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In spite of the awful drought that we have had in the Middle Atlantic States this year, the pumpkins are still scattered by the thousands over the nearby fields like enormous orange beads from the broken jewelry of some giant from a Walt Disney movie. We are so lucky to be able to see that. It is an incredibly beautiful sight, and many people think that pumpkins only come in cans in the market, or are made of plastic, with the faces cut out, and lining the shelves of party stores, this time of year.
One of the scariest images that I remember from a Walt Disney cartoon involving Halloween is the adaptation of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, when the headless horseman flings that flaming pumpkin head right at Ichabod Crane, and the horrible thing seems to be coming right at the face of the audience. Fantastic animation, but it could make small children wet the bed.
However, for the most part, pumpkins are wonderful, not terrible.
My Mom's father, whose name was Jimmy, and who I never knew, was a wonderful man. He died many years before I came here to live. My Mom says that he would have had a special love for me, as he, too, spent his early years in foster care. She told me that while he was a brilliant man and very creative, because of this lost childhood, a part of him never quite grew up. He played with his only child, my Mom, and gave her a childhood that she has tried to pass on to me, though I came to it late. One of the things that he built for her was an 11-room dollhouse with electric lights. We still have it, and you wouldn't believe how beautiful it is to this day. Mom also has his train set, given to him by a friend long after he was grown. It is a giant-sized 1923 Lionel set, a passenger train with a locomotive, passenger car, and an observation car with a cute little platform at the back. Mom said that Grandpa Jimmy said it was for tiny politicians.
One of the things that she remembers best about those magical childhoods, is the annual ritual of spreading clean newspapers on the floor and carving out a pumpkin. No plastic Jack 'O Lanterns for that man! Mom says that it was astonishing how much stuff could come out of one pumpkin! He always took his time, and selected just the right one each year.
I wish that I had known him.
Most of us don't realize how many fantastic foods can be found inside those great (and heavy!) orange gourds. Here are a few. Do I have more? You bet I do. Next year. Unless you have a special request.
3 eggs separated (or an equivalent amount of Egg Beaters)
1 3/4 cups milk (try soy milk)
1/2 cup melted vegetable shortening
1/2 cup of canned pumpkin
3/4 cup of chopped pecans
Sift together dry ingredients. Beat egg yolks. Combine with milk,
shortening, and pumpkin. Add to dry ingredients. Beat egg whites stiff.
Fold into batter. (If you use the egg substitute, just skip the separation steps). Pour onto hot waffle iron. Sprinkle with a few chopped nuts and bake.
This is good!!!