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IMG_4846.JPGLast Foodie Friday, I wrote about how at this time of year, my food choices are governed as much by what I want to smell as by what I want to taste.  In some ways, the seasonal “what to smell” question is answered by 2 simple words:  pumpkin pie.

Ooh, that magic elixir of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and simple cooked squash.  And oh, how the pleasure is enhanced when you know that you got the pumpkin puree from an actual pumpkin, not a can.  The pride of having produced a genuine article is just delicious.

If you’ve never cooked a pumpkin before, fear not–it couldn’t be easier.  Basically, it can be summed up as:  halve, scoop, cover, bake, cool, mash.  It’s not only tasty–and nutritious, hello beta-carotene!–but fun. 

Here are more detailed instructions for cooking a pumpkin, which I hope you’ll all try.  From one small sugar pumpkin I recently cooked down, I got a pie, a huge loaf of pumpkin bread, and a batch of pecan-pumpkin-chocolate-chip muffins.  And I had some left over!  Pumpkin risotto, anyone?

How to Cook a Pumpkin

1.  Choose a bright orange “sugar pumpkin,” devoid of brown or soft spots.  Cut off the stem.

2.  Heat oven to 300 degrees.

3.  Halve the pumpkin and gently scoop out the seeds and pulp.

4.  Separate the seeds from the pulp, and dry them for later roasting!

5.  Place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, in a glass or metal baking dish.

6.  Cover with foil and bake for 60-90 minutes, or until a knife pierced into the pumpkin goes in smoothly.

7.  Cool, uncovered, and remove the skin (it should come off in one piece!)

8.  Mash with a potato masher, or in a food processor for a smoother puree.

9.  Get ready for muffins, quick-breads, and pies!

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