Is it really October already? Most of people I know – myself included - are wondering where the summer went. While the nights have thankfully cooled a bit, so far the days remain warm enough for the last of the tomatoes and other warm-weather crops to keep us in salad fixings, with just enough coolness to keep cooler-weather veggies like kale and lettuce from bolting.
While many farmers’ markets have closed or are soon closing for the season, there are still some – including Western Springs, Naperville and Downers Grove, in the western suburbs as well as throughout Chicago - that will be open through most of October. Make time either this weekend or next to head out for the last of the fresh locally-grown produce and fall floral offerings as well as crafts, skin care and other home-grown goodies.
The pumpkin harvest so far looks great – the area had just enough rain coupled with warm temperatures to assure that the ‘Great Pumpkin’ of Peanuts© fame has plenty of company! The smaller pie (‘sugar’) pumpkins are especially abundant: one small/medium-sized (or about eight inches across) pumpkin should yield enough when cooked and mashed to make an 8-9 inch pie. If you want to try your hand at baking a ‘from-scratch’ pumpkin pie (and it’s so delicious and easy that I’m betting you’ll never want to use canned pumpkin again) I’m sharing a recipe given to me years ago by a farmers market friend. Give it a try!
Farmers Market Pumpkin Pie:
Pastry shell for 9” pie 1 ½ cups cooked /mashed or pureed pumpkin*
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
½ cups milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten 1
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
Preheat oven to 425°. Line a 9”pie pan with pastry. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Pour into the pastry lined pan and bake for 10 minutes then lower temperature to 300°and continue baking for about 45-60 minutes, until filling is firm. Cool and enjoy!
*Bake pumpkin by removing seeds and cutting pumpkin in half or quarters, if larger. Place face down in shallow pan in about 1/2 inch of water. Bake at 325 degrees for half an hour until shell softens. Scoop the pumpkin out of its shell, then strain and mash.
Last chance to get your Rennie on! If you plan to be in the central Wisconsin area the second weekend of October (12-13), it’s only fair to warn you that A Gathering of Rogues and Ruffians is arriving in New Glarus! This Renaissance-themed fair offers something for everyone: re-enactors, musicians and other performers, merchants selling fine crafts, jewelry, swords, toys, books and other collectibles, children’s activities, including knights-in-training, puppet shows and horseback rides and (of course) delicious food from an array of vendors!
Fried catfish, chicken and shrimp baskets, Cajun Red Beans and Rice, hush puppies, Southwestern-style fare, pickles and kettle corn are just a few of the delicious choices patrons will enjoy at the Fair. If you leave hungry – it’s your own fault. The Fair is held in Wilhelm Tell Grounds of historic New Glarus, WI, and at only $5 per person admission, is a deliciously entertaining bargain.