More than once, before I went to pick apples with my son and a friend of ours, my wife said, “Don’t bring home too many apples.” It was good advice. A couple of years ago my parents went to pick apples at a local orchard and came home with 50 pounds. “Just a few more” and “this one looks really nice” were uttered a few too many times, apparently. So we went in cautious. We did not pick 50 pounds of apples.
We took small bags when we got there–ten-pounds-worth bags rather than twenty-pounds-worth bags. We filled one with apples to eat straight up–Honey Crisp, mostly. We filled the other bag with pie apples–Cortlands. We only ate one apple each while in the orchard. But we did eat hot cider and cider donuts back at the orchard’s center. By mistake two of us each bought a dozen donuts. We managed to eat them eventually.
I made an apple crisp the next day. Dang that was tasty. I’ll need to make another one soon. I’m craving some pumpkin pie as well. A warm pumpkin pie made from fresh pumpkin, egg whites whipped into it to make it light, now that is a fine bit of sweetness. And with whipped cream? Oy, make me salivate. The orchard had a pile of pie pumpkins. I didn’t get any. Soon, though. Thanksgiving requires that pumpkin pie.
We have a few apples left, given that we already had some before we went to the orchard, but we are low. There is enough for a crisp, or a pie, if I make one soon. But they won’t last much longer. We keep eating them. I would bake up something with apples every few days if I had the time. But I don’t really have the time to do that. Work and kids and other stuff happening, you know what I’m saying? I guess it really was good we did not pick 50 pounds. My wife gives good advice.
Thanksgiving is on the horizon so today I did a little prep for it. I baked up and then pureed the two pie pumpkins that have been waiting on the counter for just this holiday. My plan is to bake a pumpkin pie (natch) as well as a pumpkin cheesecake. The pie will be light and delicate. I like it like that, different than the denser pumpkin pies I admit to also readily enjoying. The cheesecake will be heavier, a thick creamy cylinder of deliciousness.
Once the pumpkins were out of the oven and cooled and pureed, I tossed the pumpkin seeds with a little oil and a little salt and roasted them up in the hot oven for a pre-dinner snack. They made a fine pre-dinner snack. While I turned those seeds in the oven, and while I whipped up dinner itself, I sipped my latest beer–a pumpkin ale, light on the spice.
I like a decent pumpkin ale but most of the ones I have tried are pumpkin spice ales, heavy on the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and hardly tasting of pumpkin. I created this beer to have an ale worthy of the squash moniker. It has a zip to it that makes me say Hmm as well as Mmm. Good stuff.
On another note, I finally (finally) planted the dang garlic. The last week has been crazy cold and things have begun to freeze up. Today, however, offered a warm enough window. I dug up one garden bed and popped in some bulbs saved from this year’s harvest. Hopefully they will appear as green shoots in the spring.
While I will have to wait many months for the garlic, next week I will get to enjoy a pumpkin pie, a pumpkin cheesecake and a fine pumpkin ale, all in one day. In the meantime, there are these toasted pumpkin seeds to polish off. You know, before they get stale.
Here’s one more photo, after we returned from the Halloween festivities in Hinesburg center. Right before we planned to head out, it started to rain, hard. It dumped. The heavens opened up. It poured. Cats and dogs. By the time we got out of the car, however, it was mostly just damp. We tricked and treated (well, only treats, really), popped into the fire station for the celebration there, and then went home to get my daughter to bed. Turns out she had a fever of 103 degrees. I guess we got one trick after all.
That’s what’s for dinner. I had to be home to meet my daughter off the school bus. It isn’t always easy to work when she comes home, especially when it is just the two of us, and frankly, I want to spend time with her during that window. So we did that. She told me about her day, showed me what she brought home. The kid is a gem. She smiles and feels proud of herself. I feel lucky to witness that every day.
Once she started chilling by herself, I stuck some sweet pumpkin in the oven to bake. I started bread dough. I turned the pumpkin into soup and the bread into dinner rolls. It is the easiest dinner ever. It took a little time but was not hard to do. So we ate bread with our hot soup together at the table. My son didn’t eat much. I think he is getting sick. It seems most kids are getting sick these days. It is only October and plenty of children are missing school. Too bad. Maybe the soup and bread will help.
