It’s November, and you know what that means: Pumpkin is the new bacon.
Pumpkin is everywhere, flavoring everything from French toast to toothpaste. We’ve got pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin salsa, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin beer—in fact, I think that there actually is a pumpkin bacon. But probably the most familiar and best loved uses of the pumpkin, at least in this country, at least at this time of year, is to make it into a pie.
Pumpkin pie was my son’s favorite when he was young. I loved it too, because it was so darn easy to make. A can of pumpkin, a can of sweetened condensed milk, a frozen pie crust, and some eggs and spices were all it took for me to be the Mother Of The Year—or at least feel like I was.
I remember one November when my little boy wanted to have pumpkin pie for breakfast, and because he was my first child, I wouldn’t let him. I did, however, round up enough cans of pumpkin one May to make pumpkin pies for his entire kindergarten class for his birthday. I think I redeemed myself.
Pumpkin is one of those “what’s not to love” squashes. It’s easy on the eyes and easy on the palate. It has a perky color and a pleasing shape. It’s affably rotund, so we can feel trim in comparison. We know it’s healthy because it grows on a farm and it’s orange. We also know that we can take a brownie and stick some pumpkin in it and that makes it nutritious, and so then we can have two.
I learned to respect the pumpkin many years ago, when I was in the jack-o-lantern stage of my motherhood. I had gathered my kids around the kitchen table, and we gutted the gourd and ripped out its slimy innards. We managed to carve a crooked face into the thing, face enough for the candlelight to flicker through on Halloween.
The pumpkin shone on its night of glory, and then (harried mother that I was), I let it sit there and sit there until it became a true horror figure in its own right. I finally rolled it off onto the unkempt square of yard at the end of our driveway and forgot about it as it became covered with leaves and frost and slowly, grossly, disintegrated.
The following spring there was a pumpkin patch growing in its place. It was the revenge of the gourd.
Not only is it resilient, the pumpkin is versatile. It can be a door stop, a centerpiece, or a soup bowl. It’s got something for everyone. We can carve it, light it, chuck it, smash it, roast it, mash it, and turn it into risotto.
Now we’re in high pumpkin season. If turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving table, pumpkin is the best supporting actor. I’ve got a cornucopia full of pumpkins on the dining room table and two metal pumpkins decorating our deck. I’ve got a pumpkin cheesecake in the freezer, a pumpkin-shaped muffin tin in the cabinet waiting for batter, and a sweet little pumpkin on my counter that will eventually become a pie.
My son’s coming home for Thanksgiving, and he’ll get a big slice of it.
It’s what’s for breakfast.
Robin Conte is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody. She can be contacted at