Pumpkin Paradise

Fall is such a cozy, beautiful season, and it’s this time of year that New England is in all her glory! In late September, everyone starts setting out colorful mums and  hanging autumn wreaths tied with jewel-toned bows.  Spicy hot apple cider wafts through the air as changing leaves dress the trees in water-color shades of red, yellow, gold and brown.  But the star of fall for me is the pumpkin.  I love pumpkins!  I guess you could say I’m pumpkin-obsessed.  Those plump little orbs of orange, yellow and white make me grin like a jack-o-lantern on Halloween! This fall, I’m thrilled to add “Backyard-Pumpkin-Farmer” to my repertoire!  Come take a peek at my garden, then let’s head to the kitchen for some tasty autumn goodies!

Fall colors in New England are so beautiful.

By  October first, my favorite fall element, pumpkins, start appearing everywhere – on front porches, in shoppers’ grocery carts, and as props for every storefront.  Pumpkins are one of the easiest ways to gussy up your surroundings for fall – indoors and out.

I especially love the white pumpkins for decorating.  Beautiful indoors as an elegant centerpiece at Thanksgiving, and as a porch decoration during the holidays with evergreens.

Here in Connecticut, there’s several pick-your-own pumpkin patches, and every grocery store has bins bursting with all shapes and sizes. Fresh pumpkins can get pricey, especially when priced by-the-pound. This year, I was determined to grow my own. I bought “Halloween Mix” seeds, which would produce pumpkins in both white and orange.

Since she was little, my daughter has adored picking out autumn pumpkins!

It’s not the first time I’ve tried to plant pumpkins, but this is the first year I’ve had success.  Deer ate the baby pumpkins growing on my vines in years past, or the vines did not have enough room to spread. (I even heard of a man in Texas whose whole patch of pumpkins was eaten by very hungry coyotes)! This year, I planted the seeds directly in the ground in late May, this time in the front flower bed, where the vines could spread out and crawl up into some of the bushes.  Pumpkin seeds and seedlings should be planted on little “mounds”, as opposed to flat on the ground.   Pumpkins are in the squash family, so if I saw signs of blight, I sprayed the plants with a mixture of 1 cup water, 1 cup sour milk, and  2 TBSP baking soda.

Pumpkin blossoms nestled amongst the mint.

Soon the vines were spreading and growing strong.  Big, beautiful blooms covered the plants, and shortly after we saw signs of baby pumpkins growing!

We watched and watered, and were treated to growing pumpkins of white and green.  The white ones, a color developed around 2005, began as white, while the pumpkins that turned orange started as green, then changed to orange as they ripened on the vine. Watching them grow and change each day was exciting.

 

Woo-hoo! I’m with you, Linus.  I love pumpkins!

When it was time to harvest them, we were so proud!  We waited until the whole family was together.  We cut the stems from the vines and have decorated all around. Some pumpkins we will keep through to the holidays, others we will use as jack-o-lanterns and for roasted seeds in the oven.

We found this one hiding underneath the azalea bushes!

Not only do I love to look at the little round cuties, but I also could eat my weight in all things pumpkin! Pumpkin is my all-time favorite food…pumpkin soup, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie… I love it all. Dirt could be mixed with pumpkin and I’d eat it, (well, not quite, but ya get the idea).

No fall would be complete without my “famous” pumpkin bread!  My favorite recipe makes two loaves, perfect for freezing or sharing with friends. I was even given a special loaf pan shaped like a pumpkin patch from a neighbor who loves my pumpkinbread so much.  As it bakes, I think  “That’s what Heaven must smell like!”

Nicole’s Famous Pumpkin Bread (Use all organic ingredients!)

3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil OR ½ cup unsweetened applesauce*

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 can solid pack pumpkin (16 oz)

3 ½ cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp allspice

½ cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together sugar, applesauce OR oil, and eggs. Add pumpkin and mix well.  In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices.  Add dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture alternately with the water.  Pour into two greased loaf pans.  Bake for 1 hour, ten minutes.  Cool in loaf pans fifteen minutes before removing from pans.  Cool completely. *For a denser, lower-fat bread, use applesauce.  For a fluffier bread, use oil.

Another good recipe is one from my mom, Beverly.  This is perfect for when I entertain a large group, like my farmgirl sisterhood chapter.

Pumpkin Pie Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4 eggs

1 ⅔ cup sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 can pumpkin (16oz)

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soda

1 3-oz package of cream cheese (Horizon brand makes an organic one)

½ cup butter

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar (I have found organic powdered sugar in several stores)

Beat together eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.  Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and soda.  Add to pumpkin mixture. 

Mix thoroughly.  Spread batter into ungreased 15 inch oblong pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, cream together softened cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Add powdered sugar a little at a time, and beat until smooth. Frost cake. Serves 25.

ENJOY!!

Tell me..are you a pumpkin fan, too, or not? Do you have a favorite recipe to share? What’s your favorite part of fall? Let’s chat in the comments section!

Until next time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 0 Comments

  1. Jan says:

    Wow! Thank you for the wonderful recipes..Great job!

