By Beverly Barbour
Orange and gold pumpkins light up the night
Help those orange pumpkins have some fun they wind up in a pumpkin pie or a compost pit. Tis the season to carve them with as spooky faces, or plant them as pretty plant holders, or turn them into candle holders, or even use them as vases.
To do any of the above you need to remove the pumpkins innards which include pumpkin seeds, of course. Don't throw those seeds away; they are edible. Just boil them in heavily salted water. Drain off the water and remove the pulp. Then dry the seeds in a 325 degree oven.
You won't be able to eat the pumpkin after its days as an ornament are over. Just cut it up and let it have a useful burial in a compost heap.
Pumpkin vases will last 10 to 14 days in a cool area before they begin to soften and need to be discarded. Just move the plants from the pumpkin into the garden or into a permanent container. Any pumpkin, large or small, can become a temporary flower pot. Just line the pumpkin with aluminum foil or place a small container inside the pumpkin before arranging the flowers, wheat or foliage. Place the arrangement on the porch, on a table or chest, in the kitchen or even the bathroom--wherever you want a spot of color and a reminder that Halloween is on its way. For small or medium pumpkins use six-packs of ivy or other foliage. For bigger pumpkins use 4-inch or larger pots of foliage.
Pumpkins of any size
Slice off the top third of the pumpkin. Scoop out the pulp and seeds leaving the rind and the meat nice and clean. You can line the pumpkin with aluminum foil to help keep it from leaking. Fill the pumpkin cavity about two-thirds full with moistened potting soil. Give nursery seedlings a thorough soak, then pop them out of their containers and arrange them in a pleasing composition in the pumpkin. Fill empty spaces between plants with more moistened potting soil, tamping the rootballs firmly to stabilize the plantings.
Remember the days when people had linoleum on the floor? If you do, you just might have a linoleum cutter hanging out in your basement. They are an excellent tool for carving pumpkins because you can scrape out areas (in this case the eyes) without cutting all of the way through. Most of us will just have to make-do with the end of a vegetable peeler or with a carefully used paring knife.
1 elongated pumpkin, for the owl's body
Cut a hole in the top of each pumpkin; clean them out, and save one of the pumpkin tops to be used for the owl's ears.
Eyes: Turn the small pumpkin so the hole faces down, and draw eyes and beak on it with the marker. Scrape out the eyes without cutting completely through the rind. You can get a really big-eyed owl if you make 2 circles for each eye. Each eye will look like a target with the center of the target being the pupil of the owl's eye.
Beak: Use a knife to carve a beak shape, and then push the beak out slightly without breaking it off.
Feathers: Turn the larger pumpkin so the hole faces up. Cut U-shaped wavy feather lines on one side of its body. Carve another cavity at the bottom of the pumpkin for a battery-operated lantern.
Assemble: Place skewers around the top hole and use them to attach the smaller pumpkin head.
Owl Goodie Bags
To add to the fun you can package your give-away treats in small paper bags with an owl's head closing the tops of the bags. The heads can either be made of brown construction paper or paper cupcake liners--the metallic ones work best.
Small brown or white paper bags
Owls' Faces: Cut a 4-inch circle out of brown construction paper or use cupcake liners. Fold each circle in half and arrange on top of each bag with half of the circle on each side of the bag. You can fasten these with double-sided tape.
Eyes: Use paper punches to cut the round eyes and the pupils out of black and brown paper. Glue them together with the small circle glued to the large round. Then glue the eyes to the half circles which become the owls' faces. If you wish you can make the eyes from round peppermint candies or M&M candies. However, they are harder to glue on than the paper.
Ears: From the darker brown paper cut triangles for the ears and glue them on.
Beak: From construction paper cut triangles and affix with glue. Be sure the beak has its pointed side down. You can try affixing Halloween corn candy for the beak.
Frozen bread dough saves you a lot of time in making this big circle loaf of bread. You can make one circle or 4 smaller circles for your edible jack-o'-lantern(s). To make the face you can either cut out the eyes, nose and mouth before baking or create old Jack's face with icing. If you wish to paint on the face make a powdered sugar icing from powdered sugar (add vanilla and cream or milk plus some orange coloring--or leave it white) and paint the entire loaf. Save some of the icing to tint another color for the lantern's eyes, nose and mouth. Or, you can use various candies or chocolate chips to make the face after the bread has been frosted. Kids love playing artist and no matter what they do the bread is still edible.
2 loaves (each 1 pound) frozen bread dough, thawed
Place loaves in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Punch down and knead loves together in bowl; shape into a ball. Transfer ball to oiled baking sheet (the biggest one you have or put 2 together.
With oiled hands and/or a floured rolling pin, flatten ball into an 11- by 13-inch oval. If you plan to paint on the face with icing do not do the following: cut out eyes, nose, and mouth; openings should be at least 2 inches wide. Lift out cutout dough and bake on another pan or use for decorations. Cover shaped dough lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy, about 20 minutes. Mix egg with milk; brush over dough. Bake in 350 F oven until well-browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Who said Halloween was just for kids?