I’ve always thought that the nickname “punkin'” was a cute one, but until I planted and harvested (and ATE – but that comes later) those little beauties, I didn’t realize what an amazing squash that orange globe really is. It’s time for autumn’s beauty and bounty to come in from the field – just in time for dinner. Oh, and did I mention – I have this idea about changing the world…
Come on in – have a seat, and let’s chat…
“An open home, an open heart,
here grows a bountiful harvest.”
– Judy Hand
Hi! Come on in! As you sit down at my table – the one right in the kitchen – you might check out the many squashes (otherwise known as “squishes” by my little ones) on the countertops, or maybe the canned beets from a friend, or even that beautiful gallon of raw honey over there in the corner. If you’re sitting at the end of the table, you’ll be able to see out the window and watch high clouds race overhead and elm leaves twirl down around the treehouse. If you listen, you’ll catch a squeal or laugh coming in from the outside – the boys are hunting for eggs out in the back. Now that there’s plenty of action in the kitchen, you might catch a glimpse of a cat or two peeking in the window as well – their curiosity piqued whenever there’s any action involving food, whether they get any or not. When you came in the door, you probably wondered about that mammoth of a squash on the porch. Well, it’s a Hubbard squash. They are the most lovely blue-grey-stormy-sky-color on the outside, and a cheerful orangey color on the inside. Mmmmmmm… tasty when baked and topped with a little butter and salt, too. Just a warning, though – the last one I had, I had to resort to asking my husband to saw it in pieces…with a saw. They are both big and tough, but so tender and nice on the inside (the husband AND the squash! Hee hee!). Definitely worth the work!
Now that coffee’s on and you’re comfortable, can we chat for a little while?
There’s something on my mind that I’d like to get your opinion on. I’ve been thinking about the state of the world lately, and it seems as though there’s more than a fair share (whatever THAT might be) of heartbreak all over the place. It can so discourage a person sometimes – I can be overwhelmed with it all, really. A gal can feel pretty small and helpless in light of all of those very serious and sad matters in the news. But what can I do? I’m not the “president” of anything, and I don’t have anything to do with international economics or the like…
After listening to a couple of radio news broadcasts a few days ago, feeling deflated and truly sad, I resigned myself to a bath. I tend to take long, hot baths – I think they promote clear thinking, among many other things – at least that’s my excuse!!! I spent the next while wondering what a single person can do to make a difference. I had heard so many times that “we all make a difference,” “every person counts,” and “think globally and act locally,” but what was I really going to do? What actions should I take? Who was going to tell me how to make a difference? How could I do something in my daily life to make this world a better place? I know that there are so many wonderful opportunities for volunteer work and other types of direct assistance to folks in need, but I was thinking about my daily life. How could I live in a way that would contribute basic, ole-fashioned GOODNESS to the world? After soaking for about an hour (it was a luxury bath, I even reheated the tub with hot water) I came up with a plan. While it’s not feasible (or even a good thing, for that matter) for me to rearrange the entire planet through my rose-colored farmgirl sunglasses, what IS possible is this:
Each and every one of us can make ourselves
and our corners of the world, however large or small,
safe, comfortable, inspiring and beautiful –
physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.*
(*however we choose to define those things)
For example, I believe that my husband and two little boys will feel more secure, safe and relaxed if our home and farm are clean and comfortable, and if I am hospitable to friends and strangers alike. Nobody’s nervous to bring a friend over, and if you’re here, you can count on being invited to stay for the next meal. More relaxed little ones may lead to less fussing and a kinder, gentler way of relating to others. If I call my “auntie” Margaret to tell her good night and make sure she’s safe and sound, I know that BOTH she and I will sleep better that night – and it goes on and on. Every little thing I do to make my little corner here into the best place I can, in every way I can think of doing it, sends off ripples of general “goodness” into the world. If someone drives by and sees a field of happy lambs, he may smile at someone else when he wouldn’t have otherwise; a friend in need of some stability might drop in for coffee because she knows that my home and heart are open. You just never know where a little effort may lead.
Okay, farmgirls (and farmboys, if you’re out there, too!), it’s time to “claim” where you are – be it farm, apartment or anywhere in between – owned, rented or borrowed – and turn it into a reflection of the best you’ve got. However suits you is the way to do it. There is no one “right way” to add positivity and stability to your life; take some time (might I suggest a long, hot bath?) and think of what YOUR way(s) might be. Create a haven for yourself – and I can almost guarantee you’ll be adding richness to the lives around you in addition to your own.
Speaking of richness, the simple little pie pumpkin that I mentioned in the beginning needs an opportunity to show her sparkle. Have you ever made a pumpkin pie? From scratch? Well, if you have, congratulations on making something absolutely heavenly out of something so very humble. This is the first year I have made pumpkin pies from “real” pumpkins. Yes, I know that canned pumpkin is real, but there is something so very basic and just plain GOOD about taking a little pumpkin on a journey from squash to pie. Little miracles – you gotta’ love ’em.
Libbie’s “Real” Pumpkin Pie
- 1 unbaked single pie crust – the storebought ones are okay, but give making your own a try – they really aren’t that hard at all! If you make your own, save the scrap dough, roll it out again and cut out some shapes for the top of the pie with cookie cutters. I did a big sunflower in the center of two pies and it turned out really pretty.
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/2 C. mashed, cooked pumpkin – drain the “juice” off if it’s really wet. (Just pick up one or two pie pumpkins at the market, cut them in half, place them cut side down in a baking dish and bake at 350F until they’re nice and soft – maybe 45 minutes or so. Scrape out the flesh, mash it and you’re ready to go. For me, it took about one pumpkin per pie – but just use your best guess. While you’re at it – be sure to save those seeds and roast them, too!)
- 1 C. Sucanat (cane sugar – you can find it in most “health-food” type stores)
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves – go ahead – use the mortar and pestle for these. It’s fun, and they’re so much more flavorful!
- 1 tsp. nutmeg – again – grate that nutmeg yourself. Once you get a little nutmeg grater and the whole nutmegs, you’ll never go back!
- 1 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 C. milk
- 2 tsp. melted butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
Beat the eggs. Add pumpkin, Sucanat, salt and spices. Mix well. I used a hand egg beater for all of the mixing, and it did fine. Add the milk and mix. Add the flour and melted butter and mix well. Pour into pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 400F. Turn down heat to 350F and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While the pie cools a bit, make some coffee (or whatever you prefer…), whip up some real cream with a little sugar and vanilla, plop a dollop on each pie slice and enjoy! (adapted from a recipe by Jackie Clay)
Well, my friends, go ahead, with a song of “thank you” in your heart and a smile on your lips – pour that tea, write that letter, make that pie, make that phone call, bake that bread, hug that child, pet that dog, take that long, hot bath… Love the moments, and give the gift of your attention and caring to yourself and those around you. The world will be a better place for it.