Pumpkins, Pie, and Your Best Thanksgiving
When I was growing up, pumpkins were about jack-o-lanterns. We had a lot of artistic (OK, crafty) fun making those toothless smiles, triangle eyes, and fruit-ball-cutter noses. Immediate gratification came when we took 'em out on the porch, lit 'em up, and yelled the first "trick-or-treat" of that year's Halloween. Mom's tradition of giving us each some sort of dessert at this point kept us focused on our pumpkin cleaning and carving tasks.
She also would tell us later that since we had eaten dessert, we had to wait till the next day before we could dive into the spoils of our trick-or-treating. Thus she also ensured that we would go to bed and sleep instead of climbing the walls at 10 p.m. after returning home from pillaging the streets of this sweet little town called Medford. What a smart lady. Of course, being the youngest, I saw her whole bag of parenting tricks fully developed and in use by the time I came along, but still--good job, Mom!
Being young, not of the farm (although there were orchards of pear trees right across the street) and out of touch with the reality of where food came from, I didn't really understand that the pumpkin pies Mom produced depended on garden produce. Nor was I aware of the subtleties of the varieties of pumpkins to be used for various purposes such as carving jack-o-lanterns vs. baking sumptuous pies ( I like my pumpkin pie refrigerated and firm, thank you--whipped cream, not ice cream, thanks again). With 4 kids and a ton of relatives to feed at Thanksgiving, it became necessary for the pie filling to start with canned processed pumpkin instead of whole sugar pumpkins that need to be cleaned, cut, cooked and pureed. Thus my confusion.
Mom and Dad were both working full time when I was growing up, and we grew a few flowers and maybe a few tomatoes in the yard. So I missed growing up with the experience of growing food in the garden. As far as I was concerned, food came from shelves in the grocery store, whether fresh or canned.
I get it now, though. We have the luxury these days in our own family of making these wonderful pies from scratch. I cannot wait. I love shopping and helping with the baking and setting the table and sitting down with my crazy kids and my longsuffering wife to eat wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and get loony and finish with pumpkin pie! I hope you have such wonderful memories of pumpkins and halloween and the yearly Thanksgiving feast as I do. I hope you have big plans for the feast to come in a few days, and I hope the pumpkin pie filling comes straight from your garden.
If you haven't grown pumpkins for this purpose, buy some sugar pumpkins from one of the local growers market for this year's pie and get planning to plant them for next year! If you have grown pumpkins for this purpose, keep it up! And for heaven's sake get on this website and share your pumpkin growing tips, fall garden and feasting memories, and favorite recipes, whatever they are! Happy Holidays! Stop and smell the cinnamon!