I first saw the pumpkin bowls in Costa Rica. They were displayed in the curio cabinet which is reserved for precious and special pieces, right? I didn’t want to ask about them at the time. I had just met Lynn and Lucas and didn’t want to offend them thinking they must be special to hold a place of honor like that – heirlooms handed down for generations or something.
When Lynn saw me staring at them she said, “Aren’t those adorable?”
My knee-jerk reaction was, “Oh, yes! Very nice. And you have so many. Eight? Do you use them for Thanksgiving?”
“Well, that’s the idea. I just haven’t had the opportunity yet. I bought them from a close friend, Diana, who was moving to a smaller place and had to downsize. She used them often and cherished them, so I bought them from her. I figured she would come to Thanksgiving dinner some day and we would have pumpkin soup. That was five years ago,” and she drifted off smiling.
Four years later when their assignment in Costa Rica ended they were transferred to California. I helped Lynn pack up her house. We carefully bubble wrapped the set of pumpkin bowls, which were yet to be used. Each bowl has four parts – the bowl, the lid, the plate it sits on, and the tiny little spoon that fits into the cut-out groove in the lid. So when you count the “Mother Bowl” and ladle, you’re talking about a major packing project. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
As events unfolded, I ended up moving back to California with Lynn and Lucas. All three of us, plus three big dogs, landed in Los Angeles and headed up to their cabin at Green Valley Lake in the San Bernardino mountains.
When the shipment from Costa Rica arrived the three of us set about unpacking and finding places for all the stuff. As Lynn said, “We had ten pounds in a five-pound sack.” Where to put all this stuff? Tough decisions had to be made. We did the old three-pile deal – keep, toss, and donate.
When we got to the set of pumpkin bowls, Lucas and I looked at each other and said in unison, “Donate!”
Lynn jumped to her feet and cried, “Over my dead body! Those are staying right here. I have the perfect spot for them!”
Lucas is our chef extraordinaire. “Lucas, will you make us some pumpkin soup so we can at least use the damn bowls?!” I asked.
He shook his head. “Nope. I’m not doing it. Those bowls are stupid. Plus that pumpkin puree is baby food.”
So, on the display shelf went the bowls. The shelf happened to be above the stove where they collected all the grease that arose from Lucas’s fabulous cooking. Between the bacon grease and olive oil spattering, I ended up washing those bowls every week or so. And they had yet to be used.
The California assignment terminated and off to Ohio went the happy couple. The pumpkin bowls went with them, of course.
Time flies. Lives are busy. Lynn had posted something on Facebook that jolted me. She had a significant birthday coming up two days before Thanksgiving. I private messaged her, “So what crazy adventure do you have planned for the big day.”
Her reply surprised me, “Nothing. I’m hibernating until it’s over.”
That’s not my Lynn. “Ummmm…should I be getting on an airplane?”
Next thing I knew she booked me on Southwest and the two sister-friends were planning the festivities. Lucas is used to it. It’s always Lucas and the girls – nothing fazes him…well maybe there is one thing.
“Hey, I know. Let’s ask Lucas to make pumpkin soup while I’m there!”
I arrived on a Friday. After the dust settled and we mapped out the birthday visit I turned to Lucas, “When shall we do the soup?”
He just shook his head and walked off.
Hummpppfff, I thought. I’m not leaving until we use those bowls. “Hey, Lynn! Lucas said he won’t make the soup! I know. Let’s go to Trader Joe’s and get some boxes of pumpkin soup and dump ’em in the Mother Bowl. And let’s invite some neighbors in ’cause there are a lot of bowls.”
She laughed, “Ha ha ha,” and walked off. Guess she thought I was kidding.
Monday morning L and L went to work and left me the keys to the van. I hatched a plan. I would go to Whole Foods and find a Hubbard. Yeah…that’s it. I’ll make Hubbard soup. And serve it in the BOWLS!
My trusty phone brought me to the store alright. No Hubbards. But, they did have the cutest little sugar pumpkins. There were three of us, so I bought three. Perf! I pulled up a recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Soup and away I went. The recipe said ten minutes preparation time and thirty minutes to cook. Cool!
Ten minutes prep? Really? It took me ten minutes just to peel the fresh ginger. Maybe I’m just out of practice. It took me all day, but I was determined to have the table set and soup ready when L and L got home from work.
The first chore was to cut the cute little pumpkins in half and bake for an hour. Sounds simple. I took what I thought was the appropriate knife and tried to cut it in half. The knife stuck in the shell. I pushed down with all my weight. Nothing. I could see I was going to have to change my technique. I replaced the knife with a chopper that resembled an ax. No mercy. I went at the cute little orange globes in a manner resembling Lizzy Borden’s. I raised the tool high into the air above my head, came down full force and split those babies in two. The halves were not even, but close enough. I was huffing and sweating but I got them on the baking sheet and shoved in the oven.
I was tempted to just open the two cans of pumpkin puree I bought as back-up.
The recipe said to scoop out the soft pulp from the shell. Not so easy. I had to use my own method – I cut little pieces and scraped the pumpkin away from the skin. Yeah, that worked. Took a lot of time, but hey! I had time.
At last, I was ready to assemble the masterpiece.
The table was set for three. I anxiously awaited the return of my friends. Mostly, I wanted to see Lucas’s face when he saw the pumpkin bowls on the dining table. It was priceless! He was polite enough to not protest, but the look on his face tells all. He went along with the program but drew the line at using the tiny little spoons that came with the set. I admit, I did feel a bit like Tom Hanks in the movie “Big” when he picks up a baby cocktail corn and tries to eat it like a regular ear of corn.
Lynn bought the bowls from Diana eight years ago. I’m not bringing up the subject ever again. I’m staying out of Lucas’s kitchen and looking forward to the next gourmet feast he prepares for us. I doubt it will include pumpkin in any way, shape, or form.
By the way, you readers that asked for my Hubbard squash recipe…I don’t really have one. I figure you can boil or bake, mash it up with some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. That works for everything. Now David – he probably knows some secrets. I haven’t seen him for years, but if you’re reading this, David – HELP!