Category Archives: photography

Apple Picking Hates Us

_DSC0044-2We did it again.

We showed up to the orchard in hopes of picking apples in peace, away from the weekend crowds. And guess what?

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_DSC0056-2This is a picture of a lonely boy, contemplating trees stripped bare of fruit.

The whole dang town had picked the orchard clean the weekend before, and the season was over.

Like my life.

Over.

I’m such a horrible mom.

I can’t even take my kids apple picking. But there’s one thing I can do. I can take pictures. Want to see?

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_DSC0019-3Farmer John.

We had the place to ourselves, so why not lean against the tractor they had used to cultivate the orchard that betrayed us?

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_DSC0062-3Why not stage a shot at the diesel pump that fills the tractor that they had used to take our apples?

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_DSC0010-4This is waaay better than Honey Crisp, Red Delicious, and Macintosh, isn’t it Tristan?

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_DSC0011-3We left empty handed.  The apple guy told us that 11,000 people had visited the orchard this season. Eleven thousand?!  Egads. I’m kind of glad we missed out on that after all.

We ended up with these pics, and a couple of bags from the store.

I could have had pies, but now I’ve got pies and pictures.

Yum.

What About the Prom?

DSC_0119-Edit-1It was magical, shimmering like soap bubbles that float up toward the sun.

Do you want to know a secret?

I’m not just talking about the Prom itself. I’m talking about the fact that this picture originally had two people in it. One was closing their eyes, so we just cut them out.

We’re merciless like that.

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DSC_0133-2There he is!  With his eyes open. Two little loves of my life.

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DSC_0162-3This was right before I said, “Look at each other.”

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DSC_0164-6And he did this. Clearly, he is thinking, “Look at my sister? Why?”

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IMG_5291-1Dress shopping was a breeze. She found it on her own, in a tiny little shop that sold designer dresses that had already been owned by somebody rich enough to buy a designer dress.

It’s like it was made for her. Elegant, modest, a little different, classy, and one-of-a-kind. I love that she chose this dress.

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IMG_5379-2My dress is second-hand, and nobody knows.

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IMG_5391-5I think all girls in prom dresses are really just little girls playing dress-up if you can get past their facade.

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IMG_5393-6“Don’t grow up, Kiki,” is what I want to say. But it’s like asking light not to shine.

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IMG_5410-7It’s out there, the big wide world. She’s in the cast. The curtain has risen, the audience has hushed expectantly….

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IMG_5482-1And it’s my turn to sit and watch the role of a lifetime.

The Dairy Queen Faces

DSC_0480-1It was hot, and Dairy Queen was calling.  My old self would have grabbed the camera like a pair of shoes. Capturing daily moments like a walk to Dairy Queen used to be what I did.  I love the story of Life.

But about 6 months ago I abruptly stopped taking pictures.  I lacked the want-to; some of you know what I’m talking about. When I started wanting to again, I discovered a tragic result: Tristan had forgotten how to look at me.

Was it the passage of time, or the fact that he had turned 13?

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DSC_0489-2Sawyer still knows how to look at me. There is a camera in front of my face, but he’s looking at ME.

(Don’t despair, his haircut is scheduled for Thursday.)

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DSC_0501-3I notice when I point a camera at any given person, that they change from their uninhibited selves,  to a version of themselves. Only a certain breed of person can continue to look at YOU and not pose for the camera. I can’t even do it.

I think it has to do with being comfortable.

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DSC_0502-4This is comfortable.

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DSC_0504-5 This is not.

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DSC_0511-7This is comfortable.

.DSC_0512-8This is comfortable.

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DSC_0510-6This is, “Mom, can I please just drink my slushie in peace?”

 

One thing remains clear. Whether they let me into their soul or not, I’ll still point and shoot if they’ll let me.

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DSC_0506-1How else can documentation of blue-stained lips from a blueberry slushie be frozen in time?

It sounds like a description from a bad novel..”His eyes were like two pools of blueberry slushie…”

 

 

 

They’ve Grown a Little

DSC_0225-1 It’s been awhile since you’ve seen the kids, can you tell they’ve grown?

