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Cooks' Exchange: October is the perfect time for pumpkin recipes

Cooks' Exchange: October is the perfect time for pumpkin recipes

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Perhaps you’ve seldom given thought to how fortunate we are to have favorite ingredients within reach to prepare and enjoy during certain times of the year.

Four Midwest seasons of favorite recipes become reminders to celebrate in delicious fashion and what this weekly column is all about.

My Madison friend, the late Jerry Minnick, was the proud author of five books on plants, gardening and soil biology including “The Wisconsin Garden Guide” published in 1982. As former editor of Organic Gardening, he also contributed to numerous newspapers and magazines including Wisconsin Trails and served as general editor of The Wisconsin Almanac published in 1989.

Sensing a need to learn even more than October’s history, gardens and creatures of ghosts, goblins, and jack-o-lanterns, the almanac also guides me through the month with temperatures and what it provides from gardens, crops, trees, plants, bushes, branches, stems, rivers, lakes and streams along with many other cookbooks.

Here is just one recipe, labeled “excellent” and made available many years ago by the John Hancock Inn, Hancock, New Hampshire, in “America’s Country Inn Cookbook.”

Daniel’s Pumpkin Bread

1½ cups granulated sugar

1½ cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup oil

3 eggs

16-ounce canned pumpkin

3 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoon ground cloves

1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup raisins, chopped dates or walnuts

Combine sugars and oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add pumpkin, mixing well. Combine flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to sugar-pumpkin mixture. Stir in fruit or nuts. Pour into two greased 9x5-inch loaf pans or one 9x5-inch loaf pan and five 5x3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 F for about 60 minutes, or until testing done for larger loaves, or 30-35 minutes for smaller loaves.

Baked Pumpkin

My vast cookbook collection also informs me there’s more to explore and appreciate pumpkins than just jack-o-lanterns and pie as discovered in author Marian K. Towne’s “A Midwest Gardener’s Cookbook.” Published in 1996, it has become a reminder to enjoy pumpkin as a substitute for winter squash and sweet potatoes along with canning it or freezing it for year-round use, while other nationalities use pumpkin curried, stuffed with meat, fried in oil, or pureed in soup.

Here is a traditional Native American dish.

1 medium pumpkin, peeled and cubed

½ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter

Cinnamon or nutmeg, as desired

Place pumpkin in baking pan. Sprinkle with sugar and butter. Cover pan with foil and bake in preheated 350 F oven for 30 minutes or until tender. Serve topped with cinnamon or nutmeg.

Pumpkin Puree

When preparing whole pumpkins for pies and other uses, it is much more time and energy efficient to use the oven than to cut and dice large amounts of pumpkin. Preheat oven to 325 F. Cut pumpkin in half crosswise, trying to make an even cut so the cut ends will rest evenly on a flat surface to remove seeds and stringy membranes. Place pumpkin, shiny skin side up, on a greased cookie sheet and bake until pumpkin feels soft to the touch from the outside, approximately 75 minutes. Remove from oven.

When pumpkin has cooled, remove pulp with a large metal spoon. The pulp may be used at once in a recipe, canned, or frozen in plastic containers. Be sure to allow half an inch for expansion when freezing. A 6 pound pumpkin yields about 4½ cups of puree to be used for bars and bread in addition to pie.

Pumpkin Soup

Here is a recipe from “Towne’s Festival Cookbook.”

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger root, minced

4 cups pumpkin puree

2 teaspoons curry powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¹⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cups apple juice

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, celery, and ginger root. Add pumpkin puree and spices. Stir to blend well. Add apple juice. Heat to boiling, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve hot or cold with dollop of plain yogurt. For thinner soup, add water. For smooth consistency, puree vegetables in blender before adding pumpkin puree.

Great Pumpkin Meatloaf

Beverly Bundy, a food writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas, shared this meat-stuffed pumpkin recipe to win a cooking-with-pumpkin contest. Published in 1990, “Soups, Stews and Casserole” provides her recipe as being a “perfect meal for a cool autumn evening”.

1 small pumpkin (3½ to 4 pounds)

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard, divided

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

1½ pounds lean ground beef

½ cup fine dry bread crumbs

Cut top from pumpkin; discard top. Remove and discard strings and seeds. Place whole pumpkin, minus top, in baking dish. Add about 1 inch hot water to dish around the outside of the pumpkin. Cover pumpkin and pan with foil. Bake in preheated 400 F oven for 45 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender but not falling apart. Pour off water. Season inside of pumpkin with salt and pepper. Spread with 1 tablespoon mustard and sprinkle with brown sugar. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons mustard, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt, ground beef and bread crumbs. Mix well. Spoon beef mixture into pumpkin shell, packing down tightly. Return pumpkin to 400 F oven and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until pumpkin is tender and meatloaf is cooked. Cut into wedges to serve.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Another pumpkin eye opener was discovered in Phyllis Pellman Good’s “Festival Cookbook” filled with “four seasons of favorites” published in 1983, then revised in 1987 describing the fall season with frost creeping over the last tomatoes and ovens bursting with warmth from pumpkins baking in the oven.

2 tablespoons oil

2 pounds ground beef

6 ounces ground ham

2 cloves garlic, mashed

2½ tablespoons onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon vinegar

2 teaspoons oregano, ground

2½ teaspoons salt

¹⁄³ cup stuffed green olives, chopped

1 can tomato sauce

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon pepper

¾ cup raisins, optional

1 small pumpkin, seeds removed

In oil, brown next 5 ingredients. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pumpkin and bake at 350 F for 1 hour with lid on pumpkin. Serve dinner from pumpkin, scooping out pumpkin meat also, if desired. Recipe was shared by Marilyn Forbes, Lutherville, Maryland.

Lauren’s Pumpkin Bran Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

¹⁄³ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup wheat bran

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin

3 eggs

2 tablespoons molasses

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease muffin tins with muffin papers. Sift together white flour and brown sugar. Stir in whole wheat flour, bran, baking soda and seasonings. In separate bowl combine remaining ingredients. Stir into flour mixture. Divide into 12 muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at


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