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2007-11-03 - 11:34 a.m.

..yes, I dumpster dive for pumpkins...

I came home on Thursday afternoon and noticed that my landlords had thrown three perfectly good whole pumpkins into their rubbish bin. I was astonished! All of that good, fresh pumpkin that could be harvested, or even just laid about decoratively for a proper Thanksgiving!

Of course then I realized that Canadian Thanksgiving has long since passed, as might be expected for a harvest festival in a country that extends north of the Arctic circle...It's only we Americun types that wait until the end of November.

But I have to confess that I have a fixation on pumpkin, and my fixation with cooking down the entire gourd happened sometime after moving to Europe. Pumpkin pumpkin pie is a necessity at Christmas and Thanksgiving, a pumpkin soup is one of my favorite, winter comfort foods. In North America one can easily acquire the appropriate pumpkin in a can, and butternut squash comes easily in a nice, square, frozen package.

When I moved to Europe, I found neither. Err, that's not entirely true. There was that ill-fated dinner in Germany when I made the world's first - and probably (hopefully) ONLY - PICKLED PUMPKIN PIE. I just picked up the strange looking jar at the store...and vinegar is not something I had anticipated as a pumpkin additive. HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT THE GERMANS WOULD PICKLE PUMPKIN?? And frozen boxes of squash are really just not a part of your usual Swedish / German diet.

You might imagine how thrilled I was the first year that whole, huge, orange pumpkins appeared in my local German supermarket. Every Autumn, I would haul anywhere between 3-5 of them up the monstrous hill to my house, and cook them down, freeze them in ziploc bags, and use them over the winter months. It actually became part of my Autumn food ritual, my preparations for adding a little bit of America to the holidays. And the lovely ladies at the market came to know me as the Kurbis Frau.

I always thought of my 3rd grade education, learning about Native Americans living across the Great Plains - how they left no part of the Buffalo unused. That's how I feel about the Pumpkin. Well, I don't eat the innards or the rind. But I wash and roast the seeds, and no part of the pumpkin flesh escapes my carving knife.

When I returned to NYC - with my teeny tiny little urban kitchen - it took me absolutely no time at all to revert to cans and frozen boxes. I mean really - carving up a pumpkin is a lot work when you could just buy a $0.69 can. And Canada is no different (although K has still not been able to locate the frozen squash in the grocery section, and I'm it's convinced it's because he doesn't understand what he's looking for.).

But when I saw these three perfect pumpkins in the rubbish bin, my heart went out to them - they had to be cooked down and stored for later consumption. I woke up at 7:30am this morning and started right in. It's now noon, and the first pumpkin is pureed and ready to be bagged. K has started cooking up the second pumpkin. The third has yet to be approached. I also roasted up several red peppers to be marinated in rosemary, garlic, and olive oil.

But there must be a pause in the proceedings because I'm off to tie myself in pretzel knots with Erika the Prenatal Yoga Nazi. (No, really, I do like her - but I'm getting a little too big for prenatal plank pushups.)

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