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I am on the hunt for a pumpkin

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Production team | 16:45 UK time, Thursday, 15 October 2009

Alys FowlerMy garden is too small for pumpkins, or put another way, they've fallen off the most desirable vegetables to eat list. I went for everything but reasoning that the best spot for pumpkins would be the loss of globe artichokes, cucumbers, Mexican ground cherries, parsnips, kales, sprouting broccolis . . . I think you begin to get the picture.

I do love pumpkins and winter squash and now that I am A PROUD OWNER of an allotment they will dutifully be back on the menu (mainly Crown Prince and Uchi Kuri squash), but this year I hankered after greens more. Still I married an American and last year I ambitiously took on Thanksgiving for far too many people (and the list seems to have grown). This means I must find a pumpkin and a good tasty one at that. The latter is really important as I used a very large pumpkin last year and it was so watery that it took two days to strain to the required consistency for pie (I use the recipe from Sophie Grigson 'Eat your Greens').
I might take a controversial route this year and not make pumpkin pie. Partly because although it's good, I don't think it has anything on a good tarte tatin or for that matter a great chocolate tart.
No, pumpkin pie is fun and a good excuse for too much whipped cream but the recipe that has stolen my heart this month can be found here. It stole my heart for two reasons: the writing and the wonderful varied recipes... I love this blog and have to admit that I have spent too many hours lost in this tale. I've brought you in near to the beginning of this story with a suitably (if loosely) garden related entry to wet your appetite. If you are easily won over by fantastic photography, butter dripping recipes and a great yarn of love story block out - it is truly all consuming.
As for the actual recipe, well it is perfect with a good strong coffee, better still I've found on the allotment between bouts of digging out couch grass (I made it with winter squash first time round). I would dispute that this is a recipe for bread; it's a cake (a cake that is equally as good with some chocolate chips thrown in).
It's very easy to make (hence why it's going into this years thanksgiving menu). If it gets a little stale, cook it like toast and slather butter on it. You can also substitute the hazelnuts for walnuts particularly if you're lucky enough to have fresh ones that the squirrels haven't stolen.
Oh for those that came here looking for gardening...
Most pumpkins and squashes will need to be brought in farily soon, you don't want them to become frosted. You want to leave them on for as long as possible so that the skins can harden naturally. You can tell when the skin is ready as you won't be able to leave an impression with your thumb nail. Cut the fruit with a piece of stem attached either side to the stalk. You do this because it is very easy to damage the stalk and rot set in quickly. Many winter squash and some pumpkins do better for a period of curing. You need to bring them into a warm (20-25 °C) room for two weeks to concentrate the sugars and then store them somewhere cool (7-10 °C), dry and airy. The smaller witner squash such as Uchi Kuri or Hunter will store for three months or more.


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