Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The River of Life

The bounty and beauty of autumn.

Celebrate nature by doing this simple daily ritual: collect natural things you love and arrange them on a saucer. This seasonal saucer has lichens, haws, acorns, oak leaves, a sprig of thyme, and an oak gall, which is also know as an oak apple.

The river of life swept me away the past few weeks. I have a dear friend who is ill and in an assisted living home, friends passing through town and stopping for dinner, family (grands) who are with me all day a few days a week, and when night comes, I collapse. But, I am filled with joy to have so much life around us.

The kitchen has overflowed into the dining room where I am storing the bounty until it is cooked. Gosh, I love some of these so much I don't even want to cook them.

Who wouldn't love the beauty of this Blue of Hungaria...


the gorgeous Berentina Piacentina?

And personally, although I usually want heirloom varieties...

This beauty, called "One more Time," has become one of my beloveds.

I've been working, trying to catch up with my garden, taking care of my grands, traveling, and writing and rewriting two manuscripts. Now it is time to get ready for my twice a year get together with dear friends, some of whom have been in my life since fourth grade and Brownies. Also, there is the push of the holidays now. Aren't you feeling it? I am trying to do small chores every morning so that I am not slammed to the ground when Thanksgiving arrives.

I'll keep this posting short and sweetened with brown sugar and maple syrup (Maine Grade B, of course). Here is a wonderful, stuffed, baked pumpkin recipe that you must try. Our friend Jane Taylor of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, served it up to a bunch of foodies in October, and it was the hit of the day. I'm doing it for my friends. Now, I just have to decide which pumpkin/squash will be the one?

Stuffed Pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

1 pumpkin (about three pounds)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 pound cheese (try Gruyere, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 to 4 garlic cloves (I go for the 4)
4 strips bacon (I like pancetta)
About 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
About 1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

These are Jane's words and thoughts:

"Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that's just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkins in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you'll have to serve it from the pot–which is an appealingly homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkins with a softened shell isn't so easy. However, since I love the way the unencumbered pumpkin looks in the center of the table, I've always taken my chances with the baked-on-a-sheet-method, and so far, I've been lucky)."

"Using a very sturdy knife–and caution–cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween jack-o'-lantern. It's easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkins generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot. Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper–you probably have enough salt from the bacon and cheese, but taste to be sure–and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkins should be well filled–you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little–you don't want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened. (But it's hard to go wrong here.)"

"Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours–check after 90 minutes–or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little."

Ok friends, there you have of the most delicious baked pumpkin recipes ever. I hope you'll try it and that you are the hit of the Thanksgiving circuit.

Sending love across the miles to you (Ok, Chris, is this posting what you've been checking for?). Sorry to take so long.


P.S. The winner (chosen by the random number generator) of the fabulous Hales book of gardens is Grace Peterson of Gardening With Grace. Hey honey, we'll mail it out to you this week. It weighs a ton, better work on those biceps some more.

I love these books (Earth From Above and others) because every day you turn the page to a new discovery.


Oh, and if you haven't had the chance, please visit my new Lowe's blog posting about attracting birds to your garden. Don't just read my posting; the others are filled with information that you can harvest and use in your own gardens.


Pondside said...

Oh my goodness, that Pumpkin recipe sounds wonderful!
These days, it seems that the River of Life is flowing uncontrollably and taking me along with it. Work, family, long-distance care for my parents....when it all gets too much a walk and lots of deep breaths help!

Julie Marie said...

Hi Sharon, what a beautiful post featuring Autumn's bounty... I take a daily Nature walk and always bring home precious treasures from the trail... you are right, they make such beautiful natural displays... thank you for sharing the recipe as well... sounds delish!... xoxo Julie Marie

Unknown said...

Well, you certainly have a bountiful harvest on your table of life don't you dear Sharon ( and Jeff too ) I am feeling the push of the holidays, but for some reason, this year I know exactly what I'm doing for gifts already... : ) Not always the case! Enjoy your harvests big and small and thanks for the delicious recipe!
Hugs from your BEACH SISTER in MA!

Vee said...

Yes, all the bounty on your dining room table looks so beautiful, I don't know how you'll use them for cooking. Your days sound so full and busy with writing, grands, gardening, and a friend who is so ill. I am sorry about that one.

Thank you for what sounds like an amazing recipe. I may have to try it and amaze the folks who think that the vegetables I prepare are about as exciting as creamed corn.

Yes, I'm starting to feel the press of the holidays. I think that your example is a good one...a little something extra each day to prepare.

Until next time...

Pear tree cottage! said...

Sharon, your recipe sounds delish!! and as we are now heading into summer after a very short spring I still have one pumpkin left from our last autumn garden I may just have to make this delight! it is always lovely to see your blog posts and it has been some time since I visited so I will take a look further back at your blog. Hugs Lee-Ann

Blondie's Journal said...

You ARE amaze me. People coming and going...So many prayers going out to your friend.

The Stuffed Pumpkin sounds wonderful and different, the perfect treat for company. I love to see friends try something new. Isn't that the thrill of cooking?

Your table laden with the goodness of the earth is both beautiful and delicious. How do you manage it with two homes? I am barely above water. You are inspiring!

