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Posts Tagged ‘pumpkins’

dessert blogging: no bake pumpkin cheesecake

pumpkin cheesecake

This is the filling. I don’t have a pic of it in the actual pie shell, but that doesn’t matter. I just wanted to get the recipe out here in case you were looking for something quick, easy and delicious to make for tomorrow.

This recipe written by my friend Josh:

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake (it rhymes, see what I did there?)

1 9" premade graham cracker pie crust (fuck it, make your own if you want, but I’m way too lazy)
1 lb cream cheese that you’ve let come to room temperature
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/3 c sugar
2 t lemon juice
1 1/2 c (12 oz) pumpkin pie mix

I’m going easy this week. Seriously. This pie is so awesome and no one needs to know how easy it really is. In a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and the sugar. Beat these two together for a couple of minutes, until the cream cheese is light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and stir to incorporate. When that’s all mixed in, add the cream and beat till the mixture is nice and stiff (huhuhuhuh, I said stiff).

Take a quarter or so of the mixture, and put it to one side. Add the pumpkin pie mix to the remaining 3/4 of the batter. In the pie crust, add the plain batter and tap the pan lightly on the counter. This will even out the batter and get rid of any air bubbles. GENTLY pour the pumpkin batter on top of that, and do the tap trick again. This creates a nice multi-layered effect. Put this in the fridge overnight to let it set, and you’re done.

——–

The recipe made more filling than I needed. So I proceeded to eat the remains with a spoon. It was delicious.

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pumpkins and legends

ps pumpkins

We went pumpkin picking yesterday (why yes, you cans see more of my pumpkin pictures here, thanks for asking). Which really wasn’t so much pumpkin picking as surveying a piece of church property where about 2,000 pumpkins had been placed. So while we didn’t pick the pumpkins off the vine, we did pick out our pumpkins. Which, I suppose, is pumpkin picking, in a way.

It’s getting pretty close to Halloween and it finally feels like it outside. It’s time for sweatshirts during the day and a fierce determination to NOT turn on the heat at night. It’s time for raking leaves and baking apple pies and making pumpkin soup. And it’s time for some Halloween stories and urban legends.

I love a scary story. I especially love when I’m told a scary story by someone who completely believes that story is true. And at the end of their tale, when they are waiting for me to gasp in horror, I just roll my eyes and tell them to go to snopes. Really, the look of disappointment on their face is entertaining.
“So you mean no kid was abducted and had his organs cut out and replaced with sheep organs and was sold on the black market to the president of a well known police organization for use as sacrifice to Satan?”
“No.”
“Damn.”

Being disappointed because your story about a child being tortured isn’t true? Idiot. And I know. You heard it from your cousin whose best friend’s brother’s math teacher knows the uncle of the baseball coach of the kid who was kidnapped. Impeccable sources there, buddy.

I think I’m such a skeptic now because I was fed such bullshit when I was a kid. Every scary, creepy or shocking story ever told to me turned out to be a sack of lies. It’s not that I wanted it to be true that earwigs crawled in some lady’s head and had a million babies in her brain, I was just pissed that these people lied to me. They told me they knew someone who knew someone who saw this shit happen. Or who lived next door to where it happened. So not only did I believe them (why would my babysitter lie to me?) but I passed these stories on to other people. I put my reputation on the line because I thought Bubble Yum was really made of spider legs. Bastards.

But hey, most of these stories are still around. And people are still believing them. That’s why I get seven emails a day from my mother warning me about some thing that has been debunked 500 times already. “Mom. Dad told us that when I was like seven. And I found out it wasn’t true when I was ten. Get with the times.” Just because “oven” has been changed to “microwave” and “the kids from Life cereal” has been replaced by “the kid from Wonder Years” doesn’t mean they are any truer than they were back in the 70’s.

One of my other favorite legends isn’t creepy or scary at all. Just funny in retrospect. It has to do with Rod Stewart, Elton John, a stomach pump and a gallon of sperm. But I’m sure you have heard some variation on that. So here’s my favorite urban legend:

A couple goes out during the day for whatever reason, and hires a neighbor to watch their baby. The neighbor is a young, dirty hippie who has a young, dirty hippie boyfriend. They tell the hippie couple, “hey, think you could throw this turkey in the oven for us at 4:00? kthnxbye.” And they go out. And the dirty hippie teenagers smoke some of that evil wacky weed and get really, really stoned. At 4:00 they remember about the turkey and put it in the oven.

Later, the couple comes home. Smells something cooking. But hey, what’s this? Why is the raw turkey still on the counter? What’s that cooking in the oven? And why does it smell so much like burning……………OHMYGOD THE HIPPIES COOKED MY BABY!

Yea. They put the baby in the oven.

