Calabaza (Posted 11-15-2012)

Fall is the time for cooler weather, colorful leaves, football, candy corn, and pumpkin everything, right?!  I’ve already dutifully plowed through my yearly allotment of candy corn, which I spent a pretty penny for at the American store.  We have gone hiking several times and enjoyed the beautiful colors around Madrid.  We are definitely watching plenty of NFL football, thanks to the wonderful gift of NFL Pass.  (Go BEARS!)  And, I am making plenty of pumpkin treats, which, unfortunately, I am alone in enjoying since Chad doesn’t really like pumpkin.

Pumpkin is different here, however.  There aren’t pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks.  There are no pumpkin baked goods in any glass cases in Madrid.  The only place you will find a can of pumpkin is in the American store, where you will probably spend about 3 euros ($3.90) for one can.

Instead, pumpkin is sold fresh at the outdoor markets or in the vegetable aisle in the grocery store, and you have to cut the skin off of it and cook it.  Pumpkin is used as a vegetable with fish or beans, or, most often, in soups, i.e. crema de calabaza (cream of pumpkin).  There is the occasional tarta (tart) or bizcocho (cake), but it is rare.  The other thing is that pumpkin is much more of a winter item than an October/November flavor.  Thanksgiving is not celebrated here, and pumpkin pie is not a recipe you will find.  I also don’t think that pumpkin is used with the traditional pumpkin pie spice, which is a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, that is in nearly every pumpkin recipe in the States.

I am enjoying the different uses of pumpkin and am also sharing our yummy treats, such as iced pumpkin cookies (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/iced-pumpkin-cookies/detail.aspx) and pumpkin bread (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pumpkin-loaf/detail.aspx).  Last year I also made a homemade pumpkin spice coffee syrup (something like this,http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2010/09/pumpkin-spice-syrup-for-pumpkin-spice.html).  I have this great machine that I can use to steam pumpkin in 20 minutes, so it’s super easy to use fresh pumpkin.

Last week my friend gave me a pumpkin that a friend of hers had grown in their own garden!  Such a treat!  Maybe one day I’ll grow my own pumpkins.  🙂

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