Sunday, May 5, 2013

let the pumpkin-eating begin!

Have you ever read Living the Good Life by Linda Cockburn? If you have, you'll know why I find our pumpkin harvest so funny. If you haven't, you should. It's inspiring and funny and real and grounded, and it helps put our consumer-y lives into some kind of global context by offering a realistic, Australian suburban alternative. In short, it's awesome. And they eat a lot of pumpkins.
The reason for their extreme pumpkin consumption is that pumpkins are pretty bloody easy to grow a ton of. While growing and preserving enough tomatoes for year-round consumption is something that many people, including ourselves, aspire to, when I read a blog like Fox's Lane, which I do quite enjoy, and read about what's actually involved in growing and preserving this amount of tomatoes, I realise that, realistically, we're a ways off this.

Pumpkins, on the other hand, are do-able, and I think with this year's harvest almost done and dusted, we'll have more than enough pumpkins for a pumpkin a week for a year. Sure, if we wanted to be really self-sufficient, we could grow and eat more than a pumpkin a week, but who really wants to do that?
part of the great pumpkin harvest of '13
We're viewing this harvest of pumpkins more as a trusty staple to supplement our growing and eating more seasonal delicacies.

Another upside of pumpkins (in addition to the fact that they basically grow themselves and are pretty pest-resistant) is that you don't really have to process them to make them store for a REALLY long time. If you leave them on the vine 'til the vine dies back, then leave their stalks (and some vine, for good measure - better to be safe than sorry) on and let the whole thing dry out really well, you should be able to store your pumpkins in a safe-from-rodents, dry place for a year. Yay!

So we now have pumpkins 'hardening off' all over the place. And we're still finding them, hiding in the kikuyu. These will soon be stored in our loft, on shelves (if we can find some space!) on windowsills and probably on the floor under the table. Little ones will be used as components in still lives, and hold down our stack of cloth serviettes that sits, at the ready, on our table outside.
And a few nights ago we had our first (of many) pumpkin meals. It's something my mum used to make - classic comfort food, and, as a bonus, it's ridiculously cheap and easy and quick. It's basically a pumpkin risotto, but made with risoni pasta instead. 
Here's how:
Dice your pumpkin - We used half a medium-sized one for the 4 of us.
Chuck the diced pumpkin into a pot or pressure cooker (these guys are awesome!!!) with 500g risoni pasta and cover the lot with chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer til the stock is absorbed and the pasta is cooked. Stir through some chopped sage leaves and some soft white cheese, if you're that way inclined. Done! 
We served ours with some mustard greens and silverbeet sauteed in olive oil and garlic. Bloody delicious! And I tell you what - when you're growing and cooking food like this, you can forget about Curtis Stone and feeding the family for under 10 bucks. Try feeding the family for less than 3. And no farmers being exploited to boot!


  1. Oh yum! And I am going to need to use that top serviette when I come around for lunch!

    1. Yes matching skirt and serviette is most important!

  2. Would LOVE to see some photos of the pumpkin patches that produced all those pumpkins! I've had some pretty good times fossicking Queensland Blues out of shoulder-high tangles of vine and weeds, about 30 from a reasonable-sized field. Paid for it in scratches from the pumpkins, nettles and thistles, but they made a very lovely mountain at the end.

  3. Ah well they weren't really patches per se, rather they were planted along the edge of the current veg garden and then they trailed down the untamed slope. They got a bit lost as the kikuyu grew and some had very intermittent water as we lost track of them all as they grew and grew...But all in all, a productive success. Next Summer we are aiming for more of a dedicated pupkin bed. We're thinking we'll get pigs or chickens to clear an area that will be the pumpkin patch. Sounds like you have a very lovely mountain of pumpkin. Well deserved!