I don’t know about you, but I never in my life smoked pot that was so powerful that I would mistake a baby for a turkey. However, having been only about ten when I heard this and still two years away from my first taste of Columbian Gold, I was amazed not at the fact that the baby was cooked alive, but that pot could do that to you. I said as much to my babysitter, who had told me the story. She sighed. Shook her head. “Little one. The moral of this story has nothing to do with the way marijuana can take over your brain. It’s about hippies. Dirty hippies who take drugs and say things like ‘fuck the establishment, man.’ You can’t trust them. Hippies are evil and will eat your children.”

“But, they didn’t eat the kid.”
“They would have. If those parents hadn’t come home, they would have had roast baby for dinner.”
“So…hippies are cannibals?”
“Well….let’s just say that people under the influence of marijuana get very hungry at times and will eat just about anything you put in front of them.”
“Oh, like when your boyfriend ate the frozen hot dogs last time you were here.”
“Go to bed.”

So what’s your favorite? Which urban legends gave you a bit of a scare when you were a kid? Or still scares you. The guy with the hook? The couple who ran out of gas? The mysterious hitchhiker? Richard Gere’s gerbils?

Oh, and when you go to bed tonight, check your pillow for earwigs before you sleep.

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a halloween short story

Some fiction for the holiday.

GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS

When the first pumpkins rose up, small and more brown than orange, Mr. Engle ripped them from their vines and handed them out to the neighborhood children. They simply laughed and threw them in the streets, more gestures aimed at ridiculing him. They squished the gifted pumpkins with bicycle tires and baseball bats and skateboards and soon the heavy tires of Explorers and Navigators laden with snotty babies and soccer equipment rode over the remnants of the pumpkins, plastering the seeds and skin into the pavement where they became an All You Can Eat Buffet for seagulls and crows.

He had offered the pumpkins as a Welcome-Wagon gift in reverse, thinking that giving a piece of himself, his garden, his babies, to the neighborhood kids would finally make him welcome. He eyed the mess in the road and realized otherwise.

Mr. Engle stalked back into his house, saying nothing to the ungrateful children who stood around watching the birds peck at the pumpkin guts, muttering rude nicknames for him under their breath.

Soon, the bigger pumpkins arrived, shapely and large and a proper shade of orange. The parents of the ungrateful little slobs walked past the house during their power strides around the block and complimented Mr. Engle on how large, how orange his pumpkins were.

One evening Mrs. Vallone stopped mid gait and gawked at the monstrous pumpkins rising from the garden like fall moons.

“That is quite a lovely pumpkin patch you have there.”
“Mmhmm” Mr. Engle refused to engage in conversation with a woman who could raise such a beast as Stan Vallone.
“They would really make excellent carving pumpkins,” she said, in the form of a request phrased as a nonchalant sentence. Mr. Engle wasn’t stupid. He knew what she was getting at.
“Well, Mrs. Vallone, I already handed out pumpkins and your son saw fit to smash his in the street and ride his skateboard through the innards.”
“Oh come on, now. Mr. Engle. Those weren’t good pumpkins. They were runts.”
“The point is,” he said, ignoring her insult, “they were a gift from me and they smashed them right in front of me.”
“Oh, Jesusmaryjoseph, get over it. A gift.” She rolled her eyes.
Mr. Engle turned to her and said “Your son and his friends are snotty little prigs, Mrs. Vallone. And I can see the rotten apples do not fall far from the tree.”
Mrs. Vallone gasped a bit and as her mouth hung open, waiting for her brain to fire off the correct indignant verbiage, Mr. Engle stalked away into his sunroom, slamming the screen door behind him. The thin walls of the room shuddered and Mrs. Vallone stood by the pumpkin patch a moment before she stuck up her middle finger at the space where Mr. Engle berated her.

“You know what?” she said to nobody in particular. “Fuck him.” She bent down and pulled the largest, smoothest, orangest pumpkin off of its vine. She scanned the street and looked toward Mr. Engle’s sunroom to make sure no one had seen her and then she trotted down Williams Court, balancing the pumpkin on her hip like a weighty laundry basket, smug in her vindictiveness.

She had intended to carve the pumpkin, even gave thought to carving a likeness of Mr. Engle’s face into it, but the thing was so huge, so perfect that Mrs. Vallone, ever the happy homemaker, decided to bake a delicious pumpkin pie. No, no..not even a pumpkin pie. Pumpkin muffins, so all of Stan’s little friends could surreptitiously share in the bounty of Mr. Engle’s gardening skills.

As Mrs. Vallone was happily buzzing around her kitchen in her little checkered apron lining up the baking soda and flour and cinnamon and leveling off the brown sugar, Mr. Engle was standing in his garden in the very spot where a rather large and rather orange pumpkin once lay. He was befuddled, flummoxed and, after doing a sort of math theorem in his head having to do with pumpkins and Mrs. Vallone, enraged.

