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Pumpkin -- not just for pies

Every fall, pumpkins appear on doorsteps and windowsills and end up in warm, delicious pies. But few people realize the many uses of this member of the gourd family.

Like winter squash, pumpkin can be used both as a vegetable and in a variety of tempting baked goods.

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Most frequently used in cooking is a puree of pumpkin. After boiling or baking the fresh pumpkin, the pieces should be well drained and put through a food mill or sieve -- or mixed at high speed in the blender for a minute or two.

This puree can be added to breads, muffins, pies, soups, cakes and casseroles. While pumpkins are widely available, freeze some puree for baking all through the upcoming holiday season.

To bake a fresh pumpkin, wash a small to medium size pumpkin and cut into wedges, about 1-inch each. Remove seeds and stringy portion.

Place in baking dish, brush a little vegetable oil, sprinkle with 1/4 cup or more brown sugar, cinnamon and salt to taste.Bake in 350 degrees F. oven about 45 minutes until pumpkin is soft when pierced with a fork. Remove skin and puree pumpkin meat in blender or foor processor. If desired, squeeze with fresh lime juice before serving. Makes 8 to 12 servings.