I’ve developed a bit of a thing for this baked pumpkin. It all started back in October. We’d planned a Halloween party and I had my heart set on baking something — maybe soup — inside a pumpkin, mostly because I thought it would look cool. But really. Who wants to stand around at a party eating soup? So I scrapped the baked pumpkin idea and then, when Chris got sick, the party itself. Which worked out rather nicely, because you know what’s great for sick people? Soup.
I’d originally intended to fill the pumpkin with cream and gruyère, but my cheesemonger sent me home with three other fancy cheeses and this recipe in Gourmet persuaded me to add bread to the mix, making the resulting dish less a soup than a warm bowl of soft, gooey cheesy goodness.
If you own a television and are not particularly speedy with the remote, you’ve probably seen the commercial in which KFC glibly suggests that the only way to feed a family of four for under $10 is to buy them a bucket of fast food chicken. My initial response, after watching the TV mom and her two children zip through the grocery feigning shock at the price of such thrifty staples as a bag of flour, was to demand of KFC, ‘If I can’t cook it for $10, how can you?”
It was a rhetorical question, of course. For one thing, I was talking to the TV, plus I have a reasonable grasp on economies of scale. More importantly, I’ve read enough of the modern-day muckrakers to know that fast food is made possible by farming subsidies and cheap oil, and that the industry relies on exploitatively cheap labor and unsustainable factory farming to manufacture its sleazy product at bargain-basement prices.
But once I finished angrily lecturing the television — which had long since moved on to flushable toilet brushes or some other such nonsense — it occurred to me that not only could I cook that for $10, I could cook something much better using (mostly) local ingredients. And since we’d already invited Chris’s aunt and uncle to dinner, I figured last night was as good an opportunity as any to prove the Colonel wrong.