Back at Halloween time, the girls and I went to a local pumpkin patch and bought pumpkins. We bought four small pumpkins with the intent to draw on them with markers, and we bought two larger pumpkins that we planned to turn into jacko-lanterns.
Well, apparently not only have I not been feeling Christmasy, neither was I feeling Halloween-y this year. We never decorated the pumpkins at all nor turned them into jack-o-lanterns. At various times, the girls requested to “do” their pumpkins, but it never quite worked out.
December arrived, and my front porch still had six pumpkins sitting on it, intact. In my mind, it was ridiculous to have pumpkins on one’s porch in December, especially when many of the neighbors have Christmas lights on their houses. But, it would be even more ridiculous to me to have thrown those perfectly good pumpkins away just because Halloween was over.
So, a few weeks ago, I decided that the only logical thing to do was to cook up (bake) the pumpkins and use them for food.
I started small, with the littler pumpkins. They baked pretty easily. I scooped out the soft insides and plopped them immediately into my trusty food processor, which swiftly turned them into pumpkin puree. I divided the puree into two-cup increments and froze it. No big deal.
Then, I tackled the smaller of the two large pumpkins. I had to cut it into four sections and cook each section in a 9×13 pan. Luckily, my oven can fit two 9×13 pans at a time, but it still took extra time to bake them and extra time to process them. Finally, it got done. I got a LOT of puree out of those, but it was a loooong process. I made note on the bags containing puree from this big pumpkin that it WAS from the big pumpkin.
After processing these five pumpkins, I ended up with about 27 cups of pumpkin puree in my freezer. I thought to myself, “This is simply ridiculous! We’ll never eat all that pumpkin up!”
With all of this pumpkin taking up space in my freezer, I had to figure out a way to use it up – quickly. And then I had a brilliant idea: I decided to make pumpkin bread with the puree and give it away as gifts to people on the staff here at our new church! I feel that it’s a good idea to give everyone a little something, plus it’ll use up a good chunk of the frozen pumpkin.
So, that’s my project for the week. As of this writing (late Sunday night), I have four loaves done. I need to bake eleven loaves to take care of all the people on staff, but we have a few friends that it would be nice to give a loaf to, too. So, I’m aiming to make 14-15 loaves. I have two loaf pans, and after looking at multitudinous pumpkin bread recipes, I cobbled together a recipe that seems to work well with the less sweet pumpkin puree from the big pumpkin (since that’s the pumpkin I have the most of). I made a test loaf from my cobbled-together recipe first, and it went over well with our family. With my recipe, one cup of pumpkin puree makes one loaf of bread, so even making 15 loaves will still leave me plenty of pumpkin in my freezer. I made pumpkin waffles over the weekend, and they didn’t turn out too badly. I also found a recipe for pumpkin oatmeal that I might try. And somewhere I have a recipe for pumpkin, black bean and chicken chili that JJ and I really liked.
However, I still have my largest pumpkin left to bake. Hmm. I think I’ll just hang onto that pumpkin for a while until I use up the other pumpkin and can get some space in my freezer. At this rate, once I cook up the other pumpkin, I’ll have to give the staff at church loaves of pumpkin bread for an Easter gift, too… 😉
(I also had fun roasting all of the pumpkin seeds. They turned out much better than they have in previous years. Yum. But, learn from my fail: Do not try to dry rinsed pumpkin seeds on paper towels! The seeds will adhere to the paper towels, and you will have to wash them all over again to get the paper towel off. Consider yourself advised.)