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Entries in halloween (2)


A Halloween Message from The Box

The Real Purpose of Pumpkins

History buffs will recall the Wars of the Roses, which occurred in the mid to late 1400’s.
Basically, these were a series of civil wars fought for control of the English throne.
Henry IVHenry VHenry VI

*(The above depict historically good ideas for jack-o-lantern faces)

  Certainly, the Wars of the Roses should not be confused the “War of the Roses” a rather dark 1989 comedy about a bitter divorce, starting Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Neither of these “wars” can hold a candle to the “Pumpkin Wars” that were waged in our home from many years.

For the past week, readers of this site have been subject to a variety of different pumpkin uses and concoctions. While interesting and entertaining (although I, personally, don't like the taste of pumpkin in anything, except pumpkin pie) pumpkins were really put on earth for a sole purpose…to be carved up in to Jack-O-Lanterns.  

When Elana was very young she, like most young children, was relatively easy to entertain. When Halloween came around, I carved the “traditional” pumpkin with triangular eyes and nose, and the typical half-moon pumpkin grin complete with a choice of either pointy or squared-off teeth.

A typical "Box" pumpkin creation.

 For many years in succession the “traditional pumpkin” was the standard by which all neighborhood pumpkins were judged, and was always well received by Elana.  This blissful state of pumpkin admiration continued until Elana entered her teen years and decided that the Box’s pumpkin was the equivalent of a pre-historic cave drawing.   Bhimbetka rock painting. Thus, Elana embarked on a serious of “artsy” pumpkin carvings primarily designed to demonstrate that my own carvings were, most likely, the creation of cro magnon man.   For more years than I care to remember, we were forced to endure any number of Elana’s fanciful renderings which she, somehow, figured out how to etch into a pumpkin.  

For example...

Needless to say, each successive Halloween mandated a comparison between the Box’s traditional work and Elana’s latest creation. That process became like comparing Mount Rushmore to the Guggenheim. Readers will not be surprised that, each year, Elana declared herself the winner of this contest. In fact, I am absolutely convinced that, on one occasion, she paid off little kids to comment on how great her pumpkin was while it sat next to mine on the front steps of our home. Not surprising, I am sure, for anyone that has competed against Elana including the hundreds of triathletes who have felt footsteps up their backs just milliseconds after an aggravated shout of “move it!”.  

NYC 2011

The Great Pumpkin War had a hiatus for a time while Elana lived in Southern California. As we all know, that is because, in Southern California, pumpkins are celebrated as a religious objects, and the seeds are ground up and smoked to ward off evil spirits whenever there is a mudslide, earthquake, or forest fire (which can be most days).   Readers must know, however, that there will be no armistice. The forces of good, traditional (triangular nose, eyes, etc.), pumpkin carving will triumph over artsy-fartsy dalliance again this year because a pumpkin is not an art canvas. A pumpkin is a pumpkin, is a pumpkin.  

Happy Halloween!

Elana's note: I never paid off those trick or treating kids. They recognized genius on their own. Even if it was on a pumpkin.



What To Do With a Pumpkin...We begin with roasting.

I would like a show of hands: How many of you walk by a pumpkin stand/farmer's market/any place they are selling pumpkins and get one for the sole purpose of carving it as a Jack-O-Lantern?

I'm not saying this is a bad thing – in fact The Box and I have a running yearly competition for the best carved pumpkin. Who do you think wins every year? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.

But resigning the pumpkin to the realm of holiday decor really limits its capabilities in the edibility department. Because it is a very capable vegetable, people. I mean, look how robust it is! How....ORANGE!

So today, we begin with dissecting the pumpkin and pilfering its edible parts. We will eventually make stuff with these parts, but today we pilfer. Let it begin!

What You Need:

1 pumpkin (I like using the small sugar pumpkins. They are cute. Plus, I'm only one girl, how much pumpkin do you want me to eat?)

Roasting pan or baking sheet

A sharp knife

A large scooping spoon

A cutting board

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Using a large knife and cutting board and being VERY CAREFUL, cut the top off your pumpkin like so:

Scoop out the seeds and pumpkin guts.

The seeds are one of the pumpkin's edible parts. Try to separate them from the stringy guts (not so tasty), rinse them and let them dry. Find a safe place to keep them for a little while, like an air-tight container. We'll be coming back to them.

Slice your pumpkin in half and then into wedges. Place it in your roasting pan, or on a baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the meat of the pumpkin is fork-tender (like a cooked potato).

The skin will blister a bit, and once the pumpkin has cooled, you can peel back the skin and — violá — edible pumpkin meat!

Stick it in the fridge as is, or cube it up.

Next week: Things to do with roasted, toasted pumpkin meat!