When the last sheep disappeared from the pasture below stone ridge, the briars invaded. In just a generation, they suffocated almost everything of value. Here’s what was left:
Clearing the pasture has been like peeling a gigantic and stubborn onion. First come the scythes. Then clippers. Then the big guns.
As we drag off the thorny branches, uncovering years of broken bottles, pipes, tubes, old boots… we do a lot of grumbling. Wildlife appreciate the bramble fruit, but the feeble root system doesn’t even help prevent erosion. I want to weep each time we uncover a stunted oak.
But as we clear, dreams come true. I always wanted an orchard of walnut trees, and here on the battlefield, one is born. They rise out of the rubble, smooth trunks of white; lithe, graceful, irridescent.
What pleasure to set the invaders on fire.
Cheers for the liberated trees. We have other places where the brambles can protect animals. But not now, not here.
And spoils for the victor. Above the pasture a wild walnut has matured. We collect a brimming basket.
I get busy in the kitchen while the weary tend to the weapons.
Recipe for Walnut Pumpkin Pie
I adapted this from the beautiful book “Citrouilles et Potirons” by Vreny Walther and Erica Banziger. Happy Thanksgiving!
1. Prepare your favorite pie crust, bake until almost cooked, and set aside.
2. The filling:
300 grams pumpkin puree – 275 grams walnuts – 3 tablespoons brown sugar – 40 grams softened butter – 200 grams creme fraiche (or heavy cream) – 2 pinches ginger powder – 1 pinch clove powder – 1 pinch nutmeg powder – 1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder – 2 tablespoons honey – 2 beaten eggs – 3 tablespoons rum or orange juice – 1 pinch salt
First, prepare the pumpkin purée: You need 500 grams of pumpkin, skinned and cut in little pieces. If you don’t have a pumpkin patch, perfect time to visit the farmer’s market. Cook the pumpkin by steaming, then mash it. Use cheesecloth or equivalent to drain the excess water from the mashed pumpkin.
In a separate bowl, mix the walnuts, brown sugar and butter. Put this mixture on the bottom of the pie crust.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour this over the walnut mixture in the pie crust.
Bake in a pre heated oven at 440 Fahrenheit (230 Celcius) in the middle of the oven, for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 Fahrenheit (190 Celcius) and continue cooking for another 40 minutes. Let the pie cool before serving.