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DSC_0439-15They still look out of their eyes at me the same way. I hope that never changes. The rest of their anatomy can just grow up around the portals to their soul and let their eyes remain unchanged. Unjaded. Unblemished. Believing.

I figure I still got a few years left.

A few other things are still the same around here.

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DSC_0267-3Daisy. She’s still fat.

Me. I’m still fat. I don’t have a picture but we look quite a bit alike.

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DSC_0434-13Other than that we’ve just been sitting around doing nothing.

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DSC_0214-1Oh, except for a graduation.

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DSC_0162-4Oh yes, and a Prom.

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IMG_5410-4The rest of the days were spent looking out at the horizon wondering what life was bringing next.

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DSC_0462-16Today it brought a trip to the waterfall park.

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DSC_0354-4Remember the waterfall park?

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DSC_0263-2You’ve got to leave your shoes behind.

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DSC_0382-6You know it’s going to be a great place if you have to leave your shoes behind.

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DSC_0370-5The water wasn’t very deep, but it was deep enough to do this.

Wading and splashing is all you really need to do if there is a promise of peril on the horizon. Peril is just to the left there, out of frame. It’s a roaring 50 foot drop over the falls.

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DSC_0385-7He’s looking at it now. The place The Mom will not let him go.

Would they stay alive without us?  I’m thinking it would be Lord of the Flies and broken eyeglasses all over again.

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DSC_0390-10Tristan has found a way.  “No, you can’t go into the middle, the current is too strong,” I said. Would you believe he’s in ankle deep water here?

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DSC_0389-9It’s an optical illusion.

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DSC_0388-8Trust a boy to find a way to vicariously participate in shoulder deep water.

But where’s the girl?  The girl loves this place.  Do you know what she’d be doing if she were here?

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DSC_0175-1Catching frogs.

Her brother saw this picture and pronounced her eyes the same color as a toad.

Alas, she is not here. She is in California and my heart is with her.

Maybe that’s why the dishes aren’t getting done , my heart just isn’t in it.

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DSC_0404-12McKenna, come home soon, we all miss you. Daisy is getting fatter by the day.

The dishes are piling up.

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DSC_0471-7And we’re all missing the girl with the toad-colored eyes.

Favorite Shots 2013 – part 2

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Neither one of these guys is very happy to have their picture taken, so I was extra glad to get this shot.

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I just love the way the snow is gently falling. I remember this day because the girls were FREEZING but willing to sacrifice for the sake of beauty.

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After the party. Tired. Are they ever too tired to play video games? I remember saying, “Make your ‘after the party’ face.”

Perfect.

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What? Just par for the course around here. “What in the world” is our catch phrase.

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 Beauty shot.  It was a dull, left-over day. I was so happy to find this bit of happiness.

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I had to include this because the girl below did it…

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 She has a bit of mischief in her, can you tell?

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I’m not sure how much longer I’ll find a Buzz Lightyear overlooking a town in my backyard….

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But I hope this doesn’t disappear forever.

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Beauty shot.

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This was Tristan’s day. The butterflies couldn’t get enough of him.

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Cheers! I just want to eat up those little cheekies.

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Unbridled exuberance. Summer! Or just a warm day! In Canada!

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I love everything about this shot. The colors, the composition, capturing a simple act, and the expression on his face.

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 I had to include this because of the light shining out of his eyes. This is who I see in my heart.

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Favorite Shots from 2013 – part 1

I took 6,315 pictures this year. Mercifully, I’ve culled the herd.

DSC_0574-47  I’m starting off with a family shot. I like this shot because it’s the only one I have of my family.

Is that sad?

It’s sad.

For being together as much as we are, I sure don’t have the shots to prove it.

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20130811-DSC_0005This one cracks me up because Mckenna was frozen like that for quite some time. I didn’t learn what she was doing until later-

“God told us in the bible to ‘go to the ant”, so I thought I’d better watch them for awhile.”

I love that girl.

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20130528-DSC_0381Poor Greyson. Being in front of the camera is not his favorite thing, but this particular day he was my model. We had to go all over the building to find the best light for some publicity shots for Glorious Films.  He never wavered.  In fact, he kept me going.

