Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere

Pumpkins out on the lawn, set up next to fall mums and corn stalks, on steps, porches and along railingsfall pumpkin and mums is one of those sure signs that October is here! Fall is my favorite season in New England and nothing makes it better than some pumpkins – for decoration or for eating! Who knew that this squash would become such an icon in America? Thought to have originated in America, the pumpkin has been eaten as a winter squash since colonial times. They were much smaller, more the size if a pie pumpkin and used primarily for cooking.

The tradition of the Jack O’Lantern or carved pumpkin began not in America but over in Ireland. The history began, like many do, with a folktale. This one was about a man named Stingy Jack who was a cheapskate that tricked the Devil several times. When Jack finally died, God didn’t want him and the Devil didn’t either so the Devil cast him back to the mortals with only a lump of burning coal to light his way in the dark. Jack put the piece of coal inside a carved-out turnip and has been wandering ever since. Country folk would hollow out turnips, potatoes, beets and other hard vegetables and place a light inside and put their “lantern” in their windows to frighten away Jack and any other evil spirits from their homes. The tradition crossed generations and cultures and eventually found its way to America where emigrants discovered the pumpkin which was the perfect vessel for their Jack O’Lantern and eventually the tradition became an integral part of our fall and Halloween culture.

Growing up, it was always two triangles for the eyes, a small triangle for the nose and then some crazy triangle cuts for the grinning mouth. Walking the isles of any Halloween store you can find hundreds of patters, cutters, scoops (we used a kitchen spoon) and other tools created to make bigger and better pumpkin carvings. While my own carving has become a bit more than the traditional faces, there are also so many neat and fun pumpkin decorating ideas out there today.

I still enjoy the traditional look but this year have branched out a bit! Since we are by the ocean in Maine I was challenged by a friend to paint a beach themed pumpkin for our porch. Here it is!

my ocean pumpkin

Don’t waste those seeds you scooped out. Roast pumpkin seeds they are a delicious snack, especially with a little kick added to them with my Whiskey Pumpkin Seed Recipe!

The next best thing about all those pumpkins around? That means time to cook with pumpkin! Yup, those aren’t just for decorating! We love cooking with pumpkin and it does have some good nutrition for you including being high in vitamin A and C and is a good source of fiber, along with loads of other reasons you should include more pumpkin in your diet. I should eat more pumpkin but for some reason never think to until it starts getting chilly and the leaves start turning color. It just seems to be a fall food for me! Of course it also makes a great dessert ingredient like in my easy pumpkin cheesecake recipe but can also be a lovely savory ingredient. Try it in my pumpkin and smoked Gouda soup or my whole wheat pumpkin bread recipe for some good ideas on how to add pumpkin to the dinner table!

There are so many ways to enjoy pumpkins in the fall and at Halloween. Almost too many to choose from! I don’t care what part of the country I am in, the sight of pumpkins in someone’s yard or on their porch just makes me smile.

Just a cute Halloween quote to share with you that I have heard since I was little: “when black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam may luck be yours on Halloween!”

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6 responses to “Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere”

  1. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread says :

    Pumpkins have certainly emerged since days of old, and it is fun to see all the shapes and colors. Hope Maine is treating you well. I’m expecting to see “Maine Farm Heart” show up in my email. 🙂

  2. Eliza Waters says :

    A great fall holiday!

  3. Sabra Anne says :

    I didn’t know that about the history of the Jack o lantern! You’ve inspired me to incorporate your ocean painted pumpkin idea into my after school program (which is ocean life themed), so thanks so much!!

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