I dreamed pumpkins grew in trees

November 6, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, family, food, gardening, Halloween, Holidays, knitting, Life, love, photography, pumpkin recipes, recipes, relationships, romance, Thanksgiving, yarn | 34 Comments
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We were expecting freezing temperatures overnight a couple of times this week, along with a few evening snow showers. So far we have had a good frost, some rain, and some cold temperatures … but no snow. Knowing that colder nights were coming, I began to worry about our pumpkins because they are out on the porch and in the yard for display purposes right now. However, I want to store and in some cases freeze some of them for cooking purposes throughout autumn and winter.

frostyleaves1Those worries led to an interesting dream the other night, some of it scary and some of it interesting. I dreamed we had pumpkins of all sizes and varieties growing everywhere on our lawn … and in our trees. Sunlight filtered through the trees and the plump pumpkins dangling from their branches, as if the pumpkins were apples in amongst the beautiful autumn leaves–it was quite beautiful, the images are still vividly impressed upon my mind. Our yard had become a split level yard and all manner of pumpkins were growing abundantly everywhere, the split level aspect of it making the scene even more dramatic.

Although the pumpkins were of many different varieties, they were a bright yellow-orange color. I think the Great Pumpkin himself must have inspired this dream.

frostyleaves4However, the beauty of the dream soon came to naught because when I approached any pumpkin and touched it, it fell to mush beneath my fingers … absolute lifeless mush. In a panic, I rushed from pumpkin to pumpkin, tree to tree, fruit to fruit testing the pumpkins and each and every pumpkin was ruined.

In my dream, the explanation was that a hard frost had hit the night before, and what had been a yard full of lovely ripe pumpkins ready for harvest became instead a scene of wounded, painfully translucent produce. In my dream I was upset with my husband because I had warned him that the coming frost might harm the pumpkins and that we should relocate them, but he was equivocal about the importance of protecting them from the cold. I told him that I assumed full responsibility for the loss because I could have moved them all myself but that I was upset with him for having a lackadaisical attitude about protecting them.

Perhaps I should have written this dream backwards, so that it started out scary and sad and ended up beautiful. That is how I remembered the dream: first I recalled the destroyed pumpkins, the mushy texture and the horrible feelings of losing them all as well as the sad conversation I had with my husband about responsibility. After recalling the nightmarish quality of that portion of the dream, I remembered the beauty of the opening scene with glowing orange pumpkins hanging from limbs and dazzling my eyes from multiple levels of spreading lawn.

frostyleaves3Now the beauty of the dream pumpkins shines brightly in my mind, completely overshadowing any negative feelings about the ruined crop of pumpkins.

Side Bar: For my knitting and other needle craft readers, I posted a new entry at The Knitting Blog this morning (9 Nov 09).

Speaking of pumpkins, we had a perfectly beautiful and fulfilling Halloween this year. I don’t think it could have been more perfect, perhaps the Great Pumpkin did visit us that evening–after all, the perfection of our Halloween began with the Sincere Pumpkin Patch we planted last spring.

Much of our modest pumpkin crop was scattered about our two front stone porches and stairways, lending a higher degree of rustic charm to our old farm house. The lawn was covered with a thick carpet of autumn leaves only recently fallen to the ground. Around the property and across the street over the river trees still had one third to one half of their colorful leaves intact. With so many of the leaves gone from the trees on the bank of the river, I could see the river clearly through our kitchen windows.

We had a high wind advisory, and what could be more perfect for Halloween Day than gusty bursts of wind stirring up whirlwinds of autumn leaves round and round the yard, against the house and windows, in short bursts of startling and magical fun.

Then there was a power outage in the middle of the day. Fortunately I had already cooked the fresh pumpkin soup and homemade bread we would be having at dinner, and my husband offered to cook the meatballs we were going to serve out on the grill if needed. We had fun gathering up all manner of candles and lanterns and arranging them around the dinning room in case the power was not restored before dark. We were expecting a couple of friends to arrive about dinner time and thought it would be fun to have to spend the evening in the dark, lit only by candles, on Halloween night.

LongIslandCheeseI don’t have a photograph of the pumpkin soup I created for Halloween because we ate it all up before it could be photographed, but I will share the recipe with you (see below). I used this Long Island Cheese pumpkin from our very own crop; my husband cut it up for me into large chunks and we froze what we didn’t use in this batch of soup.

