If you haven't already caved to the desire to buy a pumpkin or two for your yard or front porch, caved to the desire to decorate your kitchen table with a bowl of small adorable gourds or had pumpkin flavored something yet, then you must be reading this from somewhere other than Connecticut! I know the song says Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year but let's be honest, we were brain washed into that by Andy Williams. The closest fall gets in music is The Smashing Pumpkins. While I appreciate all music, that's not exactly what I hear in my mind when I think of fall. Fall to me is more about the crunch of the leaves under my feet, the crackling of the first fire of the season when you break in the fireplace and the laughter of children as they run amuck in pumpkin patches.
Suppose you are one of the people I bumped into yesterday at the farmer's market who had 3 or 4 too many pumpkins that doesn't know what to do with them, here are some thoughts. Let's begin with what not to do. There isn't enough money or other form of bribery to make me want to make roast pumpkin seeds at home. Trust me, once you create the mess one time, had children put it in each others hair or burnt your forearms as you are taking out the sheet pan with hot oil/salt/pumpkin seeds you quickly realize that the prices the vendors ask for at the farmers market are more than fair-they are a steal! Carving pumpkins up more than 72 hours before halloween yields flies and mold on the pumpkin. I'll be skipping that plan too. Lastly, who is the person who thinks scooping out the pumpkin, roasting the flesh and then mashing it into pumpkin pie filling is fun? Anyone, anyone? No, that's what I thought. While I do strive to live 100% organic, you'd be hard pressed to make a delicious pumpkins pie from eggs to electricity to the filling and a box to transport it in than the $12-15 pies at the farmer's market, or if you're in a pinch Costco does a great giant one for under $7! Bonus-no kitchen clean up!
Now that we've been through what not to do, let's talk about what you can do. The obvious is to just decorate with them. There are endless ideas on Pinterest of what you can do. My favorite is the urn lined with kale or cabbage with a 9 inch pumpkin, repeated with kale/cabbage leaves, 7 inch pumpkin, repeat with kale/cabbage leaves and top with 5 inch pumpkin. Apparently I'm not alone, it's been re-pinned endless times through Southern Living Magazine. As art projects go there is nothing that seems to keep my children more occupied and excited than giving them free reign over the pumpkins armed with stickers, markers, glitter and glue. As long as the pumpkin stays dry, it will be able to be carved when you enter the magical 72 hour pre-Halloween window. What I enjoy most pumpkins though is cooking. Contrary to what I stated above, I like the cooking method but it has to be the lazy, easy to do, easy clean up, kids can participate type. If it involves 10 speciality tools that I do not own or will make too much of a mess its not for me. A friend had us over for grilled burgers, October lager and served it with Rosemary-Parmesan Pumpkin wedges. This has quickly become my favorite way to use a pumpkin!
2 pounds peeled pumpkin cut into 1/2 inch wedges, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1 tsp rosemary minced, 1 clove garlic minced, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 t black pepper: place wedges in single layer on lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle all ingredients on wedges, toss, cook 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or under tender.
Remember, buy local! It does matter!
Stacy Skoldberg is co-owner of GreenSprays, an organic based lawn care and spray company dedicated to environmentally friendly methods and reducing toxins in the world. She spends her free time with her twins and in her vegetable and flower gardens. Stacy can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-916-3666