Monday, 31 October 2011

Show me a pumpkin, and I'll show you where to shove it.

We used templates from the internet. Did I bookmark them for reference?
No. Sorry about that.

We live a fairly frugal life in the Coffee House. I mean, you won't find us reusing our teabags five times, or crotcheting panscrubbers out of plastic bags; but if you do meet me in the supermarket it will be in one of those discount ones with huge piles of gardening equipment or children's ski suits stacked down the middle. And even a £5 overspend on my budget at the checkout will send me into a very dark mood.

So when it came the time to spend £2 on two pumpkins, I wasn't going to pick the two smallest pumpkins, was I? Admittedly, I left the ones that I could only carry with two arms wrapped around them, but I chose the raw materials for our Halloween lanterns with the knowledge that at £1 for each pumpkin, some pumpkins were better value than others.

At home, we scooped and scooped. We scooped with an ice-cream scoop and a variety of spoons. The pile of pumpkin flesh grew; my family receded into the background as I worked my way down it. By six o'clock I had a loaf of pumpkin and ginger teabread*, the weighed amount of pumpkin for two further pumpkin and ginger teabreads because I had run out of honey, a pumpkin curry, three bags of roasted pumpkin puree, a bag of roasted salted pumpkin seeds, and a thumping headache.

What was I trying to achieve? I have barely any room in the freezer for the bags of puree or any more teabread, since the freezer is so packed with emergency post-surgery meals. If I force my family to eat extra piles of teabread made with specially-bought honey, what money am I saving?

The internet, I found, is full of smug people showing off their reinventions of the pumpkin. I did fancy these muffins, but didn't fancy traipsing off in search of fresh rosemary. In the time it took me to get to the nearest supermarket and back, my pumpkin puree might have burnt to a crisp. And who on earth has the disposable income to risk a bottle of vodka in this way? What if pumpkin vodka tastes as unappetising as it sounds? And what if, when you've found the perfect-sounding meal with which to use up chunks of pumpkin, you've already whizzed it up into a useful-sounding puree that in truth you have no idea what to do with?

Mr Coffee, soothing my pumpkin-induced irritation with a glass of wine at 8.30pm, admitted that he would have just enjoyed the lanterns and flung the leftover flesh in the compost bin. I'm beginning to think he's the genius of the household.

*This teabread is utterly delicious. And it works with custard as a hot pudding, if you have opened the oven door during the cooking time to insert yet another tray of pumpkin flesh to roast and made the teabread go soggy in the middle. Just, you know, hypothetically speaking.


  1. Well I'm mightily impressed. I am going to Pin this photo on Pinterest and make it go viral, you watch.

    Best of wishes for the hospital stay.

  2. I've given up trying to use the pumpkin flesh, a couple of years ago I made a roasted pumpkin soup, I know right now you are saying 'mmmmmm sounds lovely' but the reality was nowhere near that, it was close to worst thing I have ever put in my mouth! Last year I tried roasting the seeds, so I spent ages rinsing the all the flesh from the seeds and then toasting them in the oven which resulted burnt bits of seeds. This year the flesh went straight into the compost and I'm quite happy about that!! I'm like you very frugal, make everything last longer and hate wasting money but when it comes to the inside of a pumpkin I'm as reckless as it comes!!!!!

  3. I suspect, no, I know, that your pumpkin activities have been orders of magnitude more productive than my broomstick lace crochet activities (for which I was just watching a mind boggling youtube video). You are following the adage of that Morris geezer. Beautiful (carvings); useful (lots of food). What do I have to show? Brain spaghetti, which is neither.

    Right, off to make a miniature silver watering can. Byeeee.

  4. Blogs are full of smug people, full stop! Have you just noticed? The frugality show off is the worst. Mostly it is a game to cover up meanness. People who really have to watch their pennies just get on with it, without the boasting because they simply have no choice. There is a huge difference.

  5. Butternut squash is much tastier than those big pumpkins I find. I bought little pumpkins this year, one for each child in the hope that the flesh would be less bland.

    Your pumpkins look great and my best wishes too for the hospital stay.

  6. we have no pumpkin. the supermarket has no pumpkins. a friend has offered to go to a further away shop in search of a pumpkin. if I get one we're certainly going to eat every last bit we can. but it will be in soup because that's all I can make.....

  7. Think yourself lucky that you are not a 1970's Mum. You would need 2 glasses of wine after gouging out a Suede.Pumpkins were not invented in NE england until 1989. Luckily my Husband composted my carefully saved shavings so I'm off the hook.

