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Pumpkin Season!

October 25, 2012

It’s been a beautiful Fall so far here in southwest Michigan – not too cold, not to rainy, and the leaves have been beautiful.  I said the other day that, just like snow, even though we had to rake them up, the leaves were pretty on the ground as well as on the trees.

With turning of the seasons, Fall cooking starts to come into play – soups, chili, stews, meatloaf – all those things that are so good and comforting, but you don’t want to make when it’s 95 degrees out.  Also, the pumpkin arrives!  Most people use pumpkin mainly for decoration and pie, but there’s a lot more that can be done with it.

I’ll be honest and say I just use canned pumpkin for my recipes.  First off, I don’t want to go through the hassle of cutting up and cooking a fresh gourd.  Secondly, I wouldn’t know a cooking pumpkin from a hole in the wall, so I’m better off just opening a can.  Always, always get 100% pumpkin puree if you’re buying a can!  There are “pumpkin pie fillings” you can buy, but those already have added spices and sugar that might change the result of your recipe.  Plus, not to endorse a particular brand, but I’ve looked at the labels, and the Libby’s brand has better nutrition than most store brands – fewer calories, more fiber, and more protein.

Last week, the food section of Yahoo! listed a batch of pumpkin recipes – everything from soups to pies – that included a pumpkin-gingersnap ice cream.  Sounded tasty, so I limbered up an old ice cream maker we adopted from my parents.  Of course, this requires pre-freezing the canister of the contraption, so everything has to be started a day or two ahead of when you actually want to make the ice cream!  Also, I mixed the ingredients and chilled it for an hour or so before putting it in the machine so the process would go as quickly as possible.

Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream

1 pt. (2 cups) whipping cream
1/2 c milk
1 c packed light brown sugar
1 c pumpkin puree
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
1/2 c coarsely crushed gingersnaps
2 T bourbon (optional)

Whisk all ingredients except gingersnaps and bourbon in a bowl to blend.  Chill for at least 1 hour before using ice cream maker.

Pour mixture into prepared ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.  Depending on your machine, you can add the bourbon and gingersnaps about halfway through the freezing process.

Scrape ice cream into a container and freeze, covered, until scoopable, about 2 1/2 hours and up to one week.  Gingersnaps will soften somewhat after a day or so.

This made about 4 cups of a soft ice cream that I froze in a covered plastic tub.  The pumpkin keeps the  ice cream from solidifying too much and forming ice crystals, so it’s nice and creamy even without eggs in the mix.

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