Moonlighting

Something I don’t think I’ve shared on here is that I moonlight in the recipe business, developing and testing recipes for vegan, vegetarian and omni cookbook authors. Sometimes, I conceive and develop original (always vegan/often gluten free) recipes; other times, I join a group of individuals who are testing an author’s own material. For obvious reasons, I don’t post any of the recipes – mine or theirs – before a manuscript is published.

During the development/testing phase, I cull my favorites for easy access into a clearly marked folder with every intention of sharing them when the time is right. It’s a thick folder, the spine wearing thin and papers trying to burst from the confines of the industrial strength rubber band holding it all together. It’s an ignored folder, one that is added to often, pulled down when I want to make a favorite recipe, and then re-shelved on my kitchen bookshelf where it melts back into obscurity.

All that is to say that I’m going to make an effort to share more with you from my recipe testing archive, recipes I’ve made so many times that I usually don’t even need to reach for my disintegrating folder, let alone the actual cookbook.

It’s pumpkin season around here, and since winter squash is one of the few things I don’t actually grow on my own little farm, we get very excited about making the rounds to pumpkin patches, the farmers’ market, our co-op, the farm across the road, and my in-laws garden. That’s a lot of squash, folks. And a lot of squash seeds. And thanks to Dynise, I know exactly what to do with them.

Candied squash seeds
Adapted from Celabrate Vegan by Dynise Balcavage

Seeds from butternut and other winter squash can be used in place of pumpkin seeds, if you have them. This recipe is easily be doubled or tripled, just be sure that your pan is big enough to accommodate the increased volume.

1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
¼ teaspoon fine grain salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Clean the seeds and pat them dry. Spread them out in a single layer on a parchment-lined or lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly toasted and golden.

While the pumpkin seeds are cooling, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat in a dry skillet until fragrant, about five minutes. Grind the seeds. In a small bowl, sift together the sugar, ground cumin, minced herbs and salt.

In a deep pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the sugar mixture and pumpkin seeds and stir to combine – it will be clumpy. Increase the heat to medium/high and stir often. Over the next five to seven minutes, the sugar mixture will first take on a sandy appearance, then caramelize, clinging to the seeds. As soon as this happens, turn off the heat and transfer the seeds back to the baking sheet. The candied seeds will harden as they cool.

Yield: One heaping cup