Picking the ‘perfect’ pumpkin

Underripe but just right for me

I’ve always rooted for the underdog. I would bet on the least favored horse in a race, I’d pick the pastry with flaws such as imperfect frosting or misshapen dough because it had “character.” I love farmstand fruits and veggies because they are so misshapen, odd and would never pass muster stacked up in the aisles at a big grocery chain. I even chose one of my dogs from the pound specifically because I was told she was the runt of the litter and, well, “who really wants a runt?” I DO! I love the odd, the misshapen, the different and the “last one to be picked,” because… well, I guess you could go into some deep-rooted psychological analysis of this, but suffice it to say, I JUST DO.
Yesterday we went to La Union Maze, a yearly tradition for families around here around Halloween time. I’d never been before, but since it is only 3 miles away from home, Christian had never celebrated Halloween before, and we had to have SOMEWHERE to wear our new Halloween T-shirts, we chose this spot. It was fantastic!

Cotton fields surround the maze

It was the ULTIMATE family outing, full of old-fashioned games for children (raised trampoline, hay rides, “duck” races with rubber duckies, a petting zoo, non motorized dune buggy derby, and more. And a REAL (huge) pumpkin patch hidden among the cotton fields and the maze itself. We attempted the maze, carved out of a massive Sorghum field, but to be honest, neither of us have that much patience or that much attention span, so after about 15 minutes we back-tracked to the entrance to head on over to the pumpkin patch.
I know some people spend days, time and money to find that perfect pumpkin. The flawless, perfectly shaped and colored gourd to proudly make the most intricate, Martha Stewart-ish Jack O’Lanterns. I, on the other hand, had a heyday looking for the most odd, flat, albino, Siamese-twin, full of pockmarks, hidden away gourds. And I couldn’t decide, so I ended up taking about 4-5 smaller gourds to place next to the other ones I foolishly bought for about $3.99 each at Albertson’s. I liked mine much better. Don’t know if I have the heart to try to carve faces into my little “underdogs.” I think I’ll just keep them on the dining room table to let them have their little time in the limelight 😉


Yesterday we had brotzeit for dinner after getting home from the Maze, and I KNOW it’s not your typical brotzeit (but IS there a typical brotzeit?) I got out the Tchibo antipasti plate Christian’s brother and sister in law gave us for Christmas last year, and Christian got to “inaugurate” his brotzeiteller I purchased for him from Germandeli.com (I forgot to order one for myself, so Christian’s going to bring one home from his visit to Germany in a few weeks). I served some herring, smoked almonds, baba gannoush, grapes, salted tomato, sausage, sliced ham, Emmentaler cheese, mustard, Bauernbrot, baguette, and some leftover cabbage salad from lunchtime. Other than the fact that yesterday was a no-holds-barred overeating and overindulging day, it was fantastic, simple and fun! I wish I could say today I’ll be more conscious of eating healthily and moderately, but tonight is our Culinary Travel Part II: Ireland. I’m cooking Irish beef stew as our main course. Christian is making a Dubliner cheese spread as an appetizer, and an apple-barley pudding as our dessert. Moderation again must wait for another day…


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