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Pumpkin Paradise

God help me, but I learned something from Martha Stewart.

I don’t have anything against Martha Stewart, but I’ve never vibed with her either. She cooks quail eggs. What could I possibly have in common with someone who cooks quail eggs? But when I was out sick I watched daytime television. I don’t have cable, so I have about nine stations, six of them without static. After three cycles through the channels, I watched the last ten minutes of Martha as she made a pumpkin bunt cake. She scooped the pumpkin into her state-of-the-art mixer which probably costs more than my laptop. Simply owning that mixer would probably transform me into the type of person who cooks quail eggs. As she dumped pumpkin into the mixing bowl, she mentioned that if you are using homemade pumpkin puree, be sure to drain it using a cheesecloth because it retains a lot of water. Otherwise your cake will get really soupy.

That same week my mother came over and showed me how to chop, boil and puree a pumpkin. She even brought her own big, orange squash as a demonstration model in addition to the pumpkin I’d bought myself. How sweet of her, she who was well aware that chopping, boiling and pureeing a pumpkin takes more time and effort than walking to the grocery store on your hands to purchase canned pumpkin. I was the victim of a pumpkin dumping ring! I was left with two pumpkin’s worth of puree in my freezer. When I froze them in my disposable Tupperware containers, they turned into mini, pumpkin glaciers.

Taking Martha’s advice, I defrosted a tub and bought some cheesecloth at Kroger. I didn’t even know Kroger sold cheesecloth, but they do. I don’t know if there are any cheese makers in this area, but the fabric must be popular enough to justify stocking it. After draining the pumpkin, I checked the bowl beneath it to see how much water had accumulated. There were one and a half cups. One and a half cups! No wonder I had a pumpkin popsicle. Once I defrosted and drained the rest of my pumpkin, I freed up significant space in my freezer.

I made some pumpkin bread and some pumpkin cheesecake and neither one of them tasted like pumpkin soup, at least partly because of Martha Stewart and partly because I’m too cheap to buy cable.

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Amy • December 4, 2007 at 8:33 am

Cheesecloth is good for lots of things. Just having said that it is now obvious that I’m a Martha Stewart Living subscriber, a little kitchen S&M is good for the soul.


Danielle • December 4, 2007 at 8:56 am

If you want to try some delicious pumpkin puree, try to find a product called Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin butter. I get mine at Williams Sonoma. MMMMMM!

And the great thing is, there’s no butter in it at all. But it’s yummy enough to fool ya.

I had to give a chuckle about the mixer comment!

I do not enjoy baking. But I’ve always coveted those really nice stand-mixers, and think that if I had one of those, somehow it would make me enjoy baking more.

But at this point, I don’t think I want to enjoy baking more. Could be dangerous.


Ayesha97 • December 4, 2007 at 9:20 am

When my mom processes a pumpkin she slices it into quarters and then tosses it into the microwave to cook (I think its like 20 min per slice/quarter). Then scrapes it off and blends it. I’ll have to let her know about the cheesecloth trick. I’ve never noticed it being soupy- but the cheesecloth may help trap some of the stringy bits of pumpkin.


SB • December 4, 2007 at 9:38 am

You don’t have to watch Martha to know other uses for cheesecloth, most of which have to with draining (to get the liquid out of yogurt, for example, to make it creamier) or cooking (making a bouquet garni, a little pocket of spices and herbs put into a soup pot that can be easily retrieved).


Mia • December 4, 2007 at 9:44 am

Cheese cloth is a MUST for making chicken soup. After you make chicken stock you strain it to get rid of the fat.

I’ve heard that making cheese cake is difficult. I’m impressed. Is it true that you need a heavy duty mixer or else it will burn up your mixer?

You may be more talented in the kitchen than you realize! :)


melsky • December 4, 2007 at 10:27 am

I didn’t realize you could use cheesecloth to make cheese! I guess it’s how it got that name.

I use a metal mesh strainer to de-water cooked pumpkin and squash.


