WBEZ | Great Pumpkin http://www.wbez.org/tags/great-pumpkin Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A rare giant pumpkin patch all to myself: Davidsons' Giant Pumpkins http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-10/rare-giant-pumpkin-patch-all-myself-davidsons-giant-pumpkins-103299 <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/davidsonstshirts.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="Shirley Moore and Larry Davidson at Davidsons' Giant Pumpkins in Harvard, Illinois (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></p><blockquote><p>&quot;I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; Henry David Thoreau,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1619493918?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=1619493918&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><em>Walden</em></a></p></blockquote><p>I understand the sentiment, but I would rather sit on a rare giant pumpkin.&nbsp;This Saturday, on a roadtrip back from a <a href="https://twitter.com/louisachu/status/258892727536730113">Wisconsin cheese tour</a> (more on that this week), I found elusive giants on which to sit and a whole patch all to myself, at Davidsons&#39; Giant Pumpkins in Harvard, Ill.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/davidsonsgiantpumpkin.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="Giant pumpkin shrine at Davidsons' (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></p><p>Larry Davidson has been growing giant pumpkins for 32 years on his former family dairy farm. You may know that Harvard &mdash; near the Wisconsin border, about 75 miles northwest of Navy Pier &mdash; is the home of <a href="http://www.milkdays.com/">Milk Days</a>, at 72 years-old, one of the longest running festivals in Illinois.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/davidsonswelcomesign.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="Welcome to Davidson's 2012 giant pumpkin season (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></p><p>Giant pumpkins are so in demand as attractions and record-breakers that they&#39;re smashed to steal their seeds. Just last week, a whole <a href="http://centralillinoisproud.com/fulltext?nxd_id=280032">300-pound pumpkin was stolen Hammer&#39;s Farm Market in Peoria</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/davidsonsbreakit.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="The stems are not handles. You break it, you buy it! (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Davidson, his girlfriend Shirley Moore, and his son Terry Davidson open their giant pumpkin patch from September 29 to October 31. This year their biggest pumpkin weighs about 400 pounds. They have smaller pumpkins, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-10/religion-politics-and-great-pumpkin-pie-103121">including pie pumpkins</a>, other decorative gourds in season, and even brown eggs laid by the hens out back too.</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/davidsonsfirepit.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="Sit on a pumpkin around the firepit at Davidsons' (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">This coming weekend, their last weekend, a guy comes in to carve the remaining giants, because he wants the seeds. After that, the sun sets on the pumpkin patch for another year.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Davidsons&#39; Giant Pumpkins</div><div class="image-insert-image ">21615 Streit Road</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Harvard, Illinois 60033</div><div class="image-insert-image ">815-943-7042</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/davidsonssunsetpatch.jpg" style="width: 620px; " title="Sun setting over giant pumpkin patch at Davidsons' (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 22 Oct 2012 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-10/rare-giant-pumpkin-patch-all-myself-davidsons-giant-pumpkins-103299 Religion, politics and great pumpkin pie http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-10/religion-politics-and-great-pumpkin-pie-103121 <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bbpumpkinslice_0.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="Pumpkin pie with pumpkin seed brittle and whipped cream in a graham cracker crust at Bang Bang Pie Shop (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></p><blockquote><p>&quot;There are three things you must never discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; Linus van Pelt, <em>It&#39;s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown</em></p></blockquote><p>Poor Linus. What would he do this election year? Me, I must discuss the great pumpkin pie I tasted last Friday at <a href="http://www.bangbangpie.com/">Bang Bang Pie Shop</a>. It was the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-09/thirdspace-bang-bang-pie-shop-102399">new pie shop</a>&#39;s first ever pumpkin pie, on the first day of its release. Head pie maker/co-owner Megan Miller uses <a href="https://twitter.com/bangbangpie/status/256453818437496832">real pie pumpkins</a> to make an old fashioned filling for her signature graham cracker crust, which nearly candies and caramelizes around the custard. The dish is topped with real whipped cream and her pumpkin seed brittle, which elevates this home-style slice to elegant plated dessert. And yes, Miller makes the delicate honeycomb brittle with seeds from the pumpkins.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bbpumpkin.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="Pie pumpkin at Bang Bang (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">You may remember last year I revealed the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2011-11-23/truth-about-pumpkin-pie-94245">truth about pumpkin pie</a>: Most pumpkin pies are not pumpkin, but squash instead, much of it grown in Morton, Ill.,&nbsp;&quot;<a href="http://www.mortonpumpkinfestival.org/">The Pumpkin Capital of the World</a>&quot; and home of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.verybestbaking.com/Libbys.aspx">Libby&#39;s</a>.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/node/94245#comment-452232023">One commenter asked</a>, &quot;How many hours can pumpkin pie sit on the counter before I can refrigerate it?&quot; The much belated short answer: two hours, according to the USDA&#39;s Food Safety and Inspection Service Two-Hour-Rule, mentioned on their <a href="http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/holiday_goodies1.pdf">holiday goodies fact sheet</a>.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bbpumpkinpie.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="Whole pumpkin pie at Bang Bang (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">In case you missed <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-10/eat-drink-bucktown-apple-pie-contest-great-highwood-pumpkin-fest-and-more">my mention</a>, the <a href="http://highwoodpumpkinfest.com/">Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival</a> kicks off Thursday, culminating in an attempt to break the world record for most lit jack-o-lanterns with 32,000 pumpkins. It bears repeating because it&#39;s one of our most spectacular &mdash; yet surprisingly unknown &mdash; local fests.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bbdavemegan.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="Dave and Megan Miller at Bang Bang (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Evidently many headline writers couldn&#39;t resist;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/in-year-of-severe-drought-farmers-say-pumpkin-crop-looks-like-rare-smashing-success/2012/10/10/8517d95c-12aa-11e2-9a39-1f5a7f6fe945_story.html">every</a> other <a href="http://moneyland.time.com/2012/10/11/pumpkin-prices-higher-as-crop-successfully-endures-drought/">report</a> says this year we&#39;re having a smashing pumpkin season, not in spite the drought, but because of it: Pumpkins like hot dry weather.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Perhaps the Great Pumpkin heard our prayers after all.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bbpumpkinplain.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px; " title="Pumpkin pie with whipped cream only at Bang Bang (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 15 Oct 2012 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-10/religion-politics-and-great-pumpkin-pie-103121