I have wonderful friends and they all know that I absolutely LOVE pumpkins! It’s a good thing that my birthday falls in the Fall. When my “big day” rolls around the special treats I receive all seem to revolve around pumpkins, Autumn, and Halloween ~ and I couldn’t be happier about that. Above is a special coffee cake (really more like an unbelievably rich and delicious regular cake, but since this celebration took place in the morning we justified it by calling it a ‘coffee cake’). This masterpiece was lovingly made by my friend Mary. It had two layers – lemon spice on the top and pumpkin spice on the bottom, with yummy frosting in between and all around. It was incredible! I wanted to share this photo with you because it not only brightened my birthday breakfast, but it has inspired me to create some more pumpkin art. Maybe a pumpkin cake? We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.
This image reminds me, however, that everyone has a crazy little obsession about something. For me it’s pumpkins. I love their color(s), the many varieties you can buy – from Ghost, to Sugar, to warty, to smooth, and their varied shapes and sizes. In every way the pumpkin is the most perfect vegetable in my book (next to the most perfect fruit – the apple, but that’s another blog post). My love for searching out fun pumpkin, Fall, and Halloween things to buy in the stores is what originally started my interest in Art Licensing and being an artist who creates art for products. I didn’t know at the time what Art Licensing was, that came later, but I knew that I could create images for products that would be attractive to buyers like me who shared the same love for this special time of year. Of course I don’t only create pumpkin and Fall themed art, but what that one obsession did was allow me to find my way into the Art Licensing world. All from a simple little pumpkin. :0)
As a special Pumpkin-time and October gift to you I’m including my ever-popular-with-my-family “Pumpkin Fondue” recipe. It is usually the meal I serve on October 1st and was inspired by my friend Hillary, who fixed it many Halloween moons ago. I hope you enjoy it. I also hope you have some fun buying a few, or maybe 35, pumpkins in the next few weeks! Happy Fall!
1 small pumpkin (about 10″ or 4 lb), hollowed, cleaned, and coated on the inside with canola oil
1 T – butter
2 T – flour
2 cloves garlic minced
8 oz. baby swiss cheese shredded
2 oz. mozzarella cheese shredded
1 pint half & half or milk (the half & half is richer but you can go lite with reg. milk)
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 t – kosher salt
1/2 t – ground pepper
1/2 t – nutmeg
French or Sourdough Bread, cubed – for dipping
In a medium pot melt 1 T of butter and add 2 T of flour to make a roux. Add garlic, and then milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir well. Cook on medium heat, slowly adding handfuls of cheese. When everything is melted stir in wine (if you want) and cook for a few minutes longer. *If you find that you need more liquid just add a little milk until it is a smooth but thick fondue consistency. Pour melted fondue inside prepared pumpkin. Put pumpkin lid back on top and wrap the entire pumpkin in aluminum foil. Place on a rimmed tray and put in oven. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour, or as long as you want until you’re ready to eat (if you go past 1 1/2 hours turn down the oven to 250 degrees). I like to bake it longer to get the smokey pumpkin flavor in the fondue.
When you’re ready to serve, unwrap the pumpkin and place it on a pretty plate and put in the center of your table. It will stay hot for the course of the meal (no candles required). Put out bowls of the cubed bread and enjoy!
* You can vary the cheeses if you want. I have been known to use gruyere cheese only, which is REALLY good. I just recommend you stick to the white cheeses because they seem to go best with the pumpkin.