Halloween reminds me of Australia…more specifically our Australian daughter, Hayley.  Oh, you thought I only had one daughter…well, you’re right, but I adopted Hayley for a few weeks many years ago when we were lucky enough to have her as our exchange student.  So, whenever it’s time to go to the pumpkin patch, I think of her because that is the very first thing we did after picking her up from the airport that sunny fall day.

Going to the airport we were filled with anticipation…all we knew was her name and that she was about the same age as Dana.  Would she be nice?  Would they get along?  What would she like to eat? At the airport we joined a big group of other families from the school waiting to pick up their exchange students with signs and balloons.  Finally the plane landed and the young Aussies were coming out….which one was she?

We finally got to meet her!  She had a smile like a ray of sunshine and she couldn’t be nicer.  She and Dana started talking right away and we were thankful that she seemed comfortable with us.  We were instructed by the school to provide experiences that Australian children might not have had before…so…since it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon we headed straight to the pumpkin patch at Shaw Farm.

What we didn’t realize was that Hayley was very, very jet lagged…so we drove out to the country while she slept in the car.  She woke up once we arrived and she and Dana enjoyed picking out their pumpkins to carve for Halloween.

Australia does not celebrate Halloween so carving pumpkins was going to be a new experience for Hayley (sadly, she left right before she could go trick or treating).

In the brief time Hayley was with us we tried to pack in as many activities as possible.  One of her main goals was go to an American football game, which is quite different from Australian football.  We lived in Cincinnati at the time, so we arranged to go to a Bengals-Steelers game (quite the rivalry).  Somehow, the Bengals found out just how much ALL of the Australian students were interested in football and they invited the group to a special day at the stadium.  I’d never been on the field of a major league team myself and I can tell you it was very cool to be down there surrounded by 50,000. seats!

All to soon it was time for her to leave, but not before seeing local sights and taking part in a Thanksgiving dinner…(remember, they wanted us to show our visitors something that they would not see in Australia), so even though it was October, we had our first of two Thanksgiving meals that year.

One of the last activities was a performance given by the Australian students giving us a glimpse into their culture and traditions.

Hayley, Amanda and friends right before their performance

I wish that she could have stayed much longer, it seemed like she had just arrived when was time for her to go…a very sad day indeed.

We still keep in touch, now via Facebook , so we get to see her and her lovely family, yes, she has a family now…a handsome husband and two darling wee ones, a girl and boy.  Hopefully one day soon we will see her again, but in Australia this time.

When I asked Hayley what she would like to eat, she said that she liked to eat roasted pumpkin.  So, off I went to the farmer’s market and prepared the pumpkin for her… which was new for us because I had never served plain roasted pumpkin as a vegetable before.

I think that Hayley will like this recipe, it’s easy, and tasty.  I’m so glad that she was part of our family for awhile and got to share a few of our Sunday suppers.

Savory Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

This pumpkins soup is perfect for fall. It's easy and tasty.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped - 1 cup
1 large sweet apple, cored and chopped - 1 cup
4 cups - 32 oz. canned or homemade chicken stock
3 15 oz. cans pumpkin puree or 6 cups roasted fresh pumpkin
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 whole sprigs of fresh thyme
9 fresh sage leaves, crushed slightly in your hand

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add the chopped onion and apple and saute for about 10 minutes till onion is translucent and apple is soft.

Add the chicken stock, pumpkin, apple cider, half and half, salt, pepper, thyme and sage. (Tie the herbs together with kitchen twine, or wrap them in cheesecloth for easy removal from soup). Bring to a simmer on low heat and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove the sprigs of thyme and sage leaves.

In small batches, either in a food processor or blender, puree soup till smooth. Return to pan and heat to desired temperature.

Garnish with small cubes of apple and toasted hazelnuts, if desired.

Make it special, make it Sunday!

Enjoy!