Shifting Focus: Redefining Adventure, One Tiny Pumpkin at a Time

So. We're home now, back in Peterpatch, settling into late fall, trying to get back into routines. The unpacking long since done, the sleeping bags cleaned and stored away. We've enjoyed having extra time to put our yard to bed, and to get our storm windows in place, but it all feels a little decadent--we're used to squeezing such tasks in on Sundays, whether the weather was good or not, whether we felt like it or not. Being able to choose a sunny warm day to do outside work--what luxury.

I am also discovering that it is quite possible to invent work for oneself. I have been dealing with our garden herbs- drying lavender, mint, rosemary and thyme--and actually sorting closets, and putting summer clothes away.

But last weekend, I began the true make-work project: dealing with all the cute little pumpkins that I had impulsively bought for Hallowe'en. Instead of limiting myself to one big orange sphere to carve, I had decided that having a whole row of little sugar pumpkins, front and side entrances to the house, would be attractive. And now that I'm thinking locally, and about the planet, I can't just let those little guys rot into the soil, as I might have in previous years (though I wouldn't have even bought them in previous years). Thus the pumpkin use journey began.

Pumpkins are a tricky business. They're not easy to crack open--lost one kitchen knife to the enterprise--and then you have to deal with the slimy goopy fibroids--getting them off the pumpkin walls and separated from the seeds. I set my self a goal of three pumpkins a day, which meant that the counters were sticky and slimy with orange goop the whole week, and it seemed like the oven was continually on. And I was always washing the food processor.

But I did have satisfaction of beautiful roasted pumpkins. Look at these gorgeous sweeties, all caramelized and skin popping off. It took me several days of making myself clean them out and roast them, but I got them done.

Next up was turning pumpkin ingredients into something edible. You may be thinking pumpkin pie, but I am saving that for the holiday season. Instead, I opted for recipes that included puree weren't quite so pumpkiny.

The first experiment was pumpkin mac and cheese. Okay, but more or less a recipe that a mom would use to get orange vegetables into her kids without them gagging. Not bad, but not a keeper unless you're looking for a way to use the stuff up.

Of course, as I worked, I made hundreds, maybe thousands of roasted pumpkin seeds. The best were made with an Indian red chili powder. We'll be eating them til Christmas.

Without a doubt, the biggest hit was a pumpkin spice cake, replete with pepitas as a garnish. You can get the recipe at . Sorry for the awkward url--can't figure that out.

Still to come--Christmas pumpkin pies, pumpkin hummus, pumpkin cheesecake. Stay tuned for details.

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