On the morning of All Saint's Day (Nov. 1st), 1998, I walked into the kitchen of my single-guy-apartment to see four large carved pumpkins sitting on the table. They were the result of a Halloween activity the previous night, with a group of friends who had no use for Jack-O-Lanterns in November. What to do? Typically, a carved pumpkin at a single-guy-apartment complex will sit until ill-use and old age take their toll. The alternative is to toss the pumpkin in a dumpster before any tolls are taken. To do either seemed wasteful, especially considering the gargantuan proportions of these magnificent gourds. The beginnings of an idea started to collect, slowly taking shape in the un-swept corners of my just-out-of-bed brain. Could I do something with these pumpkins that no single guy had ever done? Could I find some way of using these pumpkins of which no bachelor had ever dreamed? Could I… eat them?
By mid-afternoon, I'd made a pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, and a couple of pies (my first pies, with commercial crust). I asked my new girlfriend, Riley, to help me host, then invited some friends. I enjoyed all the food, which is fortunate, because I spent the next week eating pumpkin. As it turns out, when you do something that no bachelor has ever done, no one really believes the food will be edible, and they all eat before they come. So, the first ever Pumpkin-Fest was born, with minimal fanfare.
Many things have changed over the years. Perhaps the most important is that people are now expected to come hungry. Another change is the ban on commercial pumpkin-pie, instituted after our third year. People were initially asked to come and bring a pumpkin dish, and we ended up with more store-bought pies than anyone enjoyed. We now ask that people come. If you would enjoy bringing a pumpkin dish, we are excited to enjoy it with you. Over the years we have had pumpkin games, T-shirts, soups, breads, fudge, etc. Beginning with the fourth annual Pumpkin-Fest, we have enjoyed celebrating in the Midwest, where harvest season is more real than imagined.
We are a mixed household. Canadian Thanksgiving occurs the second Monday in October, and is traditionally marked in the United States by the lack of mail delivery. American Thanksgiving is the end of November, and is not noticeable in Canada, because harvest season ended months before. Pumpkin-Fest falls at the midpoint of these two and is our own unique holiday. It was born out of appreciation for the bounty of both harvest season and left-over Jack-O-Lantern season. It is a celebration of friendship and all that it means to us.
This year is our first Gluten- and Casein-free Pumpkin Fest. As many of you who are familiar with GF cooking know, there are many recipes using Pumpkin that are naturally Gluten-Free. Pumpkin Pie, if we served it, would have to be modified, and the pumpkin breads and cakes will be different this year. Most of the soups and stews that have formed the main-stays of the Main-dish portion of the meal can be served without significant modification. Really, the issue this year will be desert.
I suppose you would call this a meme. I'm pretty new to the food blog world, so you all should consider yourself tagged to participate. What is your favourite GF pumpkin dessert? I am especially interested in "Something In Season" contributing, as this seems something totally in your bailiwick, and " Wheatless Bay", as a fellow displaced Canadian. I am happy to have a link to something old, from your archives, if you have archives. I would prefer recipes that don't call for mixes, as I am a poor student, with no money for the finer mixes in life. I work mainly with Jowar, but am more than willing to use more traditional flours for this special occasion.