Pumpkins as an Alternative Energy Source

Use pumpkins as an alternate energy source? Well, not really, but pumpkins, SEER ratings and gas furnaces are all related in my life right now. Which might seem odd– to you. Stay with me for a minute- it’s like a Seinfeld episode that will (kind of) make sense in the end.

Our house is a 1969 original. I think some people would call it vintage, which is a really nice way of saying old. Our air conditioner–when new–was maybe an 8 SEER. To qualify as energy efficient (and get the the tax rebate!), a new unit has to be at least a 16 SEER. We’ve fixed random-whatevers on that thing 5 or 6 times over the years. Then there is the gas furnace that turned 30 last year. In 2006, a few months after Elliot was born, it started doing this crazy blower-fan, pilot-light, crackle dance, whoosh-whoosh thing. We had it cleaned and it behaved itself for about a month. But one afternoon, during that 3 months of hell that other people call the “newborn phase”, a horrific sound–similar to a revving chainsaw–started downstairs. Want an adrenaline rush? Try hearing a noise in your basement that is reminiscent of bad Criminal Minds episode while home alone with your–SLEEPING–children. I grabbed hairspray and a lighter– thinking blow torch– and investigated. And I’m not even ashamed to admit that after realizing it was a gas-heater issue and not a serial killer that I decided not to wake up the 3 month old and 2 year old to evacuate. I did turn the thing off at the breaker and plug in the carbon monoxide detector. I’m a good mom, really.

So dealing with these issues, every season, has desensitized me to the whole efficiency/cost thing. The most recent repair was only a month ago, and the service tech warned me (again) that both the AC and furnace were close to death, and that the merciful thing for us all would be to replace them. I think he actually said, “I mean, we can keep replacing this stuff every few months if you want to, but it’s a waste of money and seems kind of dumb in the long run.”

Spending $4000 right before Christmas? Sometimes I hate being a home owner.

Okay, so the thingy that makes the thingy (it’s actually called a capacitor, but, really–who cares?) broke again right before we left for DC. Despite being the end of October, temperatures were a balmy 80 degrees. Of course, that didn’t last, and we’ve had a cold house for the past week or so. Why? Because I had to make a phone call to schedule an appointment and I hate talking on the phone. Especially when the result will be my having to talk to a salesman. Unfair stereotype or not, they often seem to come prepared with their “little woman doesn’t understand shit” sales pitch, which just pisses me off to no end. I do have to give this dude credit, he started off with the overly simplified dumb-pitch, but modified quickly after noticing my annoyed head-nods and hand waving. And his simplified start is probably more related to the general comprehension of who he talks to and not my gender. Probably.

Mostly we didn’t have working heat because I just am who I am, and simple things often take me a disproportionate amount of time to complete. I waste more time trying to remember that I need to do some random 5 minute task, you know later, than it would take for me to just go ahead and do it.

But I digress–Halloween is over and we had pumpkins everywhere. A few farm visits, a few State Farmer’s Market visits and suddenly you have a 5-member pumpkin family living on the dining room table.

(Numerous pumpkins + fall weather) – working heat = muffins.

This is how, for the first time ever in my life, I ended up carving pumpkins for roasting. It’s also how I ended up trying to make roasted pumpkin seeds (failed twice, before kind of getting it right the third time). As an aside, can someone please explain to me the relative effort/benefit ratio of fresh pumpkin? To me, the muffins taste the same as those made with canned pumpkin and cleaning a pumpkin is just a hot mess of slimy pumpkin guts. And, seriously, what the hell am I going to do with all of this puree? This is what is left after 48 muffins and two loaves of bread.

With any project that requires a certain degree of patience, I have to let my mind wander in order to slow myself down. Obviously, disemboweling several pumpkins is not a 5 minute task, so I started thinking about how dry the air was; how I needed to remember to put lotion on Elliot’s face when he woke up; how the winter-stale-air funky smell had already started; and how my first round of massacred pumpkins didn’t quite cook soft, despite roasting for over an hour.

All while trying not to cut off my fingers, because I didn’t stop to sharpen the knife beforehand and I was cutting round objects (and not really paying attention). People, I am my own worst enemy.

I ended up putting cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves (non-toxic air freshener) in a casserole dish full of water (humidity booster) below the roasting pan (faster cooking time) in the oven. And that’s the thing with having The ADHD– for every time it causes me problems, it also helps me think of solutions that the normal, attention-paying person would have missed.

Two hours of pumpkin roasting/muffins baking raised the air temperature at least 4 degrees, which is more than the furnace could do yesterday. But thanks to the three males who complained incessantly of being cold–despite the Small People’s refusal to wear socks and the Large Male Person’s refusal to wear a sweater–we actually have two shiny, energy efficient units today.

2 thoughts on “Pumpkins as an Alternative Energy Source

  1. totally stealing this phrase “disproportionate amount of time to complete” with your permission of course. and sorry i forgot your pumpkin stuff you were so kindly trying to get rid of 😛
    i am sorry too because i really liked those muffins—-verra moistacular

  2. You know how I am a do-everything-from-scratch-create-more-work-for-myself cook? I roasted pumpkins once. ONCE. And realized that it tasted exactly like the canned stuff, only I had a much more realistic amount to deal with when it came out of a can. The only time it matters is if you’re making Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (makes a BIG difference).

    Now, pumpkin seeds – mmmm. Martha Stewart will tell you how to do it. I like to use a finishing salt on them. Delicious.

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