Monday, September 28, 2009

It's NOT the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

I love fall... leaves changing colors, apples, scarecrows, cooler nights (and days - thank God), and pumpkins.

There are certain recipes that herald the start of fall around our house - goodies filled with yummy spices and aromas that conjure up thoughts of cozy nights, crisp cool air, and full warm tummies.

Now that October is almost here - I decided to break out the fall and Halloween decorations - and spent a few hours this weekend strategically placing garlands and bowls of fruit and pumpkins around our house.

I started burning my pumpkin spice candles, and changed our Wallflower plugs out for the appropriately named "Pumpkin" scent.

I pulled out my tried and true collection of recipes (some from books, some from magazines, some from random Internet searches) and carefully planned out our weekly meals based on dinners with a fall theme.

Anna and I discussed the options of baking our first pie of the season together - and collectively decided it should be pumpkin (but with no whipped cream on top - according to Anna.)

So with my organized shopping list in hand, I headed out to the grocery store, where I searched and searched and searched for canned pumpkin.

Canned fruit aisle? Nope.

Canned vegetable aisle? Nope.

Baking necessities aisle? Nope.

Certain not to need to ask for help I then perused the ends of every. single. aisle. in my neighborhood Publix - sure that there must be a seasonal display full of fall baking items - including my beloved canned pumpkin.


Finally, after about 2o minutes of taking laps around the store (seriously, I kid you not) I admitted defeat and flagged down the store manager.

As it turns out - something happened to the pumpkin crop last year - too much rain or not enough cold nights or who knows what (I'm not a farmer) - resulting in a shortage of canned pumpkin. No pumpkin is available in Columbia. I tried to sweet talk the manager - surely there must be a box of dusty canned pumpkin left over from last year's holiday rush somewhere in the underworld of the Publix kept private from regular consumers by the mythical swinging doors.




He said he hopes to get some in right before Thanksgiving - but the look on his face told me I'd better come up with some alternate plan for fall recipes.

I walked away with my head hung low.

No pumpkin pie. No pumpkin bread. No pumpkin muffins. No pumpkin pancakes.

I suppose if I were a more resourceful woman I'd have pumpkins growing in my yard that I could harvest, bake, puree' and have available for my suite of fall recipes.

But I'm not - and I have a black thumb - so the thought of me actually growing something that I could eat someday is ridiculous. I honestly don't even know what kind of pumpkin I'd look for to eat - because come on - the pumpkins I buy are for decorating and carving - and I've heard jack-o-lantern pumpkins don't make good eats.

So I'll keep on the lookout for 'pie' pumpkins, or 'sugar' pumpkins, or whatever those gourds are called that I can *maybe* turn into some holiday meals.

Until then, I'll just think about my pumpkin recipes, and leave you with one of our family favorites. If you can find canned pumpkin in your neck of the woods, try this one out - our family loves it - and think of me as I'm sadly tucking my pumpkin recipes back into the recipe box.

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Rachael Ray
4 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating


Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.

Monday, June 8, 2009


I'm over here now...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Preparations/Egg Hunts

Hunting eggs at the Blalock egg hunt.

Decorating eggs - first we dyed them, then we added stickers and colors.... and look what we created!

Easter 2009

Twas the night before Easter - and we got to put out yummy carrots for the Easter bunny!

Carrots - or perhaps drumsticks - or better yet, something to hit my sister on the head with...

Wow - the Easter Bunny brought a haul...

...but sure made a mess with his carrots!

He came! The Easter Bunny came!

Digging into our baskets with utter joy!

I love my new "Max" bunny!

Hmmmm... Peeps... what exactly are these little blue bunnies for??

Random Pictures

Why play with the blocks when I can sit in the bucket with my best bud Elmo?

Bedtime at the Long house - Daddy, A, and J - a few stuffed monkeys and lots of books!

Happy St. Patricks Day! (Really, they were happy kids - and had just enjoyed their St. Patty's day dinner of corned beef and cabbage - but you sure wouldn't know it from the mug shots they gave for this picture!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Catching Up

I haven't had much time to write - but now have oodles of time on my hands... long story short - I started having contractions Tuesday night - and am supposed to rest and keep my feet up. Who other than me thinks this is a great idea - but totally insane? Our house is already in shambles - can you imagine what will happen if I'm completely out of commission???

I have some meds to stop the contractions - they seem to be lessening the effects (not stopping all together) - but not as painful. I'm still 6 1/2 weeks from my due date - so it's a little early for this guy to make his appearance. I'm hoping and holding out for 37-38 weeks...

In other news - A is being a horrid-green-eyed-sassy-back talker little girl these days. Sometime in the last two weeks she figured out she can argue and talk back - and insists on getting the last word in. Which drives D and I crazy. I'm not sure why she continues the behavior - it never gets her anywhere - unless you count standing in the corner in time out or receiving spankings something fun.

J is acting out as well - just got a call from daycare that for the second time this week he bit a "friend" while they were playing. His teacher says he's been more whiney than usual - which we've witnessed at home - and playing rough. I think it's two things - 1) he's outgrown the toddler room and needs to move up to the 2's room as soon as space is available in the room with the teacher we want, and 2) he's seeing A act out and is following suite.

I think A's behavior stems from her realization that another baby is coming soon - J is just seeing her struggle and struggling himself.

In my professional opinion as a child psychiatrist, of course.... but as their mom - I can't see what other changes may be taking place in their little worlds that would precipate such a behavior change.

Keep your fingers crossed that D makes some significant progress on his nursery remodel - I need to get in the room so I can start washing/putting away baby stuff and getting ready. I think coming home armed with prescriptions to stop labor might have done the trick.

Oh, and in final news, I'm kicking you-know-what in my basketball.bracket this first round. I'm #1 out of 70 (male) participants. All those boys who harassed me about picking teams based on the color of their uniforms can stuff it where the sun don't shine! :) Of course, that will surely all change by the end of the weekend - I can pretty much depend on that.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jury Duty

Where I've been all...week...long...

Don't get me wrong, I'm fascinated to see our judicial system at work. I'm one of the wierdos who actually wanted to be selected for a trial.

I just didn't anticipate how tedious video depositions would be... or how long this would drag out... or how much of an inconvenience I would be since I have to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes...

I'm hoping and praying we get through closing arguments tomorrow so we can deliberate and reach a verdict...