The season of the pumpkin is here
Orange pumpkins now adorn roadside produce markets, fruit stands, and fundraisers on church lawns across Surry County. One of the pumpkin’s positive attractions is that they have a long shelf life and can be enjoyed over the long season from now until after Christmas. Their bright orange will decorate from now until Halloween, and Thanksgiving and fill tables with puddings, pies, and cakes for many weeks to come as well as decorations, jack ‘o lanterns, and harvest and Halloween displays.
The best pie pumpkins
The round orange pumpkins with stems on top of them are the best for carving a jack o’ lantern, but for pies and desserts, the best pumpkins are the oblong varieties. These are not always orange on the outside but tan or beige or bronze in color, and they are tender inside. With their oblong shape, they are easier to slice open, remove seed, and cut into chunks for boiling into a tender mixture and texture and then draining and running through the blender in grate mode or mashing with a potato masher. To can pumpkin, pour the mashed, drained pumpkin into sterilized pint jars (a pint will usually make two pies), wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel, seal the jars and tighten the lids. Leave half inch at top of jars. Process in a pressure caner at ten pressure for 50 minutes. Pumpkins are low in acid so they require this lengthy processing time.
Enjoying pumpkin bread
The crişp clear nights of October speak volumes to us of loaves of pumpkin bread in all of its spicy goodness. Not too sweet, not too spicy, but just the right recipe for a nippy October night. Real pumpkin bread is moist in texture and easy to prepare. For this recipe, you will need three and a half cups of plain flour, two teaspoons baking soda, half teaspoon salt, one tablespoon pumpkin pie spices, four large eggs, milk, one 15 ounce can Libby’s canned pumpkin, or one pint canned pumpkin, one half cup dark brown sugar, two cups granulated sugar, half cup chopped golden raisins, half cup chopped pecans, one tablespoon vanilla flavoring, one table spoon orange flavoring. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spices and set aside. In another large bowl, beat the four eggs well, add Crisco oil, milk, and pumpkin. Mix these ingredients together, add the lemon and vanilla flavoring, raisins and chopped pecans. Pour mixture into two loaf pans, well- greased with Crisco shortening, and floured. Add a sheet of foil to bottom of loaf pans and grease and flour the foll also. Bake for one hour, if not done, bake for a few more minutes. When cake springs back when touched, it is done or when a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool loaves in the pans for fifteen or twenty minutes. Run knife around edges of pans and sheets of aluminum foil, after wrap. Put in Saran clear plastic wrap. This will keep loaves fresh and moist.
The mighty oaks are producing two harvests
Other trees have been delighting us with a harvest, of colors in leaves of gold, yellow, bronze, red, tan, crimson, and beige. We have been using the leaf vacuum, rake and the blower to transfer them to the garden plot and the compost pile and bin. The oaks are now producing a double harvest of not only leaves but a lot of noise from acorns bouncing off metal roofs on barns buildings and sheds. My Northampton County grandma lived in a house with a tin roof. At this time of year, we would listen to acorns striking the roof all night long. She kept a close eye on the acorns falling from the trees and she said, “If you walk on acorns in October, you could expect to walk on snow all during winter.” As October wears on, we may have a hint about what old man winter has up his sleeve for us.
Improving next year’s soil
Vines, stalks, leaves, grass clippings, and trimmings and garden residue from the season behind us can be the makings of improved soil for next year’s garden. The lawn clippings will help heat up the compost and you can also use Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and Black Kow composted cow to heat and breakdown the ingredients in the compost bin, or pile. When you build a compost pile or bin, you are creating an ecosystem that feeds the bacteria that thrive on organic materials . Most households that have gardens generate more than 1,000 pounds of home lawn and garden waste per year that could be converted into compost using very little space and effort. You can start a compost pile with only a pitch fork to stir the pile once a week or you can use several treated fence posts to form a bin and both inexpensive as well as practical and useful.
