Monday, November 25, 2013

Big Haul, Big Pumpkin in 3 Acts

The Opening Scene:  In the morning, in the car, on our way from dropping the children off at school, and on our way to work, my driver husband had his eyes on the road, and from the passenger seat, my little dumpster eyes glanced side wise and spied a big round pumpkin on the neatly placed on the black lid of a garbage can.  Someone had lovingly discarded their autumnal decor.  It sat waiting for its second chance, perhaps as pies, cookies, or quick breads.  Certainly looked luscious to be enough for all 3 kinds of baked goods. Practical as I am, and as my husband much as appreciates my finds (sometimes), I felt I couldn't ask him to pull over. Previously I experienced his irritation at the possibility of being late. He is as punctual as he is kind.  I didn't want to break one sterling quality and test another. I took note of the pumpkin's location about a half block south of my mother's house.

In the Work Place:  Long story short: I applied myself 110%.  As I was preparing to leave, I took stock of various plastic bags.  I took a selection of medium and large, the largest being a new, thick, black contractor's garbage bag with handles. Overkill? or just the ticket?

In the Alley: Yay! The Pumpkin was still there--perfect in every way. A light dusting of snow set off its rotund beauty.  It was Big, possibly Great, and definitely Heavy, yes, Heavier than I imagined.  I opened up the black bag, enveloped the sides, lifted left and right to heft it in, drew the strings closed shut.  I picked it up, oh, man, by the strings in my left hand, by the curved stump/handle in my right.  The weight of it drew me down, down, down.  I tried cradling the left side, but the girth taxed my arm.  I struggled along, stepping up onto the steep sidewalk, past the house that set out its offering, across the seemingly, endless street to the next corner.  Arms trembling, I set my burden down on the thinly snow covered sidewalk, so close and yet so far.  I could see my mother's house from here 10? 15? houses away.

The snow cover seemed to be pretty consistent.  I decided to pull along my sweet burden along, still heavy, but gliding, well, except for another alley that was a little dry, and a sidewalk not swept of leaves, but still gliding most of the way. No known witnesses. I carried the pumpkin down one flight of steps one or 2 steps at a time, and glided for a stretch through the gangway, up another flight of stairs.  At the side door I saw the bag had abraded away, the skin was intact.  My mother brought a giant stainless steel bowl and she pulled it the rest of the way in.

Epilogue:  Yet to come.  I imagine cutting and freezing is in store for at least part of the pumpkin and cooking and baking for another subsection.

A pumpkin cookie recipe written by an ex-boyfriend on the yellowed inside of the back cover of my copy of the Joy of Cooking. I don't know his source.  His mother made excellent sweet potato pies.  One Thanksgiving, she brought 2, over the weekend she made 4 more and we ate them all.  If I had the recipe for those I would share it.  Pumpkin would make a good stand in I suppose.  But her recipe, like its talented maker, is long lost.  In any case, her son's cookies were yummy:

Pumpkin Walnut Cookies

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream together 1 c butter, 1 c sugar;
add  1 c cooked pumpkin, 1 egg, 1 t vanilla;
sift and add 2 c all-purpose flour, 1 t double-acting baking powder,
1/2 t baking soda, 1/2 t salt, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t allspice;
stir in 1 c chopped nuts;
drop on well-greased sheet for 15 min (that seems a little long?)

Also for your enjoyment a pumpkin variation on turnip pulling folktale:

and a zillion other pumpkin recipes

Happy Thanksgiving!

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