As a child, I believed October was painted just for me. Proof was the folly of amber, crimson, and scarlet leaves that danced ecstatically by my window sill welcoming me to the world. The smell of musky leaves still evokes fond memories parachuting from the porch into the heap of leaves below.

Cold cider, warm donuts, and pumpkins remain fond memories.  Whenever I can, I return East for a visit, as I do not live where apples grow. I love the glorious October blue sky seasoned with the hint of early winter chill. While I no longer eat donuts, as a chef, I love to cook with apples, and pumpkins. Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday of the year to prepare.

Here is a short video of preparing the Sweet Pumpkin with a Spicy Meat Ragout(recipe below)  Recipe for Vegetarian version.

Sweet Pumpkin with a Spicy Ragout


2 whole sm baking pumpkins – cut in half and seeded


4 T. brown sugar

4 T. butter

s & p powdered cinnamon

4 c. of Renee’s Meat Sauce (below) with the following variation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Please note: This recipe can be made with a meat ragout using the recipe included for the meat sauce (below) with a few variations.

Variation to the sauce are as follows:

Add two sticks of cinnamon and 2 T. of my seasoning mix, (see Recipe # 9 for Renee’s Spicy Seasoning) to the sauce. Generally, I will remove some of the cooking Meat Sauce and add the cinnamon stick. Essentially I will end up with two sauces instead of one. I suggest you do it this way so you do not contaminate your spaghetti or lasagna sauce with cinnamon, which works well with this recipe but is not Italian. The meat should be pulled apart and chopped and added back to this sauce for a thick ragout.

Place pumpkin halves in a baking dish, bowl side up. Season each with s & p,

1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1T. butter.

Place in oven, uncovered, and bake for 60 to 80 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender – this varies depending upon the pumpkins.

Cut pumpkin in half again. Place on a platter and fill with the thick sauce. Top with a dollop of yogurt.

Meat Sauce

This recipe was adapted from a local restaurant in Syracuse. The Grandmother cooking was hesitant to share, but with a good eye and a keen nose I think I came close!


2 large onions diced medium

1 clove garlic

1 large carrot (peeled and chopped)

1/2 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of red wine

Sauté the three ingredients above in oil until translucent in a large heavy bottom stock pot. Do not brown. 2 # pork butt, with bone, cut into 3 pieces 1 – 1/2 pounds of beef bones Roast the above meats in a 450 degree oven for 30-40 min. until brown. Deglaze with red wine and pour scrapings and juices into sautéing onion mixture above.

Add 6-28 ounce cans of plum tomatoes Add 2 -16 ounce cans of Tomato sauce Reminder – The quality of your sauce is dependent upon the quality of your ingredients and tomatoes are key. I prefer organic.

Add the following: 1 Bay leaf 6 pieces of Genoa salami 2 T. salt 2T. pepper 1 tsp crushed red pepper 3 T. oregano 4 T. Basil 1 LB. of spicy Italian sausage Simmer for 4-6 hours on the stove over low heat. Remove the meat and chop. Taste for seasonings and adjust.

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