I love that guy.

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DSC_0120This picture is a good representation of what it’s like to live in another country. Sawyer wanted to have a bowling party for his birthday so we showed up and found out that this is bowling in Canada.

Who knew?

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DSC_0071When I used to work on a horse ranch I learned that they trained movie horses by exposing them to the loudest sounds and strangest sights so they wouldn’t flinch on camera. They could have just sent them over to our house. Our cats sit calmly through all manner of absurdity.

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DSC_0474 If you had seen the amount of scrambling that went into this– I’m pretty sure Sawyer is barefoot, and I see pajamas and a robe, but we made it.  Daisy the dog even got in as a bonus, I had no idea she was in the shot.

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DSC_0030Shenanigans. If you have left over pumpkins, why not take a sledgehammer to them? This shot represents What’s Going On Here quite well.

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yard, tree, gingerbread house 042Beauty shot. Sometimes I take my camera out when everything seems ugly, just to find something unexpected.

This was a field of cardboard colored weeds against a particle board sky. Until the sun hit it just right.

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yard, tree, gingerbread house 050 These still amaze me. It’s like the color in your crayon box you accidentally use when you reach for the purple and find out you got this instead.

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yard, tree, gingerbread house 041I liked the movement in these lines. Delicate. Graceful grass.

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yard, tree, gingerbread house 118I hope I never get too busy to smile when I find their toys arranged like this.

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DSC_0249Every year we go home for Christmas to America. This is what we see when we turn the corner to Grandma’s house.  There’s always a red Christmas tree in the second floor window.

Can lights say hello?

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DSC_0458When we moved here we had to learn to do long winters. If you’ve never zipped down a hill lickety-split and had the snow fly in your face, this picture captures exactly what it feels like.

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DSC_0009This is permanent marker but I couldn’t get mad once I heard the story behind it. Remember that one? The one with the dreaded….

 

DSC_0013 BOX OF DOOM.

They ought to make that a deterrent to street crime.

After the cops cuff the miscreant: “Okay, buddy, lets go. It’s the Box of Doom for you.”

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 Come back next week for the rest of 2013’s favorite shots. Until then, enjoy this one last shot I like to call:

“CAUGHT”

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Wicked Stepmother Winter

DSC_0486-1It’s cold here. Why am I surprised? It’s not  just that we had a cold day, it’s that winter shook hands on it. The deal is sealed. No warm days from here on out.  This is Canada cold.

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DSC_0485-25 Cold in the states is a little more forgiving.  Like Cinderalla scrubbing floors, you know there’s a better end to the story.

Meanwhile, I am stuck with the wicked stepmother.

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DSC_0496-27That’s why I relished our last trip back home to America. The spring birds had flown south, but this was our south.

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DSC_0468-21If you look closely you can see the rarest of winter birds here to make their home. It looks like one needs a little help.

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DSC_0477-23You can do it, little bird!

Doesn’t this bring back memories? Why did we stop climbing trees?  It seems like I went from–just being big enough to reach the first branch– right to not caring that I could.  I care now, but I don’t have enough get-up in my go.  That’s sad.

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DSC_0475-22Sawyer, never stop climbing trees.

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DSC_0649-55Now,  this is something I can do.

Take pictures of people throwing a football.

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DSC_0580-50And cheer them on, “throw it, throw it!”

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DSC_0577-48Go Daddy, go!

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DSC_0578-49 Tristan will throw it…

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DSC_0629-51And take an intermission. It reminds me of my cheerleading days.  Handstands are a habit with Tristan. He also has another habit-

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DSC_0641-53Tristan of the perpetually chapped lips. Tristan, stop picking your lips!

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DSC_0642-54It’s okay, we can forgive him because of the golden glow about his head.

Besides, who can resist those dimples. One of his friends got confused and called them dumplings. Now it’s a running joke in our family; Tristan has dumplings on his cheeks. Fitting.

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DSC_0680-57It was time to go home way too soon. We left fairy land behind and returned to scrubbing floors in the stepmother’s castle.

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evil catComplete with the evil cat, but that’s another post.

She’s Not a Kid Anymore

DSC_0565-43 Something momentous happened while we were at Grandma’s House.

