October 23, 2014

'Hallowee' Carved a Pumpkin & Baked Pumpkin Seed Recipe

'Tis the season for Halloween merriment! One of my favorite things about Fall is all of the pre-holiday festivities: apple picking, corn mazes, state fairs, baking pies and naturally the carving of the seasonal squashes. Matt and I ventured into a corn maze a few weekends ago and "got lost" for a total of 26 minutes at Clinton Sease Farms. Matt had a game plan in place that including only taking left turns and as expected it worked. Next time, I intend for us to race. It was a beautiful sunny day and we had a blast.



Pumpkin Checkers - I was losing but an adorable
child interrupted our game by moving a few pieces for us.
Perfect timing.
It seems that apple orchards come far and few between here in South Carolina and that in order to have a fall-time apple experience, we'd have to drive up to North Carolina and this was meant to be more of a morning outing than an all-day adventure. As consolation for this lack of fruit foraging, Matt bought me a 27lb pumpkin. 

My big, strong man. Total babe.
For a few days while my pumpkin made itself at home on our front step, I contemplated a handful of themes and potential carving patterns. I searched Pinterest and ultimately decided on an owl in a tree. It was neat looking, without being too creepy. There are a ton of little kids in our neighborhood, and even though I'm certain they're plenty tough enough to withstand a scary pumpkin, I didn't want to freak any of them out. I've got a bunch of candy to get rid of, so I need as many trick or treaters as I can get. Since I couldn't print the pattern without paying for it (and we all know by now that I'm too cheap for that), I sort of copy-and-pasted the pattern into Microsoft Paint and estimated the size needed for my carving and printed it out. 

I picked up a cheap carving kit at the dollar store and set my pumpkin up on some newspaper on the counter. I then wiped it down to get rid of any residue or bugs. I then evaluated each side to determine which one should be carved. 


I took a tip from a Pinterest post (this one) that I had seen about how to cut the top to make it easier to hollow and carve. So I started the process by making an opening in the top and side.


I then used a number of tools including a plastic scoop, a spoon and the little knives provided in the kit to scoop out the innards. I tossed them in a bowl to be sorted through later (I like to bake the seeds... see my recipe below). Once I cleaned out the inside, I used a little tape to attach my pattern to the pumpkin. And that's where things got a bit trickier. I'll be honest, I don't remember pumpkin carving being so difficult when I was a kid. This may be due to the fact that it was such a large pumpkin, or maybe because it had such a thick hide, but it was rough on my hands. This work is not for the weary! Parents, maybe help your kids with this part.

I tried to cut the pattern into the pumpkin with the little saw provided and this proved to be rather challenging - mostly because the paper kept tearing and ruining my outline. Eventually my solution was to use a utility knife to make an incision to determine the outline. I then went back with the little saw and cut through the pumpkin.

In the end, I ended up free-handing some, simply for the fact that lighting and exhaustion made it difficult to follow my incisions. I was happy with the outcome, nonetheless:

Photo taken with one hand while balancing a kitten in the other.
I asked Matt if he would provide a lighting solution for the pumpkin - something other than a candle that might allow it to last a little longer. Anyone who regularly burns candles in their pumpkins knows that the soot can beat them up and cause them to "wilt" a little bit faster. In order to help it last longer and for an added cool factor, Matt programmed some LEDs for me that could be run through a 12V power source (aka the outlet on my stoop). It took him a few days, but the end result could not be more awesome. In fact, I was so pleased with the result that I made a song about it. Goes something like:

Our pumpkin brings all the kids to the yard
and they're like, yours is better than ours.
Darn right, ours is better than yours.
We could teach you, but we'd have to charge.

Okay, so maybe that's a knock off of that milkshake song, but it IS catchy.

Anyway, the pumpkin rotates through a few different colors every 15 seconds or so and it is spectacular. I posted a clip of it in action on my Instagram but I've got a couple of still shots for you.

All the pretty colors!
As for the pumpkin seeds - I bake them with a few simple spices, and they make a good snack to suck on. Here's the recipe I use:

What You Need

  • Pumpkin seeds, washed and drained
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp melted butter, optional

What You Do

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (F)
2. Coat damp seeds with butter, salt, garlic and pepper to taste
3. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet
4. Bake 30-40 minutes or until slightly golden
5. Let cool & enjoy!


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