Goodbye Garden, Hello Pumpkin!

I’m slowly accepting the fact that warm weather has left Iowa for a while. I’ve managed to stick with my mantra of “No Heat ‘Til No-vember,” so my furnace is still in summer hibernation. However, I have cranked up my electric mattress pad and dramatically increased my hot coffee/hot tea intake. Oh…and soup. I’ve already eaten a vat of the split pea variety.

Life has a funny way of balancing the not-so-good stuff with good stuff. It just works out.

I’m really not a fan of cold weather. It makes me want to whine and pout and complain. (Although I have learned I get very little cold weather sympathy from my mom when haven’t turned on my heat. In fact, she left a voice mail with the following message:  “Laura, your grandpa was cheap, but even he turned on the heat!” True, Mom. Very true.)

I believe the universe invented pumpkin to help me cope with fall and the inevitable sub-zero temperatures, frozen nose hairs, and icy driveways. I even think my love of pumpkin exceeds my hatred of cold weather.

Pumpkin makes everything better.

My garden is a barren wasteland of rotten tomatoes and dried leaves. I can handle this depressing fact as long as there’s pumpkin for my morning oats.

My fingers and toes freeze when I walk from my car to my office. I can deal with this as long as I have a can of pumpkin in my work bag — Trader Joe’s canned pumpkin is a delicious snack. Trust me. Heat it in the microwave with a bunch of cinnamon and your office will smell like pumpkin pie — my co-workers will attest this scent is much better than the usual scent of Brussels sprouts.

The list of delicious pumpkin food items goes on….and on. Bubba Gump had shrimp. I have pumpkin — pumpkin coffee, pumpkin scones, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin butter, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin soup, pumpkin beer, and pumpkin dog treats. I can honestly say I’ve eaten all these things in the past couple weeks. (Trader Joe’s dog treats really are good — I’m trying to convince other humans to try them. And I’ve only eaten a few bites — even I have standards.)

But, as I celebrate the glory of all things pumpkin, I’d like to give my regards to Veggie Garden 2012. It was a nice garden. It appreciated my frequent waterings and occasional TLC and provided me with delicious foodstuffs.

This year’s rock star items were:

1.  Tomatoes — Brandywines and Mr. Stripeys brought joy to my taste buds and helped me maintain a 10-tomato-a-day habit. This habit may have eroded a portion of my stomach with excessive amounts of tomato acid, but it was soooo worth it.

2.  Kale — I felt like I won the veggie lottery every day! Few things in life beat picking awesome kale leaves out of your back yard. Plus, kale leaves really cook down — hence, I was able to fit giant amounts of kale in my skillet and eat it all in one serving. Pure bliss!

3.  Parsley — it’s not just decorative! Who’d a thunk? It packs a little parsley punch on salads!

4.  Carrots and Beets — digging these little veggie friends was like digging for Christmas presents. I literally gasped for joy when I dug my first big carrots and beets! Literally! (The neighbors probably wonder about me…)

5.  That Random Yellow Squash — squash borers have ravaged my zucchini, cucs, and squash-items for the past two years, so I didn’t really think the yellow squash seeds would produce squash. Oh, was I wrong. I apparently planted “the little yellow squash that could.” The plant was attached by squash borers, but it lived on! While one side of the plant died a fairly gruesome death, the other side lived through a drought and kept growing little yellow squash. Unfortunately, my love for yellow squash doesn’t run as deep as my love for other veggies. But — I had to show some love for a squash plant fighting so hard for life and succeeding. So, I picked all the little squash from the ugly plant, blanched ’em, and froze ’em. My freezer is all full of the little miracle squashes.

Honorable Mention:

1.  Blue Sweet Corn — this year’s crop was very pretty…very tasty…and very small.

Here’s my corn crop*:

*[Note:  these are two pictures of the same ear of corn. My dad, the Iowa farmer, will be so proud to see these crop pictures.]

Goodbye, Veggie Garden 2012 — may Veggie Garden 2013 be filled with more toms, kale, and much more corn.


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4 Responses to Goodbye Garden, Hello Pumpkin!

  1. Angela says:

    While I do not share your love for brussel sprouts or kale, I do for pumpkin! I have an excellent recipe for pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells if you’re interested. And – what’s your recipe for pumpkin oats? Do you mix it into oatmeal? And where do I find pumpkin spice hummus? I looked at Trader Joe’s, but did not see it.

    • bloglette says:

      I’ve been wanting to try this: (But I haven’t.)

      My “pumpkin oats” are the lazy girl’s pumpkin oats — I just make oatmeal or oat bran and dump some pumpkin puree, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, peanut butter, etc. in it.

      I also have a good stovetop recipe for pumpkin oat bran (oat bran is tasty and at Trader Joe’s). You boil (over medium heat) 1/2 C pumpkin puree w/ 1/2 C water and 1/2 C milk (almond or cow:) ) — add 1 teas. cinnamon, 1/4 teas. nutmeg and a pinch of salt. When it starts to boil, stir in a heaping 1/2 C of oat bran and stir for 2 minutes. Add peanut butter if you wish….and enjoy!

      The pumpkin hommus is FABULOUS! The brand is Cedar’s Hommus.

      And I DO want the recipe for pumpkin/ricotta shells!

      • Angela says:

        Oh yeah – I was just thinking lazy oatmeal…dumping stuff in. So no sugar?

        Here’s the pastra recipe. It’s very good. It’s not overly pumpkin-tasting, so if you’re really looking for the pumpkin flavor, you may want to increase the pumpkin to cheese ratio.

        Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells
        24 jumbo pasta shells
        1 Tablespoon olive oil
        22 oz fat free ricotta (approx. 2 1/2 cups)
        1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree
        2 1/2 oz grated Romano cheese (approx. 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons)
        1 egg white
        2 garlic cloves, minced
        1 cup fresh basil, chopped
        1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
        1 teaspoon salt
        1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
        1 (26 oz) jar store bought spaghetti sauce (or tomato sauce and add your own spices)
        Cook pasta shells according to package, drain. Transfer to a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Let cool.
        Preheat oven to 350
        Stir together ricotta, pumpkin, 3/4 cup Romano cheese, and remaining ingredients except tomato sauce.
        Spread sauce in bottom of a 9x 13 baking dish. Fill each shell with about 3 tablespoons of the cheese pumpkin mixture and arrange in pan with open side of the shell facing you.
        Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
        Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 15 minutes more. Shells can be stuffed the night before and stored in the fridge between layers of plastic wrap. Arrange shells on sauce just before baking.
        Serves 8.

      • bloglette says:

        I don’t add sugar — you certainly could:) You rule the oats!

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