Saturday, October 22, 2011

The 31 Days of Halloween: Day 22

Halloween is the best time of the year. It's a wonderfully indulgent time, where your inner ghoul is given societal license to be put on display. To celebrate it to it's wicked fullest, the Midnight Cheese will be posting every day in October with excellent ways to enjoy the season. Whether it's horror films, video games, books or activities, check back every day for some new Halloween fun.

Pumpkin Carving

If you haven't already, your prep for this activity is to read day 19's entry on picking you pumpkins.

Once you have the perfect pumpkins, you'll also need some tools. If you'd prefer to carve the classic way, with simpler shapes, a large kitchen knife is all you may need for the face itself. If you're planning to do a more intricate design then I suggest an inexpensive carving kit which includes a very useful saw. But before we get there, we'll have to hollow that baby out first.

For the hole in the top of you pumpkin, you want to give yourself enough room to work, so plan on a generous circumference. Make sure that you make the cut for the top at a good angle inward, not just up and down, so that when you put the top piece back it rests in place instead of falling through. You're going to want a wide spoon and a bowl for scooping out the guts. The bowl is to separate out the pumpkin seeds, the spoon to assist you is cleaning all the pulp off the inside walls of the pumpkin. You want to be thorough here, don't leave any loose pulp as it could be a fire hazard once it dries out. At the same time, don't scrape away so much that you walls are very thin, it can cause your jack 'o lantern to rot prematurely.

When it comes to the design itself, you've got loads of options. There are complex designs you can print out and trace onto you pumpkin, stencils you can buy or you can freehand it. I prefer to freehand draw whatever spooky face comes to me with a pencil and then carve it out: sort of like Michelangelo letting the marble block tell him what shape is hidden underneath but far less noble and immortal. Once you're finished, pop in a candle, put the top back on and viola!

Don't forget to roast the pumpkin seeds, these delicious and loaded with vitamins. Place them on a baking sheet, sprinkle salt to preference and roast them for 30 minutes at 300 degrees (obviously once you've already cleaned and dried them). They're good for as long as it takes you to enjoy them. Even if you're skeptical, give this a try, I've surprised more than one person which how delicious see are.

Let me know how you fare, I love seeing great Jack 'o Lanterns!

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