Someone turned 18.

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DSC_0700-58 She got makeup, and curlers, which she is modeling here. Or is she looking out the window at squirrels? I never can be sure.

In any case, now that she’s an adult, she’ll be putting away childish things…

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DSC_0553-33No more tree climbing.

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DSC_0554-34And certainly, no more tree dropping.

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DSC_0557-37 It’s so sad to grow up and leave childhood behind.

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DSC_0558-38Isn’t it, Kiki.

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DSC_0559-39Kiki?

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DSC_0560-40Kiki???

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DSC_0561-41The passing of an era.

Life will never be the same.

Grandma’s House

DSC_0574-47This is not our yard, but it is our sunset, and our football game.

Our yard would not look this romantic, trust me.

Unless you like rotting pumpkins.

In my defense, the pumpkins did rot while we were gone to this wonderful place: Grandma’s House.

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DSC_0417-9The kids were so happy to be in a wide open place that they spent the better part of the day running around…

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DSC_0418-10Like gazelles.

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DSC_0450-16And I ain’t kiddin’.

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DSC_0443-14I searched for interesting studies in photography,

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DSC_0440-12And every once in a while I saw them passing by.

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DSC_0423-11I guess Grandma’s yard just brings out the beast in them.

Or maybe it’s just being cooped up in Canada with snow coming and no way out.

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DSC_0414-8I guess I’d run too.

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DSC_0456-18Tristan, why aren’t you running?

Oh. I see.

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DSC_0452-17His job was to wait in ambush, much like a predator waits for the bush deer.

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DSC_0485-25There’s so much to be found in Grandma’s yard, whatever the season.

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DSC_0487-26And this is even before the cousins come over.  Then this yard will be turned into all manner of hoopla and mania.

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DSC_0510-29Its peace hangs from a delicate thread, oblivious to the pandemonium prowling around the bend.

Fresh Pumpkin Pie Taste Test

Which breed of pumpkin is best for baking pumpkin pie?

If you’re going to go to the trouble of roasting and pureeing a pumpkin, you might as well use the best tasting one.

For my taste test of fresh vs. canned pumpkin click this link.

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We have a wide variety of pumpkin breeds readily available where we live.  (I’ll take the cute pumpkin, in the striped shirt.)

But I scoured the internet and found the top two contenders for baking.

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Here they are!  The stars:  the Rouge Vif d’Etampes (also called the Cinderella pumpkin) and the Small Sugar pumpkin on the right.

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Just to give you a idea of size, the ideal Small Sugar pumpkin is about the size of a toddler’s head.

That’s probably not the best simile for a cooking post, is it?

The one you see in the picture above is a little too big…

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 I roasted a smaller Sugar pumpkin, and a slightly bigger Sugar pumpkin just to see if there was any difference in taste. Was smaller sweeter?

Turns out, smaller IS sweeter.  The bigger Sugar Pumpkin was stringy and so bland it was almost inedible. I just threw it out.

If you go with Sugar pumpkin, the smaller the better. I got about 3 cups pureed pumpkin out of my small one.

But what about our Rouge vif d’etampes? Would it be the sweetest of all?

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The only way to find out was to make a pie with it.

So I did.

Sadly, said pie was too embarrassed to make an appearance on this blog. Something to do with a sagging crust. BUT, I did get to taste pumpkin pie  made with the top two contending pumpkins. Read the notes below to find out the results…

I don’t know why they call the Sugar pumpkin the Sugar pumpkin because the Rouge vif d’etampes puree was a lot sweeter.  These are the tasting notes:

Sugar pumpkin (first spoon): heavy, dense, yam-like

Rouge vif d’etampes (second spoon): light, bright, sweet

Once made into a pie, there wasn’t a huge difference in flavor based on the fact that the spices can mask the subtlety of the pumpkin itself. That’s when texture takes over. Pie made with Sugar pumpkin is too dense and heavy. Smooth and creamy wins with the Rouge vif d’etampes.

You know, I’m glad it ended up this way. I have enough Rouge vif d’etampes in my freezer to make 16 pies. That pumpkin was huge!

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