When our friends arrived, I drew Jack o’ Lantern faces on three of our Howden’s Field pumpkins and the men took them out on the porch to carve, light, and display them. It was so beautiful to see big plump, carved Jack o’ Lanterns that we had grown ourselves. Standing together after the carving, watching the flickering candlelit faces of the Jack o’ Lanterns, gave us a definite feeling of completion to the goal we had set out for ourselves one year ago when we first decided to create the Sincere Pumpkin Patch.

jackNow we have to get on with the business of cutting up and freezing some more of our pumpkins, storing others, and giving some away … while we still have time. I’ll end off for now, I mean, I do have all of these pumpkins to deal with. Hope you and yours have a wonderful weekend coming up and that you enjoy a fall day as much as we enjoyed our perfect Halloween.


Pumpkin Coconut Soup

  • 3 lbs fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 to 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp raw or brown sugar
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

LongIslandCheeseCloseNote: Set aside 1/2 lb of pumpkin for roasting separately.

1. Melt the butter in a large crock pot on high.; toss pumpkin cubes in melted butter.

2. Cook pumpkin in crock pot on high for one hour.

3. Add spices and sugar to crock pot and stir well; add coconut milk and vegetable stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Continue cooking in crock pot until pumpkin is tender (varies depending on the crock pot you are using; my pumpkin was tender after one more hour or so on high in my crock pot).

5. Meanwhile, cut the 1/2 lb of pumpkin you set aside earlier into 1/2″ to 1″ cubes. Toss liberally with olive oil. Sprinkle black pepper, salt, and a bit of ground cinnamon and toss again to coat seasonings evenly over pumpkin cubes. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender when poked with a fork. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

6. Puree the soup in a blender or with a hand-held blender until smooth. (If using a blender, you should process the soup in small batches to prevent backsplash burns. Of course, be sure to put a cover on your blender also to prevent backsplash.)

7. Serve the pumpkin soup with a few pieces of the roasted pumpkin plopped down into it, a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt in the middle or crumbled blue cheese sprinkled on top. Garnish with a sprig of parsley or rosemary for color. Big, chunky fresh homemade croutons seasoned with cinnamon and butter are wonderful in this soup.

Variations: 1. Use only three cups of vegetable stock if you want a thicker soup. 2) For a richer, creamier soup, use only one or two cups vegetable stock and a total of two cans of coconut milk. 3) Add one to two additional tablespoons of sugar and increase the amount of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg if you would like a sweeter soup reminiscent of pumpkin pie.

Copyright © 2009 J. L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Happy Spooky Cozy Halloween

October 30, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Posted in cats, country life, country living, faith, family, food, gardening, gifts, Halloween, Holidays, Life, love, photography, pumpkin recipes | 4 Comments
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Hope you have a Happy Halloween, and may the love and generosity of The Great Pumpkin and the Witch and Ghost he hangs out with be bestowed upon you and yours throughout the coming holiday season.






Copyright © 2009 J. L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

So here we are, here we stand

October 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Posted in art, baby, country living, food, knitting, love, marriage, photography, pumpkin recipes, relationships | 16 Comments
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16oct09-schwenkbaconoirFollowing a long absence from writing, here I am again. Hopefully some of my readers have been able to get caught up on past postings while new readers have found their way here and found out something about what I hope to offer.

It is early in the morning here on our farm. The sweet dog is laying on the love seat nearby snoring up a cold autumn snore, stretching out every now and then. It sounds as if he is enjoying a very deep, satisfying sleep. Good boy, you keep that up.

For the past three years and more, ever since I came to live on the farm, I have tried in vain to get myself onto a schedule of waking up and getting going on my work at 5:00 a.m. (actually, at first I tried to taking on my husband’s schedule, but getting up at a quarter to four in the morning is not something I found I could do on any kind of regular basis). I did think I could at least try for 5:00 a.m. because I enjoy getting up early. For some reason though, I just could not do it.

