I prefer fresh pumpkin to canned, any day. I have been baking and processing my own pumpkin since C got his first apartment, so I was about 18 at the time. My first homebaked pie was good, but since then they have only improved. The first time I processed pumpkin, I baked it until the rind came off easily, then mashed it with a potato masher to the best of my ability (neither of us had a blender). Since that first attempt I have refined my technique. The food processor works better than a blender, and draining the pumpkin is a must (it should look about like smoothly mashed potatoes when done- an amusing tie-in to my early attempts!). This year I tried baking the pumpkin in our dutch oven rather than wrapped in foil- for about 1-2 hours at 350 degrees. I am very pleased with the result. Do be sure to let the pumpkin cool before trying to scoop it off the rind (a large metal spoon works great).
I also brine the pumpkin seeds (nothing special, just add a bunch of salt to water and soak them for a few hours) and then bake at 250 degrees for about 1-2 hours. Yum!
As a "special" addition to this year's pumpkin, I added at trip to the ER (ok, Urgent Care, but ER sounds so much more dramatic!) between the pumpkins. Yep, that's right. I was making that first stab into the pumpkin and my hand slipped, and sliced open my pinky. Click here if you want to see a really big, blurry picture of my 4 stitches (taken with my phone, which is why it sucks. No, I still haven't gotten the camera fixed.) I find it pretty hilarious that tinypic suggests purchasing a mug with a picture of my wound on it. C was at work when I did this, and J was napping, and I didn't have a car or the car seat. I did manage to wrap my hand up in an ace bandage with a paper towel to absorb the blood. After a series of progressively calmer phone calls to family members that live in the area and have cars, I eventually called C at work to come home and take me to the ER. My poor stepdad was the first person I spoke to, I started crying halfway into my first sentence! After 2 hours in the ER, plus a few comments about how good I got myself, and compliments on my assessment of the wound (while holding it under the cold water I made sure I could bend my finger and had feeling) and my wrapping job, I got 4 stitches. I get them out on Sunday. Things seem to be healing pretty well, but I did manage to slice through a small nerve so I have a little numb patch on the back of my finger. I've been assured that it will heal and I'll regain feeling. Good times. I did make it to almost 27 years old before I managed to injure myself badly enough to need medical intervention, so that's cool.
Anyway...I made some yummy pumpkin-oatmeal muffins with a little bit of the pumpkin I got done. I'll post the recipe later. The moral of this story? Tena shouldn't be allowed to use knives when C isn't home.