A Pumpkin By Any Other Name

When I returned home Thursday afternoon from a morning of teaching, I was informed that surprises–plural–awaited me in the kitchen.  Cookies?  Chocolates?  Wonderful things come in the mail?

Every inch the kitchen counter was covered with pumpkins.  Joshua and Jacob had spent the morning at a local pumpkin patch, buying (at half price) eighty pounds of pumpkins that would otherwise have been sold to local beef and pork farmers for feed, seeing as Halloween had come and gone and left many, many pumpkins behind.

Now I’m not talking about the typical field pumpkin that is used almost exclusively for Halloween carving; I am talking about pumpkins with names in other languages: “Marina di chioggia” and “Galeux d’eysines.”  I’m talking about pumpkins with names like “Long Island Cheese” and “Jarrahdale” and “Shamrock” and “Australian Butter.”  I’m talking about pumpkins like these:

(They are from left to right: Galeaux d’Esyines, Marina di chioggia, Austrailian Butter, Jarrahdale, Long Island Cheese and Shamrock).

(That’s Jacob, telling me that he could see a rabbit in the strange, barnacle-like texture of the Galeaux.  I saw it, too).

I’ve been scouring cookbooks and blogs for pumpkin recipes, making plans for soups, curries, gnocchi, risotto, and of course pies, breads and muffins, that will dominate our menu until…oh, I would guess Marchish. And yesterday, I woke up thinking about a cookie.  Not a pumpkin cookie per se, but a cookie studded with pepitas–the little green heart of the pumpkin seed.  It is a sugar cookie to beat all sugar cookies, and a cookie, I decided, that would be the perfect end to a meal of Thai-curried pumpkin soup, made with a Kabocha pumpkin:

The Lime Sugar Cookie recipe is from Rebar, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant in Victoria, BC.  During our years in East Van I had several friends cook from the Rebar cookbook for me, and my taste buds and tummy were only ever pleased.  We made a point of visiting Victoria–and Rebar–before leaving Canada and I bought a copy of their cookbook for myself.  Yesterday I congratulated myself for making such a wise purchase:  the soup was good, but the cookies were the inspiration for the whole meal and what I had spent the day anticipating.  They did not disappoint.  Even when I thought I had over-baked them, it  turned out everyone in this household prefers a sugar cookie that’s a little crisp on the outside anyway.  To my delight and relief, they were still soft on the inside.  There will doubtlessly be many pumpkin recipes to share in the coming months, but for now, hasten to the pantry and make yourself a batch of these cookies.  And tell someone you love that a surprise awaits them in the kitchen.

Lime Sugar Cookie with Pepitas

(for 12 large cookies)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 TBS vegetable (or coconut) oil

zest of one lime

1 large egg

2 TBS lime juice

1 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/4 cup toasted pepitas, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Cream sugar, butter, oil and lime zest until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and lime juice, and beat together to incorporate.  Add the flour, pepitas, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.  Using a 2 oz ice cream soup, or forming ~3 TBS balls, drop the batter onto a cookie sheet, leaving space in between for the cookies to spread during baking.  Flatten each slightly and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 8 minutes, or until the edges are only barely beginning to tan.  Cool on a wire rack.

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