Eating the Harvest Decor

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DSC01952The year has flown, and here we are already on the first day of Advent. I feel like it takes me by surprise every year. I’m not an early adopter of anything, and it’s an annual struggle to transition from the warm glow of fall to the glitz and glam of the holidays.

This year the 6yr old wants his very first cut Christmas Tree (vs. the euphorbia cactus of years past) and I feel like I should accommodate him. So we have to clear the autumnal decorations out a little earlier than I’d like. This always makes me wonder–what do other people do with their leftover squash and gourds? Do they go in the trash? If you’ve ever tried to grow squash in Southern California, and nursed plants through the vagaries of powdery mildew and blight to the point where you end up with fruit, it’s clear that tossing pumpkins in the trash is not an option.

We wound up with quite a collection of little pumpkins and squash this year thanks (again) to the 6 year old. They seemed like a pretty benign $1.00 pacifier during grocery store outings, and suddenly we had quite a few. While I usually try to buy only pumpkins I’m pretty sure I want to eat (I stick to sugar pumpkins), I haven’t been so sure about the edibility of some of these smaller, decorative pumpkins.

I did discover a delicious recipe for Moroccan-inspired stuffed acorn squash from Martha Stewart, though, which I then re-appropriated for a particularly tough old zucchini I’d grown over the summer. It’s pretty salty (and has ground beef in it) and managed to make even the tough old zucchini taste good. So I tried it with the decorative mini-pumpkins today, to surprisingly good result. The recipe says to bake the acorn squash for 30 minutes, and I probably baked the little pumpkins for closer to an hour–but they ended up being tender and delicious. In fact, we ate the little decorative pumpkins first, and have saved the sugar pumpkins for leftovers.

There’s still one large, fabulous Cinderella pumpkin remaining… not sure how we’ll eat that, yet–but it may involve some ‘Columbo al Girumon’ which is a spicy Carribean pumpkin curry recipe given to me years ago by my friend and gardening mentor Betsey Mayer.

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