A few of my long-time blog followers came to my cooking class last month. Sometime during the afternoon, they asked if they could peek into my china cupboard, and mentioned how they miss my regular posts so much. Since I have been a little caught up in all my various projects, I have been blogging less frequently. For some reason I hadn’t really thought about my posts being missed…but suddenly, I realized I have a sort of an obligation to continue to blog, and maybe soon vlog, and in any case to share what I see and what I am doing. So as I wrap up a few other projects, I will try to also blog a little more often.
I am always thinking to seasons ahead. In June & July, I am thinking of Fall. By August, I know what I want and need for Christmas. Each year is a little different, each year has a different inspiration, and of course, nothing is possible unless you can find, make or grow just what you want to see. The pumpkin offerings vary from year to year, and it pays to have a wide variety of sources. I sometimes grow pumpkins and squash at home from French seeds, but it’s become easier to find them through local farms and suppliers. Yesterday I made the trek to Lavender Hill Farm in beautiful Fallbrook, San Diego. The field is sloping, trimmed by lavender and herbs, and you can gather pumpkins in the wheelbarrows on hand, and also cut some others.
The drive to Fallbrook was really the official kick-off for the fall decorating season. Our temperatures have cooled off just a little, and it doesn’t feel like New England, but nonetheless it is Fall, and we all want out homes to reflect the season. I started planning several weeks ago, when I planted various heirloom pumpkin seeds in various containers. Here are a few sprouts, a few weeks old.
I spent the weekend making the rounds to the first offerings of pumpkins and squash. Some from Lavender Hill, and my favorite farms, shops, grocery store and farmers markets, and some from Trader Joe’s. Today, I began to pull together various elements, organized in a stack of vintage crates.
This year, I am going for mostly green and white. With a little planning, this will transition from Fall to Thanksgiving to Christmas and into the new year. For my own home, the orange Turban squash will be made into soup tureens before Christmas; others will become soup when I am looking for a meal on hand. The green pumpkins will all be fine for several months as long as they are not in the full sun. For now, they look seasonal and inviting, though this is not their final arrangement.
The sprouted pumpkins will continue to grow over the next month, through Thanksgiving….they will provide green color and a context for the pumpkins. Though everyone can see most of the pumpkins are cut, the vines will be fresh and young and beautiful around them, not to mention it’s going to be fun to watch them grow over the next few weeks.
And of course, it’s that hunt for variety and novelty that is so much fun during this season. I love this one, with a long stem that I cut, and a large, exaggerated, ribbed side. I think the color will change, but I love it now.
I will add to my collection each week, and some of the new ones will go to friends and clients. Pumpkins are not equal, and I look for those which are perfectly imperfect, with character, with life…
A trio of a small white pumpkin which I cut with a long stem, a mini-turban and a buttercup squash all sit together. These will be made into soup or crostini, after we have enjoyed their shapes and form.
Sometimes it’s the markings that attract me; this year I love this green and white variety. There are several other varieties I have not seen, like Marina di Chiogga, and I have not been to Chino Farm and I have not bought my first slice of Fairtale or Musquee de Provence from Don at the Corona del Mar farmers market. Oh there are so many great weeks of Fall ahead of us!!
And as you select your favorites, don’t forget the stems. I look for unusual and long stems. You might see a stem, but I see a handle of a small soup tureen for dinner for four, with chunky Herbes de Provence croutons. We will make these in our cooking class in a few weeks.
This variety has a super thick stem; I wish they would have left it longer, but it’s still beautiful like this~
If you go to the pumpkin farms, you can cut your own, like this small green. The colors often change as the pumpkin matures. I wonder what color it will become??
My pumpkins this year are mixed in with terra cotta pots filled with herbs and white impatiens. Only white. This week I will add paperwhite bulbs in to these pots, and the pots will transition through Halloween, Thanksgiving, and early December, when more pots of paperwhites will be added to the mix.
So far, this is a very modest haul. But it’s a start. It helps that I have made friends with one of the guys at Trader Joe’s and I got some primo pumpkins. The best ones go fast! Shop often!
I have the entry done up with cornstalks, which my family hates, truly, but it’s for my dinner party guests. I am saving the reveal of the finished install for the party guests, so you will see it on the blogs later in October…
Inside the house, I collect various gourds and squash that are prime soup tureens or amazingly sculptural, like this one. My dining room alcove will also hold a pretty display for my dinner party guests, you will see in a few weeks.
This gourd is from Trader Joe’s, snatched by me before it went out for sale. It is perfectly shaped, large, perfectly colored, sits up straight and has a nice long stem attached. Maybe not Pumpkin Lotto, but it’s a major score. I love the striped green next to the random patchy green.
So, keep your eyes out for the best pumpkins, gourds and squash you can this season! I have not mentioned the other varieties that I buy to eat, but we’ll talk about that next time. For now, get some Fall décor going, please!!