Is it just me, or is the PumkinSpiceEverything especially crazy this year?
Say what you want about the incredibly diverse line of laughably singularly named products that are vying for your dollars, its no secret that everything within arms reach of a typical store is now seasonally emblazoned with bright orange squash that actually aren't the flavor of the products they decorate (seriously, have you ever had just plain pumpkin? It's so much more a versatile ingredient than just being the moniker of an overpriced sugary latte).
I find that processing pumpkins into puree takes quite some time, and while I love to do it to create one of my husband's favorite pies, I have been finding that there are plenty of alternatives to hacking apart a giant, round behemoth with my meat cleaver.
At our farmer's market, one of the vendors recommended a Cushaw squash as a good pie base. Having never tried it, we got one gorgeous specimen (it looks like a giant, green-striped butternut) and gave it the royal treatment.
After making spiced Cushaw butter, Cushaw bread, and this Cushaw pie, I can say that there was no discernible difference between this pie and those I've made with pumpkin, save that the Cushaw was a lot easier to work with! I was able to peel the skin off with my potato peeler before cooking, so steaming the flesh was as simple as putting it in a big pot with a bit of water and simmering until I could mash it.
I've also enjoyed using sweet potato (it does make a pretty dense pie, though!), acorn squash, and butternut squash in the same way. The seeds of ALL these squash are edible, too, so you won't miss out on those wonderful, crunchy baked seeds while you wait for the puree to thicken. Andrew and I have found, actually, that we prefer acorn squash seeds to any other squash--the nuttiness of them roasted with a touch of butter, salt, and garam masala is unparalleled.
BY THE WAY...don't just buy an expensive, seasonally-gouging jar of "pumpkin spice" at the store! Its so much more fun/flavorful/personalizable to make your own. Below are some of my favorite spices to mix-and-match. Choose the once that are most delicious to you (as long as there's ginger and cinnamon, you really can't go wrong!) and make your OWN seasonal blend of wonderful flavors. It's even more potent if you're able to buy the herbs whole and grind them fresh--not only will you reap the benefits of their essential oils, you now have all the spices that you'd need for a frothy chai latte, too
Ginger (fresh is best!)
Nutmeg (remember with this one--a little goes a LOOONG way)
My favorite pie blend is to go with 1 part cloves, 1 part nutmeg, 4 parts fresh-zested ginger, 4 parts cinnamon, 2 parts cardamom, and 1 part allspice. So warm and comforting!
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think! Do you have any recipes that you bend to your will?
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
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Simple Life Homestead