EVA • December 4, 2007 at 10:31 am

ok…im not sure if i’m “allowed” to ask you a question about something that you didnt blog about first (can you tell im new to this whole thing). but i LOVE your website and have been reading the archives but not in order. i noticed you started out walking and are now running. how did you do it? is that a stupid question? i’ve lost 60 lbs and now am 200lbs and 5’2, so im still pretty big….but i cannot run! i mean CANNOT. i’ll try to do it in between walking and it’s everything i’ve got to go 30 secs….and im usually hurt and sore after? i thought i was still too big, but i see those people on biggest loser running and they are way bigger than i am…so when and how did you start running? i want to so bad. i hate how slow losing weight is. my mind is ahead of my body. i NEVER wanted to run before…unless i was being chased by something big and scary. but now i want to and my stupid body wont keep up.


jessica~ • December 4, 2007 at 11:35 am

I love pumpkin in any form. I’ve always used just a fine-mesh colander to drain my pumpkin. Never owned cheesecloth before… Good for you, cooking something new!


Lily • December 4, 2007 at 1:40 pm

I own one of those mixers and I’ve never considered buying a quail’s egg. :)


Katie • December 4, 2007 at 1:51 pm

mmmm I love pumpkin bread :)Oh and congrats again with your awesome weight loss!


AKS • December 4, 2007 at 1:54 pm

i love quail eggs!


VerseFameBeauty • December 4, 2007 at 3:30 pm

I own one of those mixers too, and while it is fabulous and it really does make baking more enjoyable (also quicker!), it also hasn’t turned me into someone who cooks quail eggs. :-)

My favorite use for pumpkin is pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter sauce and sprinkled with hazelnuts, amaretti and parmesan (with a great Italian pinot grigio)… but that is why I’m still fat!


weightlossguru • December 4, 2007 at 3:34 pm

yeah if you can’t find cheesecloth – use a big sieve. Keep the water you strain from any veg for stock if your a real Martha-ite (Or even a mini-Julia – this reminds me of ‘Julia & Julia’ :))

Great tip for chicken soup where i guess cheesecloth is a must, thanx Mia!


chanda • December 4, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Lord I luv me some Martha! Though I can never truly 100% trust someone who’s linen closet is that organized. I did try though. I went out and bought the scented drawer paper to line my shelves, neatly folded all my towels and sheets, color coded them, and stacked them neatly in my closet. Placed a few pretty soaps here and there….. yeah. that lasted about 30 seconds. Now it looks just like it did before.. like a bomb went off in there. Damn that Martha! :)


Barb • December 4, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Wow! I cannot believe that you guys have canned pumpkin AND disposable Tupperware over there. We are so in the dark ages here.


CookieMonster • December 4, 2007 at 8:35 pm

Oh yum… it all sounds SO good… and I don’t even like pumpkin generally. Are you giving it away? Or do you have the willpower to eat it responsibly?

I do love Martha Stewart. Love.

I have one of those mixers too — and they’re useful in ways I hadn’t even expected.


MizAngie • December 4, 2007 at 10:14 pm

The stand mixers are awesome.


Jane • December 5, 2007 at 7:56 am

what we do is cut the pumpkin into chunks and roast it in the oven till soft before pureeing. It intensifies the flavour and because the pumpkin loses water (instead of gaining it from being bolied or steamed) the puree is not soggy.


PricklyPear • December 5, 2007 at 11:49 am

Oddly enough, about 10 years ago I learned to use saturated cheesecloth to cover my Thanksgiving turkey from none other Martha Stewart. It makes the bird look like it should be in a commercial. She wasn’t covering pumpkin that day.


Warna • December 6, 2007 at 9:06 am

The best way to make pumpkin puree is to slice the pumpkin in half, scoup out the seeded and bake in an oven on a greased sheet cut side down. I think you bake it for 30-45 minutes at 350 F. Then scoup the pumkin out of the shell and puree. Nice consistency, not too watery, just like from the can.


littlem • December 12, 2007 at 2:00 am

Eva, you may want to start with the treadmill, the recumbent, and the elliptical, and build up the running muscles with some weights, just to make sure that if you’ve got any congenital joint issues that have gone undiscovered since childhood — if you spent more time in the library than on the track, for instance — that your muscles are strong enough to handle the load per distance in a comparatively unfamiliar activity. And start with, like, walking three quarters of a mile and jogging the last one (or jogging the first and walking the last three).

You probably don’t want to know how I know all that.

Plus, I know the question was addressed to PQ, but I saw that she hadn’t gotten to it yet and I thought I’d just leap right in.


littlem • December 12, 2007 at 2:13 am

…AAAAND it’s also possible that because her question wasn’t related to the post that my response to Eva may not show up at all.



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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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