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Pumpkin, what's your favorite flavor?

Pumpkin, whats your favorite flavor from Terra Americana on Vimeo

Some people can warm a cold day with a mere smile.  Some family's radiate life.  Marie and the Cigals are perfect examples.  A big, boisterous clan they are.  When they get together, they celebrate one another and welcome all to join in the fun.Pumpkin, whats your favorite flavor?

30 years ago Marie's daughter spent a fall afternoon with her grandfather Clayton Sr. carving pumpkins.  They displayed them on his front step for all to see.  A year passed and another grandchild joined in the festivities and they needed a couple steps to show off their creations.  Three decades later four generations of  Cigal's show up for a weekend long party.  This year friends and family had 400 pumpkins to carve, including a couple over 200lbs.  They rose to the challenge and on nights leading up to Halloween, Clayton Sr's. yard is lit up with brightly colored jacks-o-lanterns of all sorts of shapes and sizes.

For years this labor of love has warmed the hearts of neighbors and town residents.  A simple sign requesting donations for the local food pantry annually raises enough food and money to provide families in need with months worth of groceries.  Most of us think of All Hallows' Eve a holiday of consumption, to the Cigal's it is one for giving.

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Everywhere you look in October, pumpkin is heralded as the flavor of the month.  From sweets to soups everything seems to taste better if it has some pumpkin in it.  After an afternoon with Marie and her clan my favorite flavor for pumpkin is the one that is served with a smile.

Pumpkin, what's your favorite flavor?

Top Ten Favorite Recipes with Pumpkin

  1. Savory Pumpkin Pie
  2. Pumpkin Brownies, simple recipe for a seasonal sensation
  3. Pioneer Woman's Pumpkin Soup
  4. Heidi Swanson's Pumpkin and Feta Muffins
  5. Nana's Pumpkin Bread
  6. Pumpkin Frost Cookies
  7. Chocoalte Pumpkin Seed Bark, with craisins and a protein punch
  8. Gingered Pumpkin Cupcakes with a Cream Cheese Surprise
  9. Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad
  10. Pumpkin and Pecan Biscuits


Pumpkin, whats your favorite flavor?

Photo Credit:  Julie Cecchini

10 simple steps to enjoying butternut squash year round

10 simple steps to enjoying butternut squash year round
This cousin of the pumpkin has become one of my favorite vegetables. Growing up the dishes filed with a bit of squash and lots of multicolored mini marshmallows revolted me.  As I have matured I have discovered a true appreciation of recipes which call for subtle uses of it's flavor and texture.  That man who grills it with a dash of salt and pepper, and a schemer of garlic butter.  My mother's mashed version with butter and a drizzle of local maple syrup. In a simple curry as they do at the vegetarian restaurant at Nanputo temple.  Bursting with vitamins and minerals, this vegetable needs no embellishments to make a statement.  Here are ten simple steps to make it available all year round:
  1. Clean your butternut squash with a vegetable scrubber and cold running water.
  2. Cut off the stem of the butternut squash and slice it in half.
  3. Scoop out the stringy fibers and seeds with a spoon.
  4. Peel the skin off. 
  5. Cut squash into chunks.
  6. Place the chunks into a large pot of boiling water. Boil for three minutes to blanch. A study by Colorado State University found that this quick-boiling technique method slows the enzymatic action of fruit and vegetables to help preserve the flavor, nutrients and texture while freezing.
  7. Drain squash through a colander.
  8. Place the colander in a large pan of cold, ice water to cool the butternut squash.
  9. Put squash into freezer bags and seal tightly.
  10. Mark the bag with the date and "butternut squash."

10 simple steps to enjoying butternut squash year round

This work for pumpkin too.  You can store squash in the freezer for up to one year.

More ways to preserve the flavors of fall:

Photo Credit:  Julie Cecchini
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