Have a great weekend, my friend, and have some relaxing moments!


Susan said...

How do our lives become so hectic? I'm feeling a little nostalgic with today being my birthday and wondering where the past year went. However, I do know it's friends and family that make our life complete and I'm thankful for all that have been with me on This Journey.
The pumpkin recipe is at the top of my list for our Thanksgiving meal...I'll think of Kelly and her love of pumpkin when I enjoy it. Thank you dear friend, XOXO

Sonia said...

Your table is wonderful..a true harvest table with all those beautiful gourds, pumpkins and vegies! This time of year does get so busy..hope you take some time for yourself. I am excited we have booked a trip to San Luis Obispo for February and noticed you live on both coasts! What a blessing!!
Miss Bloomers

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Those pumpkins are autumn art of the most serene type.


ME? Seriously? Really? Thank you, thank you, Sharon dear! I will treasure it.

Your squashes and bounty look as pretty as any flower arrangement. And the recipe looks wonderful too. You're right. The holiday rush will be upon us in a matter of minutes. I'd better kick it into high gear. :)

Blessings sweet friend.

Anonymous said...

My dogs and cats would only believe that I brought them toys if I made decporations like that :-) :-)

It is turning towards winter up here even if it is very warm for the season, There's no snow at all in the entire country (exept for the high mountains of course) But We have frost here almost every morning now and a fire in the stove every day as well :-)

I love that pumpkin "One more time"!

Have a great day!

Pat said...

Loving the pumpkin, One More Time and the misty blue gray of the Blue of Hungaria...both new to me.

With some of our family so very far away and my own folks declining in health with new worries everyday, the holidays are being approached tentatively...I know each day is precious.

Betty said...

A lovely post Sharon.
While you are enjoying the rewards of the season, we are welcoming summer and all it has to offer. Tomatoes are coming along nicely and climbing beans going in soon.
Take good care of yourself.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a wonderful bounty and your blue pumpkin is just dreamy. The pumpkin recipe sounds delicious.

Congratulations to Grace. I know she'll enjoy and treasure this book. I always love visiting her lovely flower filled gardens via her blog.

Love and hugs to you dear gentle one.


Kay G. said...

The river of life, how lovely.
You autumnal display is beautiful. Never saw lichens that you could actually collect, since most of the ones that I see are on rock and mustn't be disturbed!
I think I am in love with your pumpkins, the blue ones and that last one "One More Time"... I wish I could paint them, (as in a painting of them, NOT like a Jack-o-lantern!)
Dear Sharon, thank you again for a lovely post!

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

What wonderful images and words you share. The pumpkin recipe
looks wonderful. Might try it with a very small pumpkin for one.

Comfrey Cottages said...

Oh Sharon, the One More Time pumpkin looks almost like its shell has lace on it! How pretty:) Love bounty xx The recipe sounds scrumptious. I make baked pumpkin with a bit different recipe, so will try this one this year for our nov. feast. thank you for sharing with us xxx

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

My goodness--you absolutely put me to shame with your industriuousness. I just love reading your posts.

Mozart's Girl said...

Beautiful glimpses into your Autumn, dear friend...I feel the pull of that river's current too, especially at this time of year. So happy to be your side of the Atlantic for Thanksgiving this year, but sorry you are both not closer! Sending love xx R

The Herbalist's Cottage said...

It just seems soo weird reading blogs who are harvesting & preparing pumpkins where here in New Zealand ours are just popping through the ground.

Our son (15) has just got into gardening & he has planted LARGE pumpkins trying to see if he can grow a huge one.

Love Leanne

Anonymous said...

I love your ideas and I'll be collecting the beauty of nature to decorate my house as you suggest. I usually have some sort of fall arrangement on the table.

nana pam said...

I love squash in all its colors, shapes and forms-in fact I have a whole book with gorgeous pictures of squash somewhere around here.... (also one of tomatoes by the same author). I must dig them out. I think it is called The Ultimate Squash? I love autumn the most of any season and all its colors, esp.vegetables!

Privet and Holly said...

You are such an
inspiration to me,
Sharon, still going
55 MPH with all that
is on your plate! And
WHAT a beautiful plate
it is : ) My family used
to have a friend named
Jane Taylor who summered
in Maine. She passed
away a few years ago,
but it amazed me to see
the same name linked
with Maine. I'm sure this
recipe is delicious!

xx Suzanne

Michelle said...

This recipe sounds so delicious. I love heirloom varieties and sometimes they are just so beautiful that you hate to use them!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

well, you know i love pumpkins! i love th darker maple syrups!

Darla said...

What a harvest on that table! Congrats to Grace, she deserves the win. I don't know how you do all you do. We received our first frost here in North Florida...

Mary Bergfeld said...

Sharon, your pumpkin sounds wonderful. I am here by happy accident, but I'm delighted by what I've found. I browsed through your earlier posts after reading this one. I'm so glad I did that. You've created a wonderful spot for your readers to visit and I really enjoyed the time I spent here.I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a grand day. Blessings...Mary

black eyed susans kitchen said...

