What is your relationship with food? Nonono, not your relationship to your ass – what is your relationship with food? What was the food culture in your family when growing up? Is food celebratory or a pain? Does planning a meal get you energized or raise your anxiety level?
I think the culture of food that I grew up in was a fairly regular Southern Californian, bikini-focused, five o’clock news, rush hour traffic sig alerts, mexican-food lovin’ -type thing. We ate a lot of food out of boxes and cans (refried beans, anyone?), went out to eat on the regular, had a LOT of BBQ chicken and boiled potatoes and white rice with butter and breakfast cereal, etc. I’m currently grateful that we weren’t allowed to eat fast food nor have soda on a regular basis in the house. However, when ice cream or cake or other treat entered into the kitchen, it was like Lord of the MoFo Flies in there!!! EVERY PERSON FOR THEMSELVES wake up in the middle of the night and jam your face with ice cream so you could make sure to get some and if there were Frosted Flakes in the cupboard that was the meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until they were gonzo.
In my opinion, we did NOT have a positive relationship with food and it was often seen as “the enemy”. But what I am most interested in is your/mine/our relationship to food right now. And the general question of the day is – why does traditional cooking* seem so freakin’ scary?
So instead of spending too much time of the soap box, I’m going to narrow down this conversation to a simple challenge – Make Your Own Pumpkin Pie Filling From Scratch. (I KNOW!!! I am too late for Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving is what made me want to write this so I have to live within the confines of the current time-space continuum.)
I worked at a pumpkin patch this year for Organic Matters Ranch, the farm that I am working for this season and next. I made it my personal goal for two out of the four weekends, to pump customers up on the pie pumpkins and encourage them that they can, in fact, make their very own pies from scratch! Hooray!! It’s clear that many of us out there think that this idea is TOTALLY INSANE because 1) what is a pie pumpkin, 2) how in the hell do you cook one without taking all weekend to do so, 3) it will take way too much time (see #2), and 4) will it even taste good?!
Meet the Winter Luxury pie pumpkin. A pie pumpkin introduced in 1893!!! Wow! Its specs include an amazingly sweet orange flesh that tastes like pie even before your season it (!!!), and a thin skin that is easy to cut. You’re welcome. (For nothing that I actually did). Now you, go out and find yourself a pie pumpkin, I swear you can find one at a grocery store (even a conventional store) near you. Once you have your lovely pumpkin, cut off the stem. Then carefully, cut in in half with a large knife.
KABOOB! Now you’re in. Just like in carving jack o’lanterns, scrape out the webby flesh and seeds. You can keep the seeds if you like to roast later, but don’t let that stress you out. This is about the pumpkin (PIE!!) after all. Heat your oven at 350 degrees. Git yerself a casserole dish, turn your pumpkin halves so that the now open pit faces down into the casserole dish. Pour an inch of water (some use broth instead of water when using pumpkin for soup) into the bottom of the dish. Place in oven. Close door. Pat yourself on back.
Wait about 45 minutes, or until when you stab that sucker, it is very tender. Don’t worry!!! You can’t really screw anything up.
Here are some fascinating facts about pumpkin to entertain you whilst you wait:
- Pumpkins are a winter squash, just like Acorn, Delicata, Red Kuri, Kabocha, Jarrahdale…and many more! Cook them the same way as your pie pumpkin if you wish.
- Pumpkin flowers are edible.
- The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds.
- The name pumpkin originated from “pepon” – the Greek word for “large melon.”
- Pumpkins originated in Central America.
mmmmmmm, it’s done. Carefully remove the halves and scrape out all the insides into a bowl. Find your favorite pumpkin pie filling recipe, grab a crust from the store (you can tackle crust another time) and assemble!!! One pie pumpkin will easily yield 2 cups of flesh. Also, if you happen to own a food processor, I suggest that you develop a deep, sweet sweet love relationship to that baby that’s been neglected in your bottom cupboard for years, because that machine is a MIRACLE! And you can use it to make great, homogenous pie filling.
Now, my main purpose in this post was not to talk calories and nutrition, the benefits of buying local and organic, or even the (real) fact that home-cooked food tastes better than the packages stuff. The post is really just a shout out to the natural beauty and crazy blessing of good food. Make time for food, friends.
*Generally, I think of traditional cooking as what our grandmas and their parents ate, with respect to ingredients (mostly whole foods that did not come in cans and boxes), and how their food was prepared (sans microwaves (not that microwaves are terrible or anything)).