  8. Well, I think you're amazing! I did try to get the children to share a teabag ie take it in turns to dunk into their mugs, but it was all too much for a princess even though she only waves hers above the water for about 5 seconds. I of course make a pot and compost the leavings. And I even tried those little produce nets as pan scrubbers but the washing up detachment wouldn't cooperate.

    The path to frugality is a rocky one and littered with unforeseen consequences. Still, I am all for copious quantities of cake at every opportunity.

    Pomona x

  9. Tea bread, eh? Over here it's just heaps of pumpkin pie. Perhaps I should branch out.

    (Stomach still churning at the thought of pumpkin vodka.)

  10. Brilliant! You have the same pumpkin purchasing system as us.
    The seeds have been saved to plant next year, even though my biggest (and only) home grown pumpkin this year grew to about the same size as a fortnight-old balloon and is still half green.
    I will have to try pumpkin teabread now!

  11. So industrious! I'm afraid we took the Mr. Coffee route straight to the compost bin.

  12. shock horror I NEVER use my pumpkins for anything other than a tea light!!!!
    Actually I can't stand the smell of pumpkins (even my son who was preparing to help me carve - at the tender age of 6) ran off in the other direction shouting "that stinks". I like the effect of them but I consider it nothing more than a disposable lantern.

  13. Wow! I have carved many pumpkins, but I've never thought to eat them. I've eaten many pumpkins, too, but they're never the ones I've carved. Hmmm. Why has this never occurred to me? We do eat the seeds, but that's as virtuous as we get.

  14. I made pumpkin pasta and blogged about it the other day. But the large pumpkins don't tend to taste as nice as the smaller ones for that. I'd be tempted just to chuck a cupful of puree and a teaspoon of ground nutmeg into a simple muffin recipe (1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 100ml milk, 100ml veg oil). I'm sure it'd be tasty.

  15. That sounds like a n insane amount of work, but on the upside, your kittycat lantern is my favourite punkin ever. I'm with Mr Coffee on the compost. One loaf of teabread is plenty, right?

  16. These are so good. I love the artistry that goes into the carving of these veg that only get into the lime light once a year. Mind they do get a light up their bums so I suppose they do want to keep out of sight most of the year!

  17. My four year old thinks you have a cat trying to blow your candle out!

  18. Those are great pumpkins. Great cat - rounded lines and everything! We had 3 little pumpkins (collected from grandma's allotment - best part of Halloween as far as I'm concerned: got pumpkins, was fed. Wonderful.) They ended up having huge gashes only faintly resembling eyes and scary mouths, but they did the job.

    What is it with Halloween - why do kids love it sooooooo much? Mine have been in a state of frenzy over it for days and days. I sort of get it, a bit, what with the dressing up, darkness, spookiness and little lights etc., but still..

  19. Anon - there is a good deal of smugness, it's true! But still I love it, even if it's in a snarky way.

    Louise - we just never did lanterns in the 70s; I suspect it wasn't anything to do with swedes though. I can't imagine my mother even giving it a go. It's more recent, here, I think, Halloween - Bonfire night was much more the thing when I was a kid.

    Planetcoops - plant the seeds? Good grief.

    I'm Crayon - you're the best off.

    Bitsy Beans - I was grateful for the teabread, once the headache had worn off. And the curry was very nice.

    Claire - I just looked at that pasta recipe, and am very pleased - a use for my frozen puree! I have to say that my medium-sized pumpkins tasted very nice, when I had forgiven them. Since I wrote the post, my neighbour has offered up sprigs of her rosemary plant, so I might give that savoury one a go.

    jfb57 - oh, thank you. We are all about the art here.

    Janette - kids so love it! We have avoided it for years, but we caved in this year, and they had a great time.

  20. I make risotto with pumpkin, you should try it.
    Lovely carving.

  21. We (well, I) did nothing for Halloween. It's wrong... it's not an Italian holiday and it's not an English one either. I will not be bullied by commercialism.

    And now my children hate me.

    Can't win. EVER.

  22. I still remember carving lanterns out of mangel wurzels as a child - now boy that was tough carving! (I lived in rural North Yorkshire, 'nough said) Useless info - apparently in the Uk carving turnips was the norm in the 19th century or something.
    Am sure we didn't save the bits as they were used as winter animal feed...

  23. I wasted a bottle of vodka and it is utterly delicious! And it lasts forever because how many pumpkin pie martinis can one person drink?


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