Saturday, October 31, 2015

Scaring Away Waste

Tonight millions of orange skinned leering faces will peer from windowsills, or perch guarding doorsteps. Their sharp features, gleaming in the autumn night, will welcome witches and warlocks, and greet gobbling and ghouls. But over time their faces will wrinkle, the chiseled features that terrorized small humans will soften and sag. What begins as a slow and graceful decline, hastens to a rapid fall. Ultimately, most end up in the rubbish, destined for landfill. A sad end to the mighty jack-o-lantern, I know.

Millions of pumpkins meet that fate each Halloween. While some lucky few make it into a backyard compost, 18,000 tones of organic matter is literally trashed annually in the UK (so just imagine the US...). The crazy thing in my mind is that most pumpkins are perfectly edible. While I'm sure you want to let the fanged face linger in front of your house, it is perhaps a wiser and less wasteful move to salvage the usable flesh (and compost the rest) after this day of trickery and treating. Here's what I ended up making with a slice of pumpkin:

Chocolate Chunk Cucurbites*
1 cup pumpkin purée (about a 6inch slice from a medium pumpkin with a decent amount of flesh, roasted, skinned, puréed, and then allowed to train through sieve for 30 minutes)
1/2 cup oil (sunflower or perhaps melted coconut)
1 cup unrefined sugar
1 tbs maple syrup or dark agave
1 orange, zested

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tbs arrow root powder
1/2 cups rolled oats
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp all spice 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds or chocolate chunks 

1. Whisk together oil and sugar until viscous. Add pumpkin, zest, and syrup, mixing until smooth.
2. Sift in flour, arrow root, salt, soda, and spice. Incorporate but don't overmix.
3. Fold in oats and chips or seeds (or both?!). If too much like a batter than cookie dough, add a bit more flour or oats.
4. Preheat oven to 175C or 350F. Dollop tablespoons of dough onto a lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until starting to brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Read More
Pumpkin Power: energy.gov/articles/turn-your-Halloween-pumpkins-power
Pumpkin Rescue: www.hubbub.org.uk/Event/pumpkin-rescue
Eating Pumpkins: www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/30/452856477/are-we-wasting-millions-of-jack-o-lanterns-that-we-could-be-eating

*teehee, winter squash are Cucurbites! And many of the winter squash we designate as "pumpkins" are Cucurbita maxima (with some exceptions).

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