All things pumpkin

Oct. 8, 2014, 11:12 a.m. | By Divya Rajagopal | 6 years, 8 months ago

It's that time of year again, when the leaves start to turn a burnt orange color and autumnal decorations start to appear. The local supermarket starts stocking fat pumpkins, ready to be transformed into the leering jack-o'-lanterns that stand sentinel on your porch. The air becomes saturated with the scent of pumpkin and cinnamon, causing those sweet-toothed cravings for pumpkin pie.

It's a season with an abundance of pumpkins, so don't let them go to waste! SCO's guide to all things pumpkin will help you wile away the autumn hours with pumpkin recipes and activities.

Jack-o'-lantern carving

Photo: Jack-O'-Lanterns can add a spooky glow to crisp autumn nights.

The practice of decorating "jack-o'-lanterns" originated in Ireland, where large potatoes and gourds served as carving mediums. It stemmed from a chilling Irish myth called 'Stingy Jack,' which you can read here. Here's a foolproof way to carving your own wickedly fearsome pumpkin:

Choosing your pumpkin: This is one of the most important parts of the pumpkin carving process. Try to pick a pumpkin that is quite large, firm and blemish-free on at least one side. However, if you want to get creative, you can buy pumpkins with interestingly-placed knobs and bumps to enhance the carved face. For example, a lopsided bump could serve as a nose.

Getting your tools: You can buy pumpkin carving tool kits from any supply store. All you really need is a sharp knife and a long spoon.
Stab your pumpkin in the head: Carve a circle around the stem at the top and remove it. Do not discard! Save this for later.

Dig in: Warning! not for the squeamish Plunge your hand into your pumpkin and get out the 'guts'. Stick your spoon and scoop out the seeds within. Don't throw these away! They clean up nice, so save them for a yummy snack later.  

Mark your design: Take a sharpie and outline the face you want to carve out. The original ones are quite easy, but they range in difficulty. Find some interesting designs here.

Ready, set, carve! Be careful not to nick yourself anywhere!

Wait for night: Once it's dark enough outside, get a nice candle and light it. Put it inside your jack-o-lantern and put its head (the top part you cut out earlier) on. Watch the haunted night spark to life!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Photo: It's that time of year again: pumpkin season.

These may look inedible and repulsive when first rescued from the inside of the pumpkin, but don't be fussy, They taste great.

Clean the seeds meticulously. Wash them until they're only slightly tinged orange. Make sure to discard the orange pulp. Sorry, but the goop can't be saved.

Boil for 10 minutes in a solution of water and 1 tsp salt.

Drain the seeds and dry lightly.

Spread the seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil. Add a generous sprinkling of sea salt.

Roast for 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Take them out, let them cool a little and enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Even though this is popular around Thanksgiving time, in my opinion, what better time to whip up a nice pumpkin pie than when pumpkins are abundant? And as the weather turns nippy, a slice of this is sure to add some spice to your evenings.

Medium pumpkin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup warm honey
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 container of Reddi Whip whipping cream

Cut pumpkin in half, and remove seeds. Lightly oil the cut surface. Place cut side down on a jelly roll pan lined with foil and lightly oiled.

Bake at 325 degrees F until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Puree in small batches in a blender.

In large bowl, blend together 2 cups pumpkin puree, spices, and salt.

Gradually beat in in eggs, honey, milk, and cream. Pour filling into pie shell.

Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted 1 inch from edge of pie comes out clean.

Cool before eating.

If it should so please you, add a generous amount of Reddi Whip whipped cream on top.

Pumpkin Festivals

Butler's Orchard Pumpkin Festival

Located in Germantown, Maryland, this farm offers hayrides and cornmazes for younger children to take part in. For older kids and teenagers, the festive decorations that can be found all around make great picture-worthy backgrounds. Visitors can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, snacks and seasonal decorations at the Butler's Orchard Farm Store
Where: 22200 Davis Mill Road, Germantown, Maryland
       When: Weekends of October, 10:00 - 5:00

Photo: It's that time of year again: pumpkin season.

Larriland Farm

Among other things, Larriland Farm offers a great range of pumpkins in its pumpkin patches. The fields are decorated with ghosts and goblins to get you into the Halloween spirit. The farm also offers a tractor-drawn hayride through the 'haunted' fields. A special pumpkin hayride lets you pick your own pumpkin and then make your way back through a straw maze.
Where: 2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, Maryland (301) 854-6110
      When: Weekends throughout October

So now that you have your guide to enjoying the pumpkin season, take a trip to a festival and pick your own fresh pumpkins, or swing down to a supermarket to purchase pre-picked ones. Dedicate an afternoon to carving, roasting or baking and take advantage of all of the delightful pumpkin-y goodness that the season has to offer. 

Tags: pumpkin autumn Jack o lanterns pumpkin festival pumpkin pie pumpkin seeds

Divya Rajagopal. Hi! My name is Divya Rajagopal. I'm a junior and I love writing. I enjoy watching Suits and How I Met Your Mother and listening to Coldplay. I play tennis on my school team and ski in the winter. More »

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