Pumpkins and Togetherness

This weekend, I joined Husband, his grandmother, and his grandmother’s next door neighbors for a pumpkin preparation extravaganza. We scooped and scraped, with my role being to pick out pumpkin seeds from within the slimy orange mess so that we could rinse them, season them, and cook them up for a light snack. Husband made a lovely pumpkin with an upside down bat carved into it. Makes me think of the bats that we think have taken up residence in our attic… sigh, new neighbors.

I enjoy the tradition of pumpkin carving less because it has to do with my family – we never did it growing up – but because it really has so many nice components. It celebrates produce, it really isn’t a very expensive activity, it yields (at least sometimes) a snack, it includes creativity and artistic expression but has a low barrier for entry (I’m a terrible artist and I can still poke the holes necessary for a grin or a spooky cat). Pumpkin carving often takes advantage of the nice autumn weather; it was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day and we did everything outdoors. However, we’ve had just as many delightful carving nights with the dining room table covered in newspapers and the whole place reeking of squash smell. It’s a joyful feeling.

As I envision what my family might be like in a world where there is so much screen time and isolated activity, I enjoy the dependent but autonomous fun of a pumpkin carving night. I think that it’d be fun to get neighborhood kids over, have their own pumpkins to carve, but with older kids helping younger kids and everyone contributing to clean-up and brainstorming and of course to eating the pumpkin seeds. I don’t have kids, but it seems wise to keep a thought to the kinds of wonderful ways to celebrate harvest season with kids that brings them together and lets them express themselves.

Roasted Butternut Squash Seeds

I have always liked a good toasted pumpkin seed, so when I started realizing that my butternut squash plant was producing like crazy, I googled whether or not their seeds were good to eat. Seeds are so nutricious, and I now had so many of them!

The hardest part about this recipe is certainly the acquiring of clean seeds from the mountains of orange slime inside each squash. This website made me feel so much more sane as I was doing it, and includes a recipe for the seeds themselves:¬†http://toriavey.com/how-to/2012/10/all-about-butternut-squash-how-to-peel-seed-slice-and-prepare/ I doubt I would have attempted this at all, if it weren’t for the advice to submerge the seeds in water, which was essential to getting the slimy orange goo off.

I used paprika, salt, and garlic once I had tossed the seeds with butter, and toasted them until there was a decent bit of char on them. I thought, as I often do, that I might have ruined them, but they were light, crisp – really much better than pumpkin seeds, which tend to retain an internal chewiness. These were like popcorn, in the sense of being completely crisp and airy.

I packaged them up in a tupperware container and accidentally left them in my car on the way to work, where I discovered that they are the perfect snack for when you are going home but you are already hungry after work. I would eat enough to be less ravenous  but stop in time to still want my dinner once I got home Рa rare and wonderful combination. The allure of fast food always goes down when I have some kind of snack, and these fit the bill perfectly. Like popcorn, I also enjoyed them while watching movies with Husband. Overall, a great and easy treat if you are making butternut squash anyway!