Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jack o Lantern

This article was first published on Facebook in the Fall of 2011.  Here it is for you to access now.

So, we carved our pumpkins today. I was determined to use as much of the left-over bits as possible. Plus, Alice and I have been talking a lot about fruits and veggies lately. We read, "Eating the alphabet" and have been looking for the fruits and veggies listed in it and opportunities to eat them ever since. That was how we discovered Ella likes artichokes. 
There are two foods we eat fairly regularly, that use Pumpkins, pumpkin pie and pumpkin loaf. We made pumpkin pie (Believe it or not, Alice actually made it, though I helped with the crust) last night, and pumpkin loaf this morning. My family always roasted the seeds from the pumpkin we carved and in order to use the scraps from the carving, I also found a recipe for a pumpkin soup. Maybe next year we will really do it right and plant some pumpkins of our own and really take the whole thing from start to finish!

Alice would have absolutely nothing to do with the actual carving though. She grabbed a scraper started to go for it and then said, "no way". When her Daddy walked in the door 5 minutes later she told him, "I don't like that ooey gooey stuff". But she enjoyed hanging out with us while we did the carving anyway.

The Pumpkin loaf was inspired by a recipe we found in a library book called, "The US History Cookbook". However, instead of putting in pecans, we put in what was probably available at Plymouth at the time of the first harvest feast that has since inspired thanksgiving.  "Craneberries" as they were originally called were the pecan replacement. Alice loves craisins so they just made more sense than adding the nuts the recipie called for that she probably would have picked off and not eaten anyway. She liked finding the step we were on in the cookbook and following the numbers as we went along.

The pie was also made with canned puree and we used the recipe right off the can for that one. Alice measured out all the ingredients and learned how to read fractions while she did so, then she mixed the custard and poured it into the crust I'd gotten ready for her. She had fun doing like the birds on Cinderella, and pressed the crust edge with a fork before we put it in the oven. She's proud of her pie! She said cracking the eggs was the favorite part of making the pie AND the pumpkin loaf.

To make the soup, I sliced three large carrots and and sauteed them with 1 chopped bell pepper. Then, we carved our pumpkins and put all the stringy stuff as well as the tops of the carrots in a pot of boiling water (about 2 cups for every cup of pumpkin stuff) and let it simmer while we carved out the faces of the pumpkins. When that was done, we strained the veggie stuff from the water, and added a little salt, pepper and oregano. We roasted the bits of pumpkin from the faces in a dish in the oven and then put the carrots and pepper mixture, the roasted pumpkin, and some of our pumpkin broth into the blender and blended until smooth. I added milk to cool it down a little (and cream it up). This was our pumpkin soup. I'm sure there are yummier recipes out there, but it worked.  

Meanwhile, the seeds had been separated and put in another pot of boiling water with a 1/4 cup of kosher salt. We let it boil for about 10 minutes and then roasted the seeds in the oven on a cookie sheet once we were done roasting the pumpkin pieces.

We had a GREAT time. Alice learned how to read fractions, measure volumes, plan ahead (she helped write out the supplies and grocery list as well as choose faces for the jack-o-lanterns. In addition, although she decided to forgo the tactile experience of cleaning out the "ooey gooey stuff" she had a sensory experience with the pumpkins and pumpkin purees as well as with tasting the foods afterwards.

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