pretty PRETTY Pumpkins

Posted by Elizabeth Lincourt on

My Pretty Pumpkin

I’ve always enjoyed painting and drawing pumpkins. I think it stems (pun intended) from Halloween arts and crafts in grade school. When the teachers pulled out those coloring sheets, you knew candy was in your future! Pumpkins are photogenic, pretty in an array of colors, shapes, and textures and are all-around happy plants. Don’t even get me started on pumpkin carving!
One day I decided to indulge in a rare treat, and I laid down for a mid-day nap. After too much caffeine, it wasn’t a deep sleep, but this painting came to me in a dream. I saw patches of blues and greens in a very watery mix on a pumpkin painting. The pumpkin was only partially peaking up out of the garden, and there was green toward the top. This painting is my dream pumpkin. There was another painting dream that day, and perhaps I can show it to you soon.

Fun Facts about Pumpkins (thanks, Wikipedia)

  • The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for "large melon", something round and large. The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and the American colonists it became known as pumpkin.
  • As one of the most popular crops in the United States, 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins were produced in 2017.
  • The top producing states include IllinoisIndianaOhioPennsylvania, and California.
  • Pumpkins are grown all around the world , but only Antarctica is unable to produce pumpkins. The traditional American pumpkin used for jack-o-lanterns is the Connecticut field variety.
  • Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower; they must be fertilized, usually by bees.

 

Healthy and Easy Pumpkin Soup

https://www.theseasonedmom.com/easy-pumpkin-soup/

printed with permission from Blair at The Seasoned Mom.

A simple puree of canned pumpkin, coconut milk, and warm spices comes together in this Healthy and Easy Pumpkin Soup!

 Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 45 minutes

 Total Time 55 minutes Servings 8 cups Calories 105 kcal

Ingredients

• ½ Tbsp. olive oil

• 1 sweet onion, diced

• 1 tablespoon minced garlic

• 1 teaspoon ground ginger

• 1 head cauliflower, florets diced (about 5 cups of florets total)

• 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth

• 1 (15 ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree (about 1.75 cups total)

• 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or brown sugar) (or for a slightly sweeter soup, use 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or brown sugar)

• 1 tsp. salt, to taste

• 1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (or substitute with heavy cream)

• Optional garnish: sliced green onions, chives, or sour cream

Instructions

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent (about 5-10 minutes). Add garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 more minute, stirring.
2. Add cauliflower, broth, and pumpkin. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil; cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer (covered) for about 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
3. Stir in maple syrup, salt and coconut milk.
4. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just transfer the soup to a large blender and puree until smooth. Be careful with the hot soup!

Recipe Notes

COOK'S TIPS:
• I recommend using full-fat canned coconut milk (rather than lite coconut milk) because it will give the soup a rich, creamy texture. You can substitute with lite coconut milk if you prefer, however.

• Shake the can of coconut milk before you open it! This will make sure that the fat mixes with the coconut water. You want to make sure that you get the creamy fat in your soup -- not just the thin coconut water.

• This soup freezes well. Just allow the soup to cool to room temperature before sealing in an airtight container and freezing for up to 3 months.

Possible Variations:

• Use chicken broth or chicken stock instead of vegetable broth if you don't need a vegan soup.

• Use heavy cream instead of coconut milk if you don't need a vegan soup.

• While this recipe calls for the convenience of canned pumpkin, you can substitute with about 1.75 cups of your own roasted pumpkin puree.

• Add a dash of cayenne pepper or a dash of cinnamon for a spicy kick.

• Garnish with sliced green onions or chives, sour cream (non-vegan), croutons, or an extra swirl of coconut milk

 

Gardening with Pumpkins

Here’s a terrific article in GoodHousekeeping about growing pumpkins. 

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/a28367017/growing-pumpkin-plants/

Can I plant the seeds from a store-bought pumpkin?

You're better off buying seeds from reputable brand than saving ones from a random pumpkin. "It may or may not be harvested when the seeds are completely mature," Lerner says. "Chances are pretty good they're not."

Even if the seeds do germinate, they may produce a different plant if cross-pollination with another squash species occurred. Using saved seeds could serve as a fun experiment, but it's worth spending a couple bucks on vetted seeds for reliably growing jack-o'-lanterns by Halloween.

Can I grow pumpkins in containers?

Yes! The bigger the container, the better. (A half-barrel planter could do the trick.) Take care to monitor the soil — container gardens will dry out faster than normal beds.

Why are my pumpkin flowers falling off?

Pumpkins produce both male and female flowers. (You can tell them apart because female flowers in the squash family have an ovary — what looks like a little mini fruit — right below them.) The male flowers typically open first and fall off. That's okay! As long as the female flowers get pollinated, you're set to go.

How can I protect my pumpkins from pests?

At the beginning of the season, cover your plants with floating row covers to protect them from common culprits like squash bugssquash vine borers, and cucumber beetles. Remove these covers as soon as flowers develop, however, because you'll need bees to pollinate them! For that same reason, always take care when using any type of insecticide on your garden. The chemicals can harm these all-important creatures and consequently prevent the plants from producing any pumpkins!

 

Watercolor tips

To get the “flowing” and typical watercolor effects, make a puddle of water on your paper. Dip your large, round brush in color, then just tap the brush into the puddle of water. The edges of the water will control the paint and keep it where you want it. Be patient and let it dry, without moving it. This may take a while.

One technique I like to do is to draw petals of a flower, then fill two or three with clean water. Then I can “tip” paint into the wet petals and they will look uniformly watery and flow-y.


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