Today’s Fortune: This weekend will afford you personal opportunity.
Confucious was so right about that one! Yesterday, I did not get to blog, because Dad had to install Windows 7 on mine and Mom’s computer. Not getting to blog afforded me the personal opportunity of carving a sock monkey pumpkin, though, so it was a good thing after all!
I will get back to telling more about my New England trip tomorrow, but today I have to talk about pumpkins! Last week, Mom took me shopping for a pumpkin. She said I could make a “jack-o-lantern”. That is where you carve a pumpkin to look like something, and you put a candle in it for Halloween. There were lots of pumpkins to choose from, and it took me a while to pick the best one.
I had a very good plan in mind, and so I got a big pumpkin, a little pumpkin, and a thing called a “turban squash”. The big pumpkins are for carving, and the little pumpkins are for making pies, but we ignored the pie rule and decided to carve the little one, too.
Mom also bought me some special tools and stuff for carving pumpkins. She said it might be nice if I did a “tutorial” on how to carve a jack-o-lantern. A tutorial is where you tell everybody step-by-step how to do something, so they can do it, too. So the first thing you should do is pick out good pumpkins. And squashes and other stuff, too, if you want them.
The next thing you need is good tools. They make all kinds of special tools for carving pumpkins. There are big saws and little saws, little things with points to make dotted lines, pointy things to drill holes with, and scoopers to get the insides of the pumpkins out. A good variety of tools will make your pumpkin carving job much easier. These are the ones we have at our house.
Some of these tools are very sharp, so Mom was there for “Adult Supervision”. You should get adult supervision at your house, too. Just in case.
Once you have your pumpkin and your tools, you need to figure out what side of your pumpkin will be the front. Then you can mark the top with a pencil where you want to cut out the hole for the lid. If you make a square notch on the back side, it helps you figure out how to get the lid back on in the right place, too. After you draw the circle for the hole, you use the big saw and cut out the lid along the lines you drew.
The inside of the pumpkin is full of icky looking stringy stuff, and seeds. You have to scoop that part out, because it will make your jack-o-lantern messy looking if you don’t.
You use the little scoop tools to scrape out the insides of the pumpkin. You want to scrape out enough of the sides of the pumpkin to make it not too thick to carve. When it is about 1″ thick it is good.
Mom scooped out the big pumpkin, while I scooped out the little one. Puglet did not do any scooping. Scooping is hard work, so he just observed. My arm was really tired when I finished this part.
The best thing to do when you are scooping out the pumpkin guts is to have two bowls. Put all the icky stringy stuff into the big bowl, and put the seeds into the small bowl. That is because the seeds make a tasty snack when you bake them. I will give the recipe for those in a little bit.
Put the icky stringy stuff from the big bowl into the trash. Do not run it down the garbage disposal. If you do, your Dad will have to stop working on installing Windows 7 to clean out the pipes with a metal thing called a “pipe snake”, and it will interrupt your pumpkin carving fun. Plus it will take that much longer to install Windows 7, and you will not get to blog.
Now that the inside of your pumpkin is cleaned out, you get to start the really fun part! Figure out what you want to have your pumpkin look like. There are lots of faces to choose from that you can find online, but we just drew our own. Cut the picture that you want to carve in a circle shape, and then cut little slashes around the circle. These are called “relief cuts”, and they help the pattern lay down on the curved shape of the pumpkin better.
Use Scotch tape to tape the pattern where you want it on your pumpkin.
After you get your pattern all taped down good, take the curved tool with the little pointy things on it, and use it to trace the lines on your pattern.
This will poke holes in the pattern and the pumpkin at the same time. When you are finished tracing, it will look like this.
Now you can untape the pattern from your pumpkin. If you look really close, you will be able to see the dotted line on your pumpkin.
Now, it really gets fun! You can use the drill tool to drill a hole inside each of the shapes, and then use the smaller saws to cut along the dotted lines. It’s just like cutting out the Nascar Guy on the Hamburger Helper box, only you are using a saw instead of scissors.
The next thing you need to do is carve some ears. This is where the small pumpkin comes in handy. This one is easy. You just carve two half-circles out of the sides of the pumpkin. It makes a fun tunnel jack-o-lantern for your dog to look through, too.
Take the half-circles that you cut out of the small pumpkin and stick them on the sides of the big pumpkin. The best way to do this is to use toothpicks, because they have two sharp ends. One goes in the pumpkin and the other goes in the ear.
Next, put a candle inside the pumpkin for a few minutes, and put the lid on. It will make a black spot on the inside of the lid. You will want to drill a hole in the middle of that black spot, so the smoke can escape from the top of the pumpkin. It works kind of like a chimney.
The last thing I did was light the candles in both of the pumpkins, and put the turban squash on top of his head so he would have an awesome hat! I am really happy with the way he turned out!
And here is what he looks like in the dark, with all the lights turned out!
After all the carving was done and we cleaned up the mess, we toasted our pumpkin seeds. All you do is rinse the seeds and pat them dry on a paper towel. Try to get as much of the stringy stuff off of them as you can, but a little bit doesn’t hurt anything. Then, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon of allspice. Stir in the pumpkin seeds, and toss them until they are coated.
Put tinfoil over a cookie sheet (that way, you don’t have to scrub the cookie sheet later) and spread the sugar-cinnamon seeds out on the foil. Toast them in a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes until they are brown and crunchy. They make a toasty-tasty snack, that is also good for you!
They’re not as good as Twinkies, but not very many things are. And your Mom probably won’t fuss at you for eating too many of these.
Today’s Vocabulary Words: Jack-o-Lantern, turban squash, tutorial, pipe snake, relief cuts