Did you know that October 26th is National Pumpkin Day in the United States? It’s understandable when pumpkins are so prevalent this time of year. I have even lamented the fact that every restaurant and fast food joint in town seems to feel the need each October to put a pumpkin variation of some sort of food. I have seen everything from pumpkin spice donuts to pumpkin lattes to pumpkin milkshakes to pumpkin iced tea! Although I am not a fan of the traditional pumpkin pie, I do like the taste of pumpkin but after seeing a few of the pumpkiny offerings out there, I must say that don’t think it’s really necessary for EVERY food to have a pumpkin version. Trust me…in some cases they should have just said no. Regardless, it’s a lovely time of year and I so enjoy seeing all those colourful orange pumpkins everywhere! I spent last weekend soaking up the sights at the 27th Annual Pumpkinfest in Waterford, Ontario. It was a lovely way to spend an autumn weekend. Here are more of the photographs from that weekend as well as some additional pumpkin recipes and crafts for your enjoyment.
The kickoff event for this weekend was the big Pumpkinfest parade down the main street of town. Local schools, clubs, scouting groups, churches, and more put together charming floats and displays. They were joined by marching bands, horses, and cars that would be taking part in the car show later on.
One of the events of Pumpkinfest weekend was a soap box derby. I was so excited about going to see this! I’m not really sure why…I remember thinking when my daughter was younger that it looked like building one could be fun and I think the nostalgia of it appealed to me as well. I have seen derbies in movies and they always seem to be a part of one of those small homey towns. Anyway, this was my first ever and it really was a delight to watch. It was fun too to watch a few of the races, analyze how the racers did, and then start forming our own theories on what helps the cars to go faster and what slows them down. By the 3rd heat, we were looking at the entrants lined up on the hill and picking out who we thought the winners and losers would be based on those theories. There were almost some collisions between racers who were finding controlling and steering to be an issue.
There was also the case of the racer who did the entire course backwards when his car did a 180 within the first metre of the race and the poor girl whose car went all of about 2 metres when it suddenly seemed to “run out of gas” and just simply stop. The girl tried to get some momentum going but to no avail. Soon her father was out on the course with her, giving her some gentle assistance but again, that was not enough to get her car moving once more. The car race now looked more like a foot race as her dedicated dad took hold of her car and pushed it down the hill, running the whole way. I am assuming that at the time he was doing this he thought only of the love for his daughter and not of the fact that once down there, he had to have enough energy to push the car back UP the hill for the next heat.
Regardless of the cars that didn’t quite perform as planned, this event had all the snalltown charm I had hoped for. The course was lined with spectators cheering on winners and losers and the smiles on the children’s faces were simply priceless. Now, to find a small child who likes soap box derbies so I can “help” make one!
The Rules for Soapbox Race Cars:
Soap box cars are to be made to the following specifications:
1. Wheels cannot have bearings and can be no larger than 13” diameter.
2. Cars can have a maximum length of 4 feet (Junior division) or 5 feet (Senior division). Cars should be about 3 feet in width.
3. Cars must be equipped with a functioning brake – hand or foot controlled. Car operator cannot use their own foot on the pavement to stop their car.
4. Cars should be constructed mainly of wood – use of steel is limited to mechanical controls only.
How to build a soapbox derby racer:
The Classic Car Show
Classic Car websites http://www.classiccar.com/
The Midway was small and designed for kids (and overly expensive I thought!) but it was still fun to walk around and see all the rides, the carnival games and their tacky toy prizes, hearing the kids scream with delight, and taking in the smells of all that wonderfully bad for you carny food. Really, is there anything else like the smell of cotton candy? (or candy floss as they call it here in Canada). We did our share of indulging…obviously, cotton candy ;), candy apples to take to my daughter, pulled BBQ pork sandwiches, sausage and sauerkraut on a bun, freshly made donut holes, and REAL corn dogs (not the frozen things!). NO we did not eat all that food in one day!!! They didn’t have my all time favourite…a takeoff on the corn dog but in place of the hotdog, there’s a chunk of cheese. It’s kind of like a giant mozzarella stick but the coating is that corn batter so it’s extra tasty! And then there was our new discovery…deep fried Mars bars. I am not a big Mars bar fan but let me tell you, when deep fried they are one of the most decadent things I have ever tasted. They had some other chocolate bar options too and I bet it would pretty much work with any chocolate bars as long as you use the thick ones so they hold up to the frying. Here’s a link to a recipe for them: http://www.recipezaar.com/Deep-Fried-Mars-Bars-43463
Some of the other events of Pumpkinfest weekend included a Raptor show (lovely examples of birds of prey common to our local area), a haunted house, a craft show, used book sale, and a snake display.
