Life Cycle of a Pumpkin, or How I Ate Audrey’s Last Baby for Breakfast

It wasn’t too long ago that my favorite Uncle Fred was puzzling his FaceBook followers with photos of a mysterious volunteer plant on his compost pile.  What was first speculated to be a sweet potato plant or a weed, turned out to be a pumpkin vine.

But not just any pumpkin vine… a monstrous, overlord-of-the-neighborhood kind of vine that was quickly dubbed “Audrey”.  You know, “Feed me, Seymour!”

Most of us chuckled as the Accidental Gardener kept us updated on the illegal growth of the plant that soon covered at least 100 square feet.  Audrey’s “children” were given away one by one, until finally, I was awarded the last of her progeny – a good-sized pumpkin I could just get my arms around.

I buckled Junior into the backseat and away we went, destined for many slices of spicy, whipped-topped goodness ahead of us.  A day or two gracing my countertop – and more than a few amused smirks from my husband – had me rethinking exactly how many pies I thought I could eat.

So what do you do with an excess of fruit or vegetables?  You can it, of course!  I didn’t want just plain pumpkin puree, so I found a tasty-sounding recipe for pumpkin butter – which has a lot of uses in other recipes.  And now I can spend the rest of the year nibbling on pumpkin butter pie, pumpkin butter bread, or just pumpkin butter on my morning toast.

 Scooped Out Pumpkin  Baked, Peeled, & Quartered  Spiced & Simmered!
Finished Jars ofPumpkin Butter Nothing Goes to Waste…Spiced Pumpkin Juice!

Thanks to Audrey, and Uncle Fred, for a project that went from volunteer plant to Autumn harvest in a pint-size jar!

Big Bad Blurb

So, I’m asked to write a one-sentence blurb about myself for my almost-favorite editor to end an upcoming Cookery Column piece in The Ozarks Mountaineer Magazine.

Apple pie

Anyone that knows me, knows I hate describing myself.  When asked, I invariably panic and think, ‘I’m just a Mom, and when the kids are grown I have no idea what I’ll be called!’  Then I’m pressed to think about the highlights of my character or career that I can include.  It turns out, the things that are important to me, aren’t all that fascinating to the editor.  He wants a little down-home twist.

A friend suggests,

“The Martha Stewart of the Ozarks – without the prison record”.

English: Martha Stewart at the Vanity Fair par...

I send off my little drabble that I hope will satisfy the savage beast.  Here’s what I got back in revision:

“Karen Nelson is a member of (local writers group)..who weaves and gardens.”

Okay, I weave – a little – but certainly not on the scale of calling myself a practicing weaver.  “Fiber Artist” would more delicately catch all the pies I have my fingers in.

But GARDENS????  Sweet Zebras, if any of my family saw that, I’d be laughed into next week.  My husband plowed over the garden plot and let the ducks have it, just so I wouldn’t kill anything else that depends on photosynthesis to survive.  He still brings up the death of his one and only house plant in the first year of our marriage.  Eighteen years, and “Robert” is still a sore subject.

Granted, I buy my happy little flowers in their pre-potted state, and faithfully water them throughout the season, but I have failed every single year to get even one of them to last through winter.  (And that’s in my toasty house with lots of sunshine, soft music, and sweet nothings whispered in its ear.)

But I digress.  The point here is to have a little commercial about yourself prepared for any moment, because if you don’t, some imaginative editor who clearly missed his calling in the fiction world (you know I love you) will slap some description on you that could seriously damage your reputation.

Oh, Martha.  Help me.

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Now We’re Cookin’

Now We’re Cookin’

I’m so excited to be the new Ozarks’ Cookery columnist for The Ozarks Mountaineer Magazine!  Starting in the May/June edition, yours truly will be sharing some of the delectable delights that Ozark food enthusiasts enjoy.  Many thanks to the fabulous Faye Pfister for blazing a buttery trail of goodness these past several years!

English: Kitchen Euskara: Sukaldea

In the months to come, I’d be thrilled to get your column theme suggestions, recipe ideas, and recommendations for new cookery- and food-related books published by authors in the Ozarks.  (You can email me by clicking on the link to the right.)

Until the first column goes to print, however, let’s take a look at one of my personal favorites…

Idaho Baked Potato Soup


  • 3 bacon strips, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large baked Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Minced fresh parsley
  1. In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Set bacon aside. Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil and pepper; mix well. Gradually add broth. Bring to boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cream and hot pepper sauce; heat through but do not boil. Garnish with bacon, cheese and parsley.

Serves: 4-6         Prep Time: 30 minutes      Cook Time: 30 minutes


Find more Ozarks’ Cookery articles at The Ozarks Mountaineer Magazine