A phrase writers like to toss around is “kill your darlings,” which references the need, during revision, to nix even the parts of your work you’re most attached to if they’re not advancing the piece. Saturday—since I’ve already committed to this horrible stretch of an analogy—the “darling” in question was a disturbing-looking pumpkin and the “killing” was its necessary lobotomy.
PHASE 1: ACQUISITION
Late October, I’d been invited to paint pumpkins at someone’s house as a fall-themed get-together. The girls around me were drawing cute little witch silhouettes, patterning sprinkles for a donut themed pumpkin, and doodling breakfast foods to make features like that of a jack-o-lantern. I sat in front of my blank pumpkin for a good ten minutes, stumped. I’d never been invited to paint pumpkins before, and for good reason, because this is what I came up with.
Back home, I placed it onto the kitchen counter and wondered if it’d give my roommate a scare if she walked out and glimpsed it in the dark.
Just like how no one batted an eye when this week I said I’d be performing a lobotomy and gave no further context, my roommate, in October, had little visible reaction to my unintentional moon emoji of a pumpkin. I wasn’t sure I liked that I was now the girl who can offhandedly mention performing lobotomies or bring home anthropomorphic pumpkins without anyone even being concerned.
Robbed of my expected shock value, I took a knife to Mr. Moon without any fanfare this Friday. I carved him open because I was scared he’d start growing mold. It didn’t help that he had a face.
PHASE 2: STRATEGY
With Mr. Moon gutted and resting in pieces, I stored him in the fridge and decided his fate: leek & pumpkin cannelloni, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin fries. I invited TDM (The Death of Me, AKA the guy who watched me leap off a lime scooter and still stuck around) to cook on Saturday.
TDM: Leek cannelloni? That’s blasphemy.
Me: So does that mean you’re not going to eat any?
TDM: … No.
We went shopping for ingredients at H-E-B, where I recognized the stupidity of getting rid of the pumpkin by cooking it into recipes but, in doing so, buying a dozen more ingredients to make said recipes. I relaxed into the cognitive dissonance.
PHASE 3: OPERATIONS
Back at the apartment, we met some complications. In our defense, TDM and I couldn’t have known about them. We couldn’t have known that goat cheese was sold in 5 oz (not 8 oz) containers, that there was a substantial difference between confectioner’s and granulated sugar, and that we had no proper baking equipment for our purposes. We couldn’t have known because to have known we would’ve had to possess the capacity for foresight.
So, we improvised. I converted some measurements and substituted the leftover parmesan for goat cheese. TDM added an afterthought layer of granulated sugar to the pie crust. I Googled “what to do no pie dish” and we made things work with an oiled cast iron pan.
PHASE 4: DISPOSAL
Four hours later, after following three recipes at once, we were so hungry that everything tasted delicious. The secret to cooking tasty food for people is just starving them before you serve it.
The pie filling was a faithful remake and the crust was successful in some places (a characteristic I can particularly relate to.) We had to flip it into a plate so as not to scratch the pan, but it was beautiful.
The leek cannelloni was heavenly, though honestly I think we could’ve taken out the middle man with the leeks and just baked the cheese. I also always for some reason expect substitute recipes—i.e. leek for the pasta shell of cannelloni—to taste more like the originals and feel indignant when I bite into a leek and don’t taste starch.
The pumpkin fries, while tasty, took five times longer than the purported 25-minute baking time because I learned nothing from the Zoodle Incident and cut them into too-large slices. (The photo is of the pre-baked fries.)
Overall, though, we were proud of ourselves. Our stomachs were full. We’d cleaned up the kitchen as we cooked. We’d stood for several hours. We’d… used less than a third of Mr. Moon, the entire purpose behind our troubles.
TDM: I’m so tired. Cooking takes so much time.
Me: That’s why what you do is occasionally cook just to assure yourself you’re capable of it and then order in the rest of the time.
TDM looked at me either like I’d solved the universe, or that I’d voiced the dumbest thing he’d ever heard. No in between.
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