As a child I remember how important pumpkin carving was to me. I know that it is safer to use the new foam imitation pumpkins (and I own quite a few myself) but there is nothing like the smell of a real pumpkin or the way it feels when you dig your hand into its gloppy innards. First and foremost, before all else we all know that children should not be handling knives. There are some excellent childsafe cutters out there. I use one of the small pumpkin saws and enjoy it quite a bit. You could also let your children paint on there pumpkin. These can be very cool and has the added benefit of not turning into a mushy pile in a few weeks.But, I digress... I am here to give you my method of carving. First, you will need the following items.
Pumpkin (no duh)
Big spoon, metal if you got it
Knife or pumpkin saw
1. And this can be the hardest part. Find the ultimate pumpkin. Either go to your local grocer or if you are really lucky, you have grown your own or you have a local pumpkin patch. When I was growing up it was a place called Vaccas.. I loved that place. Your pumpkin must have personality..it must shout out to you..you are my destiny..I must be on your porch. Once you have found this specific one, take it home. (well, you didn’t think you were gonna carve it here did you?)
2. Spread out the newspaper. Pumpkins have a way of getting really gucky.. One of my favorite scenes of all time is in the holiday cartoon "its the great pumpkin Charlie brown" when Lucy attacks her pumpkin and begins ripping out the insides while Linus looks on in horror. Place your pumpkin in the center and look at it, admire it, make your plan of attack!
3. Pick up your pen and draw a circle at the top around the stem. You can also make a star or any other shape you would like.. remember, this is your pumpkin
4. When you have this the way you like it, pick up the knife..carefully! Cut along the line you have drawn but make sure you cut at a slant so later when you place it back on it doesn't fall in.. that would be bad. After you remove this lid, cut off the stuff that is hanging off to make it smooth. Place this aside until later. Put down the knife!
5. Using your hand.. don’t worry..that stuff wont kill ya, (even though my daughter is sure it will) take out the largest amount of the guck, separating the seeds and placing them in a bowl for later. When you get to a point where you can no longer pull anything out by hand, use your spoon to scrape along the inside of your pumpkin, taking off about a half of an inch of the inside. This will get rid of most of those annoying strings. Once this is finished you are ready to go to the artsy part.
6. Once again look at your squashy friend. Now is the time for you to decide just how he is feeling right now. Do you think he needs a mad face? a sad face?? Is he scary looking cause you just pulled out his brain?? just kidding. Using your pen, draw the face you think he/she needs. Make it as simple or as fancy as you like.
7. Carefully pick up the knife and cut along the lines you have just drawn. When you have finished each section, reach inside and push the piece out. You may need to clean out some areas but this is an ongoing process.. Hey, it aint brain surgery..or is it? Pumpkin humor there...don’t mind me. Put down the knife!
8. Place the lid on.. doesn’t he look cool? Have a parent light a candle and drip a pool of wax on the inside of the pumpkin, then place you candle in that pool. If you can find a small pie plate or saucer to place inside him for your candle.. that will work even better. Votive candles are what I use but potpourri candles work good to. The safest thing you can do is put a small flashlight inside but I absolutely love the flicker of a candle. Make sure that mom or dad light the darn thing though and keep it away from curtains and such.
9. Some other things you might want to try. I always cut thin slices on the inside of my lids and sprinkle cinnamon on it. As the candle burns the lid (and it always seems to) it will smell like pumpkin pie. Also, if using a flashlight, you can use different colors of plastic wrap over the light... looks cool. Another thing you might want to try is instead of cutting off the top of your pumpkin, cut off the bottom.. then all you need to do is lift the whole pumpkin off and light the candle. You can always decorate it with bits of fabric and paint if you don’t plan to cut it.
I hope I have been of some help and maybe you have gotten some ideas.. have fun and play nice!