Post #414 Harvest Time

September 14, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Summer this year seemed hotter than previous years, and certainly more humid.  We had rain at least once a week all summer long which is unusual for this area.  It made the grass grow like crazy and kept the neighborhood buzzing with lawn mowers.  The summer heat lasted longer, too.  It’s only just now cooling off to normal temps for the area and it’s much appreciated.  We kept the windows open all day yesterday and last night.  It got pretty chilly but felt wonderful after the heat.  Of course, the electricity bills will go down by quite a bit, too.

With the change in seasons (Autumn is just a week away), the harvests are changing and we’re getting into the fall veggies, some of my favorites.  Our favorite vegetable store just posted this on their FB page:

Emily 1

Emily 2

The tomatoes are spectacular and I’m not looking forward to a winter of no fresh ones.  We’re seeing the corn harvest wind down.  Corn is planted early and late so there are two crops.  Now we’re seeing the beginning harvest of the second planting.

corn

It’s fun to watch things grow and try to identify them.  We finally learned the answer to one puzzle just recently.  We saw this growing:

soybeans

and we knew what it was, soybeans.  They’re just starting to ripen when they look like this.  The field will go entirely yellow, then completely brown.  When it’s brown, it’s harvested and the bean is separated from the plant.  But there’s another plant that looks exactly like soybean but grows a little taller and straighter, and stays a dark green until it’s harvested.  I asked around, but no one I asked knew what it was.

Well, it’s soybean, too.  It’s just a different kind of soybean and has only recently been added to the crop cycle here on the peninsula.  It’s a gourmet soybean and is used differently.  It’s sort of the truffle of soybeans.

But the big thing right now is the big thing.

pumpkin-field

As we’re driving around we’re seeing  a bunch of these fields, and a bunch of these giant orange orbs at all the roadside stands, farmer’s markets, and in the stores.  It’s a little early for making jack o’lanterns for Halloween, but the stuff is there.

When we were kids and living in upstate New York, one year my dad brought home small pumpkins for each kid.  We got to make our own jack o’lantern in our own way and put them out on the porch for the big day.  Because of the cold, they stayed out there well into November, almost to Thanksgiving.  Eventually, frost and age took its toll and the glorious lit lantern/gourd turned into drooping, saggy piles of near mush that no one wanted to get near.  Dad corralled all three of us to grab our own pumpkin and troop out to the garbage can in the back yard.  We didn’t want to touch the ugly mass, but it had to be done and they were ours, after all.  It went well, for the most part, until my little brother dropped his.  It hit the ground and splattered in a perfect circle.  My fascination in watching the pumpkin splatter like that turned into revulsion as my little brother emptied his stomach on top the pumpkin mess.  Dad, the marine, was singularly unimpressed and unmoved by my brother’s plight and handed him a newspaper, a shovel, and the garden hose.  His youngest son’s tears were not enough to change his mind.

Pumpkins always remind me of the my sister’s first Thanksgiving.  A friend of hers who had a large vegetable garden said he’d bring the stuff for pumpkin pie.  About midmorning I received a frantic phone call from her.

“What do I do with this pumpkin?  He brought a pumpkin!”

“Does it have a large stem on the end?”

“Yes, but it’s a pumpkin!  It’s not a can!”

“Grab the stem firmly in your right hand and beat him about the head and shoulders.  Then come on over grab a couple of our pies.  We have plenty.”

I looked the next day and he’d brought the right kind of pumpkin.  To make a pumpkin pie, you have to start with a sugar pumpkin.  They look essentially like a regular pumpkin but smaller and rounder.sugar pumpkin

They have a sweeter flavor and in every other respect are exactly like the standard pumpkin you see all through the Fall.

sugar-pumpkin-1

They’re the pumpkins you want when you’re cooking because the flavor tends to be more intense and better to the mouth.

Partner/Spouse loves to tell about the time his mom decided to make pumpkin pie from scratch.  She only did it once.  It tends to be the kind of thing people only do once because it’s seldom successful unless you know what you’re doing.  So she took the leftover pumpkin from Halloween, cut it into pieces and boiled it until it was soft.  Then she mashed it by hand, made the pie, and it turned out slimy, and with a funny flavor.  After that, she went back to the canned pumpkin or the frozen pies.

To get the true pumpkin flavor, like any other root or gourd vegetable, you need to roast it.  As I said before, this intensifies the flavors.  Then you blend it to a paste, add eggs and milk to make a custard, and what’s known as pumpkin pie spices.

There’s not a more evocative blend of spices than that one.  It’s sweet, earthy, and addicting.

Pumpkin Pie Spices

You can buy the blend pre-made, or you can do like my mom and just add the separate spices until it tastes right.  She liked more cinnamon, but I tend to like a little more allspice and nutmeg.  This time of year, we’re inundated with pumpkin flavored everything, but it’s usually just a little bit of this blend to evoke the memory of pumpkin pie.

pumpkin pie

I could go on for another thousand words or so about pumpkin pie, but I’ll close with this little story.  My mom and I always went a little overboard on pies during the holidays.  Nearly every pie was accompanied with whipped topping or ice cream.  One afternoon, I was reading on the couch and mom came in from the kitchen with a saucer that had a piece of pie and a huge mound of Cool Whip.  I was curious about what kind of pie she had chosen, and thinking about a blueberry pie in the fridge, so I was watching her eat. About halfway through I finally said, “Um, mom, you forgot you forgot to put pie on that plate.”

She just giggled.  “No, I didn’t.”

Enjoy

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2 Comments

  1. I do love me some pumpkin pie.

    • Yup, warm or cold, topped with sweet whipped cream, doesn’t get much better!


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