Thursday, 4 November 2010

The pumpkin patch

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion - Henry David Thoreau

I adore pumpkins and Halloween. In fact, pumpkins are probably the main reason I love Halloween. Dressing up in costumes is kind of fun, but I lack imagination, and to date I've never managed to convince my husband to attend a Halloween party with me. My Halloween rituals consist of carving a pumpkin or two, cooking a pumpkin pie, and settling down to watch The Nightmare before Christmas. I used to roast pumpkin seeds as well, but I don't like how they get stuck in the teeth.

decidedly un-scary pumpkins of previous years
I was only able to carve one pumpkin this year because I left it too late, and all the stores ran out of pumpkins. I didn't use any of my home grown pumpkins because they are too small, and more importantly, too tasty to waste. I'm not the greatest pumpkin designer (that lack of imagination again), and I debated using one of those pumpkin templates, but it turned out my pumpkin was too squat. Anyway, even though my pumpkins never turn out that scary, it is still fun to see what you can do with a few simple shapes. I think this year's effort actually turned out quite well, with a wide leering toothy grin. A classic jack-o'-lantern.

This year's pumpkin
Halloween is becoming more common in the UK  not so much the trick-or-treating, but there is certainly lots of dressing up and parties and pumpkin carving. All the more so in Oxford, which is overrun with Americans. I always had such a hard time finding pumpkins - canned or fresh - in Glasgow, but here they are all over the place until they all sell out just before Halloween. British people are not big pumpkin eaters, so they miss out on all those lovely pumpkin delicacies such as pumpkin pie, bread, muffins, pancakes, beer, etc. I can make the baked products at home, but I do miss my pumpkin beer. Hmm, perhaps we need to get brewing?

I did manage to grow quite a few pumpkins at the allotment, but only the boring kind. I'm going to have to try to grow more unusal pumpkins next year, like Delicata, Musque de Provence, Long Island Cheese and Acorn squash. Pumpkins are the perfect crop - beautiful, storeable, and delicious. Yet everyone at the allotment grows potatoes instead. Potatoes? Boring!!