It’s All About the Pumpkins

IMG_9018Fall is in the air. After the monsoons we experienced in September, we’re finally getting some sun. The leaves on the trees are beginning to turn red, orange and yellow. Autumn is my favorite season. I like the crispness in the air, the softness of the sun, the beautiful colors of the plants, and of course the pumpkins. September is usually the month that I replant my containers for fall and winter and decorate with pumpkins and gourds. Those decorations last until Thanksgiving! This year, my husband and I took vacation in September. That combined with the heavy rains, work, and business travel meant that even when the calendar changed to October, I still wasn’t decorated. So, finally on Thursday night and Friday morning, I got things changed up. My entry porch isn’t as full as it has been in the past but it looks festive. That will have to do this year because there’s a lot more to do in the landscape to get ready for winter.

When we looked at the “theme” for this week, I thought “All things pumpkin” would be IMG_9148appropriate. Our Little Sprouts activity this Saturday is painting a pumpkin and gourd trio. The kids will have fun painting faces on the pumpkins and gourds! I thought a recipe would be appropriate, too. Of course it had to feature pumpkin. For some reason the one that sprang to mind was a stew my mom made that she served in a pumpkin. I knew I had the recipe and I knew exactly where it was, in a cookbook put together by my P.E.O chapter. When I looked at it last night, I was disappointed to see there wasn’t actually pumpkin listed in the stew ingredients list. Then I read the entire instructions and was relieved to see that when you serve the stew, you are supposed to scoop out a little of the pumpkin with the stew.

IMG_5911My mom loves to entertain, and decorate. She’s the first one to have the holiday/seasonal decorations up and usually asks me if mine are up, too. Mom has linens and dishes that color coordinate and go with each season. I fondly remember many dinners for guests over several years when she would prepare and serve the stew in a pumpkin. The tablecloth would be orange or a fall pattern. The plates were black. The guests would be surprised at the creativity of serving dinner out of a real pumpkin and several in the group would ask for recipes. When my grandmother was still alive, she would borrow the black dishes from my mom to use for her entertaining. She probably made the stew in a pumpkin too, although if she did, she got the recipe from my mom. Then at Christmas, my mom would borrow my grandmother’s Christmas patterned dishes. That meant we got extra visits in IMG_5971with my grandparents!

So this is a non-traditional pumpkin recipe. You really don’t need another recipe for pumpkin pie! Mom used sugar pie pumpkins but with the availability of other varieties you could get really creative. Dad grows and sells at the nursery 3 more colorful pumpkins: Cinderella (flat and red), Jarradale (ribbed and blue), and Musque de Provence (ribbed and tan-actually multi-colored). All three have delicious flesh and they add some variety to your porch decorations. Enjoy the recipe and I hope you have a great autumn!

2 pounds beef stew meat
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons oil
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup dried apricots
3 white potatoes, peeled and diced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 pound can whole-kernel corn, drained

Cook meat, onion and garlic in oil. Add tomatoes, green pepper, 1tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, sugar, apricots, white and sweet potatoes, and broth. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Cut and discard top of pumpkin and scoop out seeds, etc. Brush inside of pumpkin with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir sherry and corn into stew and transfer stew into the pumpkin shell. Place shell into a shallow pan and cook for 1/2 to 1 hour in 325 degree oven, or until pumpkin meat is tender. Carefully, place pumpkin in large bowl and ladle out stew, scooping pumpkin with each serving.

About Brenda Powell

I'm one of the owners of a family-owned retail nursery. I have a degree in horticulture from Oregon State University. I love to garden and read. My technically savvy but horticulturally challenged husband, Mitch, spends most of his time as slave labor in the garden. Thank goodness he adores me! My goal in this blog is to share my enjoyment of gardening, my love of nature, and my addiction to books. Did I mention I like to cook, too?
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