Pumpkin Feasts

How to clean your fridge and delight your dog while warming the kitchen!
This is the time of year when the autumn sights and smells always give me bigger ideas about wonderful ways to cook up the fall bounty than I'm able to carry out, let alone eat. Those delicious pumpkin pies, curries, soups and stews finally fill all the bellies, and I wind up with more pumpkins than I need. What a perfect excuse to make a feast for my favorite bottomless doggie belly! There is simply no way to go wrong with baking a pumpkin for your dog. 

Pumpkin, like squash, acts as a digestive leveling agent for dogs, as long as it is cooked to a soft paste. Since pumpkins vary in size, and what you've stuffed into them affects the baking time, use the basic guideline that it is done when it can be easily pierced with a fork, and has started to slump. 
If your pumpkins are fresh and your humans aren't tired of them, consider baking one for yourself - here is one basic, delicious and highly flexible recipe. It can be made vegan by using coconut milk instead of the dairy. I like it with coconut milk, cauliflower, pineapple chunks and Massaman curry, but I digress. :) 
Start by preheating the oven to 350F. Cut off the pumpkin top with a notch so you can fit it back on snugly for baking, and clean out the seeds and stringy pulp. Go through the fridge and put together enough stuffing to fill it loosely to the top. Limp carrots, wrinkly apples and an aging sweet potato went into today's pumpkin feast here at the Lounge. Bread crumbs, broken pieces of pasta, cooked rice, oatmeal, the last of the cottage cheese and a spoonful of yoghurt. Of course, these are all healthy things that a dog can digest if they're cooked soft, but what he needs to make it appetizing is meat. No bones, but any other meat scraps would be fine. The more the taste and smell of meat permeates the pumpkin, the better, and your dog's nose will definitely react while it's all baking in the oven!

Chicken soup, bits of bacon, leftover beef fat, tuna salad, freezer burned meat - chop it up and drop it in. Ingredients to avoid include any bones, raisins, onions, cucumbers, fruit seeds or chocolate. To make it all moist enough to cook through and stay together, use bullion, soup, milk, last night's leftovers run through the blender, or scramble up some eggs and let it become a custard. Mix it all thoroughly, fill it up, put the top on and set in a hot oven on a pyrex dish or pie plate. Start with about 90 minutes for a 2lb pumpkin, and check with a fork. If the pumpkin's getting soft but the veggies inside aren't, leave it for another 15 minutes or so with the top off, and check again, softer is better.

Serve completely cooled, outside, whole, and enjoy the spectacle. Chill & slice in wedges as you would a pie, serve slices on their sides in bowls for smaller bellies. Leftovers can be run through the blender or frozen as is for the next time your best friend needs a little variety or has an upset tummy.

Fletcher is not finished yet, please leave the bowl. 
 I'll bet there will be plenty of pie-sized pumpkins at the farmers market this weekend! Picture this holiday scenario - as your family is sitting down to dinner, you give your happy dog his very own pumpkin feast laced with turkey fat, and he's completely occupied with it for the next hour. Everyone wins!