Several factors combined to create a Pumpkin Experience in our kitchen today.
First, I've been seeing blog after blog where the blogger has posted gorgeous pictures of the process they went through to turn their Halloween/Harvest Festival pumpkins into pies.
Second, there is a Pumpkin Force at work in our church. Mighty women of God who slaughter pumpkins to make pies...instead of buying the perfect pumpkin puree in the tasteful blue can from Aldi. They claim that this home-cooked pumpkin makes pies that taste BETTER.
Third, I have two small pumpkins. Little decorative pumpkins. Not the really little ones that are actually gourds, but the little round 7 inch kind. When we bought them (for decorations!) I think the receipt even listed them as "pie pumpkins".
Fourth, despite being plopped on our front porch since late October, exposed to the elements, these pumpkins have steadfastly refused to die messy little pumpkin deaths so I can send them off guilt-free to the compost bin.
So, pumpkin baking time! My mom did this a few times with pumpkins we grew. I remember that the pies she made from them were nasty...watery, stringy, yuck. But the roasted pumpkin seeds were very good.
I hauled the victims inside and prepared to commence butchering. We have a nice sharp chef knife that suffices just fine for cutting open Butternut Squash. It would not even begin to pierce the skin of these babies. Colin was watching and suggested I try hammering the knife through the pumpkin. He even, helpfully, went and fetched me a hammer and offered to HOLD THE PUMPKIN for me while I hammered. I declined that last offer.
After much hammering and enthusiasm the pumpkins split open. I scooped the guts out and Colin offered to help sort out the seeds. He lasted longer than I would have at his age before freaking out and having to get the pumpkin slime off his hands. :)
Now the little pumpkins are are in the oven baking on a foil-covered pan; and the seeds are boiling gently in heavily-salted water. We will boil the seeds until they turn gray, dry them overnight, and then roast them in some oil. The pumpkin we will see about...if it looks enough like canned pumpkin and not too much like grey stringy mess, I will try it in a pie or pumpkin bread.
But what I'm wondering now is...how did we cut pumpkins open when I was a kid? Were Illinois pumpkins softer than the Carolina type? There were no sharp knives in our kitchen, that's for sure! Something to ask Mom about.
I have to admit the baking pumpkins smell really good. I wonder if I could pour some milk and molasses in each half and pass them off to my family as Pioneer Pumpkin Pies? Probably not.