Pumpkins get a bad rap, man.
People go at them all judgey judge, poking and prodding at them to find the biggest and the fattest. Once they get them home, they cut them open, throw away their insides, carve strange patterns into them, then toss them in the garbage without a second thought. The poor pumpkins don’t see what’s coming for them! People are seriously mistreating the pumpkins of the world!
Now, I know some of you are familiar with my feeling on gourds, so it should come to no surprise to you that pumpkins are one of my favorites! It makes my heart so sad to see so many waste so much of these delicious orange lumpy orbs that grace us with their presence every autumn. So people, put down the garbage bags, and bring out the sheet pans, soup bowls and pie dishes!! Pumpkins have so much more to offer you than just mediocre decoration.
My Granny was a firm believer in the “waste not, want not” tradition; she also happened to love pumpkin. One of the first signs of fall growing up was a big bag of roasted pumpkin seeds that my Granny would give all her grandkids. We coveted them, taking that salty snack wherever we wandered on our weekend adventures. Granny was also famous for her many creative dinners full of fresh pumpkin. From Pumpkin Soup with Sage and Ham, to her Pumpkin Mac and Cheese, loaded with bits of creamy, scrumptious pumpkin inside. And on Thanksgiving? You can’t even imagine. On this day, it took little more than opening her front door before the glorious smell that is pumpkin pie would hit you right in your olfactory! The smell of freshly ground spices lingered in the air for days. To this day, nutmeg always takes me back to those precious times.
So, take a page from the past, be a bit more like Granny, and use those pumpkins for more than just a place to practice your knife skills! ????????
For inspiration, I snuck my Granny’s pie recipe below. Happy baking, but shh, don’t tell her it came from me!
1 medium sugar pumpkin (about 3 pounds)
Canola oil, for oiling pumpkin (can be swapped with any oil)
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons butter melted and slightly warm
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
- For the pumpkin: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Remove the stem from the pumpkin and scrape out the insides, discarding the seeds. Cut the pumpkin in half and lay the pieces cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Rub canola oil all over the skin and bake until fork-tender, about 1 hour. Let cool.
- Add all the ingredients for the crust to a food processor and pulse until combined; it should feel like wet sand, and just come together.
- Spread the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie pan, using your finger tips or the flat bottom of a glass. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Put the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the crust is light brown and firm to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- For the filling: Scoop out the pulp from the roasted pumpkin and puree in a food processor until smooth (you should have about 4 cups). Add the condensed milk, cream, cornstarch, molasses, canola oil, cinnamon, ginger, salt and eggs and combine thoroughly.
- Pour the filling into the crust and bake until the filling is set in the center, about 1 hour. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool for 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature or chilled.