Having realised that hubby was not going to be able to partake of his usual diet this year I started to process the pumpkins for storage slightly earlier than usual and managed to freeze all those that were left, which was quite a few, in January.

By the end of the week I had fifty 500 gram bags of gently roasted sweet pumpkin in my freezer. Which is slightly daunting! But then if I use one a week, it’s a years worth and if I try to occasionally use two a week, I should just about finish them before our next crop.

The pumpkins I choose to grow are a lovely culinary variety called Crown Prince, so far, every other pumpkin I have tried has paled into insignificance compared to the sweet taste of this fine example. Pumpkins are packed full of vitamins and minerals, are low in calories and high in fibre and their bright orange colour means they are packed full of beta carotene which is a powerful antioxidant. A power house of a vegetable that just happens to satisfy and taste good and is equally happy in sweet and savoury dishes. Is there anything more versatile?

So there has been a little more experimenting this year.

There have been souffles which were then twice baked, with a spinach base and cream sauce.

There was a lovely recipe passed onto me by Noelle, Corn Bread with Leeks and Feta by Diana Henry. Which came just at the right time as I had roast pumpkin in the fridge and leeks freshly dug from the allotment. I didn’t have the feta but a lovely selection of cheeses looking for a job to do. It was absolutely delicious and one I must make again very soon.

Pumpkin scones have been made and enjoyed, recipe from Soup, Broth and Bread by Rachel Allen.

There have been pastry rolls stuffed with a pumpkin, chestnut and stilton filling ready for drinks and snacking over Christmas. They went down very well.

There have been many pumpkin and potato topped cottage pies, which are so tasty. I think Dad enjoys the novelty value of an orange topped pie.

Along the way there have been many roasts and soups, pasta and rice dishes but tonight (which was the inspiration of this particular post) I realised I had hit the ultimate with a two course pumpkin meal.

Firstly, I made a version of a humous which was homegrown dried runner beans along with home grown haricot beans (in their bean format – I grow white beaned runners) soaked for 24 hours and then cooked until nicely soft, made into a humous with peanut butter (having not found the tahini, but any port in a storm) good olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic, cumin, hot smoked paprika and water to slacken with a generous amount of flakey sea salt. It was very good.

Then generously applied to some home made sour dough that had been toasted, with a dusting of more hot smoked paprika and a spritz of lemon along with some toms and cucumbers to munch alongside.

Which was followed by a piece of my first ever pumpkin pie. Hubby thinks I’ve made a pumpkin pie before but I can’t remember it. This pastry case was baked blind before filling and I used evaporated milk as that is what I had to hand. Basically it is made like an egg custard with the addition of good amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin. Dad really wasn’t sure when hubby took him some, but then really enjoyed it – I knew he would.

So that is the end of my culinary pumpkin adventure. Well, not the end, I’ve only got about 30 bags to go!

Belated Mother’s Day Feasting.

I really hadn’t realised it had been so long until Noelle popped a little message through, thank you Noelle. After much navel gazing i’ve decided that the only way forward is to record all the best bits and we are just going to ignore all the gritty stuff. Agreed?

Soo, Son no.1 was tied up looking around Bristol Mother’s Day weekend, as he has a fabulous new job to go to. I’m gutted. But he assures me it is mostly working from home and he is not intending to move just yet. So the weekend after he came on Sunday to help with the rotovating up the plot and to shift some muck from the bottom of the track. I had intended to go and help do some pricking out of the cabbages, but it was too cold for me, only 4 c, so I stayed at home and cooked.

Firstly I slow roasted a joint of beef that had really been in the freezer for too long and was a little past its best, so roasted with an inch of water in a cast iron pot with its lid on in the oven and sure enough, it became tender under the long and gentle moist heat. I allowed it to cool before slicing wanting it to form the centre piece of a long lunch and to have the option of a dressing that I make which involves coriander leaves, chilli, garlic, fresh ginger, soy, sesame oil, black rice vinegar, a little sugar and a spritz of lime. If that doesn’t wake the beef up, I don’t know what will.

And that was all of the plan that I had, the boys went off up to the plot and I then just pottered. Pulling ingredients out from here and there, thinking what would go and what wouldn’t. You have to also bear in mind I hadn’t been shopping for over a week.

A day and a half ago I had started to soak some home grown haricot beans. So I cooked those off and gave them a salad dressing of french mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and dried mixed herbs. At the same time I started off some rosemary focaccia, made with my own dried rosemary, this time with a commercial yeast for speed.

I found a butternut squash in my fridge and prepared that and put it in the oven for roasting along with some lovely red peppers.

Son no.1 had called earlier from the supermarket as he was on the way over and asked if there was anything I wanted so I requested some salad leaves and cherry tomatoes.

And as I looked at all my dishes I thought maybe a little crunch was needed so I quickly sliced a lovely sweet Spanish onion and dressed it with a little red wine vinegar and sugar.

My thoughts then turned to pudding. And I knew we still had a rather large stash of blackcurrants from the summer. They are my favourite of all fruit and I guard them with my life, lest they end up in hubby’s porridge during winter. So I quickly put together a crumble topping with almond and that could be put into the oven just as I was serving lunch.

By that time nearly two hours had passed and just as I was pulling the rosemary focaccia out of the oven and basting the butternut squash for its last twenty minutes the boys were back home, pink faced and happy with their work. Just enough time for hubby to nip to the shops for some good vanilla ice cream.

And may I say, it made a delightful plateful.

And the blackcurrant crumble.

In all its blackcurranty stickiness

was sublime.

And to while away my morning with I had the company of these most gorgeous flowers, which have really brightened my mood. They are really so beautiful. Carefully chosen by son no.1

After such a lovely lunch we chatted away all afternoon, until it was time for our son to leave. Needless to say I packed him up with a tasty supper and hearty lunch for the next day, carefully hiding the leftover blackcurrant crumble at the back of the fridge!

It was such a lovely afternoon, one I will treasure always.