When I think about fall, the first thing that comes to mind is my birthday, October 13th and second thing that comes to mind are pumpkins!
I remember the first time I carved a pumpkin… it was in the fourth grade and it was the most fun I have ever had. Every year since that wonderful discovery, I have made it a point to always carve pumpkins, whether it is with friends, family or just a beer.
Most people wouldn’t know this, but there is an art to carving a pumpkin and it starts from the moment you pick you out a pumpkin. You HAVE to get the right one; if you get any old pumpkin lying around you could be in big trouble later down the road.
Step one—picking the perfect pumpkin
Yes, there is an art to picking the perfect carving pumpkin and I have mastered it! You have to find a pumpkin that has a nice round shape, avoid awkward shaped pumpkins (unless that’s what you’re going for). I don’t like my pumpkin to have marks or bumps on its surface. It also has to stand up straight. The worst thing to happen is to finish carving a pumpkin and then realize that your master piece is ruined because of the angle that the pumpkin stands. Another important thing is finding the right stem. The stem has to be strong- if not it will break off and you will not be able to get into the pumpkin easily.
Step Two –Carving
Time to pick a design. I usually do something very simple, like a scary face or a happy face. Anything more complicated is very time consuming and usually doesn’t turn out as good as you planned. But, if you are skilled more power to ya! Or if you want to cheat and use a stencil, knock yourself out. But I always say keep it simple.
Once you have a beautiful design sharpied or markered on there, it’s time to carve that pumpkin up. I always cut the top of the pumpkin first and at an angle so the top doesn’t fall into the pumpkin. Your pumpkin needs to be totally free from all the seeds and gunk inside; if not, it will burn when the pumpkin is lite. Make sure you are using a knife that is serrated- it makes carving the pumpkin so much easier. After you have carefully carved a masterpiece, you should wipe off the pumpkin, put a tee candle in, and light it up! Stand back and check out your pumpkin’s beautiful radiance!
Last and Final Step: Roasting Seeds!
So to complete the perfect experience, I roast the pumpkin’s seeds! I like my pumpkin seeds crispy and spicy. After I wash and clean off the seeds, I get pretty impatient and just put them straight into the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are dry. Once they are pretty dry, I toss the seeds with a little oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, old bay seasoning and a little bit of cayenne pepper. I let the seeds roast at 400 degrees for about 25-30minutes. I check them every 10 minutes and stir them until they are golden brown. That’s it! You’re done with something good to munch on and something beautiful to look at!
PS Did I mention I am allergic to pumpkins? I have to carve pumpkins with gloves and saran wrap… fun. That’s what I call dedication to something I really love!