2018-10-11 / From The Garden

It’s Pumpkin Picking Time

By Cynthia Gibson

Knucklehead pumpkin Knucklehead pumpkin There is a nip in the air, but thankfully no frost yet on the pumpkins. Halloween is around the corner, so there are costumes to organize, cupcakes to bake for school parties and pumpkins to carve. Picking the perfect pumpkin is always the most fun.

The best pumpkins don’t last long, so it’s decision time. Going to the pumpkin patch is great fun, and once you arrive you may see some rather odd and strange looking pumpkins and squashes that make wonderful ghoulish lanterns. Maybe this year’s Jack-o’-Lantern should be made from a huge Blue Hubbard squash? Why not? Cut off the bottom to make it sit upright and you’re ready to carve.

The warty pumpkins that are so gnarly and unusual make perfect candidates for a different sort of carved monster. These pumpkins go under the name of “Gargoyle,” “Knuckle-Head” and “Goosebumps.” A face carved from these pumpkins is guaranteed to give trick-or-treaters their share of goosebumps.

Pick your own pumpkins at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown thru Oct. Pick your own pumpkins at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown thru Oct. It took hybridizers more than 10 years to create this Frankenstein like pumpkin. They look diseased, but that is part of their ghoulish charm. They weigh 12 to 16 pounds, and once carved make quite a statement. Perhaps even more amazing is that these lumpy, bumpy pumpkins are just as edible as their smooth-skinned cousins.

There are also many white pumpkins available this October. They are perfect to be carved like a skull. How spooky is that?

The simplest designs are sometimes the most charming. I still love the triangle-shaped eyes and nose along with a few scraggly teeth. Consider adding carved arched eyebrows to make your Jack O’ Lantern look devilish.

Once the carving is finished, it is time for a Halloween treat. How about a simple pumpkin cupcake? They are easy to bake and are delicious with cream cheese frosting. Any goblin in the making or a goblin pro would love one of these bewitching treats.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Makes 12 cupcakes or one 10-inch round cake

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients until smooth, using a whisk. Line a cupcake tin with Halloween paper cups and fill with batter until three-quarters full.

Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes; testing with a toothpick or skewer after 18 minutes of baking. As soon as the toothpick comes out clean remove from the oven. Place on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cream Cheese Icing

1 lb. (4 cups) powdered sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, soft, at room temperature
1 8-oz. package of cream cheese at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Hand fold all ingredients together with a spatula until moist. Using an electric hand mixer, mix until icing is smooth. Cover bowl, place covered in refrigerator for 15 minutes. When cool, ice cupcakes. Devilishly good!

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