1000 x 90

Pumpkin Spice, So Nice – and It’s Everywhere!

By Sherrie Norris

I don’t know of another seasonal food item that has created quite the frenzy as has the pumpkin. Or should we say the pumpkin spice? It’s everywhere and on business marquees that would normally not have pumpkin in their ads. But, for some reason, pumpkin spice has become quite the phenomena and for the next couple of months will be seen and heard far and wide. I don’t mind a few pumpkins for decoration this time of year, and I certainly enjoy my share of pumpkin pie around Thanksgiving, but I’m not sure I understand the fanfare related to the spice of it all.

I’m not going to rain on anyone’s pumpkin parade, so we’ll carry on with a bit of background on the big orange gourd/squash relative and see what we can add to its growing popularity.

One thing for sure, when we start seeing pumpkins coming out of the fields and finding their way to roadside stands and in the grocery stores, we know that autumn has arrived or is on its way.

The pumpkin gets its name from the French word “pompion” and the Greek word “pepon” meaning “cooked by the sun.”

The stringy flesh of the pumpkin can be used in many recipes and is often compatible with those calling for winter squash. Indigenous to the United States, the pumpkin’s origin is thought to have come from Native Americans who used it as a staple food item hundreds of years ago. Often associated with the traditional first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims, pumpkin has always been a popular holiday side-dish, whether as a dessert, soup, bread or pudding.

Many people who buy pumpkins during October to use as decorations and eventually, Jack-o’-lanterns, overlook the food value of this versatile product, failing to realize they are loaded with vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, iron and beta-carotene. 

When choosing your pumpkins this year, look beyond the surface and compare your life to that of the lady who said her new life as a Christian is like a pumpkin: “God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off that you may have gotten from laying around with the other dirty pumpkins. He digs down deep inside of you, getting to he heart of the matter, and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. He then carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.” If that’s the case, I don’t mind being called a pumpkin. How about you? 

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

(A healthy, inexpensive snack)

Remove seeds from pumpkin, clean and remove all fibers. Add 1½  Tbsp. cooking oil to every two cups of seeds. Spread in a shallow baking pan and bake at 325-degreees F until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally; lightly salt after toasting.

Turn them into “seasoned seeds” by sprinkling with onion salt, garlic salt or ¾ tsp. chili powder mixed with ¾ tsp. salt.  

Pumpkin Loaf 

 Makes two 9×5-inch loaves

2 cups packed light brown sugar

2 cups margarine or butter

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. salt

6 large eggs

1 can pumpkin (16-oz.)

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 Tbsp. orange juice (optional) 

Preheat oven to 325. Grease two 9 x 5″ loaf pans. In large bowl with mixer at low speed, beat brown sugar and margarine or butter just until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, eggs and pumpkin; beat until well mixed, scraping bowl frequently with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high; beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Spoon batter into pans. Bake loaves 70-75 min. until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaves in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans and finish cooling on racks. 

Nutty Pumpkin Dessert

1 lg. can or about 1 qt. cooked pumpkin

1 can evaporated milk

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 yellow cake mix

1 cup chopped nuts

2 sticks melted margarine or butter

Place first 5 ingredients in bowl and mix well. Pour into 9 x 13-inch baking pan or dish. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over cake mix. Spoon melted butter over nuts and cake mix. Bake in 350-degree oven about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Toothpick will come out clean when done.

Easy Pumpkin Spread

(Enough to share)

3 cans (15 oz. each) pumpkin

2 cups sugar

1 ½ cups water

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest

3 tsp. ground cinnamon

¾  tsp. salt

¾ tsp. ground nutmeg

¾ tsp. ground ginger

 In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Cool. Spoon into jars. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Frost On the Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin or 1½ to 2 cups fresh, cooked pumpkin

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

2 cups plain flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. soda

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. ginger

Mix first four ingredients in large bowl: Sift dry ingredients and stir into pumpkin mixture. Mix well and pour into greased and floured 12 x 18-inch pan for bars. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes.

The “Frosting”

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

¾ stick margarine or butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix well and top cooled bars.

Pumpkin Soup

2 lb. fresh pumpkin, peeled, cut into chunks, seeds removed

3 cups milk or half-and-half, scalded

1 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Steam fresh pumpkin until tender; mash or puree. Stir into  hot milk; stir in the remaining ingredients. Heat through and serve immediately.