made by Daria Knowles
A week ago, I developed an intense, overwhelming desire – that would not be waylaid, no matter how I tried - to make pumpkin soup. And not just from any pumpkin. This soup had to be from a pumpkin that I had grown. Oh yes. It just had to be, my dream insisted.
However, I am presently out of home-grown pumpkins, since I am ‘in transit’ and my garden consists of an ever-expanding population of potted plants. My delightfully muscular friends who move me at a regular intervals will have to really go into training to lift this lot.
Now, from my extensive gardening experiments, I believe that pumpkins will not grow well in pots. So, I had not attempted this brave task. Therefore, no pumpkins nurtured along in preparation for this time of pumpkin need. Oh dear.
So I thought, hmm, maybe it’s the orange-ish, pumpkinish colour I want. Perhaps that will satisfy?
Therefore, I decided to make carrot cake. And yes, it was delicious, with that cream cheese slightly lemony icing, that my daughter finds so delicious. (For this, you mix together 125 g spreadable cream cheese, 5 tspns butter with about 1 tblspn hot water mixed into it, icing sugar, and lemon juice, to taste. Spread on carrot cake. Thickly, but not too thick.)
A consenting adult and I enjoyed great gluttony of that carrot cake with pretty cups of tea that afternoon, with the sun warming the back patio and Natasha the Wonder Cat reclining nearby, as she does so appealingly for approximately 22-and-a- half hours of each day. We ate so much, a two-hour walk at Sandgate barely touched the extra kilos!
But, no, still I needed pumpkin soup. With a pumpkin I had grown. This thought persisted into the next few days.
I had another try, at the colour orange. I decided to make salsa. Orange Capsicum Salsa.
I very lightly fried a small red salad onion and a chopped garlic clove. Meanwhile, I chopped finely 4 small red tomatoes, an orange capsicum, one small orange chilli, coriander, a tspn Marjoram. I mixed the fried onion & garlic with the rest of ingreds, added lime juice, salt and pepper. I left it for about 5 hours to achieve perfection, then ate it with some Rosemary bread of Friendship and Forgiveness made from a recipe found in “The Villa Della Luna”.
Did you know that according to plant lore, Marjoram will help induce feelings of happiness in women? I think that’s true, Inhale the slightly sweetish smell of marjoram and feel a smile. And what of herbs to induce happiness for men? I’d love readers to tell me of their knowledge of this.
Oh yes! The Salsa was yummy, too. And a nice contrast to the carrot cake, which had left me no longing at all, for cake, for I suspect, a long time. At least next Sunday.
But, still, I thought of Pumpkin Soup. And GROWING PUMPKINS. Yes, this had now achieved Italicised Capital Letter status.
Now, for those of you who’ve just today joined my blog, and maybe haven’t (yet) read my first 2 posts…. as a Therapeutic gardener, I use gardening activities as a means of addressing the needs of people I work with. I may also use the garden as an allegory, a metaphor, when the time is right (stories of that for future blogs).
So if someone really, really wants to grow pumpkins, I would be wondering why. I would perhaps ask “Why do you need pumpkins?” And quite often, after a question like this, a story or thought that is quite telling, emerges. It may revolve around their garden history – past, present or even future. The garden is a place that can encourage a person, even someone who’s reticent, to tell, sometimes indirectly, sometimes surprisingly directly, of a need that exists. Garden allegories can be a safe way to speak.
So I wondered - why my need, my passion for Pumpkins? I thought of their velvety golden flowers. I remembered the strange other-worldly smell of pumpkin leaves. Their soft prickliness. I thought of their dusty and persistent pollen. Their spreading adventurous nature.
I thought of walking along the foreshore of Sandgate after the huge and destructive Floods of early this 2011, seeing smashed furniture, wrecked water tanks, remains of boats ripped from their moorings in Brisbane, and Pumpkins! Whole Pumpkins. I felt sorry for the farmer who had lost a whole crop, but astonished that they were intact, save for a few small dents. Are pumpkins the toughest vegetable on earth?
I remembered pumpkin vines past. My Clermont Grandmothers paddocks with pumpkin vines and paddy melons. Searching among the vines for pumpkins. What excitement when we found one, with withered stalk, ready to pick! My mothers pumpkin vines. My Brisbane grandmothers pumpkin vines. Pumpkin vines I had when my daughter was a little girl. Gosh! A considerable Pumpkin History.
And then, suddenly, there it was. An unhappy pumpkin memory. Of a pumpkin vine that grew in my garden in Brisbane 4-ish years ago. It was gorgeous, climbing, twining, making its way forth energetically, happily. It had flowers. Then I came home and it was gone. Murdered. Such sadness. My partner decided it was untidy, unnecessary. It did not fit his obsessive need for absolute control in our garden. I hung in a while longer, but after I left him, I’ve been somewhat itinerant for a few years. I had a pleasant interlude where I house-sat a house-and-yard-full of plants (over a thousand I believe) for a friend who owned a plant hire business. But itinerant I have felt, for some time.
So what my need for pumpkins told me is that I long to find and create my own home again. A place where with family, friends, a lover, I can sit at little decrepit tables, drink Pinot grigio, or eat carrot cake, surrounded by wild pumpkin vines, purple and yellow passionfruit, ground apple, sweet potatoes, and maybe rescued battery hens, garden quirkily, grow the things I need and love. And then I will have - the pumpkins!
And did I make soup, after this epiphany? Yes, I did. I bought pumpkin and made Pumpkin Soup with Roasted Hazelnuts, my invented recipe. I invited Gordon, we ate it with grainy bread while watching the little mystery birds in the Honey Gem Grevillea in the back yard. While Natasha snoozed.
Perhaps you’ll be your own therapist, wander into your own garden, look around and ask yourself, ‘What do I need in my garden? What’s happening here?’ Please feel free to share your garden epiphany …..
Pumpkin Soup with roasted hazelnuts.
Lightly roast 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Saute an onion and a garlic clove in olive oil in a saucepan. When onion is soft, add chopped pumpkin, couple florets cauliflower, grated medium carrot, some marjoram, paprika, soya sauce, ( I used about 4 tablespoons), a little salt, pepper, enough water so water level is about 2 inches over the level of veges, and a very small sprinkle of star anise. Cook til all veges soft. Let cool a little. Blend til a grainy texture. Heat and eat.
I keep a container of cinnamon sticks beside my computer. When I need to refocus, sharpen my attention, I take off the lid and deeply inhale its mysterious scent.
Natasha, the Wonder Cat snoozing.
“Lilith’s Love Potion Number Eleven-and-a-Half”
I’m loving my bespoke perfume – and so are my dancing partners, hence the name I invented – created by Brisbane perfumier Margi Macdonald. She told me, ‘I thought of you dancing the quickstep, of the colour red, of vivacity. I danced as I mixed Tuberose, Guiacwood from Paraquay, coco, lime, and more. A deep, dark tone emerged, and then I added Vanilla to return the sweetness. ‘
Its gorgeous. Complex. Surprising. An alchemy of dark woody Places, rose scented smoke, almost-sweet citrus, velvet. And made entirely of natural ingredients. Margi can be found at blogsite Some Energy Thing.