THE THINGS I'VE learned from carving pumpkins with my children for the last 10+ years:
1. Every child needs their own pumpkin. Let their creative juices flow. They can take ownership and take pride in their finished product. Even if it does end up looking a little unpolished and unprofessional. This isn’t about perfection or winning carving contests. Of course, help them when they’re little, but they can always take a sharpie and draw their design, letting their parents do the hard work of cutting it out. Just stand back and watch their little faces light up when they see their creation come to life.
2. Don’t carve pie pumpkins. Save those little ones for pies or decorating them with pens. They may seem cute - and they are - but there’s not much room for error and larger pumpkins are easier to work with. So, when your daughter cocks her head and looks at you with those beautiful eyes, begging for a cute little pie pumpkin, just say no. I’m talking to myself here.
3. Imperfect pumpkins are perfect. My kids always liked to pick out the perfectly shaped, unblemished pumpkin. I like the warty-looking, off balance, imperfect ones. It’s a good lesson that nobody is perfect, even pumpkins, on the outside. It’s what’s inside that matters. Never mind that you’re eventually going to throw the pumpkin in the garbage once it rots or gets eaten by moose…which brings me to #4...
4. Take pictures right away. I’ll never forget the year we made intricately designed pumpkins. We were all very tired by the end of it so we decided to take pictures later, leaving them on the porch until the next day. When we went to look for them, all that was left were the stem lids. The moose had eaten them all. Our beautiful pumpkins were moose vittles. Now we had no pumpkins, no pictures, and no proof. They were beautiful. Take my word for it….
Greasy, grimy pumpkin guts!
5. Don’t throw out the pumpkin seeds! I know the “innards” of the pumpkin aren’t fun to deal with sometimes. In the midst of that slimy, stringy, globby mess are some very tasty and nutritious seeds! Pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc, magnesium, and vitamin E, and other health-promoting antioxidants. Here’s our family’s favorite recipes. Sweet or savory, take your pick!
Savory Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Preheat oven to 300˚
Dry pumpkin seeds well with paper towels. Even better, dry them overnight in a single layer on a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Add dried seeds, mixing well until thoroughly covered with spice mixture. Place in a single layer on a parchment-covered baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, stir seeds, then bake for 25-35 more minutes. We like our seeds very crispy and not chewy. The longer you bake them, the crispier they will be.
Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Preheat oven to 300˚
Dry pumpkin seeds lightly with a paper towel. A little moisture is okay for this recipe.
Follow directions as above, but after 40 minutes, add additional spice mixture, sprinkling on seeds, stirring to mix well, and bake an additional 5 minutes. The additional moisture in the seeds will help the spice mixture “stick”.