Recycling Jack


"Mom, something terrible has happened." His small face looks up at me as he whispers these words.

"Just get a towel and mop it up," I say, continuing to make myself a cup of coffee.

"No, it's not a spill."

"Get the dust buster and vacuum it up," I suggest.

"Nothing tipped over, Mom."

I turn toward him, stooping down. On his level. "I'm not sure that I want to know right now."

"It's my pumpkin. Matt broke it."

Up we go to survey the damage. I hear three versions of what has happened, but I figure that his older brother dropped it while holding it as he jumped on his bed. Possibly to see what would happen to it as it hit the floor.

After some weeping, my young son is calm enough to accept his brother's suggestion to make it into a pumpkin pie.

Fine. We can do that, I think, naively.

I gather up the ripped-open thing and place it into a plastic bag, shoving it into the refrigerator for the night. We can do this. Sure we can.

Next day brings the discovery that several leading cookbooks fail to have a recipe for cooking the jack o'lantern that makes an early departure. Two choices: 1)Remove seeds and stringy stuff, bake pieces in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour and then scrape the pulp off the rind. Or 2)Remove seeds and stringy stuff, cut into pieces, cook for half an hour in one inch of water, and then scrape the pulp off the rind. The second choice is a little tricky if you cook it too long.

Recipes for pumpkin this and that all call for canned pumpkin. But hopefully what we end up with after all this cooking and mashing will be just as good as that 89-cent can of pumpkin.

We can go crazy, taking the seeds to bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Wait. The recipe wants you to hull all those slimy things first. The boys are encouraged to take the seeds for next year's garden.

We could make soup for dinner and serve it with that small piece of ham in the fridge. There are two recipes. One sounds like a dessert. The other has lots of salt and curry in it.

Pie calls for condensed milk. I have none.

Well muffins, then, just muffins, or maybe a loaf of pumpkin bread, I mutter.

Finally, I have cooked this mass of orange squash. "What's that smell?" the children want to know.

I have six cups of this stuff. Pumpkin pie wants one cup. Soup will use four cups. Muffins will use 1/2 cup of mashed pumpkin.

Who writes cookbooks anyway. Don't they know that people use cookbooks like emergency medicine guides? A suddenly good back-yard harvest of peaches, a large bag of tomatoes received as a gift, or a miscarried jack need immediate attention and recipes that do not require gobs of time or money to purchase ingredients not usually found on the shelf.

Now here's a recipe for which I have all the necessary ingredients. It's in "Hunt to Harbor." I could make as many as 100 pumpkin muffins over the next few days. Or I could make a double batch and store the rest of the pumpkin mish mash in the refrigerator until it grows moldy.

Meanwhile, my son creates a recipe:

1 1/2 spunes of sugar

1 spune of choclate pouder

1/2 jug of hot water

1 mitium pumpkin

Sture for one minote

Now there's a recipe that will use up the whole thing. Dare I try it?

Kate Hartig writes from Parkton.

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