domingo, 19 de octubre de 2008

Pumpkins and Casting On.

I love autumn -I know, I have already mentioned it before-, but I do. This autumn has been particularly cold in Mexico City where the sun shined for just a week or so. The present days are very humid, due to our vicinity to the Gulf of Mexico, so I suspect that the winter is going to be difficult. I know mexican winter has nothing to do with the one our neighbours on the north part of the hemisphere have to endure (Canada in particular), but there is one thing that does not help us down here: almost 95% of houses in Mexico have no heating system and are not made of wood but rather houses are always cold.
Oh well, this is a perfect excuse to have hot coco and enjoy great winter time food, like one of my favourite ones ever: Pumpkin pies. I love their color and varietes, but most of all I love what I can cook with them. At the end of this post I will share an easy and successful Pumpkin Pie recipe for anyone interested.
One of the things I miss the most about Europe is the culinary culture. To be honest with you, before I ever lived there, pumpkins for me were just for "Jack-o-lanterns", or at their best, for an extremely sweet mexican pudding known as "Calabaza en Tacha". What converted me was an amazing pumpkin bisque I tried in Europe and it was love at first sight. The european markets with a real autumn background would offer endless varietes of pumpkins, squashes, etc. I only knew one, the famous "Calabaza de Castilla" sold in all mexican markets. In Europe I was at awe, as the variety was overwhelming. So I decided to put a remedy to my pumpkin ignorance and it has been quite a trip. Now living in Mexico, I do miss that autumn markets experience as I keep on seeing the same boring pumpkins sold at supermarkets, which are mostly used for Halloween. Sometimes I see squashes, half priced because no big Jack-o-lantern can come out of them, so nobody buys them. If they only knew what they are missing, oh, but I take advantage of it!

So Casting On. I always thought I was immune to endless casting on but I am starting to realize that perhaps I need a vaccination. I remember sometime ago, at a yarn shop, a lady who was buying yarn for her daughter to knit would say to her "promise you will finish the project". I was around her daughters age, still a teenager and did not understand what that lady was talking about because for me, knitting would absorb me so that my mother would even try to put my mind out of it especially during exams. I would always finish my projects, so finishing was not a problem. Nowadays it is still not a problem as I do finish what I start but there is something going on that I was not expecting: endless casting on, so instead of having to finish one or three projects I have around ten. Yes, I should be ashamed, right? but I am not. Why? because I think there is a very understandable reason: my feast for knit and crochet projects has developed over the years and now I am no longer satisfied with just one or two things going at the same time: my mind needs more, so I wonder why some people should say that it is a bad habit to cast on. So this puts my initial idea of vaccination totally off. I believe that knitting is a journey into discovering ones abilities and likes, so if you cast on, it means you are excerting it. It is pretty much like starting a new book. My rule of thumb: if it doesn't "catch" you at the very beginning, you might as well leave it and look for another one.
So now a realistic (and truthful) list of my current projects:
1) Fair Isle pullover (70%)
2) VK Tunic (40%)
3) Off the shoulder pullover (45%)
4) Granny Squares sweater (15%)
5) Turtleneck pullover (35%)
6) Vest (95%)
7) Crochet Ascot (50%)
8) Red Mittens (15%)
9) Crochet Cardigan (20%)
10) Scarf (30%)

This weekend I finish #6 and #7. I have been working on #1 for sometime now as it has been a surprisingly challenging project.
Balance: 5 of them are knitting projects (1, 2, 3, 5 and 8); 3 of them are crochet (4, 7 and 9); and finally 2 of them are done with a knitting board (6 and 10). My goal is to finish all of them by the end of November, I hope this is possible!

So now the recipe: "Prize Pumpkin Pie" by Canadian Living Magazine

Serves 8. Ingredients: 2 eggs, 1 can of pumpkin puree (140z/ 398ml), 1 can (300ml) sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar, 1tsp cinnamon, 1/2tsp salt, 1/4tsp each ground cloves, ginger and nutmeg, 1 unbaked 9-ich (23cms) pie shell.

Preparation: In a large bowl beat eggs, blend in pumpkin, condensed milk, sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Pour into pie shell. Bake in 425 oF (220oC) oven for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 375oF (190oC) and bake for about 35 minutes or until pastry is golden and knife inserted into centre comes out clean. Let cool in rack.

Hasta Pronto!