Sunday, 25 October 2020

Pumpkin Varieties

We've reached that point in the year when pumpkins start to fill the house; real ones, crochet ones, bread ones. It's not a Halloween thing, it's an autumn thing. I'm sure I've talked about Halloween here before; I've nothing against it, but it's not a holiday or tradition that I get excited about. Neither John or I celebrated it growing up so I'm not really very invested in it, and we have two children who never liked fancy dress. Also, I am shallow, and the aesthetics don't appeal - all that neon and witches hats and fake cobwebs.

But I do like pumpkins and squashes. I like the different varieties in the shops, the colour of their skins, their potential for cooking. Favourite recipes include:
  • pancakes (normal fluffy pancakes but with the addition of some pureed pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice)
  • baked risotto with squash, pancetta and pea 
  • roasted pumpkin or squash soup with coconut milk and some curry paste - I often add sweet potatoes and red pepper to this.
  • Roasted in chunks and eaten in a warm salad with bulgar wheat, pine nuts and feta cheese
I would like to make a pumpkin pie, a proper American style one, but I don't know if anyone would eat it apart from me.

Angus asked if he could carve a pumpkin this year. Given what a year it's been, I couldn't really think of a reason to say no, so we bought one and he spent ages scraping out the flesh (which I steamed in the microwave and then pureed and added to pancakes yesterday morning) and carefully pulling all the seeds away from the stringy bits. I showed him how to roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper. It was a lovely afternoon. We haven't actually started to carve the pumpkin yet - he ran out of steam a bit when he realised quite what an effort the whole thing was.

I experimented with my first pumpkin shaped loaf of sourdough. Baking sourdough loaves has been one of the few good things to come out of 2020 for me. I bake them weekly and am starting to get more of a feel for how they work. I might even pluck up the courage to make sourdough pizza or pancakes. For this loaf, you just tie string around the dough before it goes into the oven. The loaf rises around the string, creating the ridges, although this loaf didn't rise as impressively as the one I saw in the youtube video. (You can even add a bread stick for a stalk for extra pumpkin-y effect.)

My crochet pumpkins have come out of hibernation. They will get in the way of the remote control on the coffee table for another month at least before my thoughts turn to decorations more.....sparkly.

I finished my crochet socks and think they might be the most successful crochet sock pattern I've found yet, through my extensive research of three whole patterns. The diamond pattern gives them a nice tension up and down the foot so they hug really nicely when you put them on, plus they work up quite quickly.

I deliberately chose autumnal colours with yarn left over from this jumper.

I have already started another pair with other sock yarn scraps from leftover projects. This one is coming along nicely.

I tried a new recipe - chocolate and cardamon biscuits. They weren't overly sweet so I loved them but the kids less so. The leaf shapes were just to please me.

The sedum I picked from the garden a couple of weeks ago is still going strong. I need to spend some time out there this week - there are bulbs to be planted.

I have had the odd day at home over the last three weeks while I've been at university. I closeted myself away with my books and laptop up in the spare room, away from distractions, with this one for company. He's quite distracting. This stare very clearly meant "walk me".

Our local paths have been made extra pretty by the leaves falling all around us. I think the leaf colour has been extra bright this autumn - the result of a dry, warm summer perhaps?

The clocks went back last night. and it seemed earlier in the year than usual. I wasn't quite ready for it and my body clock has been a bit off all day. It's half past five now and quite dark. The fire is lit. John is cooking sausages and mash. Once I get my hands on the remote control, Midsomer Murders will be on the TV. Next week is half term and we have nothing particularly to do  - plans to see family and freinds have all been cancelled due to covid - although I do have an assignment to write and a few other jobs to do. But for now I am just enjoying the brief pause in the rushing about, time to appreciate autumn.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Conkers, crochet and cake

Good things that are keeping me grounded and positive at the moment:

Crochet. I feel like it's been a long time since we've chatted about crochet here, but there is lots going on in the background of my day to day life. 

I've just finished this blanket, a small one, for my mother-in-law and am now working on these socks for myself. I deliberately chose pumpkin colours.

Watching the sunrise from the kitchen window while I put the kettle on first thing on the morning. (Can you see the cat?)

Collecting conkers, an activity that never grows old and makes me feel so rooted in the season.

Between-the-showers walks with the kids and the dog.

Being in the woods, surrounded by all that beauty and that unmistakable smell of autumn that lingers in the air, earthy and smokey.

Tidying up the garden for winter, always the most satisfying of jobs.

Gathering offcuts into an autumn posy.

Moving around pictures and ornaments, refreshing corners, just enjoying being in our home.

The first fire of the autumn.

The first roast (beef, cooked by John, with all the trimmings).

Weekend kitchen pottering: banana chocolate loaf (I make this at least once a month, if not more), sourdough loaves, soup, chocolate biscuits.

Here in the south, we are lucky enough to be in the least strict lockdown area, meaning that we can still see friends and family, while shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes are open, and schools and universities too. This means that I've been able to attend university over the last couple of weeks (always wearing a mask) rather than learning remotely, for which I am hugely grateful. I feel for those living in stricter areas at the moment and am apprehensive for what the coming weeks will bring. I'm just trying to be mindful and enjoy each day as it comes, enjoy the season and the weather, get outside whenever possible and enjoy the time at home when I can't.