19 October, 2009

Carving Up Some Fun!

In the spirit of the spookiest month of the year, I thought I'd give up a few of my favorite tips and topics. Starting with Pumpkin carving! These two little beauties I found while browsing through the Martha Stewart Living website. The got me thinking about what I look for and what I try to accomplish when carving pumpkins. I came up with a few tips to share with you.

1. Search for the perfect pumpkin. For me, picking out the pumpkin in the best part of the process. I always take my time (too much time, if you ask The Hubbs). Look for fresh ones with sturdy stems, flat bottoms and no bruises. Beyond that, the possibilities are as limitless as the sky!

2. Cut out the lid. Always cut at an angle as this will prevent the lid from falling in when you replace it. Boning knives, fillet knives and other smooth blades seem to be best suited for the job.

3. Remove all the goop. Yes, goop. It's a technical term. You could go out and purchase an expensive, specialized tool to do this, but for me, an ice cream scoop does the trick. You'll want to try to thin the inner wall of the carving area. For best results, don't go any thinner than about 1 1/4". This will make it easier to pierce the shell.

4. Steady the 'kin when you begin carving. I like to sit with the pumpkin in my lap, with the face gazing up at me. Do not cut at a slant, up and down slices have the prettiest results. For intricate designs, try a small saw. You can find pumpkin carving kits all over the place. Target, Walmart, Williams-Sonoma, you name it. Martha Stewart also has a great article on her website about household items that can be used to create the perfect pumpkin. (that's what my Mom always did and we had the best pumpkins ever!)

5. Perserve your pumpkin. Rub petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the cut edges to seal in moisture and slow shriveling. If your pumpkin starts to shrivel anyway, try putting the pumpkin face down in ice water for up to eight hours.

6. Safety first. If you like to leave the lid on while candles are lit, simply cut a small "chimney" in the lid to allow the heat to escape. First, allow the candle to burn for awhile with the top on, then cut a small hole where the lid has blackened. Always use flickering LED lights in pumpkin where children and pets are likely to get at them. Small fingers and paws can be easily injured. If using real candles, never leave them burning unsupervised.

The most important tip I can give you? Have fun! Pumpkin carving is something best done with friends and family. It was always a big tradition in my family (pumpkins, cider, toasted pumpkin seeds and monster movies on AMC). Someday, I hope to create joyful, lasting memories with my children ( I also want to be the Mom who makes the best school lunches and chocolate chip cookies).

Need some ideas to get you started? Martha Stewart has it all. Truly inspiring!

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