We have nine pie pumpkins left. Enough for some pumpkin muffins, maybe more soup, and a pie. Later in the week I will whip up one of those. I want to make this pumpkin pie I learned about several years ago and tried only once. It is light but rich. I want to experiment with it and maybe make it again for Thanksgiving. What’s not to like about pumpkin pie?
I may be getting a little something in the head myself. I have been wondering if I run every morning, will that help me stay healthy, meaning will it prevent sickness? I know I will be healthier in general if I run often, but can it ward off the viri? Can it keep the bacteria at bay? I guess I will see what I can find out with my R of one. I had a short run this morning. Maybe I will go longer tomorrow. It was awfully hard to get out of bed in the dark this morning. I am hoping it won’t be so tough the next time I try it. I love running as it gets light, but it has been all dark these past days. It is dark when I leave the house and dark when I return. Easy there, Winter; it’s only October.
So I will try my running and pumpkin health plan for a while. That soup will last for a few days. When it runs out, that’s when I’ll bake up a pie, or at least some muffins. That ought to be good, no?
I spent a good deal of time on food today. It was well worth it, but I am ready for one last trip to the kitchen, to scoop a bowl of coconut chocolate chip ice cream I made a couple days ago, then a sit with a book. I baked bread in my running clothes, after I lit a fire in the stove. I ran 7 1/2 miles this morning in the twenty degree grayness. It was a heck of a beautiful morning and I do that again. We had friends planning to come over and I was on kid duty (four of them) while my wife and company ran. I had to get started.
I was dressed in proper duds by the time our guests arrived, and I also had cut carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips, peppers, and onions. Soup was on. Since I was at it I decided to make some soup stock. The soup and bread were for lunch, along with the apple crisp I whipped up. I froze the stock, along with the remainder of the last batch of stock I made. I also spent time outside in the garden, digging and pulling the weeds that snuck in at the end. I turned compost and worked on making more with leaves and weed bits. I added compost from our kitchen scrap pile to some of the garden beds. And I covered several beds with silver maple leaves that were starting to decompose. It was a productive day.
I wish I could spend this much time on feeding our family more often. I would love to have fresh healthy food every day. We do almost every day, but we do sneak in processed food now and again, in the form of crackers and granola bars and such. Frozen meals almost never make their way to our house, and those boxed ready to prepare meals I feel like I hardly know. I was asked to do a survey recently of instant type meals. There were probably a dozen of them they asked about. I didn’t recognize any of them. I stay away from those center grocery store aisles.
I also baked up a pumpkin and a squash at the tail end of it all. I pureed them in the food processor and popped that in the freezer. The squash was a mystery plant that grew in the compost pile. We had sweet dumpling squash plant last year and this one was sort of like it. But it was orange and green. It think it may have been a cross between a pie pumpkin and the sweet dumpling. Inside it was bright yellow. It tasted sweet but different. I saved the seeds and will plant them in the spring. If it grows again as it did this year, we may have a new variety. I named it after my son.
That son of mine is asleep, along with his sister. He got tuckered out helping me spread dirt and leaves this afternoon. Now is the time to have that ice cream. I am a little tuckered myself.
I was home with the kids tonight, just the three of us. We had sandwiches, soup and fruit for dinner. It was a winning combination. I made pumpkin soup last weekend and it was a real winner. I used frozen pumpkin from the summer and pureed it smooth with some sour cream. It was a real success. My daugher asked for more the night we had it and then asked for it for breakfast the next day. She still liked it tonight, a couple of days later.
We also had some potato leek soup left over from a few days before. I ate that. Good cheese, good bread, good soup, and fresh fruit to top it off. It was cold out, the woodstove finally heating up after a day of us gone, and we were filling our bellies. It was a satisfying parent moment. Happy kids, happy dad.
Soup is one of those foods that work pretty well most times, but especially well in the winter. And they are cheap. I am into cheap these days. We spend a lot of money on food. In some ways I am OK with that. I want to eat good food. I don’t like to compromise when it comes to food. But good food is expensive. It is one of those ironies of the food system. The stuff that is grown close to home without all the extra poisons tossed onto it actually costs more. It goes against logic–less shipping and less cost for all the added junk, yet it costs more?
I hope to make some soup later this week. I hope it comes out well, and that it lasts. That will satisfy the palate and the wallet.