I was doing some internet searches on carving pumpkins and I came across this cute idea from Better Homes and Garden on stenciling. So if you’re interested in doing this, you can stencil your pumpkin for Halloween and then cook it a few days later, waste not want not!
Choose a design to carve before you go shopping for pumpkins. Think about which shape would best suit your design – tall and narrow? Fat and round? If you’re going to use stencils, look for a pumpkin with a shape similar to the pattern you’re going to carve.
Check for a smooth, uniformly colored skin. The flesh should be firm, not elastic in any way. Inspect the entire pumpkin. Stay away from pumpkins with bruises, cuts, scratches or any signs of mold. If you’ll be using stencils, steer clear of dents as well.
Keep an eye out for smaller, “sugar” pumpkins for eating. Not all pumpkins will taste good in a pie. Sugar pumpkins are 200-250 millimeters (8-10″) in diameter and will have smoother, less stringy flesh than a decorative pumpkin.
Knock on the shell. Ripe pumpkins will make a “hollow” sound. If the pumpkin is on the vine, the vine should be dry and the stem should be hard and brown. The ripeness of the pumpkin might not matter as much if you’re only interested in carving (in which case an unripened pumpkin might last longer).
Set the pumpkin up to make sure it sits level. You don’t want to choose a pumpkin for carving only to find that it won’t sit up straight for you. If the pumpkin grew on its side and has a flat spot there, you might be able to incorporate it into your design or turn that side against a wall so it isn’t seen.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Here’s what you need:
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, or other seasoning of choice
Place the pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinse well. Use your fingers to remove all the pulp. Spread the seeds out on a paper towel and pat dry. Transfer to a bowl. Spread out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.
Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with non-stick spray. Place the pumpkin seeds in a large bowl along with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Toss to coat. Spread out the pumpkin seeds onto baking sheet. Bake about 1 hour, tossing every 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.