Oh Great Pumpkin!

February 6, 2016


What is it about kids and pumpkins?

Google children’s books and you’ll find dozens of pumpkin-themed volumes covering every aspect of the vegetable. Is it because they’re fun to carve? Easy to grow? Great to look at?

I don’t have the answer to that, but I do know that Pete Seeger understood the pumpkin mystique. In the introduction to this vintage cookbook (written in his own hand), Seeger goes on about his love for the big orange vegetable, inviting readers to become part of his “pumpkin project.”FullSizeRender-1 2

What exactly was the “pumpkin project?” The author, Erik Knud-Hansen explains:

“The Clearwater sloop spends most of the year as an educational tool in the struggle to clear up the polluted Hudson River environment.  But in late October her huge sails waft her one hundred miles to the Catskill Mountain region.  There our farmer friends and local sloop members load the deck high with a thousand fine fat pumpkins. Down past Storm King, past Indian Point, under the George Washington bridge, she sails, to South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan, with her cart of pumpkins for New York children to make Halloween jack-o-lanterns.

And after the jack-o-lanterns have been carved? Just re-cycle them into these fine pumpkin foods.”

The recipes, according to Seeger, came from all over the world. “If we were to thank all the cooks who originally experimented and developed these recipes, we would be sending letters thousands of miles in all directions and many centuries back into history.”

His main point, I think, was a protest against processed food. And a prescient plea to use every edible bit. Which is why I think this recipe is particularly appropriate.

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