Tuesday 10: All Things Pumpkin

My family loves autumn because it means we can be immersed in seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling pumpkins! How did this gourd become so important to our American culture?  And, are pumpkins part of the fruit or vegetable family?

When I was growing up we would carve pumpkins and have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s it! Now, pumpkin-inspired foods, beverages and décor fill the months of September, October and November.

And the answer to the question is it a fruit or vegetable? Pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family which includes squash, zucchini, watermelons and cucumbers. Some sources consider them to be fruits and some sources say they are vegetable fruits…. Their genealogy is complicated.  But does it really matter? They are delicious, nutritious and totally what Fall is all about!

Mom and Dad's Computer 001

1.Pumpkin Carving. My daughters are in their late twenties and thirties and still love to carve pumpkins. Every year, around Halloween, we enjoy letting our creative juices flow as we use a variety of tools to make scary, happy and silly faces on the pumpkins. Carving pumpkins dates back to ancient Celtic times and customs were brought to America by the Scots and Irish.

2. Pumpkin Beer. My middle daughter is part of the Avery Brewing staff and last year we attended the limited release of their barrel-aged pumpkin ale known as Rumpkin. It is brewed with roasted pumpkins and spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger then aged in dark rum barrels for six months. It is delicious, but at an ABV of 15%-18%, share a bottle with your friends! A couple of weeks ago, my wife and stopped at TommyKnocker in Idaho Springs and ordered a glass of their delicious Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale in a graham cracker crumb-rimmed glass. Yum!

3. Pumpkin Pancakes. I love to make breakfast, especially for special holidays. A family favorite when the weather turns chilly, is Pumpkin Pancakes. Let me know if you want the recipe!

4. Pumpkin Spice Latte. In 2003 Starbucks introduced their Pumpkin Spice Latte and it has been a favorite of coffee-drinkers for more than a decade. Your favorite local barista can serve you their version of this delicious blend of flavors!

5. Pumpkin Pie. This is a “no brainer”. Thanksgiving and Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream. My Dad loved the pumpkin pies at Village Inn, but for me, I love the pumpkin pie and freshly whipped cream that my daughters make!

6. Pumpkin Patches. My favorite youngest daughter has an October birthday so when she was little, her birthday parties often had a Halloween theme or activity as part of the celebration. Down the street from us was once a pumpkin patch at Mr. Owens’ farm on Timberline. The parties would start with a walk to the pumpkin patch, picking out pumpkins to carve.  Google “Fort Collins Pumpkin Patch 2015” and you can find the local farms that still allow you to pick your own pumpkin from the field.

7. Pumpkin Festivals. Also known as Harvest Festivals, Corn Mazes, Farm Festivals. Look for special events at local Greenhouse/Nurseries, Commercial Farms, Breweries and businesses.  As our two oldest daughters were growing up, they loved to enter scarecrow decorating contests at a local Garden Center.

8. Pumpkin Cider. This is a new addition to my list. As hard cider becomes more popular, pumpkin spice flavors really marry well with apple cider. I tried Ace Pumpkin Cider last week from Wilber’s and it was terrific. Scrumpy’s and Compass Cider in Old Town Fort Collins are great places to enjoy cider drinks, as well.

9. Dog food. So this may sound random, but adding a little canned pumpkin to your dog’s food is very beneficial. Pumpkin is loaded with beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins A and C and high in fiber, low in fat and cholesterol.

10. Pumpkin Curry Soup. Last, but not least, is one of my favorites. My wife makes the best Pumpkin Curry Soup. Rich in the vitamins mentioned above, flavorful, healthy and warming for the body and soul. It is the perfect food for an autumn lunch or dinner.

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