Cockeyed.com travels to San Francisco to present:

Pumpkin

How much is inside a pumpkin?

I've enjoyed pumpkins ever since I was a child. I can hardly imagine Halloween without a Jack O'lantern, or Cinco D'Octoberfest without a pumpkin-boat full of simmering pilsner.

Pumpkins are known and enjoyed widely for these decorative properties, but I've also heard that pumpkins contain a nutritious substance known as "pie filling".

When Tara wrote asking for tips on how to utilize her gigantic pumpkin, I gleefully responded.

She had won a contest at Mollie Stone's grocery store in San Bruno, guessing the weight of this massive gourd. They called her up to tell her she had won, and even offered to help load it into her car.

At 166 pounds (75 kg), she needed some help to hoist it into her apartment. She neglected to tell her pal Hoze that there was no elevator in her building, but they did manage to get it in there. 

 

When I got to Tara's house in San Francisco, I was hungry and anxious to get the pies out. I used the giant serrated kitchen knife from my carry-on luggage and struck at the pumpkin's orange exterior.

 

 

Cutting through the pumpkin skin was troublesome, and when I finally cut the top off, it was apparent why: The skin was five inches thick!

This hubcap-sized chunk weighed about 20 pounds. I was struggling to hold it away from my body in this photo.

 

 

Readers involved with the banking industry are probably not surprised by this. Like any good vault, a five-inch security wall would be important to protecting the valuable pie filling within. The only trouble was that the damn thing didn't seem to contain a drop of filling! It was empty!

Apparently the jerks at Mollie Stone's Grocery had somehow drained the filling out, leaving only gooey pumpkin webs and seeds.

Tara began digging out clumps of this pumpkin sinew with both hands.

When Tara couldn't claw any more guts out, I showed her how pilgrims used their lower jaw to scrape the inside smooth.

 Pumpkin preparation tip: The stringy fibers at the bottom are the sweetest.

Tara has a pink kitchen from another age.

This photo is from the America's Atomic Future layout in the July, 1952 issue of Life Magazine: "Giant radioactive pumpkins will help feed hungry families". 

 

 

Once the pumpkin was cleaned, we cut a spooky face out of the front. 

Thanks to the miracle of microlaparoscopy, we were able to capture this photo from inside the facial skin. You can see my face though the nose hole.

There were 523 seeds inside, each as large as a quarter. I wanted to save the genetic makeup of this rare colossal pumpkin, so we baked them and carefully preserved them in salt.

 

The finished Jack O'lantern had a massive, scarred face.

Hollywood has trained us to expect the pockmarked, overweight kid to triumph over adversity by the end of the show...

 

 

Not this time. 

We cut him to bits.

Tara's neighbor Russell came downstairs and answered our concerns regarding the pie filling. It seems that the skin is what the pie filling is made from!

Tara's kitchen was too small to cook that much pumpkin, so we cut it into chunks and packed it into plastic bags. She couldn't come to Sacramento for pie, but I told her the raw pumpkin would have pretty much the same flavor.

If you ever need to pack 166 pounds of chunky flesh into easy-to-transport sacks, you'll need at least nine 13 gallon bags.

Tara and Russell helped me carry the cumbersome bags into my car. They took up my entire hatchback, I had to move the shovels and the rifle just to make room!

Preparing pumpkin is easy, but I had a hell of a lot of it.

First you must put pieces onto cookie sheets and bake them for 45 minutes at 350ºF.

I was soon cooking four sheets of pumpkin at a time. I'm sure you can imagine what the house smelled like after six hours of this.

After the chunks were cooked and cooled, I scraped the soft flesh away from the peel and into a bowl.

Lots of water was steaming and dripping from the pieces.

After all the pumpkin goo had been scraped into bowls, I ran some of it though a potato ricer to make it smooth for pie filling.

With the skin, seeds and so much water removed, the remaining pumpkin was down to 25 quarts.

I found frozen pie shells at the store and Mrs. Sigg's Fresh Pumpkin Pie recipe online.

The pumpkin pie recipe called for just 2 cups of pumpkin purée, which meant I was going to be making a whole lot of pies.

Remarkably, the first batch of pie filling filled up two of the pre-fab pie shells.

I was determined to show how much is inside, so I baked for a few more hours, making sixteen pies. I used four quarts of purée, but there were still more than four gallons of pumpkin to go!

The giant pumpkin contained enough pumpkin to make exactly 100 pies.

A hundred pies?! I gave up. I was going to have a hard enough time giving away 16 pies, never mind one hundred. I settled with a photoshop version.

After being turned away at the Loaves and Fishes food kitchen, I brought the remaining 21 quarts of pumpkin purée to Senior Gleaners. I didn't tell them about the radioactivity, but I'm sure they test for that kind of thing.

I delivered the pies to friends and family.

I gave one to Greg while he helped a tourist with directions.

A week later I spotted this homeless guy enjoying an entire pumpkin pie.

Could it have been a pie from Tara's pumpkin? I think so! Damn, I can't believe it! That pockmarked, overweight kid made good after all!

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