Posts tagged: fall

Pumpkins

By , November 11, 2011 6:07 pm

It’s fall and a perfect time to study pumpkins!

First I read the class Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson and Shmuel Thaler, a lovely book about the life-cycle of a pumpkin.  The photos in this book are gorgeous.  We talked about the circularity of life.

Next I cut open a pumpkin at school and had the children identify the rind, the pulp, the stem, and the seeds.  We then made little Montessori “Parts of the Pumpkin” books.

I explained to the children that we would not waste our pumpkin and we would be eating the pulp and the seeds.  Several of them seemed somewhat aghast at the prospect.

I roasted the seeds in the oven at school so the children could enjoy the lovely smell and hopefully be more encouraged to try them!  Only one child out of a class of twenty-five did not wish to try one, and of all those who tried, only two did not clamor for seconds and thirds.  This was a huge hit!

I took the rest of the pumpkin home and made pumpkin bread with the pulp.  That will be going to school tomorrow and I think all will enjoy it.

In the interest of scientific research we put some of the pulp and a few seeds in a tightly sealed jar.  I labeled it with the date and placed it on the science shelf.  I asked the children to predict what, if anything, would happen to it.  A few predict it will stay exactly the same forever.  A few said it would grow mold.  I told them to inspect it every day to see for themselves.

(Next year we might try this clever version of the decaying pumpkin experiment!)

We also cut the top of a second pumpkin and filled it with dirt.  We watered it and set it in a sunny window to see if the seeds would grow.  I’ll report back on the results.

NOTE (added March 4, 2012):  This turned out wonderfully!  Please see the next post, What We’ve Been Up To for details and a photo of it now!

I dyed some pumpkin seeds red, orange, yellow, and green and set them out in bowls on a tray with some black construction paper.  They have been making pictures and designs with them.

Finally, I put this simple pumpkin color-by-number on the shelf along with a laminated completed one to use as a guide.   It has been popular.

(Oh, and we also painted pumpkins at our school’s annual Fall Festival!!)

 

Sources

Growing in Pre K – Post: Pumpkins

 

Recipes

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS -

Rinse the seeds thoroughly and remove all pulp and strings.  Spread them out and let them dry on paper towels.  Put in the seeds in a bowl and add just a TEENY TINY bit of olive oil to make the seasonings stick (not too much, or they will be greasy).  Toss to coat them in oil, then add seasonings and toss again.  I use Jim Baldridge’s Secret Seasoning (yum!) but you can use anything you like, even just salt.  Some people do cinnamon and sugar, however I like mine savory and have never tried this.  Spread them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Try to spread evenly so very few overlap.  Bake in a 250 degree (Farenheit) oven (this is fairly low heat for those who do not use Farenheit).  Check them after 45 minutes, but they might take an hour to an hour and a half at this temperature to be done.  They are done when crispy seeming and crunch loudly when bitten.  NOTE: They might not brown much, but as long as they crunch, that is OK!

PUMPKIN BREAD -

Ingredients :

  • 1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher (ie. course) salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup plus 1 and 1/2  tablespoons canned, unsweetened pumpkin (or fresh pumpkin pulp that has been boiled, or roasted in water and removed from the skin)
  • 1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Farenheit, a medium setting for those who do not use Farenheit).  Grease and flour an 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan.  Sift together first 5 ingredients then stir in kosher salt.  Combine sugar, oil, and pumpkin in a large bowl.  Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add egg, beating until well-blended.  Gradually add dry ingredients, beating at low speed until blended.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake for about 1 hour and 5 minutes or until loaf is golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (NOTE – I start checking on it early.  It will be dry if you over-bake.)  Let cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fall

By , October 8, 2009 9:23 am

Fall is here again. The air is cooler, the light whiter, the maple that I planted last year for some fall color is doing its job well. What little monsoon rain we had this summer (hardly any) is now gone for good and I am watering with a hose to keep things alive until the first snow.

The husky perfume of green chilis tumbling in their roaster fills the air outside of our little local grocery. Pumpkins are appearing everywhere, as are spooky decorations from early and eager Halloweeners.

