Pumpkin Carving Tips
I’m going to confess that pumpkin carving is not my favourite family activity. Kids with knives, cold gourd guts, the social pressure to create a Jack o’ Lantern worthy of the neighbourhood pumpkin parade… it’s all a bit much. Over the years though, I’ve picked up a few tips you might also find useful.
1. Carve your lid in the bottom of the pumpkin. Yup. Pull out the seeds and goop from the hole, replace the circle of rind, flip your pumpkin and voila! It’s like magic!
2. Find a package of wood carving tools from the local hardware or dollar store. They cost like $4 and they are game-changers.
3. Get one of these handy dog grooming rakes – they are the best for scraping the icky stuff out of the pumpkin – way, way better than the grapefruit knives, pasta servers and assorted spoons we’ve McGyver-ed in the past.
4. Lower the bar. There have been years when all I could muster after an hour of “helping” with the knife, taking over when the guts got too “gross,” wiping slime off the cabinets and then valiantly separating about a cup of seeds from 68 gallons of stringy, sticky orange goop was a triangle nose and couple of eyes popped out with an apple corer. (One year, we grabbed a cordless drill and punctuated a pumpkin until it screamed out starry night.)
5. All this said, I was incredibly proud of my wood-carving tooled pumpkin until I saw Martha’s. Lesson? Get a little inspiration and then run like mad from pictures posted by stylists and people who have way too much gourd on their hands.
How Much Candy to Buy
Okay, every year, my partner and I have argument/adult discussion/squabble about how much to buy. He errs low. I err high. It all works out in the end. We have always have enough – although this is likely because I have a secret emergency stash that he doesn’t know about. And in any case, I tend to buy things with caramel so over-stock is always liquidated quickly/stashed in my desk drawer.
We love Apartment Therapy’s High Scientific Formula however – although truth be told, it’s advising us to buy 70 bags of candy unless it rains.
What to Serve and When to Head Out
Halloween supper standards at Boo Scary Central include green milk, a pumpkin (bread boule) filled with eyeballs (meatballs – 70’s style*) served on brains (radiatore pasta) with slime (sautéd baby kale/spinach) optional. We skip the cookies and cupcakes because in a few hours, there will be enough sugar in the house to fire a moon launch (and the eyeball sauce is 2/3 sugar anyway). Pumpkins are lit postprandially and Trick or Treating starts after the first kid has come to the door or darkness begins to fall. Easy.
*Recipe: Plop equal quantities of Welch’s grape jelly and Heinz chili sauce into a crock pot, rice cooker or dutch over. Combine and warm. Add frozen meatballs. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked. Serve to the delight of small children the neighbourhood over. (Equally good with meatless meatballs. Somewhat diminished by high end organic jelly and expensive chile sauce but improved by homemade meatballs.)
The Day After the Night Before
Head on over to your local Pumpkin Parade. We have 40 parks listed – each with their own unique take on this Toronto tradition.