Once again, it’s pumpkin time!

When my week started I thought it was going to be a fairly quiet one…that didn’t happen. In addition to my usual shift in the gift shop, I added an extra one or two due to someone being out sick, and added another one selling raffle tickets, and as if that wasn’t enough, I helped out at the Library with the book fair one morning! However, it was a great week, finishing up on Saturday with a grandson coming down and fixing two stuck doors that I couldn’t handle! When your winter coats are in a closet you can’t get open, you decide pretty quickly to ask for help. Thanks for all the work you did a great job! I may paint (try to paint) a mural on the plywood, I think it would be so neat, or, I could just get your wife and your mother do it for me…they’re a lot more artistic than I am! Thanks again, you are loved and appreciated.
This seems to be the perfect time of the year to write about pumpkins. Not only do they seem to be a harbinger of the fall season, they make a most colorful decoration that can be put out now and left out through Thanksgiving. Here at my house, I have a painted wooden pumpkin on my porch glider, along with a couple of scarecrows and it looks pretty good. My main problem is that it can’t be seen from the road, due to the huge Arizona Ash tree that is in my front yard. However, when people come to visit, they can see it on their way to my back door!
Since I needed information about pumpkins, I had to check on a website, and was able to find over 12 million sites concerning pumpkins with information on how to grow them, what type of seeds to plant and what to feed them, as well as sites with recipes.
Pumpkins, squash, gourds, muskmelons and watermelons are all members of the vine crop called “Curcubits”. Their name is derived from their genus classification, which is “Curcurbita.” The name pumpkin originated from “pepon” – the Greek word for “large melon”.
According to an article in the business section of an old edition of San Antonio Express News, I gleaned the following information: (The name of the state is followed by the acres*), Top Pumpkin-Producing States – Illinois – 12,296; Michigan – 7,414; Pennsylvania – 7,402; New York – 6,782; California – 6,384; Ohio – 5,564; Indiana – 4,242; Wisconsin – 4,023; Tennessee – 3,742; Texas – 3,333. Number of acres harvested based on 2002 Census of Agriculture. Source: University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Now, back to information from the website:
Pumpkin facts: Pumpkin seeds can be roasted as a snack; pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A; pumpkins are used for feed for animals; pumpkin flowers are edible; pumpkins are used to make soups, pies, breads and cakes; in early Colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling; pumpkins are a fruit; pumpkins are 90 percent water; eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October; colonists sliced off pumpkin tops; removed the seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and this is the origin of pumpkin pie.
I know everyone usually makes pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, and at times, we’ve had 3 or 4 or more at out Thanksgiving dinner, and each one was a little different than the rest. However, the best recipe I’ve ever found is the one on the back of Libby’s® pumpkin you get at the grocery store. It calls for ‘evaporated’ milk, so be sure you use that and not ‘condensed milk’ as they are not interchangeable.
Pumpkin Bars
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin (1 can 15-oz size)
Mix eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin together and set aside.
In separate bowl combine the following:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon EACH cloves, nutmeg and ginger
Stir together and add to first mixture, mixing well. Pour into 9×12 pan and bake until done at 350ºF. Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting if desired.
While I was writing this, I was wishing for one more recipe, just a little different and maybe more unusual than what you normally would make, so, off to the kitchen for my trusty “Cake Mix Doctor” cookbook! As I have stated before, this unique book by Ann Byrn has over 150 different recipes, each starting with a box of cake mix. My daughter says that anything in this book with the word “gooey” in the title is outstanding. In my own opinion, everything I have tried from this book has been outstanding. Most of the time, I would never even think of adding the things the author says to add to a box of cake mix.
Pumpkin Pie Crumble Cake
Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pan
Flour for dusting the pan
1 package (18.25-oz) plain yellow cake mix (divided use)*
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter or margarine
4 large eggs
2 cans (15-oz each) pumpkin
1 can (5-oz) evaporated milk
1¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, chilled
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 13X9 baking pan with solid shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside. Measure out 1 cup of the cake mix and set aside for the topping.
