” I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” Henry David Thoreau.
I had been feeling homesick for a brisk Autumn day, dried leaves underfoot, a colored forest canopy, a walk through an orchard. Funny how wishes come true. An urgent family matter arose and unexpectedly I was in central Connecticut mid October. The first free opportunity after business was put to rest my son and I drove off to wander the back roads. Random roads, stone walls, reminiscing the farms and countryside of our boyhoods. New England.
I remembered an orchard on a hill in the area and winding along the way found a field of pumpkins. The traditional American pumpkin we are all familiar with is the Connecticut field variety. A pumpkin is the fruit of the species Cocurbita pepo or Cocurbita mixta and is native to North America as are many other squash. Most every part of the versatile pumpkin is edible, the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, flowers and a medical extract. In the southwest the flowers of pumpkin and squash are a popular edible garnish When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed or roasted. It can be eaten stuffed, mashed or pureed, in soups, breads, pies, for sweet deserts, in New Zealand they roast it with vegetables, Italy uses it for ravioli and China uses the leaves for soup or as a cooked vegetable. Did you know that pumpkins can be stored for several months if kept in a dark dry place with a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees? Pureed pumpkin can be frozen and will last up to a year.
Pumpkin muffins, Black bean and roast pumpkin salad, pumpkin chipotle soup, beef and pumpkin stew, chocolate pumpkin pudding. This link has fabulous free recipes for this crop. www.pumpkinrecipes.org/ Eating fresh in season fruits and vegetables ensures health. Locally grown food is even better. There are a lot of good meals in a pumpkin, which are high in alpha and beta carotene by the way. The harvest is near end so if you hurry you can still take advantage and just might find some discounted prices. I’d say 25 or 30 lbs. would do.
The day was wonderful. An easy afternoon. Just as I had imagined. My dream complete. The air was cool, a side road, small farm, walking the garden rows with my son, talking about the harvest. Giving thanks.