Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's the Great Pumpkin Holiday!

Oh, Good Grief! What a day...

While the other great pumpkin holiday is still close to a month away (yes, Thanksgiving, that's you), All-Hallows Eve is tomorrow. I did a bit of digging on this holiday, seeing as I only know it from a superficial, trick-or-treat standpoint. Generally considered to have evolved from the Celtic end-of-summer festival, Samhain. It was both a period during which the realm of spirits opened to the world of the living, and a day in which to take stock of food supplies for the winter. Very practical.

At present, lit-up goolish grins stare out from the orange globes that decorate household stoops. While traditional Irish jack-o-lanterns were made out of very large turnips, North Americans adapted a harvest tradition of carving pumpkins to suit this imported holiday. Upon closer scrutiny, Halloween is really a harvest festival just like Thanksgiving. We celebrate autumn crops of winter squash, corn, and apples. Even the custom of dressing up finds its roots in the harvest, with masks operating to ward off demons that brought droughts and destruction to crops.

Let me transition from that little bit of food-for-thought to something tasty to complement the weekend's festivities. While you can make pumpkin butter, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, and pumpkin curry, I find it hard to pass up a good old-fashioned pumpkin muffin. Here's my latest creation to sink your teeth into.
Pumpkin Hazelnut Muffins

1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup oil
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh cooked pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (raw or toasted)

1. Whisk together milk, oil, and vinegar. Let sit for a few, and then whisk in your sugar and vanilla until the mixture starts to emuslify.
2. Mix in pumpkin. Follow this with the whole gamut of dry ingredients. Finish the batter off with the addition of hazelnuts.
3. Portion off into a dozen standard muffin cups, six giant ones, or a couple dozen mini ones.
4. Bake anywhere from 15-35 minutes (depending on size) in a 350F oven.
5. Best enjoyed warm...perhaps with a dollop of nice dairy-free vanilla ice cream...


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