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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pumpkins Valuable Resource

Pumpkins are technically a type of squash. Native Americans have grown pumpkins along side corn and beans. The three crops of corn, beans and pumpkin were considered sisters of agriculture. Pumpkins were one of the earliest food crops in America. Native Americans would dine on both pumpkin flesh and seeds. Some Mexican tribes thought pumpkin seeds offered exceptional energy and endurance to those who ate them. They would grind pumpkin seeds into flour and mix it with corn meal to make breads. 

Pumpkin strips would be roasted over camp fires and dined on. Native Americans would use pumpkins to make it through the long cold winters. The flesh of the pumpkin would be used in many ways including roasted, baked, parched and dried. Pumpkin seeds were used as medicine as well. Pumpkin blossoms were added to stews and dried pumpkins could be stored and ground into flour. 
The pumpkin was dried and the shell would be used as bowls and containers. Grains, beans and seeds were stored within the pumpkin canister. The pumpkin flesh could have been pounded into strips that were wove into mats and used for trading purposes. 
Native Americans shared pumpkin with the pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. The pilgrims learned the importance of the pumpkin as a sustainable crop. Pilgrims learned many uses for pumpkins that stretched from uses that the Native Americans taught them to pumpkin beer and a mold for cutting hair. 

Pumpkin Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a narrow loaf pan to cook thoroughly and avoid the sticky middle.
½ cup vegetable oil, safflower or corn
1½ cup sugar (or substitute  equivalent sweetener)
2 eggs
1 cup puréed, cooked
pumpkin or canned
1¼ cup flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
? cup water
½ cup raisins
½ cup nuts (walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, or other)
½ teaspoon each: allspice, cinnamon, ground clove, nutmeg
Mix sugar, oil, pumpkin, eggs and water in a large bowl. In another large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the wet mix to the dry mixture and stir until well moistened. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for one hour. Be sure the top has a characteristic crack down the middle which means it is cooked through. Move to a rack to cool.
Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: New Native American Cooking, Native New England Cooking and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.

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