Do you have a favorite fall tradition? Ours is a trip to the pumpkin patch. We set the date for our pumpkin patch visit a month in advance. Our friends begin asking in September when we are going so they can mark their calendars as well.
The Pumpkin Patch Tradition
We began this tradition when my oldest daughter was born. (She was about 6 weeks old in this picture.)
Each year has looked a little different, just as life looks different each year. That first year was a yard full of pumpkins at our church. The next year we found a commercial pumpkin patch with horse rides. Then we found our absolute favorite type of pumpkin patch…the field of pumpkins!
Several years later we were back to a commercial pumpkin patch because our second daughter was born premature and we couldn’t travel an hour to our favorite patch. Regardless of where we went we made the most of the experience and enjoyed the time together as a family.
Our pumpkin patch visits have always involved friends.
The Thrill of the Hunt
By far our favorite type of pumpkin patch is one where you pick your pumpkins straight from the vine. You never know what you will find hiding under the big leafy vines (including a mouse one year). It’s fun to walk through the fields searching for the perfect pumpkin. Be sure to wear jeans for the most pleasant experience!
When everyone is tired of walking, we have been known to drive up and down the lanes with someone watching out of the windows on each side of the car to make sure we didn’t miss anything awesome.
We always come home with an awesome load of pumpkins and often learn about a new variety. One year we discovered cushaw squash—delectable!
When you return home and your kids have seen a pumpkin patch first hand, a wonderful book to read is The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs. It’s a wonderful story about God’s love for us.
Time to Cook the Bounty
I didn’t realize I could cook up so much of what I brought home. I thought it was just for decoration. I was so pleased when I finally learned how to cook up the bounty, especially the cushaw squash! It is a delicacy in the south, akin to sweet potatoes.
Here are directions (and pictures) for peeling and cutting the cushaw squash. After cutting the squash into 1/2″ pieces, steam the squash until tender or bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.
Cut the pumpkin into manageable chunks. Scrape out the gooey insides (an ice cream scoop works well for this). Roast the seeds if desired. Place the pumpkin pieces into a crockpot with 3/4″ of water and cook on high for four hours or bake in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. When the pumpkin is finished cooking, allow it to cool until you can handle it. Scrape the pumpkin out of the rind and place in a food processor or high powered blender. Puree in small batches. I like to freeze the pumpkin in ice cube trays and 2 cup portions in Ziploc® bags. The ice cube size is approximately one ounce and is great for adding to a smoothie or a recipe calling for a small amount of pumpkin. The 2 cup portions are great for adding to chili and muffins. Pureed pumpkin will be slightly more liquid than canned pumpkin so you may need to adjust the amount of liquid in your recipes.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
My girls’ favorite pumpkin recipe is pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. They are delicious for a fall breakfast! And they freeze well…if you have leftovers.
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup honey
- 1 15 oz can pumpkin or 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup applesauce
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, honey, pumpkin, melted butter, and applesauce. Combine wet and dry ingredients. When well mixed, add chocolate chips. Scoop into greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
You can find more fall family fun inspiration from the Fall Family Favorites Series here.
Crystal Wagner’s goal is to inspire families to provide a generous and varied array of delights for the mind and soul. You can find her at Triumphant Learning.