October Means Pumpkin!

After living for more than 20 years in the United States, I have finally learned to appreciate the pumpkin. I love carving them out for Halloween and to see everybody’s decoration with these glorious vegetables around my neighborhood and around the state of New York, but only lately have I really started baking with this delectable orange product.

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I have mentioned in a previous blog post that pumpkin is not a traditional Norwegian food item, hence I suppose we never developed a taste for it in my country until just recently. My mom used to pickle pumpkin to use as a condiment for various dishes , and I always thought it sounded and tasted a bit “exotic”, because none of my friends’ mothers used this. I suspect she picked up the recipe in one of her women’s home magazines she subscribed to in an effort to create something different for dinner for us 🙂

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Image from frukt.no

With the increasing popularity of Halloween in Norway, around 200,000 pumpkins are produced in Norway today, and there are about 10 serious pumpkin producers in the country.   It is thought that the origins of the pumpkin has its root in North America and arrived to Europe in the 17th century. Archaeological findings show that Native Indians produced pumpkins as long as 5,000 years ago, and there have been findings of seeds from pumpkin like plants in Mexico all the way back to 7,000-5,500 B.C.  There are over 700 different varieties of pumpkins and they range in size from 30 lbs to an astonishing, 1,000 lbs!  Pumpkins can be grown in all climates, expect the Antarctic.  A few fun facts about the pumpkin!

This time of year every fiber of my body just wants to be in the kitchen all day long and bake while watching cheesy horror movies from the 70s on TV (I have a small TV hanging on the wall in my kitchen – this is how Americanized I’ve become) while my puppies are napping in the living room. The warmth of the kitchen mixed with the wonderful smell of cinnamon, pumpkin and chocolate is more than enough to make a Norwegian girl happy!  I’ve selected to share a recipe I whipped up yesterday before heading into work … I shared some with my co-workers, but kept most of them to myself.  After you’ve tried these, you’ll see why! 🙂

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (or you can use vegetable oil)
1 cup packed light brown sugar (you can also use maple syrup here for added flavor)
1 1/2 cups organic canned pumpkin
1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 3 tbsp water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.

3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the pumpkin, flax seed mixture, and vanilla and mix until combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into rounded tablespoons and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Lightly press down on the cookies with a spatula or the palm of your hand.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

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