Friday, September 2, 2016

Pumpkin It Up! Tips and Cookbook Giveaway

"Oh how we love pumpkin season. You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right? Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin ... . We anxiously anticipate it every year." ~ Unknown

This week we have enjoyed sampling recipes from the delightful new cookbook Pumpkin It Up! I am so pleased to welcome author Eliza Cross.

A Little Loveliness is such a well-written, beautiful and inspiring blog. I love your heartfelt writing style and beautiful photography, and the fact that you’ve been blogging since 2008 is a testament to your commitment and how much we readers love your wonderful posts. I am honored to be here today! 

Thank you, Eliza! Your new cookbook is a delight. Our obsession with pumpkins seems to grow stronger each year. What is the allure of this favorite fall gourd?

To me, the mild, slightly sweet flavor of pumpkin evokes the very best aspects of home cooking: warmth, comfort, tradition—even love. Perhaps that’s why the tantalizing taste of pumpkin stars in so many products right now, from breakfast cereal to yogurt to cookies and even potato chips.

What inspired you to produce a cookbook devoted to pumpkins? 

I’m a pumpkin lover and grower from way back. The first time I learned that pumpkins could be used for something besides pie was when I was a kid and our local dairy offered seasonal pumpkin spice ice cream at Thanksgiving. My mom also baked a wonderful pumpkin bread that was divine. When I was 10, I planted a pumpkin patch in our back yard in Boulder. An early freeze killed most of the commercial pumpkin crop causing a pumpkin shortage that year, but somehow my pumpkins survived and thrived. So I loaded up a wagon and sold pumpkins to all the neighbors, turning my first pumpkin profit! 

During the recipe development phase, were there any surprises you encountered or lessons learned in working with pumpkins?

If you’re accustomed to making pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin, the color will be much more “orangey” when preparing a pie filling with fresh pumpkin. Another surprise was that not all pumpkins are easy to grow. Last year I tried growing Amish Pie Pumpkins, but my thumb wasn’t green enough and we ended up with one precious pumpkin. I used it to make creamy Curried Pumpkin Soup, which reminds me – I’ve been drooling over the velvety pumpkin soup recipe that you shared on your blog, and can’t wait to try it.

Going far beyond traditional pumpkin pie, Pumpkin It Up! offers recipes that range from sweet to savory and options that can be enjoyed throughout the day. How can home cooks make the most of pumpkin season?

I always suggest buying or growing some extra baking pumpkins when they’re in season so you can try new ways of cooking them. You can add chopped pumpkin to a savory Pumpkin, Potato and Bacon Hash, or slice it and make crispy Pumpkin Fries, or even top a pizza with cooked pumpkin, sausage and caramelized onions. On the sweet end of the spectrum, pumpkin stars beautifully in desserts like Pumpkin Cream Puffs, Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bars and Creamy Pumpkin Tiramisu. Pumpkin  freezes really well, too, so if you cook and freeze it you can always have pumpkin on hand to add to a variety of recipes. Canned pumpkin can also be used in many of the recipes in my book. (As a side note, my son and daughter always preferred homemade pumpkin puree to other baby food. It’s pure and natural, and babies seem to really like it!) 

You have certainly given us plenty of inspiration, Eliza. Any other thoughts or advice?

I always remind readers not to discard the pumpkin seeds when they’re scooping out a pumpkin. The roasted seeds are a treat, and they’re actually quite a healthy snack with good fiber and nutrients. Another tip is that if you choose good, firm pumpkins with no soft spots they will usually keep very well. You can often use them in your fall decorating, and then cook them when you’re ready. I love the way you utilized pumpkins in your Thanksgiving table.

Thank you so much, Eliza, for sharing these wonderful thoughts on incorporating pumpkins into our harvest menus and decor!

 For your chance to win a copy of this new cookbook, leave a comment on this post. The winner will be announced in plenty of time for autumn baking.

Gourd photo from A Little Loveliness. Recipe photos and book cover used with permission from Pumpkin It Up! 

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