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It’s Pumpkin Time!

Now that fall has arrived, pumpkins are everywhere. Porches are decorated with all sizes and not just traditional orange pumpkins. Shades of orange range from muted tangerine to vibrant red-orange. Green pumpkins are colored deep forest hues and soft mellow sea green. And some are creamy white and bright eye opening white.

I remember when I was a kid, Dad and I carried pale-colored pumpkins from the garden that were either carved into simple jack-o-lanterns or cooked for Thanksgiving pies. But what’s most surprising today is the many recipes for foods and beverages made from pumpkins. When Mom roasted the seeds, we thought we’d eaten all things pumpkin.

While turning the pages in a magazine that featured the savory side of pumpkins, it occurred to me that I could serve pumpkin for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and offer pumpkin snacks in between. Then searching online, I discovered enough recipes for pumpkin menus for a week, and never repeat, but that might be pumpkin overload.

A quote from Country Living magazine states, “The only thing better than fall mornings are fall mornings with pumpkins.” I’ll start the day with pumpkin spice flavored coffee and serve eggs baked in a mini pumpkin with bacon and roasted squash. I’ll bake maple pumpkin scones and offer pumpkin bread, to replace boring banana bread, for those who would turn up their noses at scones. And pumpkin butter will up the flavor when spread on scones and bread.

For a mid-morning energy boost, how about a pumpkin protein shake topped with spiced pumpkin whipped cream and cinnamon?

Soup, the savory side of pumpkin, for lunch. In less than fifteen minutes, I can make traditional pumpkin soup with chicken broth, onion, and garlic. Two other recipes are tempting: Pumpkin Chili and Coconut Curry Creamy Pumpkin Soup made with coconut milk.   What’s better than cornbread with soup? How about pumpkin cornbread?

Afternoon snacks have to be roasted pumpkin seeds. Just like Mom made with the pulp wiped off the seeds, but not washed. Seasoned with butter and kosher salt and roasted about 25 minutes. But I’m tempted to try Rosemary-Parmesan Pumpkin Seeds or Taco-Lime Pumpkin Seeds.

            Husband likes pasta so I’ve narrowed the dinner choices to ravioli or fettuccine or lasagna. Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter or Pumpkin Goat Cheese Fettuccine Alfredo or Cheesy Pumpkin Lasagna. All can be served with Roasted Pumpkin-and-Baby Kale Salad and Pumpkin Butter Brie Pull-Apart Bread.

The recipes for pumpkin desserts are limitless. Cakes, tortes, cookies, bars, rolls, cobbler, crème brulee, mousse. But I really like plain pumpkin pie, like Mom made using a recipe she tore from the wrapper of a can of evaporated milk sometime in the 1950s.

So many pumpkins. So many recipes. But I have an orange one and a couple of white ones on my porch, and I really won’t serve or eat pumpkin all day long. But I’ll venture beyond roasted seeds and pie. There are just so many choices.

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It’s Pumpkin Time

search-1 “What happened to that pumpkin?” my young Grand asked. She pointed to what looked like a normal pumpkin to me so I asked what she meant. Why did she think something had happened? “It’s a funny color. Did it fade?” she asked.

No, it didn’t fade. It was a tannish-orange colored pumpkin like the ones that everyone cut to make jack-o-lanterns when I was a kid growing up in Pickett County. A plain pumpkin. The same kind of pumpkin that Mother cut up, scooped out the meat, and used to make a pumpkin pie. A field pumpkin.

Field pumpkin – an apt name. Dad grew them in a field, usually close to or in the cornfield. He and I would walk among the dry corn stalks, which scratched and scraped my arms, searching for a perfect jack-o-lantern pumpkin. It had to sit flat and not tip over. The skin had to be smooth with no ugly bumps, at least on one side. I liked a tall, skinny pumpkin. Then there was plenty of space for a face to be cut out. Triangles for his eyes and nose and a mouth with jagged teeth. And we’d dig out a place inside on the bottom to stand a tall, maybe a six-inch tall, candle. A real candle.

My Grand’s questions made me notice all the many varieties of pumpkins available at Farmer’s Market that Saturday morning. So how many kinds are there? A website for seeds (http://www.johnnyseeds.com) lists 67 pumpkin varieties. Looking at the pictures, I counted 45, almost 70%, bright orange ones. Only one was the color of every jack-o-lantern my daddy helped me cut.

The seeds available on the website promise to grow pumpkins in many shapes and colors, and all sizes! Most are traditional round shapes, but some look like gourds and one like a banana. Most are bright orange, but some are green or blue-green or white or speckled with orange and green splotches. The Marina Di Chioggia variety is the size of a softball and has a “blistery, bubbled, slate blue-green rind.” A five pound Bliss has a “mottled appearance that resembles a frog’s skin.”

The Dill’s Atlantic Giant variety commonly grows to be 100 pounds and can be up to 1500 pounds. I wonder if the 1405 pound pumpkin that won first place for giant pumpkin at the Great Pumpkin Festival in Allardt, Tennessee a couple of weeks ago was a Dill’s Atlantic?

While my Grand and I wandered through Farmer’s Market that day, I told her that she could choose a pumpkin to take home. One that would be all her own. She chose a tiny one – bright orange of course – that just fit in her small hand. I’m pretty sure it’s a Wee-B-Little.

And I bought two pumpkins for fall decorations, although my Grand said they probably weren’t real pumpkins because they weren’t the right color. A soccer ball size white one and a green and white striped one that looks like a big gourd. And we bought a tall, bright orange one to cut for a jack-o-lantern. Why choose a faded pumpkin when you can have a bright orange one?

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