I was fortunate this month to muster up my deeply hidden artistic skills enough to carve a rather complex pumpkin pattern. First of all, when I chose to carve a pumpkin this year, my mind was made up to knife out the most complicated, expert requiring design humanly possible. Its just the way it had to be. Amber and I went pumpkin shopping and bought this 22 pound pumpkin + the delicious pumpkin seeds inside for a few spooky pumpkin seed recipes at the end of the article:
It’s a biggin’ – As they would say in classic South Eastern Ohio style.
The first step to tackling the beast is to cut out the stem. I did this as gracefully as possible with the largest knife possible. A long, skinny serrated blade may have worked more efficiently, but it felt more appropriate to use a proportionately large tool:
The second step is to remove the GUTS. I dove right into the slimy mess and pulled out a handful of stringy pumpkin insides while making a point to save the seeds for roasting. Amber was having a lovely time being my photographer throughout this process while I was contemplating secretly whether or not it was a good idea to come after her with pumpkin guts in each hand.
Ehh, better not. I finished up removing the guts by scraping the inside with the scraper tool, included in my pumpkin carving kit, and then situated my design template as flat as possible, straddling the front of the pumpkin, in delicate carving preparation:
I reserved the seeds in a separate bowl:
Poking hundreds of tiny holes to trace my design was probably the most arduous task of this whole project with hand cramping and a side of inpatients to go along with it. The plastic poking utensils included in the set to trace with tiny dots were practically useless. I utilized a small nail for the job, but be warned, it adds to the hand cramping:
About an hour later, with a greatly under estimated time frame, I made the first cut. The first cut turned into roughly seventy cuts in a surgeon-like operation with no breaks other than the occasional coffee sip and picture pose:
Like any surgical procedure, there could be complications. And when there could be complications, there are complications. My pumpkin saw snapped. It snapped right in the middle of the darned procedure. Luckily, I had two saws but one was longer and more difficult to maneuver around the tight corners. As fate would have it, I was left with the latter:
Three hours into the project and a noticeably moodier pumpkin carver, the masterpiece is completed without catastrophe. This was the most astonishing pumpkin carving endeavor that I’ve ever embarked upon and the results speak for themselves. I’m happy, very happy:
Now I did promise four pumpkin seed recipes and here they are. I made the Plain Jane seeds as a backup just in case I royally screwed up the others. All seeds were washed in a colander and I tried to remove as much of the orange gunk as possible. I then whipped up three marinades: A compound butter including lemon zest and thyme, A jerk sauce, and A Yakitori sauce. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
The Compound Butter: Take 3 tablespoons of softened butter and mix in 2 teaspoons of fresh finely chopped thyme. Then grate about a tablespoon of lemon zest and a dash of lemon juice. Mix well and then melt. Toss a handful of your seeds into the compound butter and let marinate for 10 minutes.
The Jerk Sauce: I admit this is cheating, but I was so intrigued by the thought of jerk pumpkin seeds that I had to try it. Simply buy your favorite jerk sauce and throw a handful of your seeds in a bowl to coat well with the sauce:
-Note: (the Yakitori sauce was too overbearing for my tastes on pumpkin seeds so use or adjust this recipe at your own discretion.
The Yakitori sauce: I wanted to add an Asian flair to my pumpkin seeds and Asian food is my ultimate nemesis when it comes to cooking so I pulled a Yakitori sauce recipe from Guy Fieri’s cookbook, “Guy Fieri Food”. I reduced the quantities of each ingredient from the original recipe. Mix 1/4 cup of sake, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, a dash a mirin (a rice wine flavoring found in the Asian section), 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened. Then coat a handful of pumpkin seeds in the sauce for 10 minutes.
The Plain Jane seeds: Melted butter, salt, and paprika.
Once the saucy seeds had a chance to marinate for about 10 minutes, I spread out each variety of seed on a sprayed non-stick baking sheet, put them in the oven, and baked them until golden brown. (about 15-20 minutes):
The results were varied. The lemon-thyme compound butter seeds turned out amazing. The jerk seeds were all I had hoped they would be and the plane jane seeds were just plain tasty. The Yakitori seeds, on the other hand, were too overpowering and just didn’t work well for my tastes.
Here are some other ideas to spice up the same old boring pumpkin seed that will remain untested until.. a) you make it and tell me how it is.. or b) I make them next year.
-Teriyaki pumpkin seeds
– Peanut butter roasted pumpkin seeds
– Cinnamon and brown sugar coated pumpkin seeds
-Black pepper and sea salt pumpkin seeds