Miscellany: My First Jack-o-lantern
This weekend, I had my first opportunity to carve a pumpkin. Now, my family has always been pretty keen on Halloween (I still remember the countless awesome Halloween costumes Mom sewed together for me), but I don't recall ever having had the chance to get my hands goopy - I'd seen it done by others, but this one was gonna be mine and mine alone. I grabbed a pumpkin from Publix and away we went.
First of all, carving a pumpkin is messy business - it's definitely better to do this outside, or at least over lots and lots of layers of newspaper. The initial cut is a circular or hexagonal affair around the top of the pumpkin - be sure to cut at a 45-degree angle so the top won't fall through into the interior of the pumpkin. You'll probably want to cut a small slot up top for a "chimney" if you're putting candles inside, as well as to help remind you which side is the front.
After you pull out the top, you'll need to do the tedious part - clear the inside pumpkin goop out as much as possible. You can save the seeds to roast them, but the stringy junk inside seems like it's best thrown away - I'm not sure the pumpkins they sell for carving are all that tasty. After an eternity of scraping with either an ice cream scoop or a specialized pumpkin scraper (scrape, scrape, and keep on scraping until the "walls" are nice and clean), you will be ready for the fun part - carving!
Carving a pumpkin is a bit tricky, mostly since you're working on a 3D, irregular surface. The chintzy $3.00 pumpkin carving kit tools work okay, but advanced carvers will probably go for something more substantial. And when everything is said and done, but some tea light candles in there, and voila: