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Be of gourd cheer with 7 pumpkin recipes (Organic Gardening in Kodiak, Alaska #1272)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising against the door-to-door candy quest during the pandemic. Are you surprised?

But Americans are a crafty lot. Even with the CDC’s latest advice, folks are still rallying to safely bring the spooky season to life. According to a recent story on National Public Radio, people are discovering new, creative ways to celebrate the occasion during the pandemic.

For example, an Ohio dad creates PVC ‘candy chute’ to deliver Halloween candy from a distance. Go on YouTube to learn how to make your own.

[Hi there! This article was originally published in the Kodiak Daily Mirror, the hometown newspaper for Kodiak, Alaska. You can access my archive page for past columns, written each week since 1986].

Communities across the country have been struggling with their own guidelines for Halloween. In Los Angeles, the county health department canceled all Halloween carnivals and haunted houses.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she hasn’t decided whether to ban certain Halloween events. “It’s not safe for the children; it’s not safe for the adults,” she said at a news conference.

Let the gourd times roll!

In Kodiak however, Halloween is happening. In a Kodiak Chamber of Commerce press release, downtown trick-or-treating will go on.

On the other hand, the 4-H Harvest Festival is NOT a go. But Kodiak Public Broadcasting (KMXT) has picked up the ball, er, pumpkin.

“We knew there were going to be a lot of disappointed 4-H kids,” said Development Director, Pam Foreman. “So we decided to partner with 4-H and Matson Lines to bring something a little different to the KMXT fund drive this year: Pumpkins!

“We start the fund drive this week and will offer pumpkins to anyone becoming a member of KMXT at that time,” says Pam Foreman, “so stop by soon!”

In addition to offering pumpkins, KMXT will also host a Pumpkin Parade on October 30th. Want a pumpkin? Here’s what you do:

1. Don’t delay: Supplies are limited (pumpkins don’t grow on trees).

2. Stop by KMXT at 620 Egan Way. That’s where the pumpkin van will be parked from 10 am to 6 pm to the end of the week. If you’re not a member, here’s your chance to sign up and get a free pumpkin.

Now, after you enter your pumpkin(s) in the Pumpkin Parade, there’s one more way to enjoy a pumpkin, and that’s to eat it!

Really?

More than silly grins

Pumpkins of almost any variety have flesh high in fiber and beta carotene. Their seeds, delicious when toasted or baked, can be rich in potassium and protein.

Pumpkin pack more than 200 percent of our RDA of Vitamin A, plus about one-third of our daily Vitamin C and nearly one-quarter of our fiber requirements. And it has just 40 calories per serving.

If that isn’t enough to convince you to have your [carved] pumpkin and eat it too, pumpkin is one of the most versatile veggies you’ll ever meet.

Try these 7 pumpkin recipes: Easy ones, from soup to smoothies…

1. Easy Pumpkin Soup

Scoop out about five cups of flesh out of a pumpkin and coarsely chop it.
Simmer it with coconut oil, onions, ginger, and garlic. Add spices of choice, coconut milk, and fish, chicken, or vegetable broth. Let it simmer for 45 minutes and then puree in a blender.

2. Pumpkin Spiced Latte

3/4 cup almond milk
1 espresso shot for the latte (or 1 cup drip coffee)
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add all ingredients to a saucepan. Stir well and heat until nice and hot. Froth in a blender if you like or just stir it into a mug of coffee as is. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

3. Multi-grain pumpkin pancakes

One of my favorite ways to use pumpkin puree (see below), this is the perfect breakfast for a rainy day. Add 1 cup pumpkin puree to a batch of multi-grain pancake batter. Serve with berries and peanut or almond butter.

4. How to make pumpkin puree

This is the starting point for many pumpkin recipes: Cut the top off of a pumpkin, halve it around the equator, scoop out the seeds (see below), and cut into quarters or sixths. Roast it in a 350-degree oven for an hour or until tender when poked with a fork. Cool, peel, and then puree the flesh in a food processor or blender, or with a potato masher.

5. Toasted pumpkin seeds

With your fingers, tease the seeds out of the pumpkin and rinse them well in a colander. Boil the seeds in a pot of salted water for about 15 minutes. Drain, toss with a little olive oil, and spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the seeds are toasty brown. Sprinkle with salt if you like. Or go sweet with cinnamon and a touch of sugar.

6. Pumpkin pie smoothie

In a blender, combine 1/2 cup ice, 1/2 cup vanilla or plain yogurt, a dollop of honey or maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, a banana, and some coconut milk (optional). Puree until icy and smooth. Yum. Tastes, well, like pumpkin pie.

7. Pumpkin Butter

Think apple butter here… Pumpkin butter is made from puréed pumpkin, sugar, spices, and water or cider. Simmer the ingredients for about 30 minutes in a saucepan, then spoon the mix into a jar. Freeze, process in jars, or serve warm on toast, waffles, crackers, or muffins.

Back to Halloween 2020…

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. — Henry David Thoreau

So how will you celebrate All Hallow’s Eve this year? Health experts say families should err on the side of caution when it comes to trick-or-treating and other traditional fall activities.

Much depends on each family’s comfort with taking risks and ensuring they adhere to safety standards and common sense. Masks should be worn by all, even if not part of a costume.

As for handing out candy, you could go all out and make candy chutes or a giant spider web with candy trapped in it. Or skip the candy altogether (it’s not good for you anyway): Become a member of Public Radio KMXT, pick up your pumpkin and enter it in the Pumpkin Parade.

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About these garden columns… Slowly but surely I’m posting over 1,200 articles that you can access here. For personal updates, sign up for my newsletter, the Garden Shed: All Things Organic Gardening. As a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive a FREE PDF: 220 Things You Can Compost. (I’m also on Facebook and Instagram). To get in touch by email: marion (at) marionowenalaska.com

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