Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Other PSL

By now if you’re anything like me, you’ve already spent half a paycheck on PSL’s, and your Starbucks membership has jumped from silver to platinum, completely hurdling over silver status.

But today I want to talk to you about another trend of this season…the other PSL…

 

…the Pumpkin Sales Lot…

The first time that I ever went to a “pumpkin patch” worth even mentioning was back when my girls were about five and seven…

That was about twenty years ago.

Up until that day I assumed that all pumpkins were orange and round, maybe even plastic since neither my parents or my husband for some strange reason never bothered to buy and carve the expected jack o’ lantern each Halloween…

We were doing good to simply put the tree up before New Year’s Day and take it down by Easter, right?!

Anyway, there I stood in that great big field of all shapes, colors, and sizes of pumpkins…and there I was with them wanting one of each different type…a white one, a green one, a blue one, a tall one, a squat ones, and obviously an orange one…

I felt the same way that I did when I lived in Germany and would travel places where the only words that I knew were numbers and the only phrases that I could say were…

“Where is the bathroom?”

“How much does it cost?”

Actually that’s the only three things that we need to know if it gets right down to it, right?

Anyway, here I was standing on American soil, speaking my native language, and all I could do was say “two” and point out what I wanted and ask how much it cost?

Flash forward thirty years…

Here I sit, fifty years old, getting ready to take the “resident four year old” to a huge pumpkin patch in the morning.

Hoping not to feel like a foreigner in my own country out in the country looking totally stupid by thinking that all pumpkins had to be orange and round…

So this year I’m brushing up on my pumpkin recognition skills, or at least taking this “cheat sheet” with us.

To keep things simple, I have grouped the most common pumpkins into three obvious, or at least obvious to any true PSL, categories—the tall, the grande, the venti, and the trenta.

And made a quick list of the characteristics of the most common varieties of each size that you are likely to see…

(I had originally planned on doing this as one post listing pumpkin varieties within each size group, but that article would have been longer than the “resident four year old”‘s  Christmas wish list and that of my two college aged daughters…so doing this in three segments)…

So looking at the smallest group of pumpkins first, let’s see what your options are…

  • Size
  • Skin Color
  • Shape
  • Shelf Life
  • Texture
  • Flesh Color
  • Vertical Ribbing

The Tall (2 to 8 pounds)

This category—the smallest available “cup”— probably are best suited for decorating the porch or front steps. even though these smallest pumpkins have a great tasting, buttery flesh that makes the very best pies, cookies, baked treats, soups-, and almost any other recipe originally calling for squash.

But if you don’t feel like taking the time to prep two dozen different pumpkins, you could always simply carve it, paint it, or hollow it out and stick a flower into it…

1.Baby Bear

  • Best for…pies, roasted pumpkin seeds…also makes an attractive bowl for serving soup, stews, and chili
  • Size…one to two pounds
  • Skin Color…deep orange
  • Shape…flattened

2.  Baby Boo

  • Best for…decorating because it’s supposedly inedible
  • Size…typically the size of your palm
  • Skin Color…bright white; which tends to turn yellow if exposed to direct sunlight
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep

4.  Baby Pam

  • Best for…pies because of its sugary, starchy, string-less, dry flesh
  • Size…three to four pounds
  • Skin Color…deep orange, yellow if immature
  • Texture…very smooth

5. Casper

  • Best for…pies and baking
  • Skin Color…bright white
  • Shape…more round than squat
  • Vertical Ribbing…slight ribbing

6.  Kakai

  • Best for…Although these pumkins are edible, they are better known for their blue seeds, which can be roasted
  • Size…five to eight pounds
  • Skin Color…gray with orange stripes or ribbing

7. Lakota

  • Best for…its butternut squash-like flavor.
  • Size…five to seven pounds
  • Skin Color…red with green and black markings
  • Vertical Ribbing… light

8. Long Island Cheese

  • Size…six to ten pounds
  • Skin Color…pale yellow or orange
  • Shelf Life…up to a year
  • Flesh Color…bright, deep orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…light

9.  Lumina

  • Best for…baking
  • Skin Color…bright white
  • Texture…smooth
  • Flesh Color…bright yellow

10.  Marina Di Chioggia

  • Best for…having a sweet flavor that makes it a favorite for cooking
  • Size…six to twelve pounds
  • Skin Color…green
  • Shape…squat
  • Texture…thick and warty​ skin
  • Flesh Color…yellow/orange

11.  Musee de Provence:

  • Best for…snacking because it actually has a rich, sweet, creamy, taste…often sold in slices in French markets
  • Skin Color…pale orange-yellow
  • Flesh Color…yellow-orange
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep and distinct

