October 2011

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play with your food In Praise of Pumpkins Getting to know our favorite seasonal gourd By Michael and Jean Muckian Few foods exude the taste of autumn as much as pumpkins. And, in keeping with this column's theme, few foods are as much fun to play with. But before you frol- ic off to carve up jack-o-lanterns or enjoy the festivities found on local farms, here are few fun facts about fall's most versatile gourd to take with you along the way. Pumpkins are a vegetable with nutri- tional value that far outweighs their role as entertainment. Just about every part of the pumpkin is edible, including the shell, the pulp, the seeds, the leaves and even the fl ow- ers (which play a signifi cant role in Southwestern and Mexican cook- ing). Th e bright orange skin is a dead giveaway that America's favorite squash is rich in Vitamin C and loaded with beta- carotene, which can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and protect against heart disease. Even the seeds, which so many of us roast and eat, have nutrition- al value. Second to peanuts as a protein source, pumpkin seeds also are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. Farmers in the U.S. produce 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins each year, and the top producing states include Illinois, In- diana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California. In fact, the Illinois Department of Agri- culture claims that 95 percent of pumpkins used in processing (that canned pumpkin fi lling!) are produced within our southern neighbor's borders. Pumpkin Sips 'Tis the season for pumpkin-fl avored con- coctions to infi ltrate local coffee shops. Find delicious brews at Victor Allen's, Barriques, Java Cat, Manna Café and more! Closer to home (and outside of a can) some of the most quintessential fall fun can be had in picking your very own pumpkin. Opportunities to fi nd your perfect pump- kin abound locally. For those seeking the perfect pumpkin without a trek through a pumpkin patch, many vendors at the Dane County Farmers' Market will be offering up pumpkins and The Perfect Pumpkin Patch Find a pumpkin to suit your fancy at the following locales Anderson's Pleasant Patch Pumpkins 2313 Koskonong Rd., Cottage Grove Carandale Farm 5683 Lincoln Rd., Oregon Eplegaarden Orchard 2227 Fitchburg Rd., Fitchburg Green's Orchard 2722 Williams Dr., Stoughton Hermanson Pumpkin Patch 127 Hwy. N, Edgerton Schuster's Playtime Farm 1326 US Hwy. 12 &18, Deerfi eld other fall produce on the Capitol Square each Saturday through Nov. 5. Michael and Jean Muckian have covered the local food and arts scenes for over 25 and 15 years, respectively. Find their blog, Culturosity, at 70 BRAVA Magazine October 2011

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