Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Of Pumpkins and Misadventures

I neglected to mention this in my last post on purpose. It warranted its own post, if only because it was a big enough story on its own.

Before I gained more employment, I had lots of time on my hands. To be fair, I still do, but not quite as much as before. I spent a decent chunk of that time scrolling through Pinterest, seeing what new cooking trend I just had to try. With the advent of our beloved Instant Pot, my feed has been full of new ideas for how to utilize it. Since it was fall time, pumpkin ideas also permeated my feed. One day, I saw a post for how to cook down pumpkins in an Instant Pot. Mom has always romanticized how much better pumpkin dishes taste when made from fresh pumpkin, as opposed to canned. Since I had time on my hands, and I was inspired by Pinterest's ability to convince me to try things I usually wouldn't, I decided to give it a shot. 

So I bought a pumpkin, a pie pumpkin, no less. The chirpy stay-at-home moms who write the cooking blogs that fill Pinterest told me to. (I'm only assuming they're chirpy. They're probably actually just nice, pleasant women making an honest living while caring for their children and being as economical as possible. I digress...) Since it had to go in the Instant Pot, it couldn't be any too big. Thomas was somewhat dubious about this venture (I'm sure), but he went along with it, because he knew it meant getting some form of baked good, which is always a good thing. 

Mimi's wonderful pumpkin bread was first on my agenda. So, I dutifully followed the directions, which started with lopping off the stem so the pumpkin could fit in the pot. That was pretty difficult, only because pumpkins, like most gourds, have a very thick rind and an even thicker stem. I eventually succeeded and ended up with a nicely cooked pumpkin within about 15 minutes of starting. I'll spare you the minutiae of everything else and suffice to say that I ended with 2 delectable loaves of pumpkin bread. I didn't notice a huge difference in flavor, but it was still good nonetheless. 

Obviously, that's not where the story ends. (Why would it be?)

Seeing that my first venture with pumpkins went rather...smashingly....(yes, I went there. pun intended.) I opted to buy not one, but two more pumpkins since they'd probably be virtually impossible to come by after Halloween. That was probably about 2 or 3 weeks ago, when our local grocery store had them on a 2/$3 sale. I figured that'd be more than enough pumpkin to suffice us. I didn't do anything with them immediately, as the following days were when I found out about more work opportunities, and I got too busy to do anything with them. Thank goodness pumpkins are hearty and can hold up to my procrastination! This past Saturday was finally when I decided to pull the trigger on them once again. 

I put the first pumpkin in to cook, no issues. My only regret is that I didn't cook it for any longer. I think it was noticeably bigger than the original, so it could've stood to have another 3-5 minutes under pressure. I eventually had to put it back in the oven to cook down for a while longer. I'm not totally convinced that that helped, just saying. Since pumpkins are also very dense, they hold heat for a long time. Hence, I was at a standstill until it cooled enough for me to handle it. In the meantime, I decided to toss the other pumpkin in the pressure cooker to cook down. I lopped off some of the stem, but that was a fruitless effort. It wasn't going to successfully fit, so I was back to square one--having to cook it down in the oven. It was already pushing 10 PM at this point, so I decided to take a pause for the cause and finish out the one pumpkin I had started. 

(What, doesn't everyone start large cooking projects late in the evening?)

In the meantime, there was laundry to shuffle around, dinner to put away, and dishes to do, so I got distracted from my end goal (finishing the pumpkin). At some point, Thomas came in and decided to help me, which was much appreciated. I also decided to make a cup of peppermint tea. Meanwhile, Thomas took another crack at pumpkin #2's stem, trying to shorten it some more. I decided that I needed to get down our immersion blender to work all of pumpkin #1's flesh into a nice, usable puree. (Like I said, it didn't cook for nearly long enough...) As I was starting to assemble the blender and letting my tea steep, I heard shouting (and cursing) from Thomas. (It was about 11:45 at this point...)

Upon investigation, I found out that the knife went astray and slipped. The results were a nickel-diameter laceration in the top of Thomas' left hand, right between his thumb and index finger. Better yet, it was gushing blood. I like to think I can handle most situations, but I was feeling more than a little squeamish at the sight. Thankfully, my husband, being the responsible Eagle Scout who is adequately trained in first aid precautions was able to tend to himself. I, on the other hand, more or less paced around nervously, wondering if he'd need stitches and wanting to call Gina, the ER nurse who is always our family's go-to when we're deciding whether or not to pull the plug on an ER trip. 

Meanwhile Thomas was alternating putting pressure on the wound with an old washcloth and running it beneath cold water. After seeing that Gina was still awake (she just sent me a text), I called her with no hesitation. She had a good laugh about the situation, and after we sent her some pictures so she could virtually triage him, she determined that an ER trip would be our best bet to ensure that it was just a superficial wound and so that he could heal better. What a sight we were...we scrambled to put on shoes and jackets, as I asked Siri to help me find a good ER facility that wasn't in a sketchy place. (a time when I hate being largely unfamiliar with the territory from a medical standpoint)

Siri brought me the results of an ER facility no more than a mile north of us with glowing Yelp reviews, so that's where we headed. If only I had had a flashing light to pop on the top of my car...

At this point, Thomas and I both intermittently laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation and marveled at the new milestone we'd reached--our first ER trip as a married couple! (Well, ever, actually.) We arrived to find an empty waiting room and friendly faces. There were, thank God, no other patients there, so they whisked Thomas away to actually be triaged, while I stayed behind to fill out paperwork. It was an eye-opener to be able to legally fill out paperwork on Thomas' behalf, seeing as it was the first time I could do so. (Honestly, it was a little bit that weird?)

Soon enough I was able to go back and be with him. All of the staff was pleasant, and they worked quickly to get Thomas stitched back up. He was the lucky (??) recipient of a tetanus booster shot and 6 stitches! (I think he preferred the pre-stitch lidocaine shot, though...just saying!) Within an hour or so, we were able to leave. The whole time, I kept Gina updated on his situation via text. (Honestly, she enjoyed the play-by-play. Especially since she was invested in it by that point.) I also continued to find an inordinate amount of weird humor in this. Thomas did too. We never lost our sense of humor amid the chaos, so I'd say we came through this challenge with flying colors! 

Not sure if it was the lidocaine shot or the first stitch...either way, he wasn't a fan.

Of course we got a selfie...isn't that what everyone does in the ER?

12 hours later when we changed the dressing.
I'll spare you the gory pictures of the wound're welcome.
We got home sometime after 1 AM. The kitchen was a wreck, as the flesh from pumpkin #1 was still sitting in a bowl needing to be pureed. The immersion blender sat on the counter, still partially assembled. My peppermint tea was long cooled back to room temperature, tepid at best. (Thankfully I had the foresight to remove the tea bag, otherwise it probably would've been bitter, also.) The sink was, once again, overflowing with large dishes that weren't suitable for the dishwasher. For the sake of attaining a decent night's rest, I put saran wrap on the pumpkin bowl, tossed it in the fridge and said to hell with it all and went to bed. (Well, after I reheated and slurped down my tea. Couldn't let that go to waste...)

Finally, on Monday I finished the pumpkin project. It took way longer than it should have, and at this point, we didn't even come close to breaking even from a cost standpoint. (The ER bill will probably blow that idea out of the water...)

However, I did come out with about 10 cups of pumpkin puree, 2 of which I used to make a crustless pumpkin pie yesterday. And I now get to help Thomas rebandage his wound twice a day, which is an added perk. So I guess all's well that ends well...thanks, Pinterest!

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