Rain and pumpkin ice cream

Yesterday was the kind of day that made even Northwesterners put their heads down and dart for the nearest building. Rainy, rainy. In our dining room, I heard the steady dribble and keyboard-tapping of rain on the skylights all day long.

So the weather is saying to us, fall is finally here.

Viruses are saying the same: it’s fall. We’re not typically a family that gets sideswiped by one virus after another. But this year we can’t seem to kick them. Altogether we’ve had one fever, one Saturday lost to a dizzy and sleeping spouse, two nagging coughs, aching muscles…I wonder if we could make up enough verses for an illness-themed version of the Twelve Days of Christmas?

That makes it sound much worse than it is, though. The illness has been low-grade. And the rain? I love the rain and the overcast skies. I love hunkering down and cleaning clutter and drinking hot tea in the middle of the afternoon.

Plus, it’s still the harvest. The farm where we got our CSA box this year has extended the season to those of us who want to pay by the week. Today’s box was as full as I’ve seen all season: broccoli raab, red cabbage, onion, baby salad greens, parsnips, chard, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower and delicatas (yes, more).

Which brings me to winter squash, the hard-skinned varieties of the Cucurbita genus and one of the great, cheerful things about this time of year. Squash are fruits, botanically speaking, and calling them so makes me feel a bit better about the cold months ahead (we’ll have fruit all winter!). Often when I research a food, I find that its origins are in China or the Mediterranean – they seem to be close to the cradle of civilization when it comes to food. But squash are thought to have first been cultivated in Mesoamerica and traveled north where they were grown extensively by Native Americans. Which means when you eat a squash, you’re close to a crop that has grown here for a very, very long time. That squash is older than you are, and has a longer memory.

So today we have pumpkins because the ones that have been curing on my counter since Halloween are ready. They’re from a community-minded neighbor who grows a patch of pie pumpkins and designates some of them for the kids in the neighborhood. Once they were cut from the vines, she dropped me a message, inviting the kids to come pick out their favorites and take them home. We have a sweet neighborhood that way.

Pumpkins are the obvious choice for this time of year. But beyond the post-Jack-O’-Lantern/pre-pumpkin pie space we’re in now, pumpkins are versatile and really good for you. They contain lutein, alpha and beta carotenes, and potassium. They taste good in everything from quick breads to curry. And they’re convenient: after curing, pumpkins can be stored for months. But not in a warm kitchen, which is why ours either need to be cooked this week or nestled in a chillier place for the winter.

It’s not fair for me to pick a big vegetable like a pumpkin and then share something like this recipe. Calling for a measly three tablespoons, it will hardly help you in your quest to use up the half of your roasted pumpkin that didn’t fit into the pie. I’m sorry.

On the other hand, this recipe only calls for three tablespoons, which is an amount you can spare if you’re in need of a gluten- or dairy-free dessert for some of your guests next week. This is the perfect alternative after-dinner offering. It has enough spice to taste festive. It’s simple (simple!) to make and must be made a day or two before the big meal, which means it won’t hog a big footprint on the countertop or take up time in the kitchen when you and your whisk will be needed elsewhere.

A few notes. When I was mixing the ingredients together I regretted putting in the whole teaspoon of cinnamon – it looked and smelled like too much – but my regret was misplaced. It tastes perfect. I went light on the allspice which turned out to be a good idea. I grated only half an allspice berry, really just a dusting, and it supported the cinnamon without overpowering. But one big change for next time: this recipe could use more pumpkin. I’d double it, keeping in mind that canned pumpkin purée may have a more intense flavor. Six tablespoons of purée still may not knock your pumpkin pie plans off the rails, so go ahead and make both. Though you may want to plan for extra pumpkin so you can double this recipe – the pie eaters will want a bite of this, too.

Pumpkin Coconut Milk Ice Cream
from I {heart} kale

1 14-ounce can coconut milk (not low fat)
3 Tbsp cooked pumpkin purée
¼ – ½ cup sweetener such as honey or maple syrup
1-inch piece of ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of allspice

Grate the ginger and squeeze it between your fingers or in a cheesecloth to extract the juice. Discard the squeezed ginger pulp.

Combine the ginger juice with all the ingredients except the sweetener and whisk well.

Heat the mixture over a low flame and add the sweetener slowly, tasting as you go. (It won’t need to be very hot, just enough to dissolve the sugar and meld the flavors.) I added only 2 1/2 tablespoons of honey.

Transfer to the fridge until it’s cool, then follow the directions for your ice cream maker.

5 thoughts on “Rain and pumpkin ice cream

  1. I make a similar ice cream. I add some additional ingredients to my pumpkin ice cream. Silken smooth coconut meat puree (not fully mature coconut meat), and coconut water to the mixture. I add chopped pecans or walnuts as a topping. The nutty taste add more flavor to the coconut/pumpkin flavor of the ice cream. Try it. If you like coconuts, you would like it. If you cannot get the young coconut meat, it is sometimes hard to find, you can try using nata de coco. You can purchase the nata de coco from Thai/Philipino/Asian foods stores.

    Yummy, healthy, and delicious!!!


    • Those additions sound delicious, Michelle. I’m a big fan of coconut ice cream but this is the first time I’ve tried it at home. I’m excited to try out new combinations. I’ll have to see if our co-op ever carries fresh, young coconuts. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment! I love getting to know our readers.

Comments are closed.