Mr. Engle was not the sort to let his rage get the better of him. He simmered and stewed and stroked his scraggly gray beard for an inordinate amount of time, standing right there in the garden, the sun slowly sinking, and it was not until the darkest of sunset shadows was cast over the shallow imprint of where his missing pumpkin once was that Mr. Engle did a slow walk back through his yard, into the sunroom and down, down, down the winding, splintered steps into his workshop.

“Best cupcakes EVER, mom!”
“Totally, Mrs. V. I don’t even like pumpkin and these taste amazing.”

Mrs. Vallone beamed a thousand watt smile across her kitchen at the boys.
“What’s your secret, Mrs. V?”
Should she tell them? Oh, how could she not?
“The secret, boys, is Mr. Engle.” She put her hand up nervously to her mouth like a dainty woman about to let loose a forbidden word. “I stole the pumpkin from him!” She nearly giggled.

The boys howled with laughter and lined up to smack a high-five into Mrs. V’s manicured hand.
“Way to go, mom.”
“Yea, way to give it back to that old creep, Mrs.V.”
“Fuck, yea,” said Mrs. V., and the boys nodded approvingly.

—-

Stan Vallone woke at 1am with a need, a desire to see Mr. Engle’s pumpkins. There was no rhyme nor reason to his need, it just was. He rose out of bed, slipped into his sweatshirt and headed down the stairs and out the door. Four minutes later, his mother, struck by the same sudden need, also walked out the door. In the street they met Kevin and Ryan and Brad and a couple of other kids, all with vapid smiles and dazed eyes. Kevin said, “Nice muffins, Mrs. V.,” and the others mumbled the same.

They walked like a troop of sleepwalkers, Mrs. Vallone their yawning, lumbering den mother, until they came to the corner of Williams and Forest, where Mr. Engle’s house and yard filled the expanse of the curve. They each, without knowing why or questioning their own motives, straddled over the wood post fence and tromped across the lawn toward the pumpkin patch. And one by one they filed right into the patch, each boy, and then Mrs. V., digging their heels into a spot in the ground, burrowing their feet in the damp soil.

As the minutes and hours wore on, they became a bizarre garden of flesh and bone, vines trailing up and around their legs, their skin becoming like vinyl, soft and lumpy and orange, their faces contorting until they disappeared completely, just rounded lines forming up and down around their heads. And all the while they could think and breathe and see and hear. They could not move, they could not scream, they could not escape the fate that Mr. Engle had set them on. They could only stand and witness what was happening to each other. They could only glance – while their eyes could still see – and see skin turning orange and legs entwining with leaves and feel the pain of transformation, a pain that Mr. Engle probably could have lessened but chose not to.

Mr. Engle stood silently in the sunroom, watching through the screen door. He waited while the moon moved through thin clouds, shedding odd light and shadows upon the planted humans. He waited while a light rain fell, while the clouds moved, while the moon waned, and he didn’t move from his perched place at the door until the last of Mrs. Vallone’s face was obscured by a thick skin of pumpkin flesh.

He pulled the boys from the patch first, so Mrs. Vallone could watch each boy being ripped from the ground and dragged into the house. He saved Stan for last and for a brief moment held him upright in front of the Mrs. V. pumpkin and then chided himself for gloating, for wasting valuable time. When the boys were all dragged down to the workroom, Mr. Engle came back for Mrs. V., and whispered to her in a sing-song fashion as he slid her across the lawn, into the sunroom and down, down, down the stairs.

“Do you like Halloween, Mrs. Vallone, do you?”
Clunk, her body went on the stairs
“It’s my favorite holiday.”
Clunk
“I love to decorate.”
Clunk
“Especially with pumpkins.”
Clunk
“Lovely, lovely pumpkins.”
Clunk
“You know what I like? Scarecrows with pumpkin heads! That’s just spooky, don’t you think, Mrs. Vallone?”
Clunk

Finally, Mrs. V. was heaved onto the pile of pumpkin boys, all the while screaming inside her head, Nononononononononooooooooo, but unheard by anyone but herself.

—–

“Don’t you just love Halloween, Mr. Roberts?” Mr. Engle was standing on his porch, talking to the postman.
“I do, Mr. Engle. I love the weather, the atmosphere. It’s a great time of year.”

He handed Mr. Engle a few bills and the latest copy of People. “And I just love those pumpkin heads on your scarecrows!” He looked over toward Mr. Engle’s garden, where a row of small scarecrows and one larger one hung on makeshift crosses, each with a pumpkin head, each head with a face carved into a frozen grimace of horror and pain. “That ought to scare the bejesus out of the obnoxious boys around here.”

“Oh, yes,” said Mr. Engle. “I’m sure.”

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