All the Bounty of Fall

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

Fall didn’t simply roll in at homestead Gardens, but rushed in with all the clamor and fervor of a great tsunami spread through the vast acreage! The long awaited Barnyard took shape with a “big-top” tent to house presentations – Raptors’ Eye (large birds of prey), grilling workshops by yours truly, Reptile World and samples of food goodies. Abundant cornfields morphed into a corn maze. Mysteriously a Fairy Garden appeared! The  free-roaming donkeys, goats and chicken came to stay, each breed in their own pasture and the goats residing in a 3 level barn. Collossal mounds of pumpkins, apples, squash and gourds greet you in the food tent. Yet another stage was built for some rockin’ music; this weekend is the famous Orlando Phillips both Saturday and Sunday. And those Apple Cider “made to order” donuts magnetize with their aroma. All of these components bring together an evolution for “DESTINATION  LOCAL”…Homestead Gardens! They are setting themselves apart from being  just a garden center.

 From the produce department, “It is our goal to provide fresh-from-the-farm produce and goods from local farms and orchards”!

Apples… 6+ varieties! Selection depends on what the farms are harvesting that week.

Pumpkins… 10+ varieties! Homestead Gardens brings in a wide selection of pumpkins each fall. From decorative, to the perfect pie-making pumpkin, each variety offers a different taste.

  • White: light, nutmeggy flavor
  • Howden: rich flavor
  • Neck: little pulp, nice light flavor…Best for pies! 

 Now for the cooking

Preparing these fall icons may seem a chore to some who tend to use pumpkins and squash as decor. Actually it’s a breeze if you understand how to roast the pumpkin or squash so you can have the foundation to make a myriad of recipes. I did this and had a ton of the vegetable to use for desserts, dips, salad and just simply grilled. You may want to freeze a portion of the puree and use it all winter. I experimented with the Neck Pumpkin for many of these recipes. I also worked with the Turks Turban as I had never cooked it before.

 P.S. Don’t forget the seeds, if you’re taking the time to roast the pumpkin or squash, you might as well yummy toasted seeds.

 How to Roast A Fresh Pumpkin by Pioneer Woman

The best way to understand how to accomplish this is to see an article with lots of photos. Pioneer Woman does just that. Click on the title above.


Pumpkin Yogurt Oil Bread

 Makes 1 regular size loaf or 3 mini loaves

When I made this, I used my favorite-olive oil. Rest assured the flavor doesn’t come through, yet you know it’s good for you. In fact the pumpkin, yogurt and oil make this one nutrient-dense cake!

  •  1/2 cup olive oil or peanut oil
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup plain thick yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

 Cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Stir flour, baking soda, and salt together and add to the butter and sugar. Add the pumpkin, sour cream, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir.

 Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350*F. for 1 hour. If using mini loaf pans, bake for about 45 minutes. This makes 3 mini loaves for me.

When cool, dust the top with confectioners sugar.

 Variation: A crumb topping is always a hit and with a few additional ingredients you have a crunchy seedy layer.

Crumb Topping

  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)

Combine ingredients and sprinkle on top of cake batter in loaf pan. Bake.


Corn Stuffed Turks Turban Squash

Serves 4-6

 This recipe is a sure “remake”. Change it as you like by adding drained and rinsed black beans, carrots, celery or bell pepper to the stuffing. You can also trade the pork for chicken or leave meat out entirely for a vegetarian meal. Don’t let the Turks Turban fool you with it’s rock hard shell. Once roasted, the interior is buttery soft.

  • 1 (3 pound) turban squash
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Corn cut from 4 ears fresh corn
  • 1 small jalapeno chile pepper, minced (optional)
  • 1/2 pound cooked pork, diced
  • 1  cup soft breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Preheat oven to 350°F.

 Cut the top off the turban squash, as you would for a jack-o-lantern type pumpkin. Scoop out seeds and pulp and discard. Place turban squash, cut sides down, on an oiled or foil covered baking sheet, and cover with more foil.

 Roast for 50-60 minutes or until tender.

 Scoop out tender pulp from cavity of squash and dice. Reserve for stuffing.

 Heat butter in a saucepan over medium high. Add onions, corn kernels and jalapeno (if using); saute 5 minutes. Mix in pork, bread crumbs, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cooked squash . Stir until well-mixed.

 Spoon filling lightly into the cavity of the turban squash, and cover with the top. Place extra filling (if any) into a separate dish and bake in oven.

 Bake squash and extra filling for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

 Serve hot or room temperature.