Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Think you know jack about pumpkins?

Halloween always brings out my inner child. Seriously. Whether it's picking out costumes, watching scary movies or trick or treating, I love Halloween festivities. So perhaps needless to say, when some friends asked me to help them carve pumpkins over the weekend, I jumped at the opportunity. Did I ever mention that for four years in a row, I helped a former office win the company-wide pumpkin-carving contest? Oh yes, I'm serious about my design skills.

But for the rookies out there, here are a few tips to help design that perfect jack-o'-lantern.

1. Select a fresh, healthy pumpkin in the shape of your choice. Some folks prefer their pumpkins low and round, while others like them tall and oval-shaped. Pick one without bruises, nicks, and cuts. Also make sure that it has a long stem, since this serves as the handle to your lid.

2. Put down newspaper on a flat surface to help ease clean-up.

3. Draw a circle or hexagon on top of the pumpkin and measure several inches down from the stem. This will be the area you cut around to make the lid.

4. Cut through the stem end of the pumpkin along your outline with a sharp knife or pumpkin-carving tool. After you’ve cut your lid, remove it and scrape off any excess filling.

5. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin. The more that is scraped out, the better, because it allows more light to shine though. You’ll also want to make sure the bottom of the pumpkin is as flat as possible. This way when you add your light, it will stand.

6. Now it’s time to draw the design or face on the front of your pumpkin using a felt-tip pen, pencil or dry erase markers. There are numerous Web sites featuring free patterns that will help inspire a spooky, funny or creative jack-o'-lantern.
7. Once you're happy with the pattern, begin to cut the shapes with a sharp knife or carving tool. Be gentle and take your time, discarding the cut-out pieces as you go. Once all the pieces are removed, the design will become obvious.

8. Place a candle or battery operated light inside the pumpkin to create a glow.

9. Replace the lid and enjoy!

Staying on topic, here are a few sucralose-sweetened, pumpkin-based low calorie recipes.

Gingersnap Pumpkin Cheesecake

The Great Pumpkin Pumpkin Pie

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

And still in keeping with today's blog post theme, here are a few impressive pumpkins. Think about how much pie those could make. Yowza!

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