Growing pumpkins is not especially difficult with enough sun, warmth and water. "Pie" pumpkins are favored for cooking and are slightly smaller than a soccer ball. Any variety of pumpkin can be used for cooking, however, and pumpkins are delicious and nutritious. Low in saturated fat and sodium, they are high in Vitamins A, B6, C and E, as well as iron, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, copper and beta-caratene.

To cook a pumpkin, cut an opening in the top, clean out the seeds and set it in a water-filled pan. A smaller pie pumpkin needs about an hour in the oven at 350 degrees. Check it with a fork to determine when it is sufficiently soft. After cooling, scoop out the flesh from the skin. You may wish to run this through a food processor to make it smooth.

The processed pumpkin is then ready for any recipe such as though for cookies, bread, muffins, soup or pie. The ingredients for pumpkin pie are few. All you need are eggs, sugar and milk, cream or condensed milk, depending on the recipe. The pie is traditionally spiced--or over-spiced--with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Err on the side of caution when you add these spices.

Making a pie from scratch can be rewarding and tasty. If you're not feeling that domestic, consider getting your holiday pie--and other holiday delicacies--from the great bakers at Colorado Cherry Company. We thank them for providing us with great products to sample. They are located in Loveland and Lyons and may be reached online at

Another Thanksgiving staple that you might also consider making from scratch is cranberry relish. I can't abide the tasteless jelly that comes out of a can. For an easy, delicious and nutritious alternative, try my recipe. In a food processor, chop up a package of fresh cranberries and an orange (or two tangerines). Sweeten to taste with sugar, honey or stevia. I think you'll be delighted.