Pumpkins and Pumpkin Squares

Without doubt, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  And to make up for the fact that all the stores seem to just skip over Thanksgiving once Halloween is over, I feel a unique responsibility to decorate, cook, and enjoy this harvest-y time of year all the more.

I think I've gone a tad overboard with the decorating, however.  Swanson's, one of my favorite local nurseries, had a terrific selection of pumpkins this year.  For a flat price you could get as many as could fit in a wagon.  And on top of that, I had a coupon.  As you can see, I got my money's worth. (And yes, I could move the wagon, albeit very slowly.)  Even Swanson's staff members were impressed by my well-balanced load.


In addition to decorating with them, we've been eating a lot of squash lately.  Mostly, I just halve the squash lengthwise (striped delicata is a good choice), scrape out the seeds, and roast it in a 400 degree oven with a little butter, salt and pepper, and agave syrup in the "boat."
 

But let's be honest, savory squash recipes aside, this wouldn't be November without pumpkin squares.  If you haven't had pumpkin squares, it is time you tried them.  They are easier than pumpkin pie and even more delicious!  Thanks to my dear friend Di, who shared this recipe with me in 1989, these have become a fall tradition for us.

Pumpkin Squares
The crust:
Crumble the following ingredients together and press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup quick rolled oats (regular oats work okay too)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

The custard filling:
While the crust bakes, mix the following ingredients together by hand or in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment.  Pour this mixture over the crust and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. 
4 eggs
1 large can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground dry ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 cans evaporated milk

The topping: 
While the squares bake, mix together the crumble topping.  You can double it if you like lots.
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. cold butter

After baking the squares for about 30 minutes, carefully sprinkle the topping over the squares while they are still in the oven.  Some of the topping will sink in a bit.  After adding the topping, bake for an additional 15 minutes, or just until set.

Serve at room temperature with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

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