Monday, October 3, 2011


So it’s fall now, (um, yeah, not really here, but I like to pretend), and that means it’s time to cook with pumpkin…well at least it does for me.  Surprisingly, we can actually get pumpkins here, which is great!  Notice I said pumpkins though, not cans of pumpkin puree, which is what I have always used in the States when making pumpkin treats.  Here in Tarakan I have learned the joys, (hmmm, joy is a strong word), of making pumpkin puree from an actual pumpkin, and since this is something that I do on a fairly regular basis, I decided to document it because it is just a small answer to the ever-present question of ‘So, Sarah, what do you do in Indonesia?’…

Here’s the pumpkin – Chris was actually given this pumpkin in one of the villages he flew into.  I think it is kind of fun because it’s whitish.  The pumpkins we typically get from the market here are sort of a dusty orange.

First I cut the pumpkin in half, which is always the scariest part for me.  The pumpkin skin and flesh are so tough I’m constantly afraid I’ll cut myself while wrestling with the pumpkin.    

Then I scoop out the seeds and all the stringy stuff-this part is reminiscent of pumpkin carving at Halloween!  I haven’t dried and cooked up the seeds from the pumpkins here yet; maybe I will try that soon.  I love roasted pumpkin seeds-yum!  Sometimes at this point I cut some of the raw pumpkin and put it in the fridge to use for stew, risotto, or even to sauté as a side dish.

I put the pumpkin halves face down in a couple of oven-proof pans and add a little water to the bottom of each pan to help the pumpkin steam as well as roast.

Then I pop the pans into the preheated oven at 300 degrees and let them roast for about one hour.  The pumpkin halves are done when a knife goes easily through them, or in the case of this pumpkin, the skin splits and it starts falling apart in the pan.

Next step, I let the pumpkin cool until it can be handled without burning myself, no, that’s actually a lie.  That’s what should be done, but I am notoriously impatient in matters of cooking, and so I regularly burn myself during this step, and indeed in many other kitchen tasks.  Honestly, My arms and hands are a veritable storybook of cooking mishaps-I really must change my ways one of these days.  Anyway, when the pumpkin is cool (or still pretty hot), I scoop the flesh out and put it in the food processor to puree.  Hint for anyone who might try this at home, vent your food processor (my processor has a small handle on the lid that pops out to vent it), or the steam can make the lid burst off and the contents explode all over the kitchen.  I may or may not have learned this the hard way.  Just saying. 

Once the pumpkin is nicely pureed, I dump it onto a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, cover it and let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours.  I usually let the pumpkin strain overnight.  I have used it unstrained before, but it is really watery and that sometimes messes up the recipe I am trying to use the pumpkin in.

The next day I take the strainer off the bowl-look at all the liquid that drained out!

Then I put the strained pumpkin in a container and save it in the fridge or freezer for later, or I use it to make something yummy…like pumpkin scones, which I made the other day and ate with a mock pumpkin spice latte made with homemade pumpkin spice syrup.

Just another little taste (ha-ha) of one of the things that keeps me busy over here.

Happy autumn!


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