I remember a time before Pumpkin Spice everything. Pumpkin was something I loved in bread and of course, in pie at Thanksgiving. Sometimes, I’d run into someone and we’d be all, *GASP* “I LOVE PUMPKIN, TOO!!!” Starbucks must have overheard that conversation because I think it was their Pumpkin Spice latte that propelled the time between Labor Day weekend and November 1st into PUMPKIN EVERYTHING.
Now, it’s a joke. I’m a white lady. Of course I’m into pumpkin stuff. But contrary to my stereotype, I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes. They taste like cough syrup. However, I still love pumpkin for both its color and taste. One of my wedding colors was orange and the top layer of our cake was pumpkin.
But as popular as pumpkin has become, I’ve learned that few people know how to cook it. My mom taught me to bake pumpkin when I was a little girl. We didn’t used canned pumpkin in our pies growing up. The difference is unparalleled.
For Magickally-minded people, the process of baking your pumpkin will enhance the Spirit of your Samhain, Thanksgiving, Yule, or whenever holiday. I use it in pie, cake, and a vegan Pumpkin-Kale casserole. I learned the Magickal part from my Covener Elizabeth LaBarca, who whispered Magick to some cookies we baked earlier this year.
Behold below! Baking a Magickal Spell!
Step 1: Finding the Right Pumpkin
The pumpkin you bake for cooking is different from the one you carve into a Jack-o-Lantern. They are smaller, as you can see I’m holding one in my hand in the pic below. You can usually find them at a Farmer’s Market, a pumpkin patch, or even some grocery stores. Make sure they’re marked as a Sugar, Cheese, or Pie Pumpkin. Check the pumpkin for soft spots, which can indicate rot. I usually buy two pumpkins because they can go bad very quickly. You can try your luck with cooking a Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin, but they’re grown for size and not for flavor. Last year, my pie turned out pretty icky because I used a big, stringy pumpkin that had no interest in being eaten. #neveragain
The Magick Step: Tell the pumpkin it’s beautiful and how happy you are to have it. Offer thanks to the earth for producing it, the farmer and workers for caring for and harvesting it, the drivers who brought it to your city (if you didn’t pick it, yourself), the store clerk or vendor who sold it to you, and to yourself for bringing it into your home.
Step 2: Clean and Cut!
Wash the pumpkin, thoroughly. Particularly if it’s fresh from a farm, there’s probably going to be soil in its crevices. You’re about to cut it open and you probably don’t want the soil in the pumpkin flesh. After washing, cut the pumpkin into 4 or 5 equally sized pieces. Scoop out stringy pulp and seeds, but be careful not to scoop too much (or any) flesh! Remove the stalk. The seeds can be baked later. They’ve been going on salads I’ve been eating all week!
The Magick Step: As you cut and clear away the parts of the pumpkin you don’t need, envision you are also cutting away worry, strife, negativity. Particularly if you have a history of painful, stressful holidays, envision those are the first things to flee with the stringy pulp.
Step 3: Bake the pumpkin
In a preheated 350 degree oven, arrange the pumpkin pieces, shell-side-up, on a baking dish or broiler pan. Bake them for 20-30 minutes or until you can easily pierce a fork all the way through the shell and flesh. Your house will smell SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOOODDDDD!!!!!!
Magickal step: Before putting the pumpkin in the oven, bless it with your wishes for the holiday season:love, humor, peace, connection, etc. While the pumpkin bakes, the aroma will carrying those wishes to every part of your home.
Step 4: Grind the pumpkin!
My mother says that in the pre-Cuisinart days, she and my grandmother used to strain the pumpkin until it got soft. I can’t even imagine. I thank the Gods daily for blessing us with modern appliances.
When the pumpkin has cooled, scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender. Pulse and grind until very smooth.
Magickal Step: While grinding, envision the experience you want you and/or your guests to have while eating the pumpkin. Joy? Prosperity? Abundant love? As the pumpkin grinds, those intentions will get locked up into it.
Step 5: VERY IMPORTANT! DRAIN DRAIN DRAIN!
Pumpkins hold a lot of water. The later in the season you bake your pumpkin, the more water it is likely to have. You want to get as much water out of the pumpkin before baking or cooking with it. Using a colander or a strainer, stick all the pumpkin in there and leave it to drain, occasionally folding it with a spatula to get more water out. A larger strainer works perfectly. I don’t have a large strainer and I had massive amounts of pumpkin to cook, so I used my pasta colander:
Magickal step: If we can envision the water being tears, imagine sorrow being drained from whoever eats the pumpkin, leaving only warm joy.
Last step: Freeze the pumpkin!
Especially if you’re saving the pumpkin for a few weeks, stick it in the freezer. Even if you’re planning to have pumpkin something at Samhain, I would recommend freezing for at least 48 hours and then thawing again. The thawing process releases even more water.
No matter what, drain the pumpkin one more time before adding to your recipe.
Magickal Step: If you freeze your pumpkin, envision the preservation of joy so that whoever eats the pumpkin carries a piece of the joy from the holiday with them, forever!
I have a new article out today with Modern Creative Life! It’s part of a sweet series called “Typical Tuesday.” Here it is!