Despite the government shut down, the blog continues.

Anyway, I’m totally digging this weather.  This week, according to current weather reports, will remain consistently autumnal with the threat of our first frost occurring over the weekend.  I am buzzing with excitement over the reassurance that Summer has withered and died under its own oppressive humidity and Fall has dug its heels in.  In just a few weeks, we’ll be turning the clocks back.  I have mixed emotions about this, but I’m mostly just happy to have an extra hour of sleep.  Ahhh, the joys of Fall.

Did you know that Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins?  Weird, right?  I mean sure, Illinois is mostly farmland when you escape the confines of suburbia, but I never would have guessed we grow the most pumpkins.  Perhaps that’s something they’ll add to the tagline for the state, “Land of Lincoln and Pumpkins” or “Land of Lincoln, Home of the Democratic Machine and Festive Gourds.”  I don’t know.  It’s kind of nice to be known for something other than dirty politics, high taxes, and icky weather.  Oh wait, that’s Chicago.  Not indicative of the entire state.

With that being said, I have some tips on picking the perfect pumpkin.

  • Look for a pumpkin that has a 1-2″ stem.  Pumpkins without stems tend not to last very long.
  • Never carry a pumpkin by its stem.
  • Look for a pumpkin with a relatively flat bottom.  Not only will it stand upright, but it should be easier to carve.
  • Avoid pumpkins with holes, scars, or dents as they will decay quickly.
  • Lighter colored pumpkins are easier to carve as the skin isn’t as tough as darker colored pumpkins; however, lighter colored pumpkins tend to decay faster.
  • If you’re not going to carve your pumpkin right away, keep it in a cool place, away from direct sunlight.
  • Once the pumpkin is carved, use vegetable oil or petroleum jelly to coat the cuts. This will help the pumpkin last longer and maintain the integrity of the carvings.
  • If possible, opt for battery operated tea lights as opposed to candles.  The heat from candles will cook the pumpkin, and not in a good way.

We’d love to see your pumpkin handiwork and creativity.  Please send photos as we’d love to share!

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”

– Jim Davis

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney

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