Playing with My Food

By , October 30, 2011

Our parents always told us “don’t play with your food.” Yeah, well, I’m over 50 now, and I’ll play with my food when I want to. Particularly if that food is a pumpkin.

With Halloween upon us tomorrow night, we’ll definitely need a pumpkin pie. With Michelle’s imminent departure the next day, I’d need some good, quick, simple meals. Slabs of baked pumpkin fit that bill nicely. So, it made sense to butcher at least one of the pumpkins currently around the homestead.

We have five. Two of them we raised in our garden—not in the greenhouse, but outside.

homestead pumpkins 2011

A store bought Jack o' lantern flanked by our own homestead-grown pumpkins (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

My paternal grandfather gardened in western Washington, south of Seattle. Each year he’d grow small pumpkins on which he would scratch the names of his grandchildren early enough that the name would become a scar on the squash, reliably on the less attractive side, opposite to where we’d carve the face.

I’d have to ask about this; when I remember him doing this, he would have had 12 grandchildren to supply with pumpkins, which would have been a lot for his suburban backyard garden, as magical a place as it was. Perhaps he only did this for his three Alaskan grandchildren, my brother, sister, and me, who lived where pumpkins supposedly could not grow.

Since then, we’ve seen pumpkins grow in Alaska, in the community garden in Juneau. Michelle has grown pumpkins on the homestead, in the greenhouse or outside, almost every year we’ve been here. We’ve generally don’t carve them into Jack o’ lanterns—they’re far too precious for that. We carved pumpkins from town, and saved our homegrowns for later, sometimes through the following winter into spring.

Last night, just before I usually go to bed, I began fiddling with one of the town pumpkins. I felt like I was doodling with a knife—none of the careful consideration and planning I’m used to lavishing on a Jack o’ lantern. Like I said before, Halloween is different this year. But, I’m pleased with the results.

It’s hard to say how long this will last. Maybe it’ll light the homestead on Halloween night. Or, it’ll fill our stomachs with soup, or pie, or perhaps both. We’ll see.

2 Responses to “Playing with My Food”

  1. gw carroll says:

    I want to do what u guys are doing … whats the best place to learn about living off the grid…. I live in fl. right now how much is land an ac. up there??? thanks gw carroll Iam a pastor of a church down here….oh ya nice pumpkins lol

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Rev. Carrol, if I may be so bold, this blog seems like a good place to learn about living off grid! As for the best, I’m afraid I don’t know. You might start with our homestead reference library posts, which begin here.

    As for the cost of land, it varies widely. My sister and I are currently selling a bit more than an acre of land in Gustavus for $20,000, which is pretty much the going rate there. It really depends on location, as the realtors are fond of saying.

    Best of luck. It’s not easy, but the benefits are incredible!


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