The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


Farm Family Insights: by Natalie Dowell Schmitt

Harvest Meal

I have been waiting a year to share this next recipe and story with you. There is one dish all four of our kids request every fall. It all started with Jonathon's special project of growing monster pumpkins. He was in grade school and wanted to see how big of pumpkins he could grow. The first year, someone stole the large pumpkins out of the field next to the road the night before we were going to pick them. The second year we planted in a different spot and he succeeded in growing a pumpkin large enough to fit over his head.

He cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin to fit over his head and sit on his shoulders. He cleaned the cavity out of seeds and fibers and cut out Jack-O-lantern eyes and mouth and became the "Headless Horseman" for Halloween. He marched around the elementary school in the Halloween parade with this huge pumpkin on his head.

It was such a hit that it became a tradition for the other kids to grow a pumpkin large enough to fit over their heads and march around the school.

Since we were growing pumpkins every year for the Halloween costume, I needed to come up with things to do with all of the pumpkins. I would cook several pumpkins at a time in the oven and then process them into freezer bags for use in pies and bars. Then I came across a recipe in my Oct/Nov 1995 issue of Taste of Home that became the family favorite harvest dish.

At the end of a safe and bountiful harvest, I would cook up a harvest meal for our family and all of the helpers. Pumpkin Stew was the main dish and the main attraction at the table for this special meal. It was a simple meal of stew, rolls and pie but everyone pushed away from the table with full stomachs and deep sighs of peace.

Don't be afraid to make this pumpkin stew. It really is very easy.

I've also included a couple of recipes from Kaye Siewert of Zumbro Falls, MN. Our kids went to college together and Michael raves about her cooking. She was kind enough to share with me some of their family favorites.

Pumpkin Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in to 1-inch cubes
3 TBSP cooking oil, divided
1 c. water
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 large green pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 TBSP instant beef bouillon
1 can (14 oz) tomatoes, undreained, cut up
1 pumpkin ( 10 -12 pounds)

In a dutch oven, brown meat in 2 tablespoons oil. Add water, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Stir in bouillon and tomatoes.

Prep the pumpkin: Wash pumpkin; cut 6 to 8 inch circle around top stem. Remove top and set aside; discard seeds and loose fibers from inside. Place pumpkin in a shallow sturdy baking pan.

Spoon stew into pumpkin and replace the top.

Brush outside of pumpkin with remaining oil.

Bake at 325 for 2 hours or just until the pumpkin is tender. (Do not overbake as pumpkin will slump down and won't hold the stew very well.)

Serve stew from pumpkin, scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving.

Cheddar Ham Chowder –Kay Siewert

2 c. water
2 c. cubed peeled potatoes
½ c. sliced carrots
½ c. sliced celery
¼ c. chopped onion
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ c. butter
¼ c. flour
2 c. milk
2 c. (6 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 can (16 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 ½ c. cubed fully cooked ham

In large saucepan, bring the water, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Remove from heat, DO NOT DRAIN.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour, Add milk, cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add cheese and stir until melted.

Stir into the vegetable pot, add corn and ham; heat through, stirring occasionally. Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins - Kay Siewert

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin
1 c. vegetable oil
3 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 c. chocolate chips

In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until smooth.

Combine flour, soda, powder, cinnamon and salt; add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill paper-lined muffin cups ¾ full.

Bake at 400 degrees fro 16 – 20 minutes or until muffins test done. Remove from pans. Yield: about 30 standard size muffins

Silky Pumpkin Pie

3 large eggs
½ c. sugar
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ c. cooked pumpkin puree (15 oz can)
3 TBSP melted butter
1 TBSP flour
½ tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 pie shell

Whisk together eggs, sugar, condensed milk, pumpkin and butter till thoroughly combined. In bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Stir into pumpkin mixture. Pour filling into pie shell.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes until set around edges and slightly loose in center. Cool 1 hour. Cover and chill. (If there are any leftover pieces from supper, Mark will grab a slice of pumpkin pie in the morning as he heads out from milking!)


As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.