Oct. 6, 2016

Are pumpkins really the sweet, benign beings we perceive them to be?

“Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin.”

Simone Schwarz-Bart

Rejoice in October and November! Revel in those delightful months when pumpkins rule the world—prominently displayed everywhere. Over-flowing bins of tiny pumpkins, giant pumpkins, white, varicolored, and downright creepy-strange pumpkins grab our attention the minute we enter our local market. Pumpkin patches, with pony rides, hot apple cider, carving kits, and face painting, appear overnight in dark vacant lots. Jack-o-Lantern sculpting contests abound and parents, against their better instincts, put sharp knives into the hands of their children. But are pumpkins really the sweet, benign beings we all perceive them to be?  Cheerfully awaiting their opportunity to be a pie or a jack-o-lantern?” (excerpt from Just Dessert – A Fall Fantasy)

This pictured pumpkin guy, who is one of the participants in the annual Sierra Madre Scarecrow Contest,  has to be the neatest scarecrow I’ve seen so far and he has his own personal story:  “Once upon a time there were 22 pumpkins who lived in a patch and all the day long, crows pecked at them! These 22 pumpkins conceived a plan to scare the crows away. One by one they climbed up and sat on each other’s heads and with a little help from the hay, they created THE ULTIMATE MR. PUMPKY! The crows moved on to torment another, less well put-together scarecrow.”

If you happen to read Parade which comes out in the Sunday Los Angeles Times, you were astonished, as was I, not long ago, to read that Americans spent $361 million on pumpkin flavored items from 2014 to 2015. Works for me! I love pumpkin-flavored stuff to the point where I wrote a series of three stories, dealing with pumpkins and the adventures a young woman, Emma Gainsworth, has with them. These are hair-raising and totally out of this world...literally!

“Emma Gainsworth walked into a cobweb one cool October day on her way to the pumpkin patch. Actually, she didn’t just walk into a cobweb, the cobweb reached out and embraced Emma, cocooned Emma, captured Emma with all the enthusiasm of the handsome young lover who had dumped her for a cocktail waitress with Dolly Parton curves and genuine blonde hair. As Emma had attended high school with Chantal, the cocktail waitress, some years before, she could attest to the real blonde hair as they always seemed to share the same gym class. Drat! She whispered, trying to move her head enough to see just exactly who...or what, had captured her.” To find out what happens next, dear friends, you’ll just have to check out Emma’s adventures on Amazon.com. (DeanneDavis@amazon.com)

Personally, I’m delighted when pumpkin stuff appears in stores, i.e., pumpkin coffee creamer, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin spice coffee. My Texas daughter, Crissy, is addicted to Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Pumpkin Cheesecake is back at the Cheesecake Factory and I had some yesterday. Absolutely sensational! Personally, I could eat pumpkin bread every day of my life, as well as pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cake and pumpkin ice cream. Libby’s canned pumpkin has a place of honor in my pantry at all times. Remember two or three years ago when pumpkin was in short supply and you couldn’t get it? Nightmares! If you’re looking for something fabulously pumpkin, try these Giant Pumpkin Cookies.

These are so good you will want to eat them all, while rudely saying to anyone who has the misfortune to be standing in the kitchen when you take the cookie sheet out of the oven, “Mine!  Mine!  Mine!  You are standing too close to the cookies!   Step away from the cookies!”

3-1/2 cups all purpose flour

2-1/3 cups old fashioned oats

1-3/4 tsp. baking soda

1-1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon (generous)

½ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cloves

Combine all the above together in a big bowl.  Now use your electric mixer to blend the following and then gradually add the flour mixture.

3-1/2 sticks butter, softened

1-3/4 cups white sugar

1-3/4 cups packed brown sugar

1 (15 oz) can Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

2 large eggs

1-3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir in as many pecans, walnuts, dried cranberries, raisins as you’d like to have. This dough is happier and makes better cookies for you if you chill it and then bake. Drop 1/4 cup dough or a spoonful or whatever makes you happy onto greased baking sheet....

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 14 to 16 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.  Cool....  Enjoy!!

And don’t feel guilty about that Mine! Mine! Mine! thing; after all, you did all the work! Emma Gainsworth would heartily approve. After all, these cookies won her a scholarship to a famous cooking school!