    This was the year of the pumpkin in our back yard. My husband worked out of town a bit this summer, so I just kept watering his ‘babies’ (pumpkins) A LOT. It seems that the largest was about 150# (also grown in the compost bin)! I had the idea to put them on craigslist and I couldn’t believe the response. It seems that there is quite a market for LARGE pumpkins! Of course I actually wanted them to go to ‘good homes’…One fellow was going to feed his to his neighbor’s goats when he was done with it. Woo Hoo!
    What’s not to love about pumpkins?????

    Thank you, Jan, so glad you enjoyed today’s post!  Those are some HUGE pumpkins you grew!  I did worry that mine might grow to be some hundred pound monster pumpkin, but the variety of seed I used doesn’t yield that large of pumpkin. :) How smart to put them on CraigsList!  There is a local diner in town that every year puts a gigantic, enormous, super big pumpkin in the middle of the median as Fall decoration.  I don’t know where they always find them, but it must take a truck and a fork lift to set down.  Good job with your pumpkins!  Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  2. The proud photo of you with pumpkin says it all. Great way to start my day.

    Thank you, MaryJane!  Much love, Nicole

  3. Adrienne says:

    Those are wonderful huge pumpkins and your recipes should create some tasty treats (no tricks on this Halloween)! I like making pumpkin tarts and sharing them with friends. They are just enough to satisfy the appetite and can actually be frozen. Since I’m vegetarian, my main Thanksgiving dish is another member of the squash family–butternut squash–stuffed with quinoa, chopped green onions, sage and a little veggie broth. It creates its own bowl too.

    Hi Adrienne!  I bet those pumpkin tarts are wonderful!  Funny you should mention butternut squash…I bought an organic one yesterday at my local grocery store and am trying to figure out how I want to serve it for dinner tonight!  Happy Fall! -Nicole

  4. Elaine says:

    I so enjoy your photo series from flower to white pumpkin. When I get this year’s pumpkins, I’ll be thinking of your photos. I need to get brave and plant pumpkins next year!

    Hi Elaine, thank you!  It was really fun to grow them, and not really a high-maintenance type of plant.  They just need lots of room.  Good luck, and Happy Fall! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  5. Erica O says:

    Oh my gosh! My friend just sent me the link to your post because she is fully aware of my Pumpkin Love. What fabulous pictures and delicious-looking recipes! I’ve pinned it to Pinterest so I can find it later!
    My husband & I have some friends who have a giant pumpkin patch. Every October, they invite everyone from every town nearby (not really, but close enough) to come harvest. We took our nieces and nephews this year and told them if they could get it to the car, they could have it. My scrawny 11-yr-old niece found a way to haul an 80-pounder home. She may have inherited the love of pumpkins. :)
    I use the leftover Jack-o-lanterns to make curried pumpkin soup. Well, provided the deer and squirrels leave me anything.
    Thank you so much for this wonderful autumnal post! It made me very happy.

    Hi Erica!  Thank you so much!  I hope you will come back and "visit" my blog again.  Nice to hear from someone who understands my pumpkin craze!   What a great story about your niece, too.  Thank you for sharing. There is one pumpkin decoration I leave out all year long. It’s a hand-blown glass pumpkin that sits in my curio in the kitchen.  But come late September, it’s pumpkin decor and pumpkin recipes through December!  Enjoy, and thanks again for visiting.  Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  6. Crystal Nielsen says:

    Mmmmmmm,I love pumpkin and all the cozy spices that paint it’s deliciousness in recipes…am going home after work to bake up your loaf recipe, it reads yummy.
    Tak,

    Skaal
    Crystal Nielsen

    Hej Crystal!  Mange tak! Skaal, Nicole

  7. Rose says:

    Congratulations on the successful pumpkins harvest. Thanks for the decorating ideas with the white pumpkins! I never knew there were white pumpkins until I read your blog today.

    I love to eat all things pumpkin also. My favorites are pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate chip pumpkin cookies.

    Hi Rose, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies???  You’ve got to send me/post that recipe!  I will think I have died and gone to Heaven, for sure! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Marji says:

    What a wonderful affirmation of pumpkin love. I too love pumpkins and always have to have one on my table through the holidays. My this years pumpkin is there right now. I even kept a pumpkin all winter long one year. Next year we are building a new greenhouse where I will be trying to grow my own. Our ground is too cold and our growing season too short here in the Interior of Alaska.
    I love your pumpkin bread recipe. Have you tried it with gluten free flour? I love your post. Happy Pumpkin Time!, Marji

    Hi Marji! Thank you for commenting!   I have not tried it with gluten free flour yet.  If gluten free flour is a 1 to 1 ratio, I imagine it would work.  How exciting for you to be getting a new greenhouse!  Happy Fall, Nicole

  9. Rebecca says:

    I love the picture of your daughter with the pumpkin so big only her fingertips will touch. I understand, though, because I also love pumpkins. There’s a local homeowner in my town who carves (with the help of the community) over 3,000 pumpkins every October and decorates his old victorian house and his yard. He adds lights and music to his decorations and people come from miles around to see them. A local charity uses the "innards" to made pumpkin bread and other pumpkin goodies.

    Hi Rebecca!  Isn’t that a cute photo of my daughter? She’s now eleven, but still loves to pick out pumpkins, happy squeals at the first sighting of pumpkins. We also put a little one on her nightstand every year, too.  3,000 pumpkins??? Wow!  I bet that is an amazing sight!  Great story, thanks for sharing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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