in the kitchen: adventures with pumpkin

Posted by on Nov 6, 2010 in in the kitchen, pc-romania, veronica | No Comments

It’s November and that means I’m planning for T-Day ’10, Moldovan edition.  We have a group of about 15 volunteers who will be celebrating Thanksgiving here in Targu Neamt. The Southern woman in me loves this because I enjoy sharing my family’s traditional dishes and trying new recipes out — add an audience/hungry mass of people and I’m set.  But alongside the excitement and creative juices, comes some stress and one of my current stressors is pumpkin. You just can’t have Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie. But there aren’t those handy cans of Libby’s pumpkin on the shelves here.

Don’t get me wrong, Romania has a plethora of pumpkins.  In the fall, as people are taking down dried corn stalks, you catch glimpses of bright orange from the pumpkins grown amidst the corn.  I’ve seen stacks of pumpkins from the train and maxitaxis.  But try to buy one, and it’s weirdness. You see, pumpkins and its relatives, are pig-food here in Romania. I’ve talked to several of my piata peeps, explaining that I want to make an American pie and need a small sweet pumpkin. Or that I need a few for carving for Halloween.  And I get strange looks and folks knowingly nod at each other since they have verified that I am indeed the crazy American in town. But I’ve persevered and ask each week whether they’ve come across some.

This Friday, I stopped by the piata with hope — it was a beautiful day and the start the the weekend, of course there’d be a pumpkin for me.  My main piata man came through!  He had something pumpkin-y that he said tasted better than pig-food. It had a dark green and fibrous exterior with a bright orange interior. It was almost cantaloupe-y in appearance.  He told me to try half of it and that he had more if it worked.  I happened to find an old guy who had a stack of smaller orange pumpkins and I bought one of those. Options are good.  So last night, I set to roasting, zapping, and straining pumpkin to make a puree.  It wasn’t that difficult. David pitched in with zapping the pumpkin in our wee food processor and straining it through a sieve.

Definitely the puree made from the green fibrous pumpkin-thang’s meat (pictured above) was sweeter and more pumpkiny. So much so, that David was licking it off his fingers.  The orange-skinned one wasn’t sweet and was super stringy so it was nixed.  To test the puree, we made some pumpkin bread today and it’s tasty. Pumpkiny but not overly so.  Just to be sure, I might make a test pumpkin pie because it would be ashame to have a pumpkin pie crap out on me on Thanksgiving.

Must say though, that I’m excited.  If I pull the pumpkin puree off, EVERYTHING on our table will be made from scratch.  But as a back-up, methinks a can of Libby’s is headed our direction.

Next stressor to address — finding a turkey…


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