Jack-O-Lantern for Dinner?

It was such a beautiful Halloween! Here are a few pictures of my neighbourhood…

My housemate came home yesterday afternoon with a squat little NS pumpkin (apparently stores were selling out fast!). She positioned herself in the middle of the living room room, laying out old newspaper and gathering the necessary tools, and began carving the pumpkin – all the while watching the classic Halloween (children’s) movie Hocus Pocus.

Elbow deep in pumpkin (okay, the pumpkin wasn’t quite big enough to be elbow deep), the phone rang. It was my mom calling from Cape Breton. She wanted to tell me about a call she had received from my two cousins, Emily and Maggie, while they were carving their Halloween pumpkins. To understand the story, you need a bit of background information…

It all began this Thanksgiving when my aunt and uncle (Emily and Maggie’s parents) hosted our entire family for a holiday feast. After the delicious meal, my mother asked if she could take home the turkey bones to make soup stock. My young cousins were intrigued (and a bit confused) by this – “bone soup?”. After a quick explanation, Emily and Maggie seemed excited by the idea.

Now, a few weeks later, they paused while carving their pumpkins to call my mother – their aunt Judy – to ask what they could do with the pumpkin pulp as it seemed a waste to throw it away. (I mean, if you can make soup out of bones, you must be able to do something with pumpkin pulp, no?) Well, my mother explained that, as far as she knew, there was no way of eating the pulp however they could roast the seeds and, if the pumpkin survives Halloween night, they could cook the flesh to make soup, pie or even cookies (my mom has an interesting – and delicious – recipe for pumpkin cookies). Emily and Maggie seemed happy enough with this response, wishing my mother a Happy Halloween and getting back to their pumpkin carving.

I must say, I am pretty impressed with those cousins of mine! I think they will grow up to be locovores – locovores with a nack for reducing food waste!

Okay, so back to my Jack-O-Lantern. (My role was in fact very minimal as my housemate did all the carving.) My housemate and I slavaged the pumpkin seeds and roasted them for a high-protein snack. Here’s the recipe we went with:

Ingredients
* seeds of one pumpkin
* salt and pepper
* oil or butter
Method
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut open the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Separate the seeds from the stringy core and rinse the seeds.

2. Place the seeds in a small pot and cover with water. Add salt (generously if you want a salty pumpkin seed). Bring to a boil on the stovetop. Let simmer for 10 minutes then remove from heat and drain.

3. Lay the seeds on a cookie sheet or roasting pan and pour a tablespoon or so of oil or melted butter over the seeds. Sprinkle with salt (and pepper or any other seasoning you’d like). Falten out lightly oiled seeds on the pan and bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown (about 20 minutes).

4. When browned to your satisfaction, remove from the oven and enjoy. (Careful they are hot!)

To be honest, I am not sure that boiling the seeds before roasting them adds to flavor or texture in any way (although it doesn’t seen to hurt). It does however decrease the oven time.

But what do you do with your jack-o-lantern if it has started to rot? Well, you could… put it in the compost heap as it makes great fertilizer or you could bury it directly into your garden. Buried in your garden it will decay quickly and enrich the soil. Lastly, if you have any seeds left (uncooked) laying around, you can clean and store them and then grow your own pumpkin next year!

Happy Halloween, Keltie

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