I spent Thursday and Friday morning in the school kitchens baking pumpkin bread for Barnesville's annual pumpkin festival. The Olney Friends School senior class sells the bread as a fund raiser for the senior class trip.
Every year, the largest pumpkin is crowned King Pumpkin. This year's pumpkin came in at more than 1,500 pounds. This is close to the world record for the largest pumpkin ever, which is 1,528 pounds. However, the Barnesville pumpkin festival allows gourds into the competition. The largest gourd on record weighs more than 1,800 pounds.
The new King Pumpkin is huge ... and flat.
While I was helping to bake pumpkin bread, I learned some other interesting facts:
Persimmons don't ripen until after the first frost. Interesting.
Don, the Olney farm manager, said he is having the Jonathan and Empire apples (hope I have those names right) made into apple butter. First you boil the apples down into apple sauce, then you boil them down even further, adding a lot of sugar (apple butter is apparently half sugar) until you have a nice smooth paste. The key is never to stop stirring with the paddle.
Jessica, our gardener, came in with a plastic bucket filled with giant kale leaves. They were as big as palm leaves and a vivid green. I couldn't over how huge they were. My baking partner, Richard, told me it was a good season for kale.
About half a dozen wild turkeys have been shredding Richard's kale and other vegetables. It's hard to shoot them, Don said.
It's been raining buckets today, but Roger and I still went to the book sale that the Barnesville Historical Society holds on Pumpkin festival weekend. Do we need MORE books? Not really. But at 10¢ for paperbacks and 20¢ for hardbacks, it's hard for us bibliophiles to resist.
With the rain pouring down, we've yet to stroll the fair proper, so no fried snickers bars to sooth our tastebuds ... so far.
I'm contemplating on taking over the role of Pumpkin King at Barnesville next year.
I looked at that 1500 pound pumpkin. And it is flat. What if I skipped all the hoity-toity concern over genetics and concentrated on making a giant pumpkin that was round instead of flat? It would be a shoe-in for the win, I think.
I thought about supporting the pumpkin hydrostatically as it grew in a fluid-filled tank, so gravity wouldn't flatten it. Then I said, no it would get mouldy. Then I thought, maybe support the pumpkin in a huge box of styrofoam peanuts to let it fill out symmetrically. No, styrofoam is too crushable.
I think I've got it now, though. I'm going to put the little pumpkin in a little abdominal truss, the kind they used to sell in Sears catalogs for hernias. Then as it grows, I'll use bigger and bigger trusses to spread the weight and maintain sphericity. Ultimately I'll have to make giant trusses to keep the giant pumpkin from exploding in a sort of giant vegetable hernia.
It may take a few tries, but I'm convinced the answer to really giant pumpkins lies in a synergistic melding of genetics and prosthetics.
Give up the persimmons, Diane, and let's take the Pumpkin Festival together next year. What do you say?
I'm there ... but now that we had frost, I think those darned persimmons are supposed to be ripe.
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