Its own season

Pumpkins were plentiful at this shop near the Outer Banks, North Carolina, September 2013

Pumpkins were plentiful at this shop near the Outer Banks, North Carolina, September 2013

“Oh how we love pumpkin season.  You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right?  Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin…. We anxiously anticipate it every year.”  ~Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer

Full disclosure: I don’t care for eating anything pumpkin-flavored.  I know many people who do, however, and I love the scents and sights related to this gorgeous gourd.  So I felt it would be appropriate to post a paean to the pumpkin.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s (and btw, I told Jeff that a non-negotiable consideration in choosing a place to retire is whether there is a Trader Joe’s nearby) you know that TJ’s loves pumpkins as much as they describe in the quote above.  You can get endless pumpkin-flavored treats there: pies, pancake mixes, cakes, cookies, coffee, even the unadorned pumpkins themselves, in a variety of styles and sizes.

But, luckily for the world, pumpkins (which are thought to be native to North America) are easy to grow, and are now found almost everywhere except Antarctica. Mma Ramotswe, the charming and indefatigable protagonist of Alexander McCall Smith’s delightful series, waxes eloquent about the joys and comforts of pumpkins in her home country of Botswana.  A visit with Mma Ramotswe is almost enough to convince me to try eating pumpkin once in awhile, since I trust her judgment; she also has a tremendous appreciation of TEA!

Anyway, my point (and I do have one) is that pumpkin popularity is widespread and here to stay.  Chances are you have at least one thing that is pumpkin-related in your home every fall.  For me, it’s pumpkin scented hand soaps from Bath and Body Works, and pumpkin-flavored coffees and treats for those in our family who love them.

How about you?  Are you a pumpkin lover?  Do you enjoy them in various forms during the October, November and December holidays?  Share your favorites and traditions– even recipes, if you like.  The pumpkin lovers among us will thank you!

33 Comments

  1. This gave me an idea what to post for my Sunday Food series! Thanks!

    • You’re welcome! Send us a link here when you get it posted!

  2. Ann

    Have you tried toasted pumpkin seeds? They’re great on a salad or by themselves. Not sure about nutrition…since I like them, they’re probably fattening 🙂

    • Yes, I LOVE toasted pumpkin seeds! I bet they are fattening (since all nuts are) but like all the other nuts, the nutritional content probably justifies the calories. Too bad the same can’t be said of gooey cinnamon rolls!

  3. singleseatfighterpilot

    Pumpkin is one of my top three favorite foods (another is Sockeye Salmon). Yes, I will eat anything pumpkin. And yet, I will eat nothing Sweet Potato. Recently, Sherry and I have discovered cushaw squash – it may well be better than pumpkin! give me another season or two to say for sure. Meanwhile, with all that is said about gardening here, why don’t you grow some? http://www.harrisseeds.com/storefront/p-13955-squash-green-striped-cushaw.aspx

    • Why don’t I grow them? How much time have you got? Suffice it to say that we’ve been unable to harvest any tomatoes (my personal favorite) here or in York County, despite various attempts. I could tell a lot of stories here, but ONE WORD will suffice: SQUIRRELS. Maybe a few would be better: DEVIOUS, ACROBATIC, UNSTOPPABLE, INSATIABLE squirrels!

  4. Love pumpkins!..eating them AND I have a “collection” of decorative pumpkins that I have just now gotten out for display for this wonderful “pumpkin” season! (I also display real pumpkins!)

    • Carla, I used to have a lot of fake pumpkins which I would put out with my real ones. I donated them to an organization before one of our military moves, which force us to trim down our collections, but I surely enjoy it when others display them. Some of our neighbors have very festive displays; it’s almost as much fun as Christmas!

      • Clarification!!! When I said decorative I meant the beautiful ceramic, glass, or even wire ones that are available for inside home decor. I don’t exactly put them in the category of “fake”…like the plastic ones.
        I too have very fond memories of carving pumpkins with Dad….a tradition which we shared with our children. Thanks Daddy, and Grandaddy!

        • I was referring to the fake plastic kind with electric lights inside! But I do have a lovely ceramic one I use at Thanksgiving (you probably saw it a couple of years back). I always thought our Daddy’s jack-o-lanterns were the scariest in the neighborhood! Very wide, wicked grin. I think he probably always picked a big wide one for that. I can remember going to choose the pumpkin, which was almost as much fun as picking out the Christmas tree every year!

  5. Carlyle

    One of my fondest fall memories is the tradition of Jack-O-Lantern carving for Halloween which was handed down from my father. He insisted that our pumpkin must be the edible variety rather than the more decorative ones more commonly found on sale.

