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Pie Pumpkin and other winter squash

In what seems like another lifetime, I was cook/deckhand on an old coastal tugboat on which my then-young husband was captain. We hauled barges up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Occasionally, we would make a trip that was far enough offshore that US Coast Guard regs would compel us to take on some extra crew.  That’s how we met Dave Lupton. He was one of three extra hands we had to hire (or more accurately, the tug’s owner hired) when we had a tow out to the US naval base in Bermuda. That experience, including the tug engine that caught fire, which compelled us to return to the island followed by the bus engine that caught fire while we were ashore, all of which is another story entirely.).

Anyhoo, decades later, my now-older, no wiser, but definitely more experienced husband, Gary, is senior master of another tug and barge unit (the largest currently operating in the world according to the company’s info) that hauls petroleum. Dave Lupton is his AB (Able-Bodied) tankerman.  Dave, a good-natured Virginian, who also loves good food, has talked recipes with me off and on for years.  When I met them at Wilmington Marine terminal during their fall tour aboard, he asked  if I had ever tasted pumpkin butter.

Put all ingredients into heavy pot, stir and simmer

“Nope.”

“You gotta try it!” he drawled.  “My mother-in-law makes it, and it’s awwsum.”

“Get me her recipe and I’ll make some,” I promised. “I’ve got a batch of pie pumpkins and winter squash on the porch.”

So he did and I did. He’s right: it’s awwsum! Bright, not too sweet, flavorful, it’s good by the spoonful, but would be terrific on multigrain toast, muffins, in yogurt, and on top of coeur de la creme (link to a recipe below). The next trick is to get a jar of the just-made pumpkin butter to Dave when he gets off the boat and heads home sometime this week. Meanwhile, Here’s the recipe his mother-in-law uses.

SPICED PUMPKIN BUTTER

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Cool 30 minutes

Ingredients

3 ½ cups pumpkin puree or 2 15-oz can pumpkin

1 ¼ cups pure maple syrup

½ cup apple juice

2 tblsp lemon juice

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp salt

In a 5-quart heavy pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 25 minutes or until thickened, stirring often, If mixture splatters, reduce heat more.

Ladle hot pumpkin into sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/2inch headspace. Seal and label and let cool. Store in refrigerator. Or ladle into freezer containers and freeze.

Pumpkin butter ladled into sterilized jars and sealed

 If using fresh pie pumpkin instead of canned:

Preheat oven to 375F. Scrub two 2 1;2-3 pound pie pumpkins (or in this case, one long-neck pie pumpkin/butternut-type squash). Cut pumpkins into 50inch square pieces – or into chunks. Remove seeds and fibrous strings. Arrange pieces on a shallow baking pan. Roast, covered, skin side up, for about 1 -1 ½ hours or until tender. When cool enough, scoop pump from rind. Place pulp, in batches if necessary, in a blender or food processer, and process until smooth. Place in a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl to drain for about an hour so pulp is thick.

Coeur de la creme recipe:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/coeur-a-la-creme-with-raspberry-and-grand-marnier-sauce-recipe/index.html

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