12.  Tiger

  • Size…about 5″ around and 3″ high
  • Skin Color…yellow with orange mottling
  • Shape…flat with recessed stem
  • Vertical Ribbing…deep at the top, then fading at the bottom

13.  White Ghost

  • Skin Color…pure white
  • Shape…squat
  • Flesh Color…bright yellow

14.  Winter Luxury

  • Best for…baking
  • Size…up to six pounds
  • Skin Color…unique netted-looking pale orange
  • Shape…round
  • Shelf Life
  • Flesh Color
  • Vertical Ribbing

Other varieities of  these smaller pumpkins that you might encounter include…

  • Baby Boo (white)
  • Jack-Be-Little (standard orange miniature)
  • Jack-Be-Quick (taller, darker orange)
  • Munchkin (uniform, attractive orange fruit)
  • Sweetie Pie (small, scalloped, medium orange fruit)
  • Lil’ Ironsides F1
  • Magic Lantern
  • Lil’ Pump-Ke- Mon F1
  • Merlin F1
  • Howden
  • Howden Biggie
  • Gold Rush
  • Mystic
  • Spooktacular
  • Tallman
  • Early Autumn
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mineral Water At Least Makes Drinking Water Much Less Boring

My very favorite segment of the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is when Charlie and his grandfather drink the bubbly water and float into the ceiling. If they can escape the reality of gravity and this great planet full of chaos and concerns simply by drinking bubbly water, wouldn’t we all be drinking it every day?

Yet, even though bubbly water will not help us reach great heights, there are many types of “bubbly” water available that can add interest to our newly established water drinking habit that not only help with staying hydrated, but also provide many other health benefits as well.

These options include…

  • Sparkling Water…Sparkling water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide, either naturally or man-made, making the water sparkling or bubbly.
  • Natural Mineral Water…Natural mineral water—such as Perrier and San Pellegrino—is water than comes from a  a geologically and physically protected underground water source—such as an aquifer, underground reservoir, spring, or artesian wells—such as in Mihalkovo in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, in Medžitlija in Macedonia, or most notably in Selters in the German Taunus mountains.
  • Seltzer Water…Seltzer water is a  genericized trademark originally used to market the water that comes from the infamous German town Selters, This natural sparkling mineral water has been commercially bottled and shipped from this town since the 18th century or earlier.
  • Soda Water…Soda water, also known as club soda, contains bicarbonate of soda, which gives them its own unique flavor. This water is popularly used for making mixed drinks—such as whisky and soda and Campari soda.
  • Tonic Water…Tonic water is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter compound called quinine, along with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

 

And now that we have looked at the different types of bubbly available, let’s think about the health benefits of adding carbonated water to your diet….benefits such as…

  1. Blood Sugar…The bicarbonate found in mineral water helps maintain a healthy pH of the blood so it doesn’t become too acidic or too basic and improves glycemic control.
  2. Bones…Unlike soft drinks, mineral water does not contribute to lower bone mineral density and osteoperosis….mainly because unlike Cokes mineral water does not contain the added risk of having a lot of phosphorus and not enough calcium. In fact, drinking one liter of sodium-rich sparkling water for eight weeks can lead to better calcium retention.
  3. Digestion…Mineral water may help treat digestive problems—such as constipation.
  4. Heart…Carbonated water has several beneficial effects on cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar. People drinking mineral water regularly can reduce their risk of developing heart disease within ten years by 35%.
  5. Motion Sickness…Carbonated beverages without caffeine are known for their ability to help calm that queasiness.
  6. Weight Loss…Just as plain old water does, carbonated water helps you feel full longer…perhaps even better.

 

Now that we have established the fact that sparkling mineral water is a better alternative to Coke...for many reasons…such as Cokes being about a hundred times more erosive to teeth than sparkling mineral water, not containing any sugar or calories, and not being loaded with insulin-raising sugars or filled with extremely health-hazardous fake sugars like aspartame…

And now that we have also established the fact that sparkling water is also perhaps a better alternative to regular tap water…for many reasons…such as the possible, or probable, presence of dangerous toxins in our water supply…as proven by the findings of 316 different chemicals in tap water throughout the United States…

 

Let’s check which options of ready-to-drink carbonated water are the best ones to grab out of all the available alternatives.

  • (to be added later)

Final Thoughts…

  1. Make sure that you are choosing a sugar-free, unflavored sparkling mineral water that doesn’t contain any calories, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, citric acid or any other acids, and any other additives.
  2. Spike sugary fruit juices with sparkling water.
  3. Try infusing your sparkling water just as you would regular water…with options such as watermelon, rosemary, blueberries, cucumber, lavender, and mint.