It's almost Thanksgiving here, the weather is beautiful, and I'm reposting some of our favourite fall recipes from the last two years.
Pumpkin Butter (from The Vegetarian Times Cookbook)
4 cups pureed pumpkin (or squash)
1/2 to 1 cup honey (or we have also used part brown sugar--it's to your own taste)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger
2 to 3 tbsp. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat for 45-60 minutes, stirring often (and I find it takes longer than that, depending on how much you have and how hot you're cooking it). You'll know it's done when it's very thick, smooth, probably darker than you started with (pumpkin goes darker than squash), and it seems to pull away from the sides of the pot when you stir it. You can seal it in hot, sterilized canning jars, but we don't bother--we just keep it in the fridge. It's good on toast or muffins.
"Glorious Golden Pumpkin Pie"
There are very similar recipes for this in two of Edna Staebler's cookbooks (Food that Really Schmecks and Schmecks Appeal: More Mennonite Country Cooking). I've made them both and the only real difference (I think) is in the amount of filling that the recipe makes. So here is the Schmecks Appeal version, and if you happen to want a little more (extra company coming), you can look for one of the reprint copies of Food That Really Schmecks.
2 cups pureed pumpkin (canned is just fine)
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. rum (optional) or 1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites, beaten stiff (I use the food processor whipping attachment to get them good and stiff)
Pastry for a 9-inch pie (I use pat-in pastry because I'm lazy)
Whipped cream for garnish if you want
Mix the pumpkin, egg yolks, milk and rum or vanilla. (We use vanilla.) Add the sugar, blended with the spices and salt. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Turn the mixture into the unbaked pie shell and bake at 400 degress for 10 minutes (I start it at 425 degrees instead of 400 though), then at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes longer or until a knife comes out clean.
Cranberry Sauce (from Food that Really Schmecks, but it's a standard recipe)
In a pot, combine 2 parts cranberries to 1 part water and 1 part sugar. We used 2 cups cranberries, about 3/4 cup water (because I don't like it thin) and 1 cup sugar. Some might find it too sweet; you could experiment. Stir to dissolve the sugar, but after that don't stir it. You're supposed to boil it for about 5 minutes, until all the berries have popped; but mine don't always pop, and it still turns out. So I'd say just cook it for about 5 to 10 minutes until it looks pretty much done. It should thicken a bit in the fridge (so I make it a day ahead).
Bread Stuffing (adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1986)
The main ingredient in this--really--is the bread, right? So don't try to make this with your average store bread--it's not worth it, and it's too hard to cube anyway. If you don't use homemade bread, then try something like "Texas Toast" or another thick-sliced commercial bread (white or whole wheat). (Clarification: I just found out that in some places Texas Toast means garlic bread, and that's not what I meant. Around here it's just a thick-sliced white bread.)
1 1/2 cups chopped celery, with leaves if possible
3/4 finely chopped onion
3/4 cup margarine or butter
9 cups soft bread cubes (or less if you know you won't eat that much)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each ground sage and thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper (or a good grinding from the pepper mill)
Some chopped dried apricots (my addition)
You can chop the celery and onion together in the food processor, if that makes it easier. Cook them in the margarine, in a large pot, until they are soft; remove from heat; stir in the remaining ingredients.
At this point, Betty Crocker gives several variations, including what to do if you're not using this to stuff anything: put in an ungreased 2-quart casserole, cover and bake in 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes (the book says "until hot and bubbly", but I've never had bubbly stuffing and I'm not sure I want to). What I do (since we always eat it separately, not in the bird) is make the stuffing around 10 or 11 in the morning and then put it in a slow cooker, on low, for the rest of the day.