All kinds of pumpkiny goodness from Martha Stewart: http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/pumpkins
Pumpkin Templates http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/pumpkin-templates
Having a Great Pumpkin party http://familyfun.go.com/halloween/halloween-parties/halloween-party-planning-tips/the-great-pumpkin-party-705502/
An adorable pumpkin craft http://lisapace.com/2009/10/11/its-the-great-pumpkin-charlie-brown/
Pumpkin Dip: Roast three small sugar pumpkins in a 425 degree F oven by removing the tops of the pumpkins and scooping out the seeds. Drizzle 1 T. olive oil into each of the pumpkins sand season with salt and pepper. Place a sprig of fresh rosemary and a clove of garlic into each one. Put the pumpkins in an oiled baking pan and roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until the skin is soft enough to pierce with a knife. Allow the pumpkins to cool. Scoop out the pumpkin meat from each of the pumpkins, trying to preserve one of the pumpkins as a serving dish for the dip. Puree the pumpkin meat in a blender until smooth. If it’s too runny or watery, use a colander with small holes that has been lined with cheesecloth in which to drain the pumpkin for about half an hour. Stir into the pumpkin puree 1 T. of grated Parmesan cheese, 2 T. olive oil, and add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Serve at room temperature with crackers, bread, and/or crudites.
The Great Pumpkin…an alcoholic beverage for Halloween: Combine the following: 2 cups orange juice, 2 cups sparkling water, 1/2 cup maraschino liqueur, 1/4 cup limoncello, and ice. Use black licorice as the garnishes/stir sticks/straws.
Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1853975
Amy has TONS of yummy pumpkin recipes! http://amysfinerthings.com/pumpkin-recipes
How to roast pumpkin seeds and the benefits of eating them! http://www.huliq.com/8059/87528/pumpkin-seeds-offer-great-health-benefits
Roasted Pumpkin Penne http://rachaelrayshow.com/food/recipes/roasted-pumpkin-penne-autumn-pesto/
Turtle Pumpkin Pie
1/4 cup + 2 T. caramel ice cream topping
1 graham cracker pie crust
1/2 cup + 2 T. chopped pecans
2 pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 8 oz. container Cool Whip
Directions: Drizzle the 1/4 cup caramel topping into the crust and sprinkle with 1/4 cups pecans. Whisk together the pudding mix, milk, pumpkin, and spices. Fold in 1 1/4 cups of the Cool Whip. Pour into the crust. Put this in the refrigerator for about an hour. Spoon on the remaining Cool Whip and garnish with the rest of the caramel topping, and nuts just prior to serving. Makes 8-10 servings. (From Kraft Foods and Katie Brown)
Pasta with Pumpkin Cream Sauce http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/recipes/madisons-pasta-pumpkin-cream-sauce/
Pumpkin Polenta with Grilled Veggies and Sausage http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/recipes/pumpkin-polenta-with-grilled-vegetables-and-sausage/
Pumpkin Tortellini Lasagna http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/recipes/pumpkin-tortellini-lasagna/
Steamed Pumpkin Pudding with Brown Sugar Sauce
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1/4 cup brandy or boiling water
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup salted softened butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. each ground ginger and nutmeg
Pinch each of ground cloves and salt
For the brown sugar sauce: 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, 2/3 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup salted butter
Directions: Soak the dates in the brandy/water for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight. Stir in the bread crumbs. In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar and then beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in the pumpkin. In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients and then stir that into the pumpkin mixture. Divide this batter evenly among 6 greased ramekins (3/4 cup size). Put a circle of parchment paper on the top of each pudding (yes you want to place it so it is making contact with the pudding). Cover each of them with a double thick piece of foil and press down to seal well. You want steam to be able to build up inside! You want to place a rack in your roasting pan and then place the puddings on top of that. Pour in enough boiling water to come up to the height of halfway up the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil and bring the water back to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the puddings comes out clean. Once you have removed the puddings from the roasting pan of water, take off the foil and parchment paper and let the puddings cool for about 10 minutes. Use a knife around the edges of each pudding to loosen it from the ramekin and turn them out onto serving plates. Note: These can be made ahead. At this point, you would let them cool thoroughly, wrap each individually, and refrigerate for up to a day ahead of time. They can then be reheated in the microwave at serving time.
To prepare the sauce: In a saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir this mixture until it’s smooth. Serve over or alongside the puddings.
Makes 6 servings
Recipe adapted from Canadian Living magazine
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Pumpkin http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/recipes/twice-baked-sweet-potatoes/
Frosted Pumpkin Cookies http://thirtyhandmadedays.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-do-i-follow-that.html
9 Creative Pumpkin Recipes http://green.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/10/pumpkin_recipe.php
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2009/10/pumpkin_pie_oatmeal.html
Chicken Potpie in a Pumpkin http://www.wearenotmartha.com/2009/10/chicken-potpie-in-a-pumpkin/
Pumpkin Honey Beer Quick Bread http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1854015
Pumpkin Cognac Cheesecake http://www.celebrations.com/content/Pumpkin-Cognac-Cheesecakes
Pumpkin Cranberry Cornbread http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2009/10/pumpkin_cranberry_cornbread.html