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Halloween is the perfect time for pumpkins. After the trick-or-treaters are finished, the candy all gone, and decorations put away until next year, what can you do with all of those pumpkins?

Jerry Rutiz of Rutiz Family Farm at the Wednesday Farmers’ Market grows baby bear pumpkins. They are perfectly round, weigh about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds, and look like a smaller version of the classic jack-o-lantern. His farm is located in Arroyo Grande and has a wonderful pumpkin patch that many schools in the area come to visit. Baby bear pumpkins are great for cooking. The seeds do not have hulls and are wonderful for roasting. Simply take out the seeds, clean them, place them on a cookie sheet with some salt, and roast them at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. They are delicious and will not get stuck in your throat as many pumpkin seeds can. Rutiz also told me that in the rest of the world hard shell winter squashes are called pumpkins. He says banana squash makes the best pumpkin pie!

Here is a unique and delicious recipe for Three Pumpkin Soup, courtesy of Weiser Family Farms. Brush three pumpkins with butter and bake them at 350 degrees until they are soft and browned. Scoop the inside of the pumpkin and blend until creamy in a Cuisinart. On the stove, sauté an onion in a bit of oil and then add minced garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add potatoes (Weiser’s German Butterballs are particularly wonderful), celery, and carrots. Then add cumin, turmeric, curry leaves (available at Coleman Farms), and a couple of bay leafs to taste. Add the pumpkin and either chicken broth or miso soup (a nice vegetarian option) and cook until the vegetables have softened and flavors blended.

Save the Date:

Don’t miss the next library panel on November 15 at the Main Library in the MLK Auditorium from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The topic is Guys Night Out: How These Four Men Find Inspiration at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets. The guest speakers will be Rich Mead, chef/owner of Sage and Sage on the Coast; Phil McGrath of McGrath Family Farm in Camarillo; and Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farm in Lucerne. The discussion will be moderated by Russ Parsons, author and food writer. Be sure to stay afterward for food prepared by Rich Mead. The event is free and open to the public.

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