The now frosty night air smells of pinyon and cedar smoke. The stars shine brighter and the Milky Way is visible between the tall pines like a sparkling river.

The children are eager for snow and skiing and the imminent winter closure of the golf course behind our house. This vast expanse will become their winter playground for nature exploring, chilly hikes followed by hot chocolate, sledding, snowmen, and frisbee games with the dog.

Although not a natural baker, even I begin to dream of pumpkin bread, muffins and homemade caraway rolls.

Can you tell that fall is my favorite season?

Fall…

By , October 23, 2008 11:13 am

Fall is here in the Arizona mountains.  The cool morning air smells faintly of piñon smoke left over from evening fires.

The chili roaster is tumbling down at the little local grocery, producing baskets of lovely, soft charred green chilis.

Ponderosa Pines are beginning to shed some brown needles and fields are brimming with bright yellow wildflowers.

Maximilian Sunflowers line the roadways.  They are tall this year which means, according to local legend, that our snow piles will be tall too.

Squirrels are getting busier as they rush off with peanuts and sunflower seeds to hide away for the winter.

The Humming Birds have left, and the Robins. Even the golfers are leaving, along with the thousands of people who spend their summers here in our mountain paradise to escape the scorching desert heat.

Peaceful silence will descend upon our town as we hardy year-round residents retreat from our porches, gardens, and decks and take to our homes in preparation for winter snow.

Fall…

By , October 14, 2007 9:30 am

Today I offer you this lovely fall photo from a nearby hike, courtesy of Wishy’s husband.

(Yes the sky here really is that color sometimes)

I Love Where I Live

By , October 8, 2007 12:29 pm

This weekend made me realize why I love where I live. Colder temperatures have driven most of the summer people back to Phoenix and Tucson and our little mountain community is settling back down to its normal, peaceful atmosphere.

Saturday was quite cold and extremely windy, but people bundled up and sat on the curb of our main street to watch the annual “Nutty for Nature” parade. It was so cold that honestly, if I had not had two children in the parade, I would never have considered leaving my warm house at 8AM to sit on the curb in the wind. But, motherly duties forced me out of my snug den and onto the chilly street. Much to my surprise, it was an uplifting experience.

My children’s small Montessori school had a “float” in the parade. The “float” was entirely designed and constructed by the students. I use the term “float” loosely, since we are not talking Rose Bowl quality floral here, but rather flatbed truck and bales of hay, but you get the idea.

The children were all vibrating with excited anticipation at the idea of riding on a “float” in a real parade. Surprisingly, judging by the large turnout, people were actually in attendance who did not even have children in the parade! Joy was in the fall air as the firefighters and floats filled with happy children drove by waving and laughing. Even the inevitable Shriners on their funny motorcycles were a hit with the crowd.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement, Sunday was “free ski pass for kids day” at the local ski area. Kids bring a can of food to donate to needy families, recite one rule (by heart) from the “Skiers’ Code,” and they can get a free season’s ski pass, worth hundreds of dollars.

It was a perfect fall day. Still cold, but the wind had disappeared. After getting our ski passes, we took a lift ride to the top of the mountain. We glided silently up through massive stands of aspen trees which glowed bright yellow against an impossibly blue sky. The air became chillier and chillier as we approached the top of the mountain.

Upon leaving the lift at the summit, it felt like being on the very top of the world. The clear dry Arizona air allows for a view that must be at least 80 miles in every direction. Not a sign of human habitation is visible in that view. Simply mountains and plains stretching out forever.

What I learned (or relearned) this weekend:

- I love living in a town where people cheerfully brave cold, windy weather simply to wave at excited children driving by on pickup trucks filled with hay and handmade cardboard cutout animals.

- I love it that I can stand on a mountain on a beautiful fall day and admire a stunning view of nature that remains unchanged by humans.

- I love where I live!

PS. I spent all day Sunday kicking myself for having forgotten to bring my camera, so these great photos are courtesy of my good friend Wishy‘s husband. Thanks Wishy‘s hubby!

This view is similar to what we see from the top of the ski mountain, but the ski view is much higher up:

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