As winter started to loosen its firm grip on Toronto, green things began sprouting out of my mind. I wanted to plant some seeds! It was still too cold to plant anything outside but my green thumb was itchy. I decided to get some seeds sprouting in the warmth and the indirect light on the 3rd floor so that they’d be ready for a transplant to the garden by the time spring officially decided to move in.
First step, seeds! We looked through our gardening inventory and found several packets of seeds. The problem was, they were all a year or more past their expiration date. I’m not a big believer in expiration dates. I developed a keen awareness of their arbitrariness while dumpster diving as my main source of food. However, the efficacy of seeds could be more complex than using my nose to tell if a container full of yogurt was spoiled or not. I began searching online for how to test if old seeds were still good or not.
How to turn a large pumpkin, into bountiful amounts of delicious food.
Natalie, who lives at the house, was given two pumpkins back in October – the kind that typically get used for Halloween then thrown in the garbage or composted. No one got around to carving them, so they sat on our front porch for a long time. The larger one was eventually conquered by squirrels. They slowly gnawed away at the thick skin until they had made a large enough hole to get inside and gather all the seeds. The other one was more or less spared. We brought it inside and put it in a cold room where it sat until a few days ago. I figured it was time to try to cook something out of it. I hate to see food go to waste.
It was a fair bit of work to chop it up, and separate out the seeds. I found a great recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds at recipezaar.com (an excellent site for peer rated recipes) that involved soaking the seeds in salted water, then roasting them. They turned out delicious!
Next, I used the seed soaking water as a soup base. I made a large soup with some of the cooked pumpkin pieces, greens, ginger, spices, fresh dried hot pepper (from our neighbour’s garden), lentils, and a few things that needed to be used up in the fridge. The soup is not shown in the picture above – it was eaten too quickly.
I still had a lot of pumpkin pieces, so I decided to have a go at making pumpkin pie filling to eat as a pudding. I found a promising recipe at recipezaar and tried it out. It tasted too bland so I doubled the spice. I also added some roasted chestnuts that we had on hand. I only used a third as much sweetener – maple syrup. Turned out great.
Tip: Typically these kind of recipes call for a food processor or blender. I don’t like using such devices as they are a lot of work to clean out. Instead I used a handheld blender (see photo), a very convenient tool for mixing stuff right in a pot or bowl. I also used it to turn the soup from chunky to smooth, right in the pot.