Thursday, September 29, 2016

Punkin assumptions

There seem to be fewer and fewer people around who realize that the food they purchase from the supermarket actually existed before it magically appeared on the shelf.

"It comes from farms, right? Yeah. Farms."

Which is pretty much the same as saying it comes from the "country."


I'm just now harvesting pumpkins from my garden. Most people I know (not all, but most) are pretty sure that pumpkins are for making Jack O'lanterns. And that to get pumpkin pie, you put punkins in one end of Mrs. Smith's factory and, after magic, you pick up frozen pumpkin pies from the other side.

The really hep, cool, and smart folks know that you can make a scratch pumpkin pie at home, using canned pumpkin. See, the punkins go in one end of the IGA factory and, after magic, you pick up canned pumpkin from the other side.

Of course it's not quite that bad. Not quite.

But give most folks a four pound pumpkin and ask them to make something with it, and 999 times out of a thousand you'll get a Jack O'lantern. And at least 10 lawsuits because the dumb bunnies cut their thumbs off.


Pumpkin Gratin

One pie pumpkin 
Two large eggs
One cup heavy cream
One-half pound bulk breakfast sausage
3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Quarter, seed and peel the pumpkin. Don't cut off your thumb. Place the peeled pumpkin under plastic wrap in a glass casserole and microwave on high for 15 minutes. Let cool.

While the pumpkin is cooking/cooling, crumble and brown the sausage.

When the pumpkin has cooled, transfer it to a large mixing bowl and mash it with a potato masher. You can use a food processor, but why would you?

You need one pound, or 16 ounces, of pumpkin for this recipe. The pumpkin I used today yielded 50 ounces. So I weighed out 16 ounces and put the remaining 34 ounces in a freezer bag in the freezer. It'll keep in there until spring.

To the 16 ounces of pumpkin add the eggs and cream and mix well with a rubber spatula.

Add the sausage, mix, add the Swiss, mix.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour into greased 1.5-2 quart casserole.

Top with shredded Parmesan and a bit more pepper.

Bake uncovered at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

Not the worst thing I've ever made.


Many, many years ago, when I was in Pensacola attending Aviation Medical Technician (AVT) "C" School, a Chief taught us the perils of making assumptions and shared a neat, simple blackboard trick to help us remember.

"When you assume something," he said, writing out the word on the blackboard (I told you it was a long time ago).

"You make an ASS (slash) out of U (slash) and ME.

ASS / U / ME

That little lesson, one that I suspect countless NCO's have shared with countless juniors over the years, has stayed with me.

It's not that the Chief fixed me, and that from that sunny, winter day in Lower Alabama, I was never again so dumb as to make assumptions. Oh no. I make unsupported and ill-conceived assumptions ALL. THE. FUCKING. TIME.

But thanks to the Chief (I've long since forgotten his name, but do recall that George Dickel was his rocket fuel of choice), and to a little thing that Plato said Socrates said, and to the message set out in documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and to experience and practice and the long, hard road of contemplation and objective self-assessment, I'm no longer a slave to pure emotion and mob-think. These days I'm aware of what a wobbly foundation an assumption is, and I try really hard to avoid making reflexive and unfounded judgments, and when I make them, I work really hard at unfucking myself. It's become a habit.

One thing that really, really irks me is when people hear or read things which never appeared in my spoken or written words. They make an assumption that what I'm really writing or saying is something else entirely. Man, that pisses me off.

And what pisses me off even more is that I get pissed off about it.

A long, long time ago another Chief pointed out to me that when we get pissed at the behavior of another, it's usually because their behavior mirrors an aspect of our own behavior which we do not like at all.

But... I never, ever read or hear stuff that isn't present in the spoken and written words of others!

Except of course, when I do.

Now go make something out of a pumpkin.


  1. I would go make something out of a pumpkin but I can barely boil water.

    Actually I attempted cooking on a semi-regular basis many moons ago when the young 'uns were but wee bairns. All was fine until one day I burned the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. The kids, for some reason, still remember that.

    I never did get back on that horse...

    1. Boiling water is actually pretty tricky. Start with something easy, like Beef Wellington, and work your way up. As for burned mashed potatoes (I remember that post!), just add beer. To the cook. :)

  2. That recipe looks like has potential. Sort of a punkin Shepherd's Pie.

    1. It's quick and easy, particularly if you use magic canned pumpkin. More of a savoury side dish than a main course, goes quite well with roast fowl.