Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hurling Punkins and I Baked a Bundt

Hi Everyone! Guess where I went yesterday? Give up? Punkin Chunkin'! Yep, it's true. I went over to Bald Eagle State Park, right here in central PA, to the third annual Punkin Chunkin' Festival! What? You've never heard of Punkin Chunkin? Well, it's fairly new to me also. Actually, this is the first time I have ever gone to such an event. However, Punkin Chunkin has been around for sometime. As a matter of fact, there's even a Punkin’ Chunkin’ Association!

...Since 1986, the great pumpkin has been at the center of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin, where "backyard engineers" test the limits of pumpkin physics...So far the limits of punkin chunkin stand at 4,438 feet...Pumpkins rocket into the sky from different types of launchers, or "chunkers": catapults, trebuchets and air cannons.

The event has its beginnings in a blacksmith shop owned by John Ellsworth. In 1986 Ellsworth, Trey Melson, Bill Thompson and Donald "Doc" Pepper began experimenting with punkin chunking after reading an article about a physics class that threw pumpkins as an exercise in energy and mass...

Bald Eagle is a beautiful state park. One of 119 state parks strewn all over Pennsylvania. Since moving here, I've only been to Bald Eagle one other time and that was after they built the Nature Inn back in 2010.

Nature Inn at Bald Eagle is unlike any place in the Pennsylvania State Park system. Nestled within the natural beauty of Bald Eagle State Park, in the very center of the state, the Inn combines the comfortable amenities of an inviting bed and breakfast with sweeping views and door-step access to year-round land and water activities...

If you look waaaaay back there in the picture above, you should be able to see a piece of machinery with something way at the top that looks like a target. That's one of the Punkin Chunkin' catapulting contraptions. It's actually called a trebuchet. Wait, here's a close-up.

Once used in the Middle Ages to take down fortress walls, the trebuchet lobs objects that weigh hundreds of pounds, thousands of feet and at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour.

The ornamental pumpkins used for chunkin, were donated by a local Amish farm. After the event is over, the broken pumpkins are retrieved by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and returned to the Amish farm community where they are used for feed for the pigs.

I don't know if you can see them that well because it was a rather overcast day at Bald Eagle but, here are just a few of pumpkins floating in the lake.

There were about 10 Punkin Chunkin machines at the event. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get my bearings long enough to actually capture a flying pumpkin:( I did get a few pictures of the hurling pumpkin machines before it started to rain.

The kids had a blast when the little catapulting machines were all gussied up.

Yes, there were tons of vendors hawking their wares. The weather wasn't really friendly enough for outdoor shopping. But, I must say, there was an array of seasonal crafts and lots of foods. (I did manage to buy a huge jar of honey from a local beekeeper:)

And, I made my way past the Fudge Puppies but resisted:)

It really was a memorable experience even if I didn't actually get to see pumpkins flying. Things were happening so quickly and while the sky was promising rain, I just knew it was time for me to head out before thousands of other people did. (last year 12,000 people visited:) I'm glad I did. It took me two hours to get back to a main road!

Boy was I glad when I finally made it home to this home made Pumpkin Carrot Cheese Filled Bundt Cake.

Doesn't look half bad, does it? It's actually an idea I thought of while I was reading this recipe for Rutherford Wynd Pumpkin Bread in the Heritage of Southern Cooking by Camille Glenn published in 1986.

I had all the ingredients for the recipe but I wanted to add some carrots. (Marion went on one of her buying sprees and came home with 5 bags of carrots:) Yes, five! I also had seen a pumpkin bread recipe in one of my other cookbooks that had a layer of cream cheese squeezed through the middle. Enticing:)

So basically, what I did was:

1. I added a cup of shredded carrots to the pumpkin batter. And substituted 1/2 cup brown sugar for the sugar in the pumpkin batter. (1 cup white sugar & 1/2 cup brown)
2. Since I used pumpkin pie filling that already was seasoned, I omitted the cinnamon and nutmeg. (Marion insists on buying Libby's pre-seasoned pumpkin filling. Thankfully, we only have four large cans:) (yes, I will be donating a few:) I also omitted the water because I figured the carrots would hold enough moisture even though I spun them dry:) I suggest adding the water or perhaps some pineapple juice.
3. As for the cream cheese "layer," I mixed up 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar, (I always have vanilla sugar on hand but you can use regular sugar) 1 tablespoon of flour and one egg. (I omitted the orange zest and went with lemon. I also added about 1/3 of a cup of shredded carrots:) I was going to decrease the sugar but I was glad I didn't. If I didn't add the carrots I probably would have decreased the sugar as I didn't want the cream cheese layer to be too sweet. It wasn't.

As you can see, I also baked the whole shebang in a bundt pan. First a layer of the thick pumpkin batter which I had to spread with a spatula. Then dollops of the cream cheese mixture, and the rest of the batter spread over the cream cheese. I was rather messy with the spreading and dolloping but it worked! I also glazed it with a quick mixture of confectionery's sugar and milk.

The verdict? Dee...li...cius! Not too pumpkinney and not to carrotty. As a matter of fact, the carrots added moisture and a coconut like texture that Marion thought was real coconut; dyed! Pumpkinification!

Pasta Party Update: The Pasta Party is coming along famously! As of this very moment, we have 18 Pasta dishes en-route to the Party! It isn't too late to join in on the fun. Here's the Pasta Party invite just in case you missed it. You have until October 23rd to get your entrees in. Just wait until you see the array of glorious dishes we are going to have. Each and every one looks more delicious than the other. (in no particular order of course:) Thanks everyone! I'll be back on Wednesday with a Wordless Wednesday post and of course the Pasta Party Round-Up on Friday for World Pasta Day! Be sure and bring huge appetites!