Pumpkins and the Best Thanksgiving Letter Ever

Gardening is not really my thing. I want it to be – I like to cook and love the idea of growing my own food, and visions of working the soil in the sun and bringing in the harvest under a fall sky appeal to me.

And I’ve tried. Really, I have.

Window planters of rosemary and thyme grow in my kitchen, although that doesn’t count as actual gardening, I think, and at least once in my past I attempted the large sort of fruit and vegetable garden I’ve come to idealize. However, abstract concepts and visions are one thing, while my reality is another: gardening is mind-numbingly dull. I lack the temperament for it, I guess, because while planting and picking out seeds aren’t bad, I just can’t motivate myself to “thin” (whatever that is) or “prep beds for the winter” or, you know, “cultivate.”


Pumpkins. Pumpkins are easy. So far, here’s what I’ve figured out: if your soil is halfway decent and the ground doesn’t get too wet and your plot gets good sun, you can sort of just throw some pumpkin seeds in the ground and, with almost no effort, watch them turn into a thriving patch. Also an important discovery? Pumpkin vines cover so much ground and feature such giant leaves that you don’t have to weed.

It’s pretty much that easy. However, since I’m sure dumb luck, the green thumbs and composted garden plot of the previous people who lived here, and the rainiest spring/summer in recent Denver history all played a role in my recent pumpkin success, you probably want to ignore this. Instead, go read some actual gardening literature if you want to try a patch of your own next year and don’t already know how.

Anyway, I love pumpkin and it’s good for you and it’s easy to cook with and it’s seasonal right in time for flu season and so now I have 20 sugar pumpkins’ worth of roasted puree stored in my freezer for the future.

Try this best pumpkin bread recipe ever. Seriously, it’s that good. Just remember to cut the sugar down because the recipe calls for way too much, as you’ll see from the comments.

Pumpkin puree in soup: also awesome. It adds richness and extra vitamins without fat, and pumpkin is so mellow you can usually throw in a little puree with no major flavor change. There are lots of actual pumpkin soup recipes out there, too.

Or have you ever tried this? Make the filling for pumpkin pie, only pour it into a casserole dish and bake without the crust. Then it becomes pumpkin custard, and you can even use egg whites instead of whole eggs to make it healthier.

More ways to use pumpkin:

All kinds of pumpkin recipes at Epicurious.com.

Pumpkin pie oatmeal – clever idea, though I haven’t tried it.

This post was inspired by the U.S. Thanksgiving, coming up on November 26. Thanksgiving also generated the following famously hilarious letter from “Marney,” which I first read on Awkward Family Photos but originally comes from Back to San Diego.

Do you have that one really particular family member? The one who treats hosting duties for special occasions like some sort of holiday boot camp, insisting that everything be EXACTLY THE WAY HE/SHE WANTS IT?

No, no you don’t. Not compared to this lady, who sent out potluck Thanksgiving assignments to her guests last year in a very, very detailed letter, and of course – of course – that means it ended up on the Internet. Here’s an excerpt:

15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.

Yes, the whole letter is like that. Please go read it and then give thanks that you’re not eating there this year.

7 responses to “Pumpkins and the Best Thanksgiving Letter Ever”

  1. Michelle says:

    I tried Pumpkins one year. They took over my yard and I only got one damn itty bitty punkin. It was beautiful and tasted yummy, but all of his little brothers and sisters perished as flowers due to some sort of fungus. Too wet that year (2005?), I guess.
    The biggest lesson I’ve learned about gardening, not being an expert or anywhere near proficient, is that you really have to invest in what grows well in your area. Never try to force your garden to grow tomatoes (ahem…I’ve finally resigned myself) if you don’t have a hell of a lot of sun, for example. Looks like pumpkins work well in your area, at least this year, so I would go with that. And, I will be trying some of those ideas.

    And a word or two about that letter – Holy Crap! I would NEVER go there if I had to follow those directions. I would be the last one on the list where she noted “I don’t know why I send this, she never listens…” Yeah, that would be me.

  2. Amy says:

    I think my favorite is the ice cream passage–no generics! Get the Haagen-Dazs! (but no pressure), lol. Then again, the intro is golden, too. So much to love in this letter, and I totally think I’d show up with a pack of lunchmeat and a case of Nat Light.

    I do think pumpkins work well here b/c of the semi-arid climate. An actual gardener told me pumpkins and melons like to sit on dry ground–NOT a problem here.

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