Halloween candies and treats
Halloween has arrived in supermarkets and big box stores with colorful orange, yellow, and brown displays of all varieties of traditional candies for Halloween. Everything for the trick or treaters. The season brings several, varieties of candy corn including the old fashioned orange, white, and yellow combo as well as Indian corn in colors of orange, brown, and white combo and the fairly recent brown sugar combo of tan, white, and yellow. Peanut brittle in boxes begins appearing also before Halloween. Other Halloween favorites are the autumn mix of Hershey’s Kisses, Hershey’s miniatures, marshmallow pumpkins and ghost, Halloween packs of M&M’s, Three Musketeers and assorted candy bars. We always enjoy the display that Food Lion presents at the front of their supermarkets that attract our attention all during October.
The quiet of an October evening. The crisp autumn air at twilight whets the nostrils and the lower humidity makes the coming night air easy to breathe. The scent of the new fallen leaves also adds to the evening air. The graceful soft sound of leaves still falling completes the majestic experience of the autumn twilight.
Making a butterscotch pumpkin pudding
This pudding does not have a crust but you can use vanilla wafers for a crust if you desire or also use graham crackers. In a mixing bowl combine one can (15 0z) Libby’s pumpkin or one pint canned pumpkin, three large eggs, one three ounce box instant butterscotch pudding mix, one cup light brown sugar, one stick light margarine, one half teaspoon pumpkin pie spices one can evaporated milk one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, a pinch of salt, one teaspoon maple flavoring (optional), half teaspoon cinnamon. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish and layer with vanilla wafers or graham crackers if desired or make the pudding without a crust. Mix all ingredients together and pour into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with Cool Whip or Dream Whip.
Harvest festivals, Halloween parties, and chicken stews
October is the festive month for hayrides, haunted houses, chicken stews, harvest festivals, Halloween parties, trick or treating, and Halloween carnivals and costume contests as well as cake walks. Combine all these events with a hot dog roast and toasted marshmallows, s’mores, and a bon fire and you have the makings of a night of fun for all ages.
Keeping a close eye on late tomatoes
As we move closer to the middle of October, there is much chatter about the first frost of the season. It will not have any effect on cool weather vegetables. We know the calendar date for the first frost date says Oct. 15 but we don’t usually get a killing frost until later in the month. Even as‘October moves on, it’s wise to keep an ear and eye out for frost warnings. The late, late, tomatoes sown especially for a pre-frost harvest should be harvested before any frost arrives, wrapped in sheets of newspapers, stored in box lids, and covered with sections of newspapers and stored in a warm room or basement. They should be checked for ripeness once or twice a week. Place an apple or two in the boxes to promote ripening.
Last opportunity to set out bulbs
With the first frost date in just a few weeks, spring flowering bulb planting time is soon drawing to a close. You still have two weeks or more to set out the bulbs or spring flowers. Bulbs can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Ace Hardware, most nurseries and hardware’s. Buy a bag of bulb booster or bone meal to get bulbs off to a great start.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Head of the class.” Teacher: “Johnny could you please pay a little more attention?” Johnny: “I’m already paying as little as I can!”
“Whoa buffalo.” Traveler: “I would like a ticket to New York State, please.” Ticket clerk: “Would you like to go by Buffalo?” Traveler: “No thank you, I’d rather go by bus.”
“Pie in the sky.” Diner: “Is this peach or apple pie?” Waitress: “Can’t you tell by the taste?” Diner: “No, I can’t.” Waitress: “Well, then what difference does it make one way or the other?”
“Drop outs.” Bill: “What school do you have to drop out of to be a graduate?” Jill: “Paratrooper school.”
2021 was a great firefly year
The landscape was aglow with fireflies in the summer of 2021. From mid-May until early July, there were great numbers as we moved into the month of June. Their most glorious display was on the evening Monday, June 21. We counted 169 fireflies glowing during a period of five minutes. We saw the first fireflies on the evening of Sunday, May 16. On that evening, we counted 49 in a period of five minutes. We did see a display almost every evening. They seemed to appear at twilight and reach their peak about nine o clock at night. With the number of fireflies over the summer, next year should produce even more fireflies.