As I’m sure many of you have been aware since Halloween…Christmas is coming!
I, however, do not believe in full blown Christmas activities until after Thanksgiving. (Of course nobody said you can’t start planning early! I’ve been building a Christmas board [opens in new window] on pinterest since September)
Christmas is my favorite time of year, thankfully it’s also Rob’s. We got married on Christmas Eve, which just makes the holiday that much more special. As fairly newly weds, (2 years this Christmas) we are laying the groundwork for family traditions. When I was growing up we had quite a few family traditions that made the holiday’s special. Certain things we did, or foods we ate etc. My favorites have always been the food!
Over thanksgiving this year, my mother-in-law gave us a turkey and some other fixings. I’ve never cooked a turkey before….can you eat turkey when it’s not a holiday? That seems weird…. So, I decided to start a new tradition. An Advent Feast, a big meal on December 1st to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season. We ate a big meal, had some cocktails, watched a christmas movie (White Christmas)…I can only dream of the other fun things we could do once kids are in the picture!
What does all this have to do with pumpkin?
I had some little pumpkins leftover from the fall, they needed to be eaten soon, they were taking up too much space in the kitchen. I didn’t really want to bother making a pie… it takes too long! (and I didn’t have any ice cream or whipped cream…) My main method of cooking is to look around the kitchen and concoct something with the stuff I have on hand. Honestly some of my most delicious meals have been made that way. This is a method I learned cooking over an open hearth in an 1830’s home. (my summer job) At the Biddle house, we go and look through the cupboards, look to see what’s going bad, use up any leftovers there are and try to create a meal using those ingredients! They couldn’t really just pop over to the supermarket in the 1830’s to get this ingredient or that ingredient. (Besides that can get expensive!) So make do with what you have, or do without.
I started by steaming the pumpkin…just enough to get skins off. Once this was done, I pulled the pumpkin out of the pot and laid the pieces out on the cutting board to cool. They are REALLY hot! So go do something else for 5-10 minutes (instead of burning your fingers like I did…) once they cooled, I peeled the skin off all the pieces. It should come off really easily if the pumpkin has cooked enough, I use a fork or knife to scrape it off. I also cut up the pumpkin into 1″ pieces, so it’ll cook the rest of the way faster! Back into the pot we go!
Once all the pieces were in, I stuck it back on low-med heat. Added some milk, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger. Then stuck a lid on and simmered for a while, stirring every now and then. Soon all the pumpkin was cooked thoroughly and I stirred it vigorously with a wooden spoon to break it up. You should have a thick smooth pumpkin mash. (Like a really thick smoothie) The pumpkin made a wonderful addition to our feast, and it was very easy to do! Though pumpkin always takes way longer to cook than I think it should. It was a great flavor and texture contrast to the turkey and stuffing, we also had a cheesy broccoli rice side, cranberry sauce (from a can…there’s just something about that stuff…), gravy from the pan drippings (best part!). Rob also made us some lovely appetizers, PB&J ritz crackers, (surprisingly delicious!)
For those of you who know me, you know that when I cook I rarely use recipes, in fact half the time I’m making it up as I go along and hoping for the best. (Usually it turns out great! I have been blessed with a culinary instinct) However for the purpose of the blog I hope to share some of my recipes with you. Just don’t expect exact measurements, times, etc. Pretend like I’m your grandmother who just “cook’s it until it’s done!” I am also going to assume that you have a basic working knowledge of the kitchen…like your grandmother taught you. If you don’t, what kind of things would you like to learn? Maybe I can write a post about it!
If you want to make this at home;
follow the steps above (if you need more detail let me know!)
these are the ingredients you’ll need; (with approximate amounts)
– fresh pumpkin ( 2 med whole. 3-4 cups cooked)
– Milk ( 1 cup, adjust for consistency, you don’t want the final pumpkin to be too runny)
– Butter (to taste, 3-4T. I believe in real unsalted butter, it tastes better, it’s not THAT bad for you, and is better than all the chemicals in most margarine)
– Cinnamon ( about a teaspoon or two, adjust to your tastes)
– Nutmeg ( a few dashes, 1/2t or so)
– Ginger ( 1/2 – 3/4t)
You could also add a wee dash of clove, I just didn’t have ground cloves on hand.
This dish was a great addition to our holiday advent feast, and I think I’ll add it to future meals as well. It’s a very simple dish and aside from the pumpkin you probably already have all the ingredients on hand! You might be able to use canned pumpkin, (just make sure it’s not pumpkin pie filling!) though you may have to adjust the milk. Maybe add just a small splash of cream instead.