Pink Pumpkin Comfort Food
Here’s a favorite fresh pumpkin dessert dish, submitted by Thania Anaya, a member of Melissa’s Sales Department staff, which she admits is her go-to comfort food. Due to seasonal availability, we used tasty Pink Pumpkin fresh from the field, but Thania’s recipe can be made using any edible pumpkin variety. As Thania explained, it’s not the color of the pumpkin but the color of her mood that goes into the preparation of this dish.
“This recipe always reminds me that the holidays are here. Not only the holidays but those cozy cold evenings at home watching something on Netflix. The warm pumpkin mixed with cold milk is a great way to cope with those rainy winter nights when it is best to just stay at home in a warm setting, which I usually help along by also lighting a pumpkin spice candle. This dish is definitely my sweet treat on an otherwise a gloomy day!”
And the best part of Thania’s dish, besides its deliciousness, is that there are only five ingredients and about thirty minutes of cooking time between you and this creamy sweet delicacy. Thania’s recipe calls for cooking chunks of pumpkin in water until soft, then adding a couple of cinnamon sticks and several piloncillo cones and letting the pumpkin pieces steep in the resulting sweet liquid, then serve the chucks in a bowl of cold milk. Piloncillo is a Mexican brown sugar. The difference is that brown sugar is refined white sugar with molasses added to achieve its darker color. Piloncillo is unrefined; it is made by boiling cane sugar juice and then pouring it into molds where it cools and hardens.
Let’s talk pumpkins. Pink pumpkins are a newer hybrid variety grown from Porcelain Doll pumpkin seeds that have a light pink, deeply furrowed skin with a thick stem and deep orange interior. The Porcelain Doll pumpkin is linked to the Pink Pumpkin Foundation, which donates a portion of the profit from each pumpkin sold to support breast cancer research. Besides making creamy sweet comfort food, fresh pumpkins are a good aid in maintaining a healthy body. The pink color is only skin deep, like carrots and sweet potatoes, the orange in pumpkins is a sign that they are also rich in beta carotene. The body changes this antioxidant to vitamin A. Vitamin A is critical to good vision, helps ward off germs, and contributes to the health of the heart, lungs and kidney function.
Thania Anaya has been a member of the sales teams working with national accounts in a support capacity for four years. She sends out market updates and price lists; she also calls on customers for orders and checks orders for accuracy. Communication with clients is constant.
“Before I started working at Melissa’s, I did not realize all the small factors involved in the handling and distribution of perishables—from the seed the farmer purchases to plant crops to the sometimes complicated logistics to get harvests from field to table,” admitted Thania. “So, the most interesting part of working here is the diversity and multiple steps that are involved for the distribution process to function smoothly. The most difficult part of the job is predicting what the client will order and having the supplies available when needed. Clients do not always think ahead, so we must predict customer needs in an environment where the consistent supply of a perishable can be subject to so many unpredictable variables. It can be very challenging.”
When not working on our customers’ needs, Thania has her hands full at home with 18-month-old son Alan as well as the small farm she and husband Jose purchased about five years ago in a rural part of Southern California, just outside of Los Angeles. Their son was born right when the pandemic started, so Thania was able to stop the daily 90-minute commute and instead work from home like many others in the company have had to do this past year.
“It has been a rough time to be a first-time mom. Although, on the positive side, my commute has now been replaced with peaceful walks in the country with my son as we are limited in travel. Fun for us is developing what I like to call our small backyard farm. Our hands are always full, though I would not trade the country lifestyle for anything!” Thania exclaimed. “I try to hit the garden for an hour or so each day, always based on nap time! It’s a great way to get some weeding done and take time out from being a mom to just play in the dirt! I have to say the best part for me is being able to gather fresh eggs from our hens every morning, but if you asked Jose, it’s his fresh goat milk. All in all, we are very lucky and life is definitely good right now!”
Hmm, how about a sweet pumpkin dessert with chilled goat milk!
Caramelized Pumpkin Dessert
1 medium Pink Pumpkin, or any favorite pumpkin variety
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
4 piloncillo cones
Milk to taste
Slice off a section of the pumpkin for each serving, then cut it into 2-4 hand-size squares; including the seeds is optional, although my preference is to keep the seeds.
Place the pumpkin pieces in a large pot with 2 cups of water and simmer for 30 minutes, then add in the cinnamon sticks and piloncillo cones and cook until soft, another 15 minutes.
Transfer the pumpkin pieces to a cutting board to remove the skins, which should come off quite easily. For each serving, place 2-3 pieces of the skinless pumpkin in a bowl with some caramelized juice created from the cinnamon sticks and piloncillo.
To serve, add just enough cold milk to the bowl to only partially cover the pumpkin pieces, top with a sprinkle of cooked pumpkin seeds for a nice sweet pumpkin dessert!