Friday, November 16, 2007

Pumpkin Broth and Spaghetti Squash

Dan always tells me that I'm turning into his grandmother, Margaret. It's because I pick up cans and bottles on the street and bring them home from the restaurant to recycle, I'm obsessed with the notion of 'dumpster diving' (simply because I can't stand the idea that good food is just being thrown away, uh, and I'm a poor student), and I've been known to do really odd frugal things, like save dental floss (in my defense, we were traveling and damn if I didn't know if I would need some dental floss) and bring home chicken carcasses from friend's dinners to turn into broth for someone else's meal. My most recent thing is that I've been collecting the pumpkins that silly people throw away, assuming that now Halloween has passed, their usefulness is exhausted. Not true! A pumpkin is tasty! It has lots of seeds that can be baked! Sure, it's a pain in the ass to process it, but sometimes I feel like lobotomizing and cooking a pumpkin.
I had no idea what I was doing last night but decided to go at the smallest one I had. Knife in hand, I attacked, but discovered that the outer shell was like pressed wood. By the time I had gotten about a quarter of it peeled and cubed, I decided that would be enough. Then I tossed it into a pot with some onions that I had carmelizing, plus some cumin, and waited for it to cook. A little bit of vegetable broth later, I started wondering what else I could do with it. How about some dried galangal and kaffir lime leaves? Tossed that in. A little bit of allspice, some salt, some sugar...

It kind of looked gross. But it tasted okay. I let it cook a while longer, and in the meantime wanted to use up some leftover wonton wrappers on their last legs, so made stuffing out of a package of mixed mushrooms, a little soy sauce, minced garlic, and sausage (vegan, and quite spicy) squeezed out of the casing. Soup tasted better, but I didn't like the idea of eating all the solid stuff in there, so I decided to strain in, squeeze out the pumpkin mix, and use the pumpkin-broth as a base for egg-drop soup. Brilliant! I'm serious, this turned out to be one of those rare moments that I exhibit true and unwavering brilliance. It was so, so good. Plus, I added the pumpkin (sans galangal and lime leaves), to the wonton filling and hence pumpkin-mushroom wontons were born. What didn't get stuffed into the wee wrappers I mixed in with a spaghetti squash that I was baking, so then I had pumpkin-mushroom spaghetti.

So, in conclusion, I take this as a positive development in my culinary evolution, and wanted to share. Also, I realized the other day that I don't think about sex anymore, I think about food.

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