The Pumpkin Project

November 20, 2010

With our first German, er, 'American' Thanksgiving fast approaching, I realized I had taken for granted all the ingredients that make up the traditional indulgent feast. Here, a turkey must be ordered from a butcher (not just picked up at any grocery), cranberries and sweet potatoes are few and far between, and most notably, pumpkin does not come in a can - it comes, well, in a pumpkin.

Hokkaido Kürbis - not just for jack-o-lanterns

When I came to the realization that I would not be able to order the ubiquitous canned pumpkin I was so used to in the states in time for our Thanksgiving festivities, I got into a bit of a panic. I thought: "Pumpkin from scratch?! Who has time for that?" With a bit of courage, I discovered if you have time to open a can, you have time to cook pumpkin. Sliced in half, dropped on a baking sheet, these babies will just fall out of their shells as the mush you're looking for in about an hour. 

Fresh cooked pumpkin

I will admit that there is something nice to the consistent consistency one gets from the canned stuff - my first was smooth and took only 50 minutes, my second was stringier and took nearly an hour and a half - and many pumpkin recipes have noted as much of a preference. But in the absence of convenience, the real deal works. And there's something nice about getting something that comes as it is - no additives, fancy packaging or outrageous health claims - and using it to cook up whatever you can while it's still in season.  

Which then becomes Pumpkin Curry Soup!

And the next morning - Pumpkin Spice Pancakes!

And so I forge on with hosting my first-ever Thanksgiving, basking in the glow of from-scratch recipes. My stuffing will be made from fresh-baked bread from my local Bäckerei, my sweet potato casserole will not use yams from a can (no wonder I always hated them!), and of course, my pumpkin custard tart (with red-wine caramel sauce - yum!) will be made from one of the gleaming orange pumpkins I see at every fruit and vegetable stand I pass. After all, isn't Thanksgiving about celebrating the autumnal harvest? All hail seasonal cooking!

* Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische