Simply Smashing

Jack-o-lanterns taught me to be cynical.

Pumpkin

They also taught me to be creative—or maybe that was my dad.

He has a talent for carving goofy faces (especially eyeballs). Plus, he was always man enough to take care of the smelly goop.

Pumpkin Goop

Carving pumpkins was great fun (once I could safely unplug my nose).

But the horrific scene we always encountered on our sidewalk the next day forced me to recognize the futility of this tradition.

Smashed Pumpkins

If we left our festive creations on the porch overnight, the neighborhood gremlins could never resist the opportunity to smash them.

Pumpkin

After years of devastation, I don’t take any chances. This year, I didn’t just bring this pumpkin inside—I put it in the oven.

And then I smashed it myself. Not with a baseball bat (the weapon I always suspected was used on my poor jack-o-lanterns), but with a blender.

Pumpkin Puree

And instead of decorating the street with its bright yellow guts, I fed them to my family.

 How to Cook a Pumpkin

To fully enjoy this adventure, I suppose you should grow your own pumpkin. I’m putting it on my bucket list.

Thankfully, it’s easy to find pumpkins at this time of year. And pie pumpkins (the smaller, sweeter variety) are pretty cheap at local orchards.

Pumpkin

You can roast your pumpkin whole, just like I described for spaghetti squash.

I prefer to steam it in pieces because 1) I like to roast the seeds, 2) it’s easier to remove the nasty goop from a raw pumpkin, and 3) I can cook it in the oven, on the stove, or in the microwave (and therefore at home or in my dorm room).

Pumpkin

First, cut the pumpkin in half (I recommend a knife that’s not very sharp but very toothy).

Pumpkin

Then remove the seeds and set them aside.

Pumpkin Seeds

Actually, the seeds should be washed before roasting, and they take a long time to dry.

So if you’re in a hurry, you might want to get them started right away.

Or find a hair dryer.

Pumpkin

Scrape the inside of the pumpkin to remove all the squishy bits (a large spoon will do the job, but hard plastic works better than metal).

Pumpkin

When your pumpkin is clean of goop, heat your oven to 350°F (177°C).

Or put a pot of water with a steamer basket on your stove to boil.

Or make sure your microwave is ready for a big job.

Remove the stem, and place your pumpkin in a microwave-, oven-, or stove-safe container with a lid—and a few inches of water.

Pumpkin

Cook until the pumpkin flesh is soft. Depending on your method, this will take 30 minutes (microwave) to an hour (oven).

When the pumpkin is fully cooked, scoop the flesh into a bowl.

Pumpkin Rind

Use a blender or food processor for smooth puree.

Pumpkin Puree

Then the pumpkin is ready for whatever delicious creation you have in mind!

Now return to your seeds. If they’re still wet, you can grab a hair dryer— or wait till tomorrow (I recommend you blow dry them in a colander—otherwise, you’ll be picking them up all over your kitchen).

Pumpkin Seeds

Coat a baking sheet with whatever oil you prefer.

Spread the pumpkin seeds out evenly.

Sprinkle with seasonings (I like salt best), and roast at 325°F (163°C) for ten-minute intervals.

Pumpkin Seeds

Stir the seeds every ten minutes, and return them to the oven until they’re golden and crunchy. Add more seasonings, if necessary. (Yep, that means you have to taste them every time!)

Pumpkin Seeds

Now come up with something fun to do with that empty shell, and you’ll have used the entire pumpkin!

Pumpkin

It’s better than letting some hoodlum destroy your work of art.

And it’s better than watching your beautiful jack-o-lantern rot in the safety of your home.

More than that, it’s a fantastic way to enjoy fall and celebrate the harvest!

Pumpkin Seeds

Advertisements

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s