friday feast: punkin’ pumpkins (say that fast three times)

Lucy holding Bossy’s Feltworks apples and pumpkins (photo by Mandy Troxel)

Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins. Everywhere pumpkins! Hooray!

Okay Okay. I KNOW I’ve been a tad indecisive lately, asking you to call me Melon Head, then Apple Dumpling, and last week, Apple Pudding.

And not for a second would I presume to be as adorable as little bossy lady Lucy up there who without a doubt personifies the term of endearment, “Pumpkin,” like no one else.


I am now a Pumpkin Girl, having braved the chilly winds and hoodie-cladded throngs of wriggly, hyper-adenoidal munchkins with their parental units who led the charge at Cox Pumpkin Farm this past weekend.




Oh, so brave! Are you impressed by the sacrifice? All just for you, natch.

Today we celebrate the joy that is pumpkinness with an iconic poem and some pumpkin pie. Are you wearing your orange bib? I notice you have on your Halloween mask again. That’s good too.



Often shared at Thanksgiving, this is an interesting poem because of Whittier’s reference to pumpkin carving in his boyhood, which suggests the practice predated widespread Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 1840’s (hat tip to American Scrapbook for that tidbit).

As you probably know, the Irish had the most influence on the celebration of Halloween (they used to carve out turnips to light the way on their midnight Autumn ramblings). In America they simply substituted pumpkins since they were so plentiful.

Whittier’s tribute to the pumpkin first appeared in the Boston Chronotype in 1846, and I must say I do like his mention of pumpkin pie!

Dig in:

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my new go-to autumn recipe: amy traverso’s apple pumpkin walnut muffins

Apples pumpkins pudding and pie.
Love you, pumpkin, apple of my eye.

I’m sitting here looking out my office window, sunlight glimmering through gold and russet leaves, with a mug of warm apple cider and a fresh-from-the-oven Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffin. I finally treated myself to a copy of Amy Traverso’s, The Apple Lovers Cookbook (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011). I’d been hearing such great things about it ever since it was released last year and decided it would be a nice way to celebrate my favorite season.

These muffins seemed like the perfect first recipe for me to try — apples and pumpkins represent the essence of Fall, after all. (I just made a rhyme, did you see that?) Though I’ve baked quite a few pumpkin pies and any number of apple desserts (pies, crumbles, crisps, muffins, cakes), I’d never actually combined pumpkin and apple in the same recipe before. What could be cozier than having Autumn all wrapped up in one cozy, take-it-anywhere muffin?

Just in case you’re not familiar with Amy’s book, it’s easily the most comprehensive, accessible apple companion out there. Not only do you get 100 original recipes, but also a fabulous Apple Primer with in-depth profiles of 59 apple varieties — notes on appearance, taste, texture, as well as history, availability, and best use. The varieties are classified as firm-tart, firm-sweet, tender-tart and tender-sweet, and a cool Cheat Sheet allows you to determine which varieties would be best for each recipe.

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autumn amblings, or, cornelius falls for fall

~ by Mr. Cornelius, especially for Julia

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~ William Cullen Bryant

Oh hello!

Do you know what the best part of Fall is?

It could be crunching leaves under your boots,

finding tree faces,

or going to the pumpkin farm!

I like all the funny bumpy squashes and gourds,

You really should see someone about that.

diving into the candy bin,

playing with the tractors and miniature horses,


doing daredevil stunts,

lending an ear,


liking dem apples,


baby, you can drive my car!


BUT. There’s something else that tops all.

Now you’re talkin’.

Mmmmm! This one’s still warm. Can you smell those cinnamon-y apples?

Apple Pie is a really really good part of Fall.

But even better is adopting a pumpkin friend and making him feel at home.

Don’t worry, we won’t carve him.

Come visit us soon, Julia —

before giant pumpkins take over the world!

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” ~ Emily Bronte

* * * * *

P.S. Posting may be sporadic this week because of Hurricane Sandy. Wishing the best to all my East Coast friends. Stay safe and good luck!


Copyright © 2012 Cornelius Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All pumpkins preserved.

chatting about the goodbye cancer garden with janna matthies and kristi valiant (+ a special giveaway!)

Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I invited children’s author Janna Matthies and illustrator Kristi Valiant to tell us about their critically acclaimed picture book, The Goodbye Cancer Garden (Albert Whitman, 2011).

Kristi and Janna

This sensitively written, uplifting story is based on Janna’s personal battle against breast cancer and is an invaluable resource for families facing similar struggles. Without downplaying the seriousness of this life-threatening illness, the book illustrates the importance of focusing on the positive, acknowledging sadness and worry, expressing gratitude and sticking together.

In January, when Janie learns her mom has cancer and probably won’t be better until “pumpkin time,” she suggests the family plant a vegetable garden:

Watching it grow, and eating healthy veggies, will remind us Mom’s getting better. Then before we know it . . . Hello, pumpkins, goodbye cancer!

They continue to nurture their garden of hope and healing as Mom has surgery and endures chemo, hair loss, radiation, aches and fatigue. Step-by-step, day by day, they move toward their goal with the kindness and support of friends, relatives, and of course, each other. Their harvest time celebration, marking the end of treatment with a bounty of homegrown veggies, couldn’t be sweeter.

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fall frolicking

Fall would not be complete without a visit to our favorite pumpkin patch. You come too.

Folklore says witches turned people into pumpkins. These shoppers better be careful.
Sugar pumpkins make good pies!

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