Kylee Baumle is a freelance garden writer and photographer living and gardening in Zone 5b in Northwest Ohio. She is the author of the award-winning blog, Our Little Acre.

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Cornucopia - Giving Thanks for the Harvest
by Kylee Baumle    

This cornucopia basket is filled with fresh cut flowers and makes a beautiful decoration for the table.

If you mention the word “cornucopia,” nearly everyone envisions a pointy basket with fresh fruits and vegetables spilling from its mouth. It’s a common sight this time of the year autumn, harvest and Thanksgiving and we see it appearing on everything from greeting cards to decorator items for the home.

Have you ever wondered where the cornucopia came from and how it became so iconic? I did, so I decided to do a little sleuthing to find out.

The word “cornucopia” has Latin roots and dates back to the 5th century, B.C. The first part of the word “cornu” means horn, while the second part “copia” means plenty. That explains the other common name by which cornucopia is known, the horn of plenty.

The container is distinctive and is usually a basket that does indeed look like a horn. It is said to originate in Greek mythology as the hollowed-out horn of a goat owned by Zeus’s nurse. When Zeus was playing with the goat, he accidentally broke one of its horns. To atone for this, Zeus promised to always keep the horn filled with the goat’s favorite fruits, thus a horn of plenty.

While we don’t know for sure, it’s likely that the first Thanksgiving in the United States could have had a cornucopia decorating the Pilgrims’ table. Then, it likely held seasonal fruits such as apples, vegetables like squash, and grains, including corn. Today, the basket sometimes is also decorated with fall flowers like mums and asters. Both then and now, the cornucopia is a symbolic celebration of the earth providing nourishment for its inhabitants.

Though Thanksgiving has at its heart an attitude of gratefulness for the blessings of the year, it is clearly a holiday centered around food. Across the country, meals are prepared with typical dishes served being roasted turkey, stuffing (or dressing), cranberry salad, and a favorite of many pumpkin pie.

Many years ago, I prepared an alternative to pumpkin pie that has become a family favorite. While for many, it’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, at our house it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without my pumpkin torte. Whenever I serve it to someone for the first time, it never fails to elicit requests for the recipe. If you’d like to try a delicious alternative to pumpkin pie, here it is:


Kylee's Pumpkin Torte


•  1 yellow cake mix (take out 1 cup)
•  3 eggs
•  1¼ cup white sugar
•  ¾ cup butter
•  ¾ cup evaporated milk
•  1 teaspoon cinnamon
•  1 large can pumpkin pie mix

Crust: Mix the cake mix (less 1 cup) with one egg and ½ cup butter. Press into the bottom of a greased jelly roll pan (10½ by 15½ by 1 inches).

Filling: Mix until smooth: pumpkin pie mix, 2 eggs and evaporated milk. Pour on top of the crust.

Topping: Mix 1 cup cake mix, sugar, cinnamon and ¼ cup butter. Sprinkle on top of the pumpkin mixture. Bake at 350° F for 45 to 50 minutes. Cut into squares and serve with whipped cream. Store in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin torte may very well become a new favorite at your house! It’s delicious served warm from the oven or after it has been refrigerated. 




Posted: 11/07/11   RSS | Print


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