    • Daddy, I always LOVED the Jack-O-Lanterns you carved – such a dastardly sharp-toothed grin! I copied your style with the pumpkins I carved for our kids, though I didn’t do nearly as well. I also remember your lining the pumpkin and using a yellow electric bulb inside, which created a very even and bright inner light. Re: using only edible pumpkins – it reminds me of your rule to hunt only what you intend to EAT.

  6. Megan

    As you know (and have supported via multiple gifts!), I love pumpkin baked goods! I also have an affinity for Starbucks pumpkin spiced latte!

    • Yes, Megan, I thought of you first of all when I wrote this post!

  7. I hardly know where to start. I think you wrote this post just for me;-)

    We grow them in our back yard and have for a decade. I have a special page on my blog called Passionate about Pumpkins. I love decorating with them. My husband loves carving them. My youngest son loves growing them.

    I’ve read that the pilgrims survived their second winter in the US after the native Americans taught them how to grow and store this amazing fruit.

    I have a Halloween party every year, too and all the kids come and decorate a small pumpkin to take home.

    Otherwise…you know…it’s just a pumpkin. 🙂

    • I think I’ve seen your pumpkin page, but had forgotten about it when I posted this – if I had remembered I would have included it in the post! Thanks for reminding me! I bet your home is a neighborhood favorite. So cool that you grow and share them.

  8. Don’t care for it though I try desperately because my husband loves it so. Have a great weekend. Love ya.

    • We’ll just have to get Stephen and Jeff together to eat Pumpkin Pie while we indulge in ice cream or scones. 🙂

  9. I’m with you. The pleasure in tasting pumpkins escapes me. I haven’t enjoyed anything pumpkin since I made a pumpkin cake from scratch — painstakingly digging out the innards and straining them. After baking it to golden-orangish perfection and letting it cool, I took it to a friend’s. As he greeted me at the door, I proudly offered him the fruit of my labors. A bit tipsy, he spun around and promptly dropped the dish on the floor. It shattered. And so has my taste for pumpkin.

    • Wow, what a sad memory to associate with a generous act! I think it was the unappealing sight of the pumpkin innards I saw while Daddy carved them, that turned me off to the idea of eating them. It just looked too stringy and slimy for my taste. I do love the way they look, though, and all the fall memories associated with them.

      • A few years back, cows became a decorative accent (particularly Holsteins). And some people like eating them. Others would feel like Julia does about Pumpkin innards, if they ever visited a slaughter house. Like many subjects covered in this blog, there is the pretty, tasty side (beautiful trees, flowers, church buildings, etc.). And then there’s the side we don’t usually talk about. Defeat Despair. Look more at the pretty.

        • Excellent point, Eric. When we lived in northern CA, every time we drove inland and south, we would pass a big cattle “processing plant” (slaughter house) en route, and the stench was nearly unbearable. I never felt the same way about eating beef. I’m not vegetarian, but most forms of meat or poultry just don’t appeal to me anymore. You were the one who first explained to me about the brutal nature of cattle processing, and why you felt hunting a free and swift deer that was seasonally protected, and escaped the hunter the vast majority of the time, was preferable to keeping captive hoards of docile, lumbering cattle who were slaughtered en masse by the same people who “took care” of them. OK, I’ll go back to looking at the pretty now…and I’ve always thought cattle were pretty!

  10. Sheila

    Julia, I love the pumpkin season, fall, “sweater weather”, chrysanthemums, and the gatherings by a campfire. Before we left Garden City, I put the old fabric pumpkin on our front door. It’s simplicity says so much, as decor has changed a lot over the years since I bought it. The bright orange polka dot fabric is so faded and the green gingham leaf at the stem is holding on by a thread. It’s graced our front door on many different homes. I may add to my fall decor but the pumpkin can’t be replaced! 😉

    • It sounds wonderful! Perfect for fall, which is also wonderful, and yes! sweater weather is great. I have some well-worn sweaters that probably are as old as your pumpkin, but they too can’t be replaced! Hope you are having a great weekend.

  11. Here’s the link to the recipe I told you I was going make. It was my first time to make it. 🙂

  12. I must say, one of my favourite deserts is pumpkin pie or pumpkin loaf. I also make a low cal pumpkin custard at times for company (old post for recipe here http://boomdeeadda.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/dessert-yes-please/)

    So unlike yourself, I do love eating pumpkin. Savoury and Spicy….mmmmmm. I’ve never grown one, but do enjoy the antics at Gardening Nirvana and watching the shear happiness Alys gets from successfully growning them. You might have seen my post about the Pumpkin farm we visited the other day, my favourite were the giant white ones. They looked like so ghostly.

    • Yes, I would have loved the white ones too, since anything different catches my eye. The great thing about Alys is how she spreads the joy — of pumpkins or whatever — by sharing so freely. Thanks for sharing your recipe, too! I’ll recommend it to my daughter-in-law who also loves pumpkins, as she commented here.

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