Tag Archives: pumpkin

Twelve Days wrapped up.

web photo

This evening I was reminded of one snowy night last week up at my daughter’s: I walked outdoors and crunched through the snow, far enough from the house that the fairy lights were hidden behind a tall spruce tree, and I looked up – oh my! The stars were brilliant, and I immediately saw two constellations I hadn’t noticed the last time I was in the mountains, in October. It is evidently the season for Orion and the Pleiades. I always think of the Pleiades as the Seven Sisters, because when I first met that group I was in Turkey, and my friends there called them that.

Tonight I took a bowl of kitchen scraps out to the trash, and saw those same constellations shining right above my house in lowland suburbia. A cloudless sky seems strange, after days and days of clouds and rain. But there it was. I was carrying out all the rind and seeds of this giant Rouge vif D’Etampes pumpkin, which I bought in the fall and which has been sitting on my front walk until today, when a black spot revealed a bit of rot setting in.

I cut out that bit of flesh and then roasted the two halves one at a time, because they were too large to do otherwise… unless I had cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces, but I wasn’t smart enough to think of that idea until later…

(Those are Asian yams baking at the same time.)

…maybe because I brought a cold home with me from the northlands, and my brain may still be affected, though I feel very well today. Another more pleasant gift was a jar of our Glad-type of peppernuts ! that Pippin baked for Christmas. I took this picture in my car before I had eaten too many, and I’m proud to say I have continued with restraint. They are the sort of treat we can’t seem to produce every year. Maybe next year I will bake some myself; on the way home I bought one of the ingredients that is often not easily found except at truck stops.

I didn’t bake half of the cookies I’d planned this Christmas. Instead of baking, I had my little road trip, and then a couple of days of lying around under the weather. I figure if I haven’t done my baking by the Twelfth Day it will have to wait until next year.

Speaking of the Twelfth Day, here is one last image of Theophany, from my dear friend May’s parish, and her arrangement of the festal surround.

My red berries from the bike path cotoneaster bushes dried out before Theophany, and I had to wander the garden a bit to find something to extend the season for my kitchen windowsill. In January it’s succulents and olives.

I’m slowly putting away the decorations and burning down some of the candles, beginning to settle into what looks to be a quiet month of guilt-free homebodiness. I have a good stack of firewood, and enough housework and reading to keep me busy for a year of Januarys. And more than five quarts of pumpkin now in the freezer to make sustaining soups and puddings for the rest of winter and beyond.

Live your life while you have it. Life is a splendid gift.
There is nothing small in it.

-Florence Nightingale

Flowers open on Maundy Thursday.

For us Orthodox Christians, Holy Thursday is still four weeks in the future. So when I woke I wasn’t immediately thinking about the events of that day that my western Christian friends and family are commemorating.

Rather, I thought to go open the greenhouse door so that it doesn’t get over 100 degrees in there today. On Monday, before I had realized the effect of the sun’s changing orientation in the sky, and how it has been shining on the winter-shaded greenhouse more minutes of every day, I glanced at my indoor-outdoor thermometer to see — 113°. Uh-oh, I don’t think any of my plants would like that for very long.

Look what was blooming this first day of April: a Christmas cactus. It is one of many I propagated from the large cactus I gave away, and you can see in the picture below another five that I’d like to give away. If any of my readers who lives within an hour’s drive of me would like one of these smaller plants, please let me know and I will bring it to you. Maybe they will bloom soon, too…?

More scenes from the greenhouse, where the newer Love-in-a-Mist seeds are outperforming the older ones. The Winter Luxury Pumpkin starts are getting their secondary leaves. This is a small heirloom pumpkin that I got from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. It has a reputation for good flavor.

I also picked asparagus early this morning, because the stalks continue to emerge at record speed and in record numbers. Only half of the crowns that I originally planted survive, but those produce more every year, so I really have plenty….. though I do wonder if one can ever have too much asparagus.

I accidentally broke off one crisp spear in the middle, and it only took me a few seconds to decide to eat it right then and there. That made me think back to various discoveries over my gardening life, of the many vegetables that are pretty tasty when they come right off the plant and are eaten “alive.” Asparagus is one of those that is sweet and juicy at that moment, but it loses flavor and tenderness fast. I used also to eat green beans, sweet corn, and bell peppers before I ever got them into the house.

First volunteer Delta Sunflower

I know one can eat Brussels sprouts raw, but I don’t think I have. And I’ve never grown them successfully, either. But since vegetables are the topic at hand, here is my favorite way to cook that one. Now that I have a standard  recipe and can count on success, it’s easy to have a container in the fridge that I can snack on. They are like candy to me, but more satisfying, of course.

In the front yard, in ascending order of the day’s favorites:

Returning to the most beautiful remembrance of the day….

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

“As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.

“This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

John Chapter 6

October is falling away.

Pumpkin this, pumpkin that, my head has been full of ideas for cooking and eating pumpkin. So I went to an upscale market where I could find a Sugar Pie Pumpkin. Now it’s sitting here waiting for me to commit to one use or another.

Mr. Glad and I have been walking a lot. And I’ve been cooking up a storm, things other than pumpkin, for the many guests we’ve been lucky to have passing through. I made 10 quarts of minestrone last week, and that barely got me started on the theme of soups and stews to keep us warm this winter. So all the housework and gardening is piling up, and I am only stopping by here to show you my pumpkin, and the leaves I picked up in the neighborhood.

Last year about this time I spent hours looking for good autumn poems, and found them all incapable of expressing what I was feeling. I don’t think I’ll even try this year — I’ll just go out and dig in the dirt, sweep the leaves, sniff the air. I’ll be my own poem.

Still, if any of you have favorite verses for the season, send me the titles. And catch all you can of the season however it falls to you.

Chocolate & Pumpkin & Spice

Everyone, it seems, is talking and writing about every variety of pumpkin bread possible, which they have baked and posted recipes for, and the (pumpkin?) seed sprouted in my mind and bore fruit last night, when I put all these ideas together and came up with my own batch that was pretty much perfect. My thanks to all of you who made my mouth water and my imagination start working.

Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Muffins
This made 30 smallish muffins and two mini-loaves

3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 29-oz can pumpkin (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips
3 cups toasted walnuts, chopped

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Using electric mixer, beat pumpkin and sugars until blended. Gradually beat in eggs, vanilla, oil and ginger. Stir dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture alternating with buttermilk in three additions. Stir in nuts and chips last.

Fill lined muffin cups 3/4 full with batter; likewise mini loaf pans that have been greased or lined with parchment.

Bake muffins at 375 degrees, 30-45 minutes, depending on size of cup and whether your oven is convection, until a toothpick comes out clean — though it can be hard to tell with all that chocolate in there! Bake the mini loaves about an hour. Cool in pans.

Upon eating the first muffin I thought I hadn’t put in enough spice to suit, but today they were the perfect combination of tender and moist, with lots of soft dark chocolate not quite melted in, and dreamy flavor, probably just the right amount of spice. I wouldn’t mind if they had still less sugar, but I’ll be cautious about changing that ingredient too much and maybe not liking the resulting change in the crumb texture.

I took this recipe at epicurious.com for my jumping-off place, after reading all the reviews that told the many ways people changed the original. I mostly combined many of their changes to customize mine; and I was in such a hurry to get my loaves and muffins done before my bedtime, I forgot to take a picture. This tiger does have something to do with the recipe, because he was carved from a pumpkin by Pippin some years ago.

After Mr. Glad and I enjoyed my creations with breakfast, most of the remainder went into the freezer to bring out when there are more people around to enjoy them. I hope that will be soon, but I’ve had my fix, which I think will keep me for a while.