About one month ago that all changed with the help of a pretty little cell phone. It was time for us to renew our cell phone contract and we got to upgrade our phones in the process. Previously I had one of those Motorola Razrs, which was an okay phone. For my upgrade I chose an AT&T Quickfire, and for some reason I have quite a good feeling of affinity for this new little phone. It has a good sized touch screen and nice little keyboard, and is very pretty in silver and a muted lime green.

16oct09-luckysetthetable2I use it for my alarm clock, and it wakes me up faithfully every morning at 5:00 a.m. Of course, my cooperation is essential in this relationship, because I am the one who has hit snooze only once and then exercise the discipline necessary to get up, get dressed and get going. I have so many paintings to complete in the next few months that I cannot afford to sleep in even one time.

Since I last posted an entry back in August (so sorry for the long absence) I have completed three paintings and am well on my way into a fourth. Two of the new pieces (the sunflower and the cluster of grapes you see in this post) are hanging at Zambistro Restaurant. The third is a small painting that is reserved for the gallery opening in January.

The bunch of grapes I painted is a cluster of Baco Noir I photographed out at the Schwenk Wine Cellars vineyard (Kent, NY) last autumn.  I loved the beauty of the old leaf.  For me, the leaf is really what the painting is about, and the grapes are a beautiful counterpoint to the leaf.  The leaf is beautiful even though it is old and beginning to wither.  It stood watch over grapes along with many other leaves and drew in nutrients from the sun’s rays to nourish the grapes.  The grapes are plump and full of delicious juice destined to become a delicate wine and they could not have arrived at this perfect, plump and ripe moment without the support and steadfastness of the leaf.

Since that last post we have also harvested our pumpkins and today we will set them around in our yard for a visual delight. Yesterday I made some pumpkin bread, but I must admit I could not bring myself to cut into any of the pumpkins we grew yet … it seemed almost like murder to do so. Instead, I used a can of Libby’s pumpkin I had on hand. Soon I know I will have to cut open some of the pumpkins we grew and I know that they will make delicious, soothing, and healthy soups, breads, and pumpkin butters … but oh, how I wish I did not have to cut them.

16oct09-finalharvestOf course, a few of them are destined to be this year’s Jack o’ Lanterns and I do anticipate quite a bit of fun with that. It is so exciting to have such a nice selection of big healthy pumpkins we managed to grow ourselves in the Sincere Pumpkin Patch. We only had a few that were eaten into by various critters (including dogs). We haven’t weighed any of these, but as you can see some are quite large.

With Halloween only two weeks away we have a party to plan and costumes to gather. I used to love helping my children plan their Halloween costumes. I still remember my first costume when I was a child … it was simply a plastic mask of a Saint Bernard with a little elastic string that held it to my face. That was it, just the mask.

I also remember being prepped for Trick or Treating by my older brothers, and my mother taught the boys how to make a sort of a seat with their arms that they could use to carry me if I became tired. It all seemed so official to me, the little shy and quiet girl, as my brother’s practiced making the seat with their arms and had me climb on for a test run in our kitchen under the supervision of my mother.

I could feel the sense of importance my brother’s were feeling at being given such an important task, it was a great feeling that something big was about to happen. A year or two later, we were all in the kitchen again putting a ghost costume on my little brother and prepping him for his big night out. Of course in this later scene I was one of the experienced Trick or Treaters. What a great adventure childhood was, and I treasure the rich memories I have of those days.

Today as we prepare for Halloween on our dear 50-acre farm, I know we will have no visits from wayward Trick or Treaters. So, we will make our own Halloween party with a few friends and at some point in the evening we will all venture out to the Sincere Pumpkin Patch to see about that visit from the Great Pumpkin that we all have been anticipating.

This will be Sweet Pea’s first Halloween, and I know my daughter will make it extra special and we will have a great time.

My husband is taking a vacation day today and we are going to venture out to breakfast at the Lighthouse Restaurant on the Point, a cozy café out by Lake Ontario that some friends of ours opened last March in a what used to be a crab stand many years ago. We have been going there each Saturday morning for breakfast, but this week we break that tradition because of the vacation day.

Tomorrow he will be helping some friends move, and I will be helping a local vineyard harvest their grapes. I expect it will be cold and wet, but a great adventure that includes a tasty lunch and a free bottle of wine. I wish my husband could be there with me, because everything is more fun with him by my side.

Until next week, this is firefly signing out. Hope you have a great one!


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