I look at the calendar and think November 1st is the perfect day to start using the woodstove. That gives us an October of Indian Summer weather to cut, split and stack a winter’s worth of wood, and on the 31st the kids can go trick or treating without having to wear a winter coat over their costumes. When it’s that cold the only thing that redeems the holiday is the bag full of candy you bring home.
But this is Michigan and I’ve yet to hit my target date, this year we missed it by two weeks. We are getting full use of the wood we’re burning. Right now the stove is keeping the house warm, drying a load of laundry, simmering a pumpkin to cook into a pie and heating water for a nice cuppa. Earlier a pan of sausages were frying for breakfast, not the pancakes though, they want a hotter fire than we need right now to cook properly.
The wood shed should be full before snow flies, we got lazy after we first moved here and winter’s were warm and snow free. Then came the first winter Kyle was in England at university and the temperatures kept going down as the snow piled up. Cutting a truck load once a week to burn wasn’t nearly enough with our old inefficient stove. Then the snow got too deep to drive the truck out to cut wood, we were hauling it to the woodshed on a toboggan. I felt very Little House in the Big Winter then as I eyed the dining table and wondered how long we could keep warm with it.
Every morning I’d read the thermometer and email Kyle how cold it had gotten. When it was 20 below zero she’d have to convert from fahrenheit to celsius for her British friends. The morning it was wind chill of 43 below zero there was no conversion needed. Minus 43 is cold no matter how you calibrate it.
Right now we’re on a break, Tom has cut enough wood for Kyle and I to fill the truck. In a bit we’ll head out, sharpen the wood splitter and Tom will split as we stack wood. We’re only ⅓ of the way to a full woodshed and yesterday it snowed. There’s still a week left of October and all of November so I think we’ll be done before serious snow falls but it’s much nicer to look out on a raw, blustery day and know you don’t have to go out and cut firewood to be cozy and warm.
Cooking a Pumpkin:
Find a small to medium sized pumpkin and give it a quick wash to get any dust and dirt off before cooking, then take your biggest knife and spit in half top to bottom. Scrape out the flesh and save the seeds if you want to toast pumpkin seeds later.
Place in a large pot, cut side down with an inch of water in the bottom of the pot. Simmer away until the flesh is tender enough to easily scrape away from the rind.
Run an immersion blender through the pumpkin to get a smooth consistency similar to what you’d get from a can.
Use in pies, muffins or breads.
While gutting your pumpkin set aside seeds and rinse. Place on a paper towel to dry. Toss with salt, olive oil and whatever other seasonings you want. Bake in a single layer 25-30 minutes until golden in a 375F oven.