Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I loved growing pumpkins when I was small - such satisfying vegetables. Two little leaves would break their way through the soil surface and soon they would be slightly furry, with tendrils stretching for purchase. Inevitably they'd run away, outside the boundaries of the plot. Once (I was six, the same year my brother jumped from the garage roof with a make-shift parachute made from OK Bazaars and Checkers shopping bags) a pumpkin plant I had sown grew up a nearby tree and a grey-white pumpkin grew there, balanced in the branches. I was so proud of that pumpkin.

We have a new garden here in England, and a new vegetable patch. We planted two pumpkin plants this summer and lo and behold they covered the entire patch, climbing along the apricot tree trusses once they'd run out of space on the ground, and weighing down the tomatoes - I didn't have the heart to stop them. The leaves, huge like large lilypads, hid budding treasures and this weekend we harvested and brought in two great orange globes - 10kgs and 7kgs a piece! We'll be eating pumpkin 'til the cows come home, but who cares?! I feel the satisfaction of a six year old.

My brother recently commented that Laura Ingalls Wilder's FARMER BOY was all about food and that you need to eat before you read it, otherwise it will make you hungry. I hadn't remembered that, but recalled instead the dramatic bull-whipping episode in the schoolhouse, giant chunks of ice from the river cut for refrigeration purposes and, of course, Almanzo Wilder entering his milk-fed pumpkin in a contest at the county fair! Feeling self-satisfied about my own pumpkins I went back to check, and so help me there are page after page of Almanzo eating (especially pie, and a lot of it pumpkin pie). Here is a typical description:
Father sat at the head of the table, Mother at the foot. Then they must all bow their heads while Father asked God to bless the food. After that, there was a little pause before Father unfolded his napkin and tucked it in the neckband of his frock.
He began to fill the plates. First he filled Mr Corse's plate. Then Mother's. Then Royal's and Eliza Jane's and Alice's. Then, at last, he filled Almanzo's plate.
'Thank you,' Almanzo said. Those were the only words he was allowed to speak at table. Children must be seen and not heard. Father and Mother and Mr Corse could talk, but Royal and Eliza Jane and Alice and Almanzo must not say a word. Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter, and he ate the crisp golden crust. He demolished a small heap of pale mashed turnips, and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. Then he sighed, and tucked his napkin deeper into the neckband of his red waist. And he ate plum preserves, and strawberry jam, and grape jelly, and spiced watermelon-rind pickles. He felt very comfortable inside. Slowly he ate a large piece of pumpkin pie.
I shall have to take down the recipe books. Pumpkin inspired suggestions anyone?

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Blogger Carl V. said...

Don't have any pumpkin inspired recipes for you...though I suggest marthastewartliving.com as she has tons of October/Halloween stuff on her site now.

I worked for a farmer for several summers as a kid, one who grew sweet corn and melons and pumpkins. I look back on that time very fondly and always enjoyed picking the pumpkins, knowing it was getting ever closer to Halloween! I need to try to plant some next year just to see what they will do.

1:31 pm  
Anonymous Danielle said...

Those are great pumpkin stories. I would love to grow pumpkins, but my yard is not situated well for any sort of garden. I love pumpkin anything--pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin bars...this is a great time of year!

2:32 am  
Anonymous sian said...

Hi, and thanks for visiting my blog.

on pumpkins, we love eating them in our house. If you scoop out the flesh, cover it in cumin and roast it in the oven, then whizz it all up with some water, bouillon and a little drop of milk, it makes the most delicious soup-- excellent for a cold winter's eve.

11:23 am  
Blogger equiano said...

Thank you all for your comments - I can see I am not the only pumpkin fiend around here! Thanks also to those of you who sent me recipes by email - I foresee a delicious pumpkin soup for starters, followed by pumpkin fritters and then a moist pumpkin cake, or possibly pumpkin pie - yum!

Actually, I think we'll have a mad dash of cooking and then freeze a bunch to spread it out a bit.

1:24 pm  

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