Cooking With Kareem

Welcome to cooking with Kareem (and Missy). Today we will discuss how to cook down a pumpkin. Why do you need to know this when you could save yourself the time and pick up a case of canned pumpkin at the store?  (*cough* CeCe *cough*)
There are three excellent answers to this question. First, to be more like the Amish. Second, because canned pumpkins tastes like baby food. Third, and most importantly, is the satisfaction of knowing you cooked your meal from scratch. It will do wonders for your self-esteem, I assure you.
So let's give our egos the hug they need and start this project. You are going to feel so good about yourself when you're done.
3 pumpkins

Step One: This is a tough one. BUY A PUMPKIN...or three if you prefer. Once they've been purchased, I find it's a good idea to take a picture of your dirty pumpkins for the Internet. But before you take the picture be sure to wash the Rice Krispies your three year old spilled all over the table up and then put a table cloth on the table to make it look like you've got it all together.

Good Job. You are doing fantastic.

ready to be deseeded

Step Two: Cut your pumpkins in half. Try not to get overwhelmed. This is a big step that involves a knife. A trip to the ER is not uncommon. 
Ew, it's all seedy and stuff, what's that about? Let's de-seed this seedy, no good pumpkin. Seriously, who raised this thing?
You can use a spoon, but if you are like me and buy the cheapest spoons around, your spoon will no doubt bend backwards too. I ended up using my handy-dandy knife to cut the more stubborn pulp away and then just dug right in with my hand to pull out the seeds and excess pulp. I know that might sound gross, but it feels great. Like running your hands through a bowl of peeled grapes. Slimey and delicious.
pumpkin seeds

Set your pumpkin seeds off to the side, you can clean them later for toasting but that's a whole other 'Cooking with Kareem' segment that I may or may not ever get too. So just store them indefinately. Until I decide if I have it as together as my table cloth would suggest.
About as tall as Kareem Abdul-Jabar

The deseeded pumpkin before it gets the full-body steam.

Ah, there you are, Kareem. It occurs to me that I never explained how big of a pumpkin you would need. A small oversight that I will now correct. Your pumpkins should be roughly as tall as Kareem Abdul Jabaar when going in for a lay-up. (5 to 6 inches tall) It's important to note that football players and baseball players are too short; you should definately use your best basketball action figure to measure. You could even pop him into your purse and take him to the store with you if you are worried that you'll pick a pumpkin that is too big. Because, as we all know, picking a pumpkin that is too big is a huge mistake because that thing will never cook down.

Are we all clear on this? Excellent.
Place pumpkin in dish with water

Step Three: Place two pumpkin halves face down in an appropriate size dish. I love my stoneware. It's not pretty but it is awesome in so many other ways. If you want pretty, click here*.
Fill the dish with three quarters (3/4) of an inch of water. If you are still adhering to the Kareem Abdul Jabaar method of measurment, that's about calf deep. Now cover the pumpkin-filled dish with foil. This way, the pumpkins won't see what's coming...

Step Four: Place pumpkins into the oven and cook for roughly an hour and fifteen minutes. You'll know that they are done when you reach your bare arm into the 350 degree oven and gently press down on the top of the pumpkin through the hot alumium foil with your bare hands and the pumpkin gives a little.

* I lied, not pretty.
Cooked and ready to scoop

This is what your cooked pumpkin will look like once you've got it out of the pan.

Step Four: Cool your pumpkin for fifteen minutes or as long as it takes you to check your e-mail, tweet and watch the latest Buffalo Bills press conference.
cooked pumpkin
Step Five: Use the spoon that you've bent back to its rightful shape and scoop the pulp of the pumpkin out of the shell. Scrape all the way down to the shell. Sometimes pieces of shell will break off and try to find their way into your finished product, but you won't let any pass. You don't scramble eggs with their shells and you sure as heck aren't going to let this pumpkin get the best of you.
You are great.
You are wonderful.
Everybody likes you.

This process yielded roughly 10 unpacked cups of pumpkins. Once your pumpkin has cooled, you should separate it into two-cup sections and freeze it. This is an important step because if you let ten cups of pumpkin hang out together too long, they will create a plan of mutiny and come after you while you sleep, since you basically just violated them.
Also, most recipes call for two cups of pumpkin and having it already separated will be helpful later on.

I believe we have successfully cooked down enough pumpkin to make pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin ka-bobs...

When you are ready to use your pumpkin, you will need to puree it in a blender or food processor, but make sure you thaw it out first because pureeing a frozen product can get tricky. Ah, but that's a lesson for another day.
Next week Kareem and I might walk you through the steps of sewing your own bonnet and churning butter.

But probably not.


Anonymous said...

Excellent lesson. Your fans are thanking you. Everyone loves a good cooking lesson -mom-

Punk said...

A tutorial to end all tutorials. Of course, now I have to find a little dude to keep in my kitchen for such projects.

As a side note, one *might* try pureeing the pumpkin before freezing. This might decrease the chances of, say, using unpureed pumpkin to make pumpkin muffins and ending up with lumpy batter. Lumpy, stringy batter.


The Boob Nazi said...

So what if I don't like pumpkin? I'll just go from step one to step two being cut an adorable face in it and throw all that gross crap away.

Sara@ The Football Wife said...

I *heart* the Amish. It's in my lineage somewhere since I'm from that part of the country.

I also *heart* Libby's in a can. Good for you -- I'm too lazy!!

coach said...

She made an awesome pumpkin bread. In fact she should make it again tonight. Think about it baby it could be great. Also how cool is Kareem? I love sports!

Anonymous said...

Ok so Missy is the awesomest lady ever. I never would have known how to do this and would have been buying yucky canned orange goo forever. Thank you for freeing me from aluminum and store bought squash. As a side note the bonnet thing would be cool. You should really get on that because when I make my fall soap in-a-kettle-over-an-open-fire-in period clothes I would so totally want a bonnet to keep my head warm.

Dione said...

What I want to know is, who in the world peels grapes? But now that you mention it, I'd really like to run my hands through a bowl of peeled grapes.

I can not thank you enough for posting this cooking segment with Kareem. I always seem to leave out the "wash the Rice Krispies off the table" portion.

Maybe your next segment could be peeling grapes with Malone?

Amanda said...

Well apparently this is what I'm missing in my kitchen -- a Kareem action figure. Damn.