Place the remaining cake mix, the butter and 1 egg in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 1 minute. Using your fingertips (works best if you dampen your hands with water), press the batter over the bottom of the prepared pan so that it reaches the sides of the pan. Set the pan aside.
For the filling: place the pumpkin, evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, remaining 3 eggs, and cinnamon in the same large mixing bowl used to prepare the batter and with the same beaters (no need to clean either), blend on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the mixture lightens in color and texture, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Pour the filling over the crust in the pan, spreading to the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. Set the pan aside.
For the topping: place the remaining ¼ cup sugar, the chilled butter, and the reserved cake mix in a clean medium-size mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined and crumbly, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (I would use a pastry blender to do this).
Stop the mixer and stir in the pecans; using your fingers to thoroughly knead the pecans into the topping mixture. *I know that cake mix is now in 15.25-oz packages, but I don’t feel that the 3-oz less weight will make a big difference in this crust.
Distribute mixture evenly over the filling mixture. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake until the center no longer “jiggles” when you shake the pan and the pecans are lightly browned about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool 20 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm or cold with whipped topping if desired. Store cake in fridge without topping for up to 1 week.
I know everyone usually makes pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, and at times, we’ve had 3 or 4 or more at out Thanksgiving dinner, and each one was a little different than the rest. However, the best recipe I’ve ever found is the one on the back of Libby’s® pumpkin you get at the grocery store. It calls for ‘evaporated’ milk, so be sure you use that and not ‘condensed milk’ as they are not interchangeable.
Here’s a little information that maybe you’re not familiar with, and I thought you might find it interesting. We all use graham crackers for different things, including making a wonderfully sweet toffee treat or just eating them as a snack.
The following article is from a newspaper, possibly from Chicago, (according to the movies listed on the back and the names of the theatres showing them), that was in a box of “stuff” given to me some time ago. I never had time to go through it and now have finally gotten to do so. There is no date anywhere on/in the article but judging from the condition of the paper, it could be from the ’50 or ‘60s. It struck me as interesting, as I had often wondered where ‘graham crackers’ and graham flour came from. It is being copied exactly as it appeared in that paper, headlines and all!
Graham’s muffins tells it like it was
By Ruth Ellen Church
The bakers of Boston hated the Rev. Sylvester Graham because he went around the country preaching that they adulterated wheat flour with that of beans and potatoes and put injurious chemicals in it to make their bread whiter. Sound familiar?
Like many “health food” advocates of today, Graham sometimes was right and sometimes jumped to unwarranted conclusions. He was born in Connecticut at the end of the 18th century and had his greatest influence on the American public in the 1830s.
The bakers and the butchers of Boston mobbed the Rev. Mr. Graham after his book, “Bread and Bread Making,” appeared in 1837. The butchers were mad because he preached against the use of meat. Graham was a vegetarian. He had a lot of influence on the daily lives o his followers, who included the Horace Greeleys. Sleep on a hard mattress, he advised. Get lots of fresh air, take daily exercise, and drink no booze. And make your bread of freshly ground wheat.
In time, the Rev. Mr. Graham’s “graham flour” was refined a bit, bit it still was whole wheat. Now there’s a distinct movement back toward Sylvester Graham’s theories on bread making, if not to all of his other recommendations for healthful living. The name “graham” on the bag of flour is being replaced by “whole wheat,” and not many bakers today give a thought to the Rev. Sylvester Graham. They like his kind of bread though. Even to those “graham gems” which grandmother made. Today we call them simply what they are: whole-wheat muffins.
Whole Wheat Muffins
(One dozen)
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons white or brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons oil or drippings
½ cup raisins, optional
Use all whole wheat flour, if you prefer; the muffins will be more solid in texture. Sift together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg; add milk and oil to it, then pour all at once into the dry mixture. Stir enough to moisten the flour. Fold in raisins and spoon into well-greased muffin pans. Bake at 425ºF about 15 minutes. Use chopped dates instead of raisins, if you wish. Muffins may be sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar before baking.
Have a wonderful Halloween, be careful, watch out for the “Trick or Treating” children wandering the streets and check their candy before they eat it. There are so many sick people in the world today, we can’t be too careful with what is given to our children.