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October 16, 2017
The Joy of Pumpkins!
Pumpkins really do bring me joy. Not just a little happiness but genuine joy. They are an iconic symbol of fall, one of my favorite seasons. I delight in the first sighting of pumpkins, from a glimpse of orange in expansive fields to small roadside farm stands with honor-system payment boxes to the piles in markets to featured pumpkin specialties on menus. Miniature, enormous, warty, smooth, orange, white, or green, pumpkins are unique and some people will go to great lengths searching for just the right one – just ask my very patient husband.
My love of pumpkins started as a kid when my first fond memory of this orange orb was smiling jack-o-lanterns in October which signaled time for costumes and candy. Lots of candy! Then came November, bringing the joy of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving Day dessert. As one of many pumpkin-loving adults in the world, I look forward fresh homemade pumpkin pie, but I’m quite sure that as a kid, the mounds of whipped cream was the most appealing part of this fall dessert.
As a Lancaster transplant, I’ve recently learned that this county is a pumpkin-lover’s dream world where over 3,000,000 pumpkins are grown each year, making Lancaster one of the top ten pumpkin producing counties in the nation! Through the years, I’ve consumed my share of pumpkin ice cream, pies, cakes, donuts, muffins, scones, and lattes, but now it’s time to explore the perennial popular pumpkin — Lancaster style — through my love of craft cocktails, fresh local food, art, and adventure.
If you are a connoisseur of craft cocktails or are simply under the spell of autumn and enamored with all things pumpkin, try the pumpkin sangria at Belvedere Inn for the tantalizing taste of fall in each sip. To create this favorite fall cocktail, bartender Devin Gilfillan starts with fresh roasted pumpkin blended with fall spices and then combines this compote with Remy 1738, Woodford Reserve, Pinot Grigio, and a splash of ginger beer. He’s created a fall-themed drink that will give pumpkin lovers one more reason to call autumn their favorite season.
Located in Central Market, Buona Tavola offers a variety of fresh pasta and sauces each week. But Ada Stoltzfoos’ fresh, ready-to-cook pumpkin pasta is only available October – December. Customers enjoy Ada’s homemade pumpkin pasta so much that they often encourage her to offer this seasonal favorite year-round.
Using pumpkins from local farm markets as her inspiration, artist Cindy Schlosser has been celebrating fall by creating colorful pumpkins on wooden bowls and panels for over 15 years, but recently she’s started sharing her joy of painting pumpkins by offering painting workshops. A few spaces are open for her next pumpkin painting session on November 19, where participants will definitely learn a lot about painting, will leave with a beautiful pumpkin painted bowl, and will experience Cindy’s joy-filled laughter.
My love of learning and of local history led me to a recent adventure: attending my first Regional History Colloquium at LancasterHistory.org to hear University of Delaware Professor Cindy Ott discuss her book Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon. Just when I’d started pondering why pumpkins and pumpkin-spiced everything have become so popular in recent years, LancasterHistory.org provided the answers and county pumpkin data through this fascinating presentation. If you want to learn about the curious history of the pumpkin and why Americans are so obsessed, this comprehensive, informative book is available in the Museum Store. Also, go online for LancasterHistory.org’s schedule of upcoming free lectures.