If I were keeping to my commitment to post this month on food stuff, this would be the part where I tell you about the pie pumpkin, and how it helps to bundle prep work.
Oh heck, why not. No pictures though; the kitchen counter is just a bit too messy to immortalize, and besides, I have pumpkin guts on my hands...
As I mentioned earlier, in with the groceries this week was a cute little pie, or sugar pumpkin. They are considerably different from their larger, grown-to-be-carved-not-eaten cousins. For one, aside from the much smaller size, they are sweeter, and less fibrous.
The flesh also tastes much, much better than canned pumpkin. It's worth the time to roast a few, mash the pulp and freeze it for future goodies.
Four years ago, I shared a microwave method of cooking pumpkin. Last week, I stumbled upon an easier way to deal with hard skins and slimy guts.
Poke your pumpkin 5 - 10 times around the stem area with a fork, creating holes for steam to escape. While you are taking out your frustrations on the gourd, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put the pumpkin on a baking sheet (line with foil for no-mess cleanup of the pan - you can also use the foil to wrap up the leftover bits of skin and guts)(now if that doesn't make me sound like a serial killer...). Slide the pan into the oven and let the pumpkin roast for 45 - 60 minutes. To test if it's cooked enough, poke at it with your finger; it should yield easily.
Take it out of the oven and let cool for half an hour. At the end of that time, you may be able to just pull the stem out; whether or not it comes out, slice the gourd in half. I sliced mine in quarters, the easier to scrape out the innards, but do what you will. The seeds and fibers scrape out easily with a spoon. The flesh itself comes out just as easily. All it needs is some mashing or pureeing to the texture you need.
Since this method bypasses any need to handle slimy pumpkin guts, I may do this much more often.
There was more room in the oven, so I slid a small pan of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in as well. This is where the "bundling prep work" concept comes in. I find it much less frustrating, when making multiple dishes, to do all the prep work for all the dishes on one day, then do all the actual cooking on the next. Most things will keep a day or two in the refrigerator, if stored correctly.
The squash is destined for soup, with any leftovers used for bread. The chicken is going to be transformed into a half recipe of a favorite chicken, rice and cheese casserole. Or maybe chicken biscuit stew. Or chicken divan. Or, if I remember to pick up a couple of things at the store tomorrow, chicken with wild rice soup.
Hmm. I think I need to cook and shred a lot more chicken, to have on hand in the freezer.