And I return, with the second in my series of “Ten Things to Do With Over-Abundant Vegetables” posts. I didn’t necessarily set out to make this a series, but last year’s post on cucumbers ended up being a popular one—and even I referenced back to it when I needed to refresh my memory this summer. So, here we go again—and this time pumpkins get to take the stage!
Last year we got so many pumpkins, I gave some away, allowed others to freeze in their role as porch decorations instead of rushing them inside to save them, and even threw away the last couple that spoiled before I could get to them. That was after I had frozen I don’t know how many quarts of roasted pumpkin for future baking projects.
I scaled back on the number of pumpkin hills this year, but the ones I did plant are already promising to produce abundantly. And then, when I cleaned out our freezer last week, I discovered 20 quarts of frozen roasted pumpkin. People, I did this is a whole year later, and I promise that I actually did use some throughout the year. Whoa.
So it looks like I’ll be making a lot of pumpkin things in my kitchen in the coming weeks—and I thought maybe you’d like to join in on the fun? The list that follows includes some of my personal tried and true favorites. (It does assume, though, that you know about the tried and true classics, like pumpkin pie (Libby’s forever!!!) and pumpkin bread.)
- Give thanks for your blessings.
- Make the cupcakes that are usually my birthday cake.
- Make these pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling, or these without.
- Make pumpkin pecan backed steel cut oatmeal for breakfast. Pro tip: surprisingly, this dish, like pumpkin pie, is better cold so it’s great for making the night before. Also, it’s especially amazing topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of maple or agave syrup.
- Make sweet pumpkin scones or savory.
- Try pumpkin in your pasta.
- Try your hand at a homemade pumpkin spice latte! My friend Erica has an awesome recipe here.
- Carve out the inside of a giant pumpkin and fill it with apple cider for a fun punch bowl for an autumn party.
- Fall decorations, of course. I love the look of white pumpkins in rooms where I don’t necessarily want to add the color orange, but do want to add a touch of fall! Take note for your garden next year: this little heirloom variety is easy to grow and produces enough to decorate your whole house and share some with your friends! (Spoken with the voice of experience!)
- You know how they say that the old time settlers used to use all of the pig except the squeal? Well, you can use all of the pumpkin except the skin. Roast the seeds, and then recycle the stem to make these.
- Bonus for you: my favorite Cinderella pumpkin seeds can be found here.
At this time of the year when I walk outside, the call of the fields and forest gets somewhat dimmed by the call of the garden. Out in the woods, the ferns are curling up brown and everything is in that sort of awkward transition between summer and fall. But in the garden, at least the one I planted this year, everything is just reaching it’s most splendid peak.
And so that’s where I go, taking my camera with me to document the discoveries of dark round watermelons beneath notched leaves, big orange pumpkins and shiny purple eggplant. And the little yellow cucumber flowers, bright like little stars amidst the delicately serrated edges of leafy vines.And then I dig down beneath those leaves, and I fill the wheelbarrow with cucumbers (and zucchini—but that’s another story) and I bring them up to the house, stack them up like cord wood on the kitchen table and wonder what in the world I’m going to do with them all.Honestly, I thought I had planted just the right amount (just one hill, so we could eat them fresh), but lo and behold, I was wrong. We are drowning in cucumbers—and we still have pickles in the basement from last year! What do you do when you don’t need pickles and a daily whole fresh cucumber for lunch is getting a little old? Well…
- You give thanks for the abundance. It is truly a blessing to have my cup—er, wheelbarrow—overflow with produce, even if it is a bit of a scramble to use them all up before they spoil.
- You research the amazing health and home benefits of cucumbers to boost cucumber enthusiasm house-wide. Did you know that a single cucumber contains pretty much all of the vitamins your body needs for one day? Or that cucumbers are good for treating both high and low blood pressure? Or that you can use cucumbers on sunburns just like aloe vera? Or that if you rub a slice of cucumber along a squeaky hinge, it will stop squeaking? There’s a great list with more fun health benefits and uses here. I’ve always liked cucumbers and after reading this, I finally know why!
- You slice them up thin and use them in lieu of lettuce in sandwiches. Or you skip the bread and stuff a hollowed out cucumber with the sandwich fillings. We tried ham and cream cheese—yum!
- You put them in all tossed salads and try to keep the ratio of lettuce to cucumber somewhat reasonable, so you can still call it a lettuce salad, because…
- You also make cucumber salad, which is different. This version with tomatoes, avocado and feta cheese is my new favorite this year!
- You make gyros with cucumber sauce. (This probably qualifies as my top favorite way to dispose of cucumbers.)
- You make cucumber-and-cream-cheese tea sandwiches (and cucumber-tomato-mayonnaise sandwiches if your tomatoes are ripe, which mine are not). Only skip the tiny tea size and make them big.
- You try every new and interesting recipe you can find. Nice to meet you, cucumber soup and cucumber chips.
- You bless all your friends by smuggling them into the back seats of their cars as surprise gifts. (Just kidding—actually bringing a pile them to church with a “help yourself” sign attached might be a better idea!)
- And if all else fails, you make a cake.
Because naturally a cucumber cake probably would be the last thing you think of. But no, I’m really not kidding on this one. There really is such a thing—and it’s delicious! (If you’re adventurous enough to try it, too, the recipe I used is here. I doubled the recipe—because, hello, we’re trying to use up cucumbers over here!—but stuck with a single batch of the frosting and used lemon juice instead of the elderberry cordial.)
“He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17)
What are your favorite ways to enjoy the blessing of cucumbers?