As you know, the humble pumpkin has one very important function above and beyond the purely culinary – it is essential for the proper manufacture of Halloween lanterns. You may not be aware of another role in another scary situation. The pumpkin is, according to an article in the Brisbane Courier of April 17, 1891, useful for distracting sharks away from happy picnickers.
“Here is a hint for Inspector Fison and his white shark pets in Moreton Bay. One day last week there was a picnic down Sydney harbour (says the Evening News). One of the guests, M. Bonifacio Zurbano, of George-street, seeing a number of sharks about a boat, in which were a number of the picnickers, conceived a very happy idea, and one, we venture to say, unequalled in the annals of shark stories. Mr. Zurbano roasted a large pumpkin until it was thoroughly done. He then threw is near to a large shark, who took it down at one full gulp. Things were quiet for a minute or two when the shark commenced jumping out of the water to a height of 6 ft. or 7 ft., now rushing this way, now that, and lashing the sea into foam. What ultimately became of the fish is not known, but one can guess that in future, if it has survived the vegetable pill, it will, however hungry, draw the line at baked pumpkin.”
To settle your nerves after that idea, and at the particular request of reader Alf, I now give you Pumpkin Scones which are very popular here in Queensland. They are the default scones, actually, in spite of their association with one of our previous Premiers (or rather, his wife … This is not the place for political commentary, so I wont give any.)
The recipe is from a little book intended to assist the teaching of “plain cookery to school girls”, called Simple Cookery. It was published by The Department of Public Instruction in Queensland, in (I think) the 1940’s.
Materials: 1 ½ cups flour; ½ cup mashed pumpkin; 1 teaspoon cream of tartar; ½ teaspoon soda; ½ teaspoon salt; 1 dessertspoon sugar; 1 egg; 1 tablespoon butter; ½ cup milk.
Utensils: Bowl, wooden spoon, cutter, baking dish, knife.
1. Cream butter and sugar; add mashed pumpkin, egg, and milk.
2. Sift in flour mixed with cream of tartar, soda, and salt.
3. Turn onto a floured board; knead lightly; press out flat, and cut into scones.
4. Bake in quick oven 15 to 20 minutes.
And because I want to extend your opinion of the culinary potential of this vegetable that is botanically a fruit, I give you this interesting idea from the Canberra Times, in 1931
This pickle is ready to eat 24 hours after it is made. Peel and seed about 5 lb pumpkin. Cut the pulp in pieces about 3 in. long and 1 in. wide. Steam till tender. In the meantime, put one quart vinegar into a saucepan with one pint water, 2 lb. sugar, one tablespoonful salt, and four sticks cinnamon, broken in small pieces. Bring to the boil. Drain the pumpkin, put into small jars and fill up with boiling vinegar.
Quotation for the Day.
It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber.