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Brilliant pumpkins make vibrant casseroles

By Staff | Oct 8, 2010

They often appear by an inviting front door. Some of them, however, are lucky enough to end up by the kitchen door. Wrapped with an orange leather hide and attractively topstitched curved lines, their appearance is capped off by a uniquely bent cane. Many of them have a time-worn appeal–like trunks that have traveled the globe. Sedentary souls by nature; however, their adventures come from the amazing depth of stars at night and the timeless charm of moonlight. Their days in the long-summer sun craft a rich Tuscany top-grain leather appearance that sports earth’s smudges. As harvest begins and they journey from field to truck to market, a few more dimples take residence upon their hides.

As a solid frost approaches, the vigorous entwined olive foliage of the pumpkin patch expires, revealing its treasures-a panorama of golden pots. Each fall pumpkin patches across the country produce a unique line of cases that can hold an assortment of our belongings. For many of us, pumpkins are the perfect shell to place a candle in creating a bright, focused glow that is ideal for Halloween. Today, I wish to share with you other uses for your usually carved pumpkins.

Since shades of orange have always been a favorite palette tone of my mine, pumpkins have befriended me from early on. Like many, we used them to decorate our home and then carved them for Halloween. It was, however, while living in New England that my appeal for the orange pumpkin was introduced to the idea that they make splendid containers for soups, stews and burger pie. It is true that often these pumpkins can be watery, mealy, and not great for recipes. However, there is always an exception to the rule.

My first introduction to pumpkin containers was for burger pie. However, upon returning to Rugby, I have enjoyed a delicious pumpkin stew prepared at the home of Brian Selland and Sharon Baker. So I know recipes cooked within pumpkin shells can be delicious. I would encourage you to try cooking with pumpkins in this style. Not only are they attractive, but also realizing that bright orange color is a sure signal that there is a rich supply of vitamin A. Also coming along will be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

The recipe I share with you today uses some of my all-time favorite herbs and spices. It is important to note that spices and herbs should be blended with food in the cooking process before serving–not served with the food. In my own experience, I have discovered that a scant teaspoon of dry herbs in every 4 servings is a good starting point– and often enough for even 8. It is also good to remember that dried herbs are 4 times as strong as fresh herbs. This pumpkin recipe gives us the perfect opportunity to see what thyme–our piney, pungent aromatic friend who has lemon, orange, and caraway scented cousins–can do to our stuffing and meat. Thyme blends well with meat and does not overpower. Marjoram is mild, sweet, aromatic and an excellent mixer with other herbs; its qualities will shine forth in this recipe as it blends well with meats and vegetables.

I have tried from early on to impress upon Lydia that pumpkins are wonderful! In fact, the very first book I read to her was Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White and illustrated by Megan Lloyd. It is a great book with very colorful illustrations. This reading took place in November of 2004, and our little pumpkin arrived in March of 2005. It is never too early to be getting children and their parents interested in the joys and nutrition of the pumpkin patch.

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