Pumpkin Spice Season

Variety of winter squash and commercially canned pumpkin

Winter Squash. Fresh, Frozen or Canned?

My favorite family pumpkin story is about the generation below me and the generation above me. When my oldest daughter was in sixth grade, they had an assignment to choose a recipe, make it and present and share it with the class.  She looked through all the cookbooks in our kitchen and finally decided on a recipe for Pumpkin Cookies.  I was a little surprised, but pleased that she chose the recipe from the black and white covered, plastic ring bound, 1996 cookbook produced by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition.  The title of the book is From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Farm-Fresh, Seasonal Produce.

The recipe looked easy enough and included two cups of cooked pumpkin. We shopped for the ingredients and talked about the difference in pumpkin varieties for carving Jack-o-lanterns verses eating.  My memory of the pumpkin cookies is that we were baking trays and trays of cookies all day long. Her memory of the pumpkin cookies is that when she told her grandmothers about it, they both asked the same question, “why didn’t you use canned pumpkin?”  She asked in amazement “there’s canned pumpkin?” I think she thought I had tricked her into using fresh pumpkin.  In my mind, the recipe was from a farm-fresh, seasonal produce book …. why wouldn’t we bake a pumpkin?

I do use canned pumpkin for many recipes, from pancakes to soup, especially if I’m pressed for time. I also love buying pie pumpkins and other winter squash from our fall and winter farmers’ market.  My kiddos know where their food comes from and they know some short-cuts to get a healthy meal on the table.