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.
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.