for those who had limited options of what to eat and where to go during the holidays. Continue reading

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  • Peach Tree
  • BS Pie: How I’m coping with a surplus of butternut squash

    Butternut squash cheesecake. (Next on my to-do list: working on my pie slicing skills).

    There’s a reason why an old adage is… an old adage.

    It has stood the test of time because there’s more than a kernel of truth to such a saying.

    Take ‘Be careful what you wish for.’

    Turn the clock back nine months and I turned to Twitter to help me deal with the mounting problem of a never-ending pile of spaghetti squash I had accumulated from CSA deliveries. As I looked at the massive heap, it seemed like the least versatile squash ever and whatever was I going to do to squish my squash problem?

    I got some great suggestions — spaghetti squash ramen, anyone? — but I also found myself thinking, ‘If only they were butternut squash.’

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  • Peach Tree
  • Recipe for a family bond: An ode to a pumpkin

    I watched as my cousin walked up to the cashier, basket of groceries in one hand and a small orange pumpkin in the other.

    With room in the basket, it struck me how he separated the small orange squash with its lopsided bit of curled stem from the rest of the groceries.

    I also wondered what he would do with it. He had only a couple more days in Zweibrücken, where we both were at the time of the great pumpkin purchase, before he’d return to his reality in London. And I, along with my husband Steve, had only a couple days beyond that before we would also be bidding adieu to Germany.

    We were there together this fall on short notice. Members of my family came from respective corners of this country and that continent to say good-bye to the matriarch of the Mayer clan; a woman who is, without question, loved, though there have been moments when that wasn’t easy. She is admirable in many ways, and yet those same qualities we all grew to admire — and to which we credited her longevity — had once made her unbearable.

    Still, at 99 and three-quarter years, with a mind that could put most a third of her age to shame, and a stubbornness that convinced everyone she would outlive us all, my Oma was flagging. She was certain she was going to die and as she laid in a hospital bed, she begged for death to happen.

    It wasn’t my favourite trip to a place that I love and, in typical Oma Mayer fashion, she cheated death, though I know she was the only one disappointed.

    For most of the week we were there, there was a heaviness to the days — hours of which would be spent at the hospital with her. There was a hollowness to any laughter, a worry about what the next day would bring. It was hard to imagine a world without her.

    And then there was this pumpkin.

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  • Peach Tree
  • Pumpkin soup and the pipes to prove it


    I’m relieved that Halloween only comes once a year.

    I’ll be honest, I find carving a pumpkin to be a lot of work. Seriously, hacking into those thick-fleshed orbs works muscles I forget I have. Scraping out its guts? Ditto. I won’t even get into my lack of artistic skills that are pushed to the limits carving triangle eyes and a deliberately crooked smile that always comes out straight.

    Really, the work is in the cutting so I’m not sure why I thought the two-pound pumpkin that had taken up residence in my garage, rooming with what was once an entire community of spaghetti squash, would be any easier to dissect.

    But I did.

    ‘You’re not so big,’ I thought. ‘No way you can be as tough as those pulpy beasts I turn into — ahem — art for October 31. I can whip you into soup in no time.’

    Or you, dear pumpkin, can kick my butt. And with all the deference I can muster, I acknowledge you did just that, you small, but mighty, gourd.

    I’ve had plans for that pumpkin, which came in my winter CSA basket from Creek Shore Farms in Jordan weeks ago. Bread. Muffins. Pancakes. But after eating some thai sweet potato soup for lunch last week, I thought I’d put an exotic soupy spin on a rather plain pumpkin.

    It struck me as an even better idea to do this after coming home from a long day at the office, too. Soup would be simple. An easy meal of comfort food. And it was, save for the hour — 60 whole entire minutes — it took me to peel and chop my pumpkin into half-inch pieces.

    There’s a reason why I’ve always instinctively roasted squash before doing anything with them and on this night, I learned the hard way yet again that I should always trust my instincts. After all, roasting softens the flesh, making it easy to scoop out and soup-ify.

    Cutting up a raw pumpkin really is akin to a workout with a Schadenfruede of a personal trainer. Even with my sharpest, most favourite knife, it was a battle and my biceps throbbed. Though I prevailed, I think I may have acquired carpal tunnel syndrome in the process.

    Still, once I got that pumpkin, now in bits and pieces, into the soup pot, mixed it with coconut milk, dry roasted shallots and cilantro, the fight it put up getting there was but a bygone.

    As the sweet smell of the coconut milk, the earthiness of the pumpkin, the kick of the shallots and the perfumey cilantro floated through my kitchen, I swore I was inhaling the best smell ever invented. They should bottle this stuff, I thought, as I stirred and breathed deeply. If I hadn’t been so hungry, I could have hung my head over that soup pot all night.

    I couldn’t wait to eat this soup, though. The recipe called for some fish sauce to give it a salty boost. After a brief introduction to my hand blender, showing that pumpkin who was boss once and for all, my soup was ready to eat.

    It was creamy and mild — and missing something. Missing two things, actually.

    A shot of lime juice and sambal oelek did the trick, though the soup lost some of its pumpkinness in what was a delicious mix.

    As I lifted each spoonful to my mouth, enjoying each slurp, relishing my feat of strength, I mentally patted myself on the back.

    With arms that felt like jelly, I also had an a-ha moment about pumpkin.

    There’s a reason why you can buy this stuff in cans.

    Thai Pumpkin Soup

    Adapted from a recipe in Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

    Serves 4- 6

    4 shallots, dry roasted in a skillet, skins left on
    One small pumpkin (about 1.5 to 2 lbs), peeled and chopped into half-inch pieces (should come to about 5 cups)
    2 cups coconut milk
    1 cup cilantro, chopped and loosely packed
    2 cups of vegetable broth
    2 tbsp fish sauce
    1.5 tbsp lime juice
    1-2 tbsp sambal oelek/chili paste, depending on how much heat you like.

    To dry roast the shallots, heat a dry skillet over a medium-high burner. Add shallots, turning every few minutes to let skins char and blacken. Remove and set aside.

    In a pot, combine the pumpkin, shallots, coconut milk, broth and cilantro.Bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat until pumpkin is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

    Stir in fish sauce. Cook another three minutes. Remove from heat and puree. Add lime juice and sambal oelek.

    Mix well. Serve.

    Note: the leftovers are even better next day.

     

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