Thursday, October 7, 2010

Falls Colors and Pumpkins

Wow the colors in the leaves are starting to pop. image image It’s been noticeable through Kentucky and even more so as we enter West Virginia.

When we crossed into West Virginia this morning, we stopped at a visitor center and once again we stumbled into something fun. In Milton, WVA there is a huge pumpkin festival starting…today! This is a huge festival with lots of crafts, food, pumpkin this and pumpkin that, a lots of homemade apple butter and pumpkin butter being made right before our eyes in big copper kettles.image Oh I am in heaven! It smells so good cooking. image Another thing that was cooking was Sorghum cane (sore-gum). I haven’t heard of it either. We saw fields of this growing and didn’t know what it was. It looked like corn with a different kind of tassels on top. But we knew it wasn’t corn and now we know it’s Sorghum. So, they take this cane and put it through a press to squeeze the juice out of it.image    Then they take the juice and put it in a long rectangle vat. In this vat is a maze like structure that is required in the cooking process. They start the cooking process on low heat at one end of the vat. The heat is progressively increased as the juice makes it way through the maze. The juice is stirred slowly and pushed through the maze as it thickens.image Any foam or residue is skimmed off the the top. When the cooking process of the cane juice is finished, taking about 2 1/2 hours, you have a type of molasses called Sorghum molasses. It’s so good and it’s used like any other molasses or honey. Yes another new thing learned. Speaking of learning. I was taught how to use a draw knife to plane down wood, image angle the wood, and fit the pieces of wood together to make a bucket. image Back in the early days if you made items like this you would be a Cooper. I have never heard that term. So much time and hard work goes into making something like this. It would take about a full day to make one bucket. Fun to learn how to use these old tools. It makes you appreciate the craftsmanship and the hard work that went into making anything back then. A blacksmith was also there. I turned down the chance to try my hand at this and opted to watch this craftsman. Wow they can make it look easy.image Soap making was also there. How did our forefathers even figure out that lard, lye, and water, if cooked long enough, would make soap?image Ok we are at the Pumpkin Festival  and there were plenty of pumpkinsimage including these giant ones.image This Big Boy is over 900 pounds! image The farmer was disappointed in the pumpkin sizes this year. Last year, the largest was just under 1200 lbs!         I say – that will make one heck of a big pie for Thanksgiving.

Fun day and pretty day in Milton, West Virginia.image


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