Friday, February 25, 2011

The Pumpkin of Shame

What does this look like to you?

Perhaps you said a normal pie pumpkin? Maybe even a cute pie pumpkin? Well, in either case you'd be mistaken because this, ladies and gentlemen, is the Pumpkin of Shame.  What could such a harmless, innocuous-looking little winter squash have done to earn such a fearsome moniker? Answer: this pumpkin has been occupying a corner of my kitchen countertop...since November.

I'm not proud (hence his ridiculous and unfortunate name) but somehow in all the holiday hustle and bustle, I simply forgot about this little guy.  When we came home from Christmas in NY and found him still sitting on the counter, I resolved to deal with him right away - and then, once again, I forgot all about him.  Now it's February and, since I'm going out of town and leaving Matt all alone here for the next week, I decided it's finally his time.

I was a little concerned about cracking him open after all these months, but a quick search online revealed that he should still be good, if somewhat depleted in nutritional value, for up to three months.  Perhaps November-February is pushing it a little, but he looked fine, felt fine and sounded fine (as established by the oh-so-scientific tap-on-the-pumpkin-with-your-knuckles test) so I forged ahead.

Unusually seedy for a pumpkin his size - shameful!
After Matt cut him open (I sometimes defer to him for sharp and dangerous tasks), I scraped out the seeds, tossed them with salt and roasted them.  Ordinarily, I'd keep a few for growing but with the move just around the corner and our complete lack of a garden plot, they all went into the toaster oven.  I scraped out and discarded the stringy innards and placed the cleaned halves, cut side down, in a 9x13-inch pan filled with about two inches of water.  Forty minutes in the oven at 350 ° F and the pumpkin was ready (according to the puncture-it-with-a-fork-and-see-if-it's-soft-yet test - larger pumpkins will take longer, usually 45 minutes to an hour).

The pumpkin shamefully enjoying a hot bath in the oven
I removed the baked halves from the water bath and set them, cut side up, to cool for about 15 minutes.  Then I scooped out the creamy-soft, baked pumpkin with a spoon and quickly blitzed it in our knock-off Magic Bullet blender (because Matt and I use only the finest of kitchen appliances) until a pretty pumpkin puree emerged.  This went into two freezer-proof bowls and, after a bit more cooling, into the freezer.

It's only 4 months, several days, one hour and about 20 minutes overdue, but the Pumpkin of Shame has finally met his destiny.  Well, actually we haven't quite seen the last of him since I'll have to use the frozen puree before the move next month, but at least I won't have to endure his reproachful presence on my countertop any longer!

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