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Let The Carving Begin

Growing up, my children greatly enjoyed the carving of their Halloween jack-o’-lantern. When they were very small, Daddy used to have to use the sharp knife to carve out the face that they drew with felt markers on the front of the pumpkin. Then all four children would dive in with their little hands and scoop out the (as my children call it) slimy pumpkin guts.

We always taught our children to never waste, so once Jack’s life as a decoration was over it was inevitably my job to find fun and tasty ways to serve pumpkin to our family. In order to save the jack-o’-lantern for eating you cannot use a candle inside of it. We used to carve it the old-fashioned way and put a ball of mini Christmas lights inside instead. I have now learned that there is a product that resembles Light Bright pegs that can be pushed through the pumpkin to create a design, the pumpkin cleaned out, then a flashlight is used inside to light it up.

We prepared roasted pumpkin seeds for a snack on our pumpkin-carving evening. They are very easy to prepare and nutritious too. Pumpkin seeds are high in essential amino acids, fatty acids and zinc.

ROASTING PUMPKIN SEEDS

Clean, dry pumpkin seeds 2 tbsp. cooking oil

Salt, seasoning salt or popcorn spice

Rinse the pumpkin seeds with water and dry. Place in a bowl and toss them with oil. Spread on cookie sheet and season. Bake at 250 F for about 45 minutes. Watch carefully because they burn quickly. Stir them around halfway through to lightly brown all over. We eat them with or without their skins.

After Halloween wash the outside of the pumpkin, cut it into pieces with the skin intact and place the pieces in a roasting pan, adding about a cup of water, and cover the pan. Bake at about 300 F till a fork pushes through the pumpkin easily. The pumpkin will easily scrape off the skin and can be mashed or put through the blender, using the resulting pumpkin juice in the roasting pan as needed to reach a consistency similar to commercial canned pumpkin. This mash is very nutritious. Pumpkin is a fantastic source of vitamin A and has lots of fibre. If you are interested in the full nutritional profile for mashed pumpkin go to http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegeta bleproducts/ 2601/2. I freeze it in two-cup bags and use it in baking or soups for the winter.

Our favourite recipe for using raw pumpkin in is Roast Squash and Apple Soup.

ROAST SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP

5 tbsp. melted butter, divided

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 lbs. pumpkin, or other autumn

squash, peeled and roughly diced Salt and pepper Pinch nutmeg

2 large onions, finely chopped 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced

2 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and finely

chopped Black pepper

1/2 tsp. thyme 1 bay leaf

8 c. chicken stock

3 c. crabapples cored and chopped

1/2 c. cream

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly

oil a large roasting pan. Mix 2 tbsp. of the butter with garlic in a large bowl. Add pumpkin and toss until well coated. Transfer to roasting pan. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place in oven and bake, turning occasionally, until tender when pierced with sharp knife (approximately 30 minutes). Heat 2 tbsp. of the butter in large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté until onion is translucent. Add ginger and sauté for 1 minute longer. Add pepper, thyme and bay leaf, and chicken stock. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add apples and roasted squash and simmer for 30 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf from soup. Purée soup in batches in blender or food processor or use hand-held stick blender and purée soup in pot. Return soup to heat, add cream and simmer for 10 minutes. Just before serving, adjust seasoning of salt and pepper and stir in remaining butter. Serves 8 to 10.

Now that our children are older they still enjoy diving into the pumpkin guts every year. In fact my 17-year-old is quite worried his pumpkin patch isn’t going to produce and we just might have to go elsewhere for our pumpkin this year. As our children got older their designs also got more intricate and Daddy didn’t have to do all the carving anymore. So those of you with youngsters, get them excited about carving and eating pumpkins now. Those lovely orange globes could become a lifelong tradition in your house too.

DebbieChikouskyfarmsatNarcisse, Man.Emailherat [email protected]

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