As the breath of autumn chills the shortened days, giddy nostalgia of pumpkins, cider, fall foraging, crisp evenings, and color-filled landscapes reminds us that summer has concluded. Fall's enchanting, cool whispers allow us to pull out our favorite cozy clothes and gather with friends and family. We're reminded to gather around the crackling of a communal log fire that provides warmth to our wiggling toes and souls alike. Open fields welcome the orange-reds of sizable pumpkins, and fall harvest markets tempt our busy schedules with slow-living presence. As you let go of the hot, long days and embrace the change of seasons, take pleasure in the small, festive traditions that encourage presence and gratitude for the evident shift we are all noticing.
The pallets of pumpkins lining grocery store entrances indicate seasons changing. What if you turned a transaction into a memory? In the pumpkin-abundant growing regions across America, use your two hands to harvest pumpkins straight from the vine. Have you ever taken a short road trip to a local pumpkin farm or ranch? Pumpkins are hearty vegetables grown in climates between 65 and 95°F. With just a little research and some time for traveling, make an autumn memory, and harvest your own pumpkin from the vine. This will bring awareness to where you purchase your pumpkins and love the one YOU choose.
If possible, purchase pumpkins from a regional farmer, or visit a local ranch or farm to harvest your own pumpkin off the stem. It’s worth the extra drive time, I promise!
Inquire about the various pumpkin varieties and the general timeline for growing pumpkins. It’s exciting to learn something new as well as honor the passion of the farmers and ranchers who grow all summer long. You'll feel a sense of connection and community by engaging with those who are behind the scenes of your pumpkin masterpiece.
Wear your favorite KUHL layers to keep warm if you choose to harvest pumpkins in the evening. The colors of the sun setting over the horizon with a warm autumn drink will delight your spirits. No better place to be than outside as day turns to night.
Gratitude is the direct access to presence. Reflect on all that you are grateful for – whether it’s the perfectly imperfect pumpkin you selected or the shifting seasons.
From Vine to Table
Pumpkins are more than just decorations and jack-o-lanterns. Instead of disposing of your pumpkin, make use of all of the aspects that make it so special.
Seek out edible varieties of pumpkins such as sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins. If you’re feeling friendly, don't forget to invite winter squash varieties to the table as well.
Roasted pumpkin seeds are simple to make. Wash and dry your pumpkin seeds. Toss them with olive oil and spices. Grease a sheet pan and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Leave out to nibble as an autumn snack.
Pumpkin butter is a versatile sweet to add to your treats all season long. Halve your pumpkin and remove seeds and stringy bits from the center. Lightly season the inside of the pumpkin halves with salt then place cut-side-down onto the baking sheet. Bake until the pumpkin can easily be pierced with a knife in several places and the flesh is pulling away from the skin (45 to 60 minutes at 400 degrees F). Let cool and scoop the flesh out into a blender. Add your favorite natural sweeteners, fats (butter, coconut oil, ghee) and spices to taste.
Have you ever considered composting? Start composting with your pumpkin scraps. Although composting may seem “far off,” it is not as complicated as it may seem. Use a corner of your backyard to start a pile or purchase a composting bin at your local garden store. Regardless of your approach, this “black gold” will be nutrient-dense soil for your home garden, indoor plants, and propagation dreams.
Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps into a fertilizer that enriches the soil. The NRDC acknowledges that recycling food and other organic waste into compost provides a range of environmental benefits, including improving soil health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling nutrients, and mitigating the impact of droughts.
Composting 101: “Greens (Nitrogen) + Browns (Carbon) + Water”. Consider all your kitchen scraps to be greens, i.e. banana peels, egg shells, onion peels, pumpkin carvings, wilted vegetables, carrot butts, coffee grinds etc. Browns could be non-painted cardboard, egg cartons, paper, dead grass cuttings, wood chips, leaves, sawdust etc. Consider watering your compost each time you empty your under-counter kitchen bucket of scraps into the pile. This will aid in the process of composting. If you’re ready to “dive into” a comprehensive reference, visit NRDC.org here to start your compost journey.
Composting your pumpkin starts with a few easy steps. Remove any seeds and wax from decorative candles. Remove any edible flesh for cooking. Cut (or playfully crush) the pumpkin into small pieces so it can compost more easily. Add this to your pile or start a brand new habit this fall by not throwing your plump pumpkin in the trash.
Take a moment to see your pumpkin in a new, refreshed sense. Allow it to inspire you to gather friends to harvest, cook, and start a new habit like composting. Become more aware of its origins, slow down time in the kitchen, and appreciate the changing of the seasons this fall. Welcome the pumpkin vibes.
Danielle Caruso Danielle is a South Florida native that is living, riding and building her community in Bend, Oregon. After breaking her back in Thailand in 2015, Danielle's life course shifted from pursuing hours in corporate America to logging dirt, gravel and road miles on her bike. Danielle is an active Board Member for Central Oregon Trail Alliance, a dedicated yogi, film photographer and lover of the land. Her desire to empower others around her to meet their own potential brings her great joy and willingness to serve her community.
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