Saturday, November 23, 2013

A recipe that is more than a recipe . . .

Satisfying, Sumptuous, Savory Saturdays

So . . .I was beginning to think that I WAS NOT going to get to write a post today . . .but I just sent a text to Glenn and they got a deer and they were still at the farm . . .so I'm home alone for a couple more hours.  I've been busy today!!  I had to take the cat back to the vet . . .for another dip . . .and then I brought him back home and immediately left to run a couple of errands.  I went to the local post office to mail a package to Doug - he is deployed and his packages are mailed to Kandahar airfield.  Our Sunday School class has filled two boxes and almost a third.  I mailed one last week and one today and will try to mail one next Saturday.  Then I had to run to Walmart for some craft supplies.  I got home and started cooking and the dishwasher is running for the second time.  I had planned to watch Hunger Games while I stayed home today (or last night) . . .but dadgum it, for some reason, the DVD player is not working.   So instead I've watched a marathon of Sister Act and Sister Act II and now the tv is on HGTV.  Oh - I forgot one of the most important things I did today -- I prepared a Sunday School lesson for tomorrow!!  Now I know you don't really care what I did today but I felt compelled to share :-)

Ok - so what did I cook?  I cooked several things but I want to tell you about one in particular - more than a recipe . . .it is TRADITION!!  Mark and I have been making this since we first married.  He was the original cook . . .and then taught me how . . .and it is so time consuming that I know why!!  It is soo worth it though . . .at least for tradition's sake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove one of the racks and put the other rack on the bottom "rung" . . .(I'm surprised that my oven is not filthy . . .as much as it is used . . .just a little dirty :-) )

We call these things "pumpkins" but they aren't really.  They are actually butternut squash.  This one came from the farm (where Mark is this weekend).  We used to get tons of them every year and we moaned and groaned about having to "do something" with them . . .and now we sure do miss the abundance.

I washed the "pumpkin" and then got out my handy dandy ice pick and poked some holes in the top.  You can see my wiggly pilgrim in the window from the dollar tree - the sign said, "You better buy them now because they will be gone."  You know I did - heck, I got them out of the packing box!!  Don't tell me that "advertising" doesn't work!  hahahahaha!  (yes - I have a boy pilgrim, a girl pilgrim and a turkey . . .that is a rooster in the picture!)

You can see the holes - there is no magic number - just poke away . . .work out some frustrations!!

I had to trim the stem a tad . . .it wouldn't stand upright in my oven.  Place in a pan and add a cup or so of water to the pan.

I took a picture of this because I wanted to remember the time . . .I started the process at 10:30 a.m. . . .and the pumpkin cooked for about 2 1/2 hours in the oven.

I took it out (the first time) and it looked like this.

When I cut into it, there were some areas that were not cooked enough . . .so I put it back in the oven.  I think this was at the 2 hour mark and I put it back in for an extra 30 minutes or so.

This was the final product . can definitely tell that it cooked more . is "slumping"!!!

I let it cool for a few minutes (15 or 20?) and then I peeled some of it and scooped some of it . . .this was a great "pumpkin" because of the thick neck full of useful "meat."  I scooped out the seeds and strings and put the rest in the mixing bowl.

You can see what was left . . .charred skin, seeds and strings and juice.

It was enough to almost fill up my mixing bowl . . .but that was not the end.  I dumped the "pumpkin" into a dutch oven and cooked it some more to get out some of the liquid.  This is for Thanksgiving dinner so I needed lots . . .so I added two cans of pumpkin from the grocery store - NOT pumpkin pie filling - just plain pumpkin.
Finally, it was cooked enough - you can tell - when the liquid has cooked out.  I added the cans of pumpkin and made sure it was all hot and added about 3/4 of a stick of real butter - Land O' Lakes is my fav.  I also added one and a half cups of white sugar (maybe a little more) and a cup of brown sugar.  You really want to add the butter and sugar while it is hot so that it melts into the "pumpkin."
I then transferred the pumpkin back to the mixing bowl.  I added about 1/2 to 1 tsp. of cinnamon and about a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt. 
I let the mixer run a long time because you want the pumpkin to be as smooth as possible.  I added about 1/3 to 1/2 can of evaporated milk.  After everything was mixed well, I beat two eggs in a cup and added those to the mix.  You either want the pumpkin to be fairly cool when you add the eggs or you want to temper the eggs.  (to temper the eggs, beat them with a fork in a little bowl or coffee cup - add hot pumpkin to the eggs about a tablespoon at a time until the temperature of the eggs is comparable to the temperature of the pumpkin mixture)  If you add eggs to a hot mixture, they scramble . . . and you do not want scrambled eggs in your delicious pumpkin.
I sprayed a three quart casserole dish with pam and poured all that deliciousness into the pan and covered with foil and popped it all into one of those giant 2 1/2 gallon plastic bags and then took it to the basement and popped it into the freezer.
I will take it out of the freezer on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning and put it in the fridge.  On Thursday, I will put the cold casserole dish into a cold oven (so the glass doesn't break) and turn the oven to 350 degrees.  It will need to cook a couple of hours because it is going from a very cold temperature to warm goodness.  You want it to be "set" . . .and not too wobbly when you shake the pan.
About ten minutes before serving, cover the top with marshmallows and stick back in the oven until they are melted and slightly brown.  DO NOT WALK AWAY AT THIS POINT.  If you do, odds are you will burn the marshmallows.  This is a good time to have more than one person in the kitchen because the cook is always running around doing last minute prep for the meal and it is easy to forget -- yes, I've done it.  Mark's momma also got the melted marshmallows all over the element in her oven one time - I don't know how . . .I've also made a topping out of pecans and brown sugar and butter (and seems like something else?  flour??) but our family seems to like the marshmallows better.
This is not a dietetic recipe. . .but we don't eat it every week.  It is also not a "make on the holiday" recipe - too labor intensive and takes too long on stove and in oven when you will be needing both of those spaces.
This recipe is TRADITION.
My favorite dish on Thursday is the dressing (stuffing) and gravy . . .but I like the pumpkin, too.  I also have to make devilled eggs (because my family always had those! - Mark's momma only has them at Easter) and a cranberry/apple casserole with oatmeal topping and I'm making a green salad that has pears and walnuts and feta cheese . . and I'm also making some mashed potatoes because Laura doesn't eat dressing (stuffing) . . .because she got sick one time and has never been able to eat it since.  Maybe this year :-)
So what is your most labor intensive Thanksgiving recipe . . .or your favorite TRADITION . . .or your favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving . . .or what is your menu?
Link up and share with us.  So far, the max link ups I've had is two . . .but I'm going to keep on posting!!


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