When I was a little girl, my mother always had a bowl full of gourds on the dining room table at this time of year and we would have a few bright orange pumpkins. I am so happy that we have these old heirloom varieties to appreciate now. Your farmhouse table is wonderful!!

Maggie said...

Your dining table resembles a harvest supper, so simple but beautiful all at once.
The pumpkin recipe has my mouth watering and I will try it, despite being married to a pumpkin hater!

Erin | Bygone Living said...

Thank you for the beautiful pictures, and delicious recipe... the Holidays are most definitely here! ♥

scottweberpdx said...

Lovely post...and I agree about the pumpkins...then again, you'd be hard pressed to find a pumpkin I don't like ;-)

Penny Shoval said...

Hi, I'd like to invite you to post your giveaways on our giveaway directory: Giveaway Scout ( Please submit your blog here: Once you receive our confirmation email you can post your giveaways on our site. Thanks.

Jan Powers said...

Sharon, I will try that recipe - just what I needed to coax me back into the kitchen. My days and nights have been bursting with activity in my garden and in a huge house remodeling project, no time to cook. Maybe Thanksgiving will change all that.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Sharon!

I know exactly what you mean about being swept away by the river of life ..I've been feeling the same lately. I have have been traveling quite a bit and enjoying every minute of it, but I also care for my elderly Mother and am in the midst of planning my daughter's wedding..and soon it will be my oldest grandson's third birthday! It is all good -- I'd rather be busy :)

This stuffed pumpkin recipe sounds amazing! I must try it --thanks so much for the recipe!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I smiled at the part about Grade B maple syrup. My family teases me because I love the Grade B so much.

The river of life is flowing quickly here, too. Sometimes so quickly I get alarmed at it... as in how did it ever get to be November when I just put that new calendar up?

My daughter would adore those light colored pumpkins.

Friko said...

If this blogpost accurately describes your life, you live in a world I thought long lost.

Sharon Lovejoy said...


This IS my life, but this weekend I am with five dear friends from grammar school...still dear pals after too many decades to mention!



jerilanders said...

Friends since 4th grade, how great that is!
All the bounty is so gorgeously, shapely and sumptuous! I could just sit there and look at it for an hour or two.
Have a lovely holiday, you are so fortunate to have such family and friends around you.

Lori in Indiana said...

Happy Thanksgiving Sharon!Hope you have a blessed holiday with family and friends.

George Herbert -
"Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more -- a grateful heart; Not thankful when it pleases me, As if Thy blessings had spare days; But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise."

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Lori dear,

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I love this George Herbert passage.



Tinker said...

I love the nature saucer and all of the colorful squash (yes, they do look too pretty to cook!) Thank you for sharing your bountiful harvest. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

jerilanders said...

Sharon, In answer to your question about the colorful acorn teapot. It IS from the 30's, but it is a childs tin tea set with a cups and saucers, and a cake pan. All are covered in acorns! I would love to see that print case full of acorn varieties, you must post on that sometime.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Jeri dear,

I did post a photo of the print tray filled with various species of acorns...I think it was Home Making Hearts are Happiest...on November 9th, 2011.

Love to you and yes, I adore that 30s look.


Naturegirl said...

A wonderful display of autumn bounty laid out on your table.Love the idea of collected treasures from Mother Nature on your plate!
Thank you for your generous comment at my Nature Trail!

Vicki Boster said...

Hi Sharon-
Here I am- late to the party again! You are so in tune with the nature that surrounds you-- I love that you bring little bits into your home to display and become a part of your seasonal decor. It is just like you to create a beautiful tribute to all that nature gives to us.

Your pumpkin photos are magnificent- I agree- they are too beautiful to cut--- thanks for that wonderful and timely recipe. We will enjoy that at our house for sure.

Like you- I feel a bit of pressure with the coming holiday season. Im trying to do a little bit each day--- but I'm wondering if I will get everything crossed off my list. This year our grand babies are just old enough to enjoy the festive lights and the excitement of the season. It won't be the gift so much - as the tearing of the paper-- but it's going to be a glorious Christmas for us all.

I know you are crazy busy- like me- you stay that way- but I've no doubt that you are making special time for the holidays with your family and friends. I'll be looking forward to more holiday posts from you-


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Vicki,

I feel GUILTY!! I am spending LOTS OF TIME doing editing of my new book (all due December 15th) and have a yard long list of more illustrations to do too. I feel unraveled. Sounds like you are doing things the right way.

I haven't spent time visiting anyone, but you'll be up at the top of the list.

Sending love,


Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Lovely update. I find it all so hard to keep up with too, and I'm not even writing a book. Thank goodness. I was thinking of you only yesterday, and I figured you were busy writing and drawing and picking and such. Hugs.~~Dee

Digital Flower Pictures said...

As a stamp collector I would have loved that envelope.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Oh gulp, I'll go out and look through our recycling. I am HOPING that it didn't go out on Tuesday. You know, I held that and held that...finally I thought, "YOU CAN'T keep everything" and tucked it into the recycling.

If it is still here I will contact you and send it along to you. It is lovely.

Thanks for stopping by,


Lydia said...

A blessed holiday to you and your hero husband!