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Front Page - Friday, October 16, 2015

Smashing Pumpkins ...

Kay's Cooking Corner

Kay Bona

Although there is a band called Smashing Pumpkins, that’s not what I’m referring to in this week’s column. I’m thinking more along the lines of the British term, and decorating an awesome looking pumpkin door display. A smashing display of autumn!

As my husband and I were out and about in the city last week, I couldn’t help but notice the huge amount of autumn decorations in the stores and in the neighborhoods adorning the front porches and yards.

It’s not just about Halloween. It’s about the season of autumn: haystacks, corn stalks, decorative wreaths with brightly colored leaves, blow-up witches and pumpkins, and last but not least, real pumpkins.

Today, autumn is not about just one pumpkin on the doorstep to frighten away unwanted spirits, but several pumpkins, and a whole lot more. Painted pumpkins, pumpkins with flowers planted in them, pumpkins with warts, albino pumpkins, pumpkins placed alongside huge gourds, and lush mounds of brightly colored mums, and orange lights strung around the yard.

I’m not going to get into all the spooky decorations that adorn the yards. I passed one recently and decided the residents must not be planning on mowing their yard again this year because there was so much spookiness you couldn’t walk thru it.

When I was young, we had one pumpkin. All of the family gathered around the table and carved the messy thing as an afternoon or evening of entertainment. Then we would happily lug it to the doorstep, stick a candle inside of it, and mom or dad would light it. (That was the dangerous part, so it was left up to the adults.) We children would shout with joy and excitement, and laugh at the funny face we had made. All happy, and a great memory made! One pumpkin ... Things have definitely changed.

Now, you can buy pre-lit, pre-carved, foam-type pumpkins in any size and color, and if you’re as zealous (fanatical and crazy are two other good words) about pumpkins as one of my neighbors, you can buy two large, foam pumpkins for $150.00 each and place them by your front door. (No, I did not add too many zeros in that dollar amount.) She was also hoping her husband would not notice.

When my kids were home, it was different, as they always wanted to decorate, and we did; I would get each of them a pumpkin of their own to decorate. Now, when my grandbabies in town, we decorate too, with each of them getting their own pumpkin to carve.

If you’re itching to get into the excitement of decorating your front door, yard, and porch this year but don’t know where to start, check-out Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, and other such magazines. They’re loaded with ideas on how to decorate your house both inside and out. You can decorate to your heart’s content.

On the front page of Southern Living for October, I can’t imagine how much it would cost, or how long it took to put that display together, but it is beautiful. If you have tried, but still can’t get your porch looking quite like SL, then turn to the professionals. They’ll come to your home and do all the set-up, and maybe, if weather permits, your elegant display will last throughout fall and the time for Christmas lights, blow-up Santas, snowmen, bells, wreaths, lush decorated garlands, and huge red bows.

Well, with all this said, should you drive by my house this fall, you’ll find a few potted Mums, and one or two pumpkins, but not much more.

Should you have a pumpkin you’re planning to cook instead of decorating with, here’s a great recipe for some wonderful, tasty pumpkin muffins. A great treat on a cool autumn morning!

Pumpkin Muffins

3 1/2 cups self-rising flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup Canola oil

2 cups fresh pumpkin, pureed

1 cup pecans pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter muffin pan. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin, vanilla, eggs, oil, and sugar. Sift flour and cinnamon. Combine dry ingredients, and whisk until blended, but still slightly lumpy. Add pecans. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned.

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.