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LIFTING THE FORK: Get ready for the Giant Pumpkin Festival at Fir Point Farms
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I felt a bit like Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk fame when the man dropped the seeds into my hand.

'Plant these on April 15, pointy side down,' he said. 'Don't let the soil get too wet or too dry. Give the plant plenty of room to grow and stand back!'

He smiled a bit mischievously as he put his hand back into the pumpkin and pulled out more seeds. Mark, my husband, and I exchanged glances - what magic were we holding?

We had just been admiring the exhibits at the Clackamas County Fair when we happened upon the man standing by the gigantic pumpkin. He considered it a 'baby,' even though it weighed upwards of 800 pounds.

The man was a member of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers Association, a group that grows giant-sized pumpkins, squash, tomatoes and watermelon just for the fun of it. He bragged about how he used his neighbor's backhoe to lift this 'baby' into the bed of his truck to get it to the fairgrounds.

'This is nothing - come to the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-in in October. We grow 'em up to 1,400 pounds!' he said.

Mark your calendar - the Giant Pumpkin Festival is set for Oct. 7 and 8 at Fir Point Farms in Canby. Come and see for yourself the amazing crop of giants.

The festivities begin at 10 a.m. when a giant pumpkin is dropped from the sky to crush a car. Please, friends - do not try this at home - leave these hijinx to the professionals!

Festival organizers are expecting 80 pumpkins weighing anywhere from 700 to 1,400 pounds for the weigh-in. Competitions are also planned for the tallest sunflower, biggest tomato, and biggest squash. Big prize money is on the line, friends.

The farmers at Fir Point Farms are organizing pumpkin patch activities for the whole month of October. You will find hayrides, buggy rides, a corn maze, pumpkin slingshot, a pitch-black hay maze, pony rides, pumpkin carvers, and delicious food. Last but far from least, you can enjoy the antics of the tree climbing goats and Myrtle the 600- pound-pig.

Can you take more giant pumpkin fun? Join me at the Pumpkin Regatta Oct. 28. Members of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers organization will use giant pumpkins as boats in a Cinderella-esque regatta on the Lake on the Commons in downtown Tualatin. This I have to see!

In keeping with our giant pumpkin theme, try these big-on-flavor pumpkin muffins. Perfect for a fall breakfast, you will want to plan cooling time into your preparation so you can glaze them before eating.

Bon Appetit - Eat Locally!

Giant Pumpkin Muffins with Molasses-Ginger Glaze

Makes 6 giant or 18 standard sized muffins

Nonstick vegetable oil spray, or paper muffin cup liners

2 ¾ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

½ cup canola oil

3 large eggs

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon mild-flavored (light) molasses

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup chopped crystallized ginger, divided

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 ½ tablespoons (or more) water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 6 giant muffin cups or 18 muffin cups with nonstick spray (or use liners). Sift flour, ginger, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat one cup sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in pumpkin, ½ cup molasses, buttermilk, and ¼ cup crystallized ginger. Stir in flour mixture until just blended.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes for giant muffins and 30 minutes for standard muffins. Transfer muffins to rack; cool completely.

Whisk powdered sugar, 1½ tablespoons water and one tablespoon molasses in medium bowl, adding more water as needed to form thick glaze.

Dip muffin tops in glaze; transfer to rack, allowing glaze to drip down sides. Sprinkle with ¼ cup crystallized ginger. Let stand until glaze is set, about one hour.

Adapted from Bon Appetit Dec.2005

For more information on the Giant Pumpkin events visit the Web site of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers at www.pgvg.org.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at brandall@lakeoswe

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