I took some photos on my trip to Eastern Ontario over Thanksgiving weekend worth sharing, so I’ll start and finish the post with two autumn scenes.
I brought three pumpkins back from Ontario, and two evenings ago, I baked one of them. As the fastest way to process a pumpkin is by baking it, I just cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and pulp, and put it in the oven with a little water. But the baking takes an hour and a half, and The Most Important Rule For Cooking that I learned as a child – which it floors me that more people don’t know – is… well, the first rule is, don’t use the oven in summertime, but… When You Use The Oven, Cook More Than One Thing. In fact, cook three:
- Roast, scalloped potatoes, and custard
- Squash, casserole, and a cake
- Pizza, … well, that takes only 16 minutes, so you can get away with that, I suppose…
- Chicken, baked potatoes, and pie!
As a vegetarian, I don’t cook meat anymore, I make other stuff. This time, I cooked pumpkin, eggplant parmagiana, cranberry-apple crisp with walnuts, and the pumpkin seeds.
Cran-apple crisp, you can find a recipe for anywhere, but I use the old Five Roses Cookbook version:
- 4-5 apples (plus cranberries) mixed with 2 tbsp brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon
- 2/3 c flour, 2/3 c oatmeal
- 1/3 brown sugar
- dash of salt; 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- cut 1/2 shortening or margarine into the dry ingredients
I use less butter than called for, but it was organic butter. It goes in for about half an hour. The oven was at 375ºF.
Eggplant parmagiana is: two slices of eggplant, salted to draw the water out, then rinsed, dipped in egg and flour, and fried in a cast iron skillet. Then add the tomato sauce and mozzarella or ricotta, and bake it for maybe half an hour, not even. Serve with spaghetti or linguine.
Oh, how I love pumpkin seeds! First, I boil them in salty water, strain them, and pick off the pulp. Then I put them in an oiled skillet in the oven. They went in for about 45 minutes, forgotten, but far from burned. I can warm them up again in the smaller skillet in the toaster oven.
The next day, having left the pumpkin in the oven overnight, I had to clean up where the juice seeped out of the pumpkin and out onto the floor (literally: the floor of the oven then out onto my floor. Lesson: put them on a baking sheet.) I mashed the pumpkin in its skin and scooped it out into a colander. I collected the extra juice in a bowl for soup stock. I froze half the pumpkin, a quarter was transformed into a beautiful soup, and the last quarter was reduced and slightly caramelized in the cast iron skillet, in preparation for making pie.
- Butter to sauté
- 1/2 onion
- Large slice of ginger root
- Two rings of red pepper
- *if you have it: fresh fennel.* If you don’t, add fennel seeds.
After sautéing, add:
- 1/4 of a pumpkin, mashed
- 2 small potatoes, quartered
- Add the pumpkin juice from mashing
- Salt and pepper, and sage if you like
- Clap the lid on the pot and let boil. The pumpkin has a lot of water in it, enough to cook everything if you keep the lid on. Add a bit more water if you’re worried it might dry out.
After 20 minutes, mash the pot contents, remove (if you want) the ginger slice, and then purée the whole with either a blender or a Braun handimixer. If you remove the ginger slice, you can further slice or dice it and add it back in. It’s nice to have a little chunky kick. Add more salt and pepper at this stage.
To cream the soup, stir in a 1/4 cup of real cream, whole milk, or coconut milk.
Oh, and since I’m on the topic of food: My home-made sauerkraut is awesome.
Also published on Medium.