The farmer said white pumpkins are good for baking
Halloween is my favorite holiday and I’m a purist when it comes to pumpkin carving. Pumpkins should be hand selected and picked from a pumpkin patch not bought at a grocery store or worse, the drugstore where I bought a bruised and mushy $25 pumpkin last year in New York. I’m in luck this year because Mary Kate and I are in Ohio this week visiting our parents and there are several pumpkin patches nearby.
Ohio is a great place to be right now. The leaves on the trees are bright oranges, yellows, magentas, and reds and the weather is cold but not too cold to hike around outside. Yesterday I dragged Mary Kate (she’s less enthusiastic about pumpkin carving) and our mom to Katie’s Pumpkin Patch. The patch is a fully functioning farm, but the corn and wheat fields surrounding the barn have been harvested so right now they sell apples, apple cider, and pumpkins.
Looking around at all different varieties of pumpkins available— some huge, others miniature— I was reminded of the Chinese pumpkin called nan gua (kabocha in Japanese). Nan gua pumpkins have a dark green-ridged skin and bright yellow flesh that tastes sweet. In the US it seem like we only cook with pumpkins in deserts but in China pumpkins are added to savory dishes. I’ve seen pumpkin strips stir-fried with salty black beans, cubed and slow-cooked with pork in broth, and also chopped into little bits and fried with rice and onions. I decided to not only get a pumpkin for carving my awesome jack-o-lantern but also a pumpkin for cooking. I asked a girl working at the patch for advice on which ones are best for cooking. I was surprised to learn that all pumpkins can be cooked but the larger they are, the more watery and fibrous the flesh tastes. I found a squat little pumpkin for $2! and loaded it into the little wagon shopping cart along with our other big jack-o-lantern pumpkins. I’m not sure what I’m going to make with it tonight. I’m leaning towards a Chinese stew. Check back in tomorrow to see how it turned out.
My mom hauling the pumpkins to the car.
The barn at Katie's Pumpkin Patch