Pumpkins and Poetry

My great-grandma, Dixie Lee Gabbard, enjoyed writing poetry throughout her life. Many years ago, my grandma worked with others in the family to publish a collection of her poems in a little booklet, “By-Paths By Dixie Foot-log and Other Poems.” Before these were published in this booklet, some of the poems were read on a radio program on KGRH in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and one of them was published in a newspaper in California.

A couple of years ago, when I was processing a pumpkin for freezing the pulp for pies and pumpkin bread throughout the year, I decided I’d try planting some of the seeds since some had already begun to sprout inside the pumpkin.

I was disappointed when nothing sprouted after about 7 days and I stopped watering and checking the seeds. But around the 2 week mark, I visited my little plot of dirt and was astonished to see a great number of little seedlings pushing up the earth. I couldn’t bear to throw away any little plants, so I transplanted them, and took many little seedlings to church to share with my friends.

My little pumpkin seedlings ready to share

I kept a couple plants for myself, but they soon became too big for the area I had to work with and I had to give up on them. But, my friend shared her seedlings with her grandchildren, and they enjoyed great success with their plants.

A proud pumpkin-grower

The children were thrilled with the results of their efforts when the time came to process their pumpkins.

Processing the Pumpkin Pulp

Many, many pies could be made with all the pumpkin they produced. They also had fun carving some.

More Pumpkin Fun

I became known to the children as “Grandma’s Pumpkin Friend.”

This experience of multiplied fun with pumpkins reminded me of one of my great-grandma’s poems, “Growing.”

GROWING

Last fall, a neighbor gave to us
A pumpkin from his field
When he had gathered in his crop
And counted up his yield.

Now when I cooked that pumpkin
I tossed both peel and seeds
Quite thoughtlessly and carelessly
Into a patch of weeds.

We gave the shell to children
To enjoy on Hallow e’en
And shared the pulp with neighbors
For tasty cuisine.

And so this fall imagine
Our delight and great surprise
To find three nice ripe pumpkins there
And each of ample size.

Here’s proof a friendly gesture,
Kind word, or even food
Can grow, produce and multiply
And do a world of good!

My great-grandma’s poem reminds me of these verses:

Galatians 6:9-10, NASB

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

This year, I’m trying to prepare for the busy cooking time of the year in advance. I noticed that my sister-in-law, Amy, from whom I received the original gluten-filled pumpkin bread recipe, often freezes breads in advance to make meal preparation easier during busy times. I’ve frozen our pumpkin bread recipe before, too, and was satisfied with the results, so this year, I’m beginning to prepare now for the busy months ahead. For the recipe for Amy’s Pumpkin Bread, see page 108 of A Recipe for Survival.

The bread remains moist even after freezing as long as very little air is in the packaging with the bread.

Our favorite gluten-free pumpkin bread

I started with my full-sized loaves and cut them into smaller portions that would work for a 1-2 day supply for Brody’s lunches.

Wrapping up tasty pumpkin bread

I wrapped the bread in BPA-free press ‘n’ seal and then aluminum foil, and then sealed it in a zip-loc bag to ensure that the foil would not be unwrapped due to the shuffling that occurs in our freezer as we rummage for different items.

Ready for freezing pumpkin bread!

Now we can enjoy fresh-tasting bread over a longer period of time!

What’s in a Name? And Queen Mary’s Salmon

For our 5th wedding anniversary, we enjoyed a couple of nights aboard the Queen Mary. Below is the photo I took of the booklet the hotel provided for our room keys.

Our room key holder

For one of our meals, I enjoyed the maple-flavored salmon dish.

Our 5th Wedding AnniversaryWhen we returned home, I decided to replicate it. Here’s the photo of my version, along with my recipe. 🙂 Brody likes to add black beans as a side dish to any meal, and the steamed broccoli and rice are often seen in a supporting role since for time’s sake, we like to prepare a large batch to keep in the fridge for snacks and sides.

