Pumpkin patch

A few weeks ago, before we made a bunch of apple pies, my mom and I went out to the garden to pick some pumpkins. I always bring some to school so my students can carve them for Halloween. I also leave the dirt on them, so that when I explain that pumpkins grow in the garden and not the grocery store, it makes sense! They always tell me I’m lucky that I get to pick pumpkins. They’re right!

My parents’ house is right by the river. Morning light, along with fall colours made it a picture-taker’s paradise!

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I love the way the pumpkin patch looks after the leaves have frozen. You can see all the pumpkins. Also, it would be easier to spot a snake, if there was one. I’ve never actually seen a snake in the pumpkin patch, but i’m sure it happens. I don’t have a snake phobia, but really, who wants to reach down to pick a pumpkin and come up with a snake? Yeah, no one.

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I’m looking for a good pumpkin. Also, I’m checking to make sure there are no slimy bugs underneath.

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Found one! A pumpkin, not a bug.

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I’m checking the ingredients: 100% pumpkin. Ok, I’ll take it!

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I need more pumpkins. Lots more.

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Pumpkins and apples in my kitchen! When this photo was taken, there were six more pumpkins in my car waiting to be taken to school to be carved by my students. Sadly, one of those pumpkins did not make it to Halloween. I believe it suffered a deer bite and started to go bad as soon as it was taken indoors. It’s suffering came to an end in a collegue’s kitchen.

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My pumpkins before they were roasted into deliciousness! Here, too, one did not survive. It got all soft and icky so I put it outside. A squirrel chewed all the way around it and took off with the top. A few days later, I saw the top of a pumpkin in the street. Crazy squirrel.

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Roasting a pumpkin is pretty easy. Cut in half, scoop out gunk, roast, puree, eat!

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I ended up with about 12 cups of puree. Not bad for two small pumpkins. I wanted to can it, but I read all kinds of scary things online about the dangers of canning pumpkin puree, so I decided to freeze it instead.

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I’ve been baking pumpkin-everything for a few weeks now.

Gluten-free pumpkin muffins.

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Roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Pumpkin and carrot mac and cheese. I have to hide vegetables from myself so that I’ll eat them. Also, macaroni and cheese is not photogenic.

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I also made something called a pumpkin dream cake and it was very dreamy and orange and delicious!

Yesterday, for Halloween, the kids got to work cleaning out the pumpkins and decorating them. They were very original in their design ideas.

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I thought the hedgehog was angry, but apparently, he’s scary. Because, you know, it’s Halloween.

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I think that’s it for my pumpkin adventures this year. Well, except for the 8 cups of pumpkin still left in my freezer! November is the month for tea, books and hot yoga! (Every month is hot yoga month actually.)

The gluten-free experiment

We all know someone who’s gone gluten-free, for health reasons or maybe because it’s trendy, and it’s completely changed their life! How can, all of a sudden, wheat be responsible for so many problems? I’ve been pretty skeptical about this whole thing.

So I started paying attention to what people around me were saying. There’s the friend who cut out gluten (among other things) to help control her asthma. And it worked. There’s the friend who’s no longer tired. Imagine that! The friend who never felt quite right, and now feels amazing most of the time. These aren’t people trying to sell me something, these are my friends.

It got me thinking I want me some of that. But, there was a small problem. A huge problem, actually. I love cake. And cookies. Also, brownies, muffins, waffles, bread and anything else made with flour. If it’s got gluten in it, chances are, I love it. I asked no-longer-tired-friend Don’t you miss the foods you used to eat? Her answer was pretty clear. No. So many gluten-free options are out there, there’s no need to cut out anything you like.

I decided to try it, but with my own rules. My experiment is not to go completely gluten-free, but more gluten-reduced. I’m not doing this for health reasons, so if I want a scone, then I’ll eat one.

It’s been a week. So far, so good. I’ve cheated, but since I’m allowed, it’s not cheating. I tried to make bread using arrowroot flour. Yeah, that didn’t work. It was like baking glue. It came out of the oven looking good, but then it collapsed onto itself and died. I threw it out and put the garbage bag out on the porch. A squirrel got into the bag and dragged out the loaf, then left it there. He didn’t even take a bite. I don’t blame him.

Today, I tried again. I bought some gluten-free flour and found a recipe for pumpkin muffins. Most baked good made with gluten-free flour have a grainy texture, but these muffins are awesome! I think it helps that there is very little flour in them.

The recipe called for pumpkin pie spice, which I do not have. I used cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves. My measuring technique is quite precise: a few shakes of everything, heavy on the cinnamon. Bliss. I also used butter instead of oil. More bliss.

It looks like a muffin, smells like a muffin, and best of all, tastes like a muffin!

I’m very new at this, so if you’re gluten-free, I would love some tips! And recipes. I’ve been eating a lot of salad.