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Pumpkins Inside & Out

Heading into the grocery store on Labor Day weekend, I was taken aback by a row of smiling jack-o'-lanterns out front. I counted eight weeks until Oct. 31. Others might complain about rushing holidays, but this practice seems perfectly normal to me as a cross stitcher. Of course I'm stitching Halloween designs in the summer, Christmas ornaments before Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July pot holders in May. How else is a cross stitcher to finish projects in time for the holiday?

My second thought when I saw those grocery-store gourds was, "Ooh ... white pumpkins!" I started thinking about carving an albino jack-o'-lantern, then wondered if the insides of the pumpkin were white as well. I discovered that pumpkin color is only skin deep, and a white pumpkin is orange inside.

Actually, it doesn't matter whether fresh pumpkin flesh is orange or green or purple. I prefer pumpkin in a can for recipes. I'm not a fan of slimy, stringy slop. My husband would disagree about that; I am quite fond of Pumpkin Peanut Butter Soup. Here's a good recipe:

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
3 cups broth (I use vegetable broth, but chicken broth also works)
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat 2 percent milk
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, shallots and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in marjoram and thyme; cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth and pumpkin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in evaporated milk and peanut butter.

Transfer mixture to blender or food processor (in batches, if necessary); cover. Blend until smooth. Return to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until heated through.

If you'd rather stitch than slurp your pumpkin, we have several designs from the current issue of Just CrossStitch:

Click here for larger image

Three of these pumpkin designs are in the current October Just CrossStitch, and we have six more in the Just CrossStitch Halloween issue. Any stitcher, whether a beginner or an expert, can make one or more of these designs. One reader wrote to say she enjoyed seeing beginner projects in Just CrossStitch. See her comment in the Reader Feedback section.

Several other designs in the October issue feature pumpkins.

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Click here for larger image Click here for larger image

The Just CrossStitch Halloween issue, on sale now, includes a pumpkin on the cover and several inside.

Just CrossStitch Halloween

This update's free pattern features white pumpkins and hydrangeas.

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