Queen Mary's Salmon

Queen Mary’s Salmon

butter

1 pound of salmon

salt

black pepper

thyme

dill weed

1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup (The last time I made this, I used so little, I think it’s actually negligible… unless you have an extreme sweet tooth, you’ll like the dish just fine with very little or no maple syrup.)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1. Cut the salmon into serving-sized pieces.

2. Melt the butter in a skillet.

3. Sprinkle the fillets with the herbs.

4. Cook the salmon on medium heat for about 3 minutes.

5. Flip over the fillets and add the syrup and lemon juice.

6. Cook for approximately 3 more minutes. The salmon is done when the meat pulls apart easily, the meat is opaque and the juices are milky.

7. The skin comes off very easily after cooking, so I stopped removing the skin before cooking it. Now we just remove it as we eat. Here is a resource of tips for grilling seafood – some of these ideas translate well into pan-cooking, too. For additional tips, here is another site.

So, what’s in a name? I named the above dish based on our good memories of our 5th wedding anniversary trip. I’ve wondered from time to time how some items for sale in grocery stores came to be called “food.” This is especially interesting to me when I consider the conversations I’ve had with various people.

Some quote I Timothy 4:1-5 as reason to eat anything and everything.  True, these verses reinforce what Jesus taught in Matthew 15; that is, eating certain things does not defile us. Rather, the evil that comes from our hearts and proceeds out of our mouths defiles us. Based on these and other passages throughout the New Testament, we know that we do not need to apply to ourselves the dietary restrictions from the Old Covenant between God and the nation of Israel.

But, I do not think that I Timothy 4:1-5 extends God’s blessing to anything that someone has called “food.” For example, I could blend cardboard with water and spread the resulting mush on a cookie sheet and sprinkle sand on it. Simply labeling it “food,” does not mean that the concoction is nourishing. And I do not believe that such a mixture is included in the endorsement of I Timothy 4:4.

So, what to do? It’s biblical not to pass judgment on anyone for what he eats or doesn’t eat. While the topic is slightly different, we can find some principles to guide our thinking in Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8.

Romans 14 specifically is addressing a situation in which believers had differing views on eating meat which had been sacrificed to idols. Some believers could not eat meat without thinking about the pagan rituals and sacrifices which they had renounced. For them, their conscience was bothered by eating meat. So, for them, it was better not to eat meat. Other believers could eat meat without being uncomfortable at all since they no longer made the connection between eating meat and the idol sacrifices.

The Apostle Paul addressed this topic in I Corinthians 8 as well. He concluded both passages in the same way… if a person’s conscience is bothered by eating meat which was sacrificed to an idol, he should not eat meat. And if a person’s conscience is not bothered by eating meat sacrificed to an idol, then he can enjoy eating meat. But, he should be careful not to eat meat in front of others who may follow his example and then feel as if they had partaken of idol worship by eating the meat of the sacrifice. And neither the meat-eaters nor the non-meat-eaters should pass judgement on the other group.

So based on these principles, no one should pass judgment on others for what they eat or don’t eat. One of the verses my college Sunday School class memorized was Romans 14:17 “… for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” So, I am aware that I should not evaluate someone’s life as being sinful based on what he or she eats.

But, I wonder if some of our Christian brothers and sisters would benefit from considering why they eat what they eat. For example, there have been times in my life that I have eaten for emotional comfort. The result of this, coupled with a lack of self-control, led to a significant gain in weight for me. If I struggle with a lack of self-control, I can ask God for help in overcoming that sin. And I can take comfort in the knowledge that Christ has already conquered that sin along with all other sins I struggle with.

If I eat for emotional comfort, I wonder why I’m turning to food instead of to God’s Word in times of sorrow or disappointment. According to Psalm 19, God’s Word is sweeter than honey, so why not pick up the Bible when I feel as if I need encouragement?

And if a believer is experiencing food-related health challenges, and refuses to change what or how much he/she eats, perhaps eating certain things or eating in a certain way has become a god to that person. That brother or sister in the Lord may benefit spiritually from praying for wisdom regarding his/her views of food. And making some changes in how he/she eats may result in some physical benefits as well.