Pumpkin muffins a spicy treat for all

Pumpkins are one of out oldest native vegetables, and the majority of the crop comes to market to be sold during the weeks preceding Halloween. Pumpkins that are best for baking are oblong in shape with a moderately long neck. The deep orange skin is rough and bumpy, with dark orange flesh, and the pumpkins are heavy for their size.

To prepare the pumpkin for cooking, wash it well, cut in half, remove seeds and stringy fibers. If pumpkin is cooked with the shell on, the flesh will take color from the rind and be a deeper shade of orange.

To bake a pumpkin, place cut up pieces shell side up in a baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees F, for 40 to 60 minutes until tender. Remove pulp from shell and mash using a sieve, strainer, or food mill.

To steam a pumpkin, cut into pieces, place a small amount of water in bottom of pot, place pumpkin in steamer in pot, and cook until tender.

The New Jersey State Department of Agriculture offers one recipe for enjoying this fall vegetable. Pumpkin Corn Meal Muffins 1/4 cup butter or margarine 1/4 cup honey 1 egg, lightly beaten 1/3 cup milk 1/2 cup fresh cooked or canned pumpkin 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/3 cup yellow corn meal 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream butter or margarine, add honey, and beat well. Slowly stir in egg, milk, and pumpkin. Add rest of ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

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