Bright yellow and orange pumpkins are a favorite symbol of the fall harvest season, and they are great to cook with as well as to carve for a Halloween jack o'lantern. There are two types of pumpkins, the sugar or pie variety, and the larger ornamental-type pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins, which usually weigh less than 10 pounds, contain a sweeter, smoother flesh.
To boil, cut pumpkin into quarters or smaller pieces and remove seeds. Cook large chunks in lightly salted boiling water, covered, until tender, about 25 minutes. The rind may be removed before or after cooking. Drain, mash well, and drain again, as pumpkin is a watery vegetable.
To bake, cut pumpkin into large chunks and remove seeds. Place in baking pan, add just enough water to cover bottom of pan, cover, and cook in 350 degree F. oven until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove pulp from rind, and then mash or puree.
Pie is probably the most popular pumpkin dessert, and the filling can also be baked in individual custard dishes without the rich pastry crust for a variation that is quicker to prepare. Pumpkin Snap Pie About 24 small gingersnaps 1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin 1/2 cup sugar Dash of salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
Arrange gingersnaps over bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate. Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices; fold in softened ice cream. Spoon carefully into pie shell, spreading evenly to edges. Freeze.
Before serving, garnish with whipped cream and/or crushed gingersnaps or orange slices. Makes one 9-inch pie.