Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pumpkin, A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year, by DeeDee Stovel

Notice: I'm posting this review before I have had a chance to make any of the recipes contained in this cook book for two reasons:

1. I want to make every recipe in this book and it would delay the review considerably if I stopped to do so; and
2. I read this month's book club read and one other book which both require a good deal of thought. Growing a little tired of editing and re-editing soon-to-come posts, I'm going to stop focusing on those other books and think about pumpkins instead.

It should be noted that I like to cook (and bake, which I think is a funny thing to distinguish). I enjoy putting together meals for my family from scratch. Yes, it does take a heaping lot of effort and many hours of planning and preparation but I do believe it is worth it. (Except I really was frustrated when I spent an hour on a meal recently that flopped. Royally frustrating.) You have to be willing to live and learn in the kitchen and not be afraid to experiment.

It should also be noted, as part of the introduction to this book, that I was suspicious of pumpkins growing up. I think the only reason that is so is because we only ever ate them in pie. If you don't like pumpkin pie, you probably don't like pumpkins period, right? I (now) say wrong. (Although I do like pumpkin pie, it wasn't my childhood favorite.) I think it was actually Jamba Juice which expanded my pumpkin horizons. Suddenly pumpkin seemed versitle! (If you can put it in a smoothie and make me love it, the chances are that I will love it in other forms as well.) When I saw Pumpkin, a Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year in Storey's line-up, I knew I had to check it out. And oh wow, am I so excited by all of the possibilities contained within the pages of this book.

To start, this cookbook is just plain gorgeous. I love the glossy cover with full-colored photographs. The inside of the cook contains no photographs so you have to enjoy the ones you see on the outside, but I think they perfectly set the stage. Frankly, I had my doubts concerning the merits of a book all about how to cook with pumpkins but I hoped. I was not disappointed. I am not exaggerating even a little bit when I say that pretty much every single recipe in here is useable. There are no strange or exotic ingredients included. It's all "down home" cooking with practical meals which are able to be enjoyed by the entire family. There are very few recipes in this book that I think my children wouldn't like, and those would be the ones in which blue cheese is listed as an ingredient. (Blue cheese and pumpkin!? I wouldn't have dreamed it up myself but my brain explodes with excitement just thinking about it!)

Here are a list of my top favorite looking recipes which I intend to try out very shortly:

  • Pumpkin cornbread (So easy. How can it be bad?!?!)
  • Pumpkin blizzard (milkshake). (Who could say 'no'?)
  • Southwest Chicken Pumpkin Soup
  • Harvest Pumpkin Soup
  • White Bean, Chicken and Pumpkin Chili
  • Winter Salad with Maple Pumpkin Dressing
  • Cannellini Bean & Chicken Salad with Pumpkin Dressing
  • Mashed Potatoes and Pumpkin
  • Wild Mushroom Pumpkin Risotto
  • Apple, Cranberry, and Pumpkin Stuffing (YES!)
  • Pumpkin Pizza (!) with Gorgonzola
  • Cheddar Pumpkin Tart
  • Northern Italian Pumpkin Lasagna
  • Banana Pumpkin Nut Bread
  • Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies (with Apricot sauce, if you like)
  • So. Many. More.

Although I have listed several recipes which specifically mention chicken, I want to point out that Stovel includes recipes for lamb and pork as well.

DeeDee Stovel points out that it wasn't until she began cooking with pumpkin that she noticed how versatile this food is and how easily it can adapted into our  regular diet. After reading through these recipes, I am convinced. I love also that she introduces the book with a description of the different types of pumpkins that there are and gives instructions for the many ways which you can cook them. (To date I have only been brave enough to use a can opener to retrieve my pumpkin, but she's making me think I could do it from scratch.) Stovel uses both canned and fresh pumpkin in these recipes so if you feel intimidated by the idea of getting to the meat of it, perhaps you shouldn't be. (I'll tell you whether or not you should be in a week or so.) Stovel has made me excited about incorporating pumpkins into our meals more frequently this fall and winter. Of course, her goal is to encourage you to use pumpkins all year 'round but I can only wrap my head around one thing at a time. First, we skin the pumpkin (or whatever you call it) and then we learn to eat it all year long. (To my current way of thinking though, pumpkins are one of the glorious aspects of fall. There are other yummy foods to be enjoyed at other times of the year.)

Would I recommend Pumpkin, a Super Food? In a heartbeat. As I say, the recipes are numerous and ingredient list common. I know I am going to find this book useful and I suspect it would be a great hit with other cooks who also like to think in terms of seasons. Note: it is incredibly cheap (as far as cookbooks go) on Amazon.

Many thanks to Storey publishers for sending a copy of this book my direction in order to facilitate this review. I received no additional compensation and all opinions are 100% my own.


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I want to know about this pumpkin cornbread. Stat.


Barbara H. said...

So far I have never tried a spiced pumpkin latte - the thought of pumpkin flavor in liquid form is a little nauseating to me. Maybe the next time a friend or loved one has one in my presence I'll ask if they could pour off a little bit so I can see what it is like (although recently a friend looked up the ingredients of well-known coffee place's pumpkin lattes and found there was no pumpkin in it at all - only flavoring).

Anyway - some of these other possibilities affect me somewhat the same way. I'd have to try it in a small dose before expending the energy to make any of these from scratch. Except the banana pumpkin nut bread. That sounds good. Too bad we don't live closer to each other so I could sample some of your experiments. :-)

Carrie said...

Today we made the pumpkin cornbread.

It is so good we ate the entire pan. (There ARE six of us.)

It tastes so good it could be cake. You could eat ice cream with it.

This to say, we will be making it again. (Amy, asking for permission to share/post the recipe!)

Susanne said...

You have me totally intrigued. I'm going to look for it at the library. I made my own pumpkin latte cream this thanksgiving. It wasn't too bad. And may I just say there is definitely a distinction between cooking and baking in my world. I love to cook, baking definitely not so much.

Cassandra said...

This book sounds amazing!! I love pumpkin anything!! Though I'd like to know how she gets pumpkins year round. Does she use canned pumpkin? Because I can't get fresh pumpkins until October and only for a couple of months. :( I wish they were accessible all year!

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