Yesterday a can of pumpkin called my name. I know January isn’t when you usually think of pumpkin. Most canned pumpkin sold in the US sells in the fall, not in the winter, spring or summer.* Still, I saw it sitting there in my pantry when I was looking for the wheat flour and it called my name. Pumpkin is really good for you. It’s loaded with Vitamins A and C, and a cup of it has more potassium than a banana. Plus, I was hungry, and a great recipe for pumpkin custard popped into my head. It’s from my friend Bobbe (to whom I apologize if I have abominated her recipe).
Pumpkin custard is basically pumpkin pie without the crust. Maybe not quite as rich, and you have to be willing to eat custard without crust. Granted, a pie crust is the perfect, flakey, slightly crispy compliment to the smooth, velvety custard/pie. The combo is worth the trouble…usually. But not always. Sometimes I don’t want to make a crust, or I don’t have time. Sometimes I just want the creamy part – a quick and easy mixing of ingredients and into a baking dish it goes.
Yesterday I had another idea, a new idea. I opened the can of pumpkin, then found the molasses and poured a bit in. I didn’t remember that molasses isn’t in my pumpkin custard recipe – it’s in my pumpkin pie recipe – oh well! (This is what happens when you start putting stuff in the bowl before you open the cookbook.) Plus I didn’t actually measure the molasses, so never mind about it unless you want to put a tablespoon or two in there; it won’t affect anything except to make the flavor richer. I got the brown sugar out, and then the eggs and all the other ingredients – all while contemplating a strange addition. It was breakfast-time, okay, so I can be forgiven for this I think. How about some oatmeal?
Oatmeal?? Oatmeal!! I took down my beauteous old tin (isn’t it beauteous?)
and (definitely did not measure this) added two handfuls of the old-fashioned oats contained within – what I could hold in one hand twice. I stirred it all up and poured it into the 8×8” cast iron pan I had had heating up in a 375F oven with a pat of butter in it (the recipe says 350, but 375 worked just fine). I cooked it till it was set, wondering all the while if I was crazy. It’ll just be pumpkin custard with a bit of texture to it, I told myself. It takes a while for this to bake, and I was doubting myself considerably the whole time, I won’t lie. But it wasn’t half bad! Actually I was quite pleased with not-overly-sweet pumpkin flavor and the nice oatmealy texture!
This photo doesn’t come close to doing it justice, but really, if you want a twist on pumpkin custard that works for breakfast, this is worth a go! You could eat it hot, warm or cold, but I think warm is best. I was pretty excited about it, and mentioned it to Samuel when he came out from his coding-cave. He said, “You did what?!” I told him again and he said, “Mom, that’s like putting peas in bread! It just doesn’t go together!”
I said, “Frozen peas or canned peas?”
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Either way, both are food combinations that don’t make sense.”
I am not ready to put peas in my bread dough and see what happens any time soon. But oats in pumpkin custard isn’t that weird, is it? Let’s just call it irregular. A long time ago I read a book called Irregular People* which was about exactly what you think it would be about (and can’t we all think of someone who fits that word?!). Irregular is a very cool word anyway, even if it does, for me, conjure up images of strange and/or difficult people. I’ve decided that it applies nicely to my custard-oatmeal combination, if I may say so.
In case you are inclined to think out of the custard box and the oatmeal box, so to speak, and in case you have a can of pumpkin in your pantry that you should use before next fall, you might want to give this a whirl. Here’s the recipe from my cookbook, typed out below in case the handwriting is hard to read. With or without some oats thrown in for a little texture, enjoy!
Preheat oven to 350F.
1 ½ cups cooked, strained pumpkin (one 15oz/425g can)
2/3 cup brown sugar (I did not add this much, but did add some molasses)
3 beaten eggs (I did not beat mine before adding them in)
1 ½ cups scalded milk (I added it cold and it worked fine)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch (I forgot this)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (yes)
½ teaspoon ginger (yes)
¼ teaspoon each ground cloves and nutmeg (I did not add these)
(I added two handfuls old-fashioned oats)
Pour in buttered baking dish (don’t you love how the recipe assumes you know what size dish to use? I used my 8×8” cast iron)
Bake 45 minutes or till set.
*According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, Libby’s (owned by Nestle), with 90% of the US market for canned pumpkin, sells 90% of it from October through January.
** Irregular People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley, 1982