Introduction: The Life of a Pumpkin
From the humble beginnings in the pumpkin patch to their final destination in the chickens' yard, with a little Baking and Crafting thrown into the mix, we follow the lives of some very lucky pumpkins.
Step 1: In the Beginning...
This year we grew pumpkins. First time ever. Three pumpkin patches in total. My daughter's, mine, and Mister Tidwell's. In total we got about 40 pumpkins; mostly jack o' lantern types, some sugar, and a few mutants. We lost some to the naughty chickens, but they served as sacrificial distractions from the rest.
Step 2: And Then Came the Pumpkin Masters
I love Pumpkin Masters! The tools are really great, just keep practicing with all of them to benefit from each one's specialty, and not rely upon just one favorite, or you risk breaking it from overuse.
They have a difficulty rating pictured as pumpkins, 1-5. Some of the fours are fairly easy while other fours are pretty tedious. I didn't attempt any fives as I had to do a total of 5-6 designs, along with scooping and sorting the seeds from the mash, all in about 5 hours. Some of the pumpkins were pretty big so I did two designs on each.
Naturally, my daughter(pictured) was part of this endeavor. And that's her Nana, the Blonde wearing red. : D
We got about 10 pounds of pumpkin gunk that we brought back to our chickens. I hope they don't o.d. on beta carotene! : D
I used candles in tins that last about 12 hours. I first burned them for 2 hours, to get the wax and wick to recess a bit, just in case it was windy. In years past I was chasing after the wind, re-lighting the pumpkins. That wasn't happening again. As it turned out, there was just a gentle, constant wind and even the candles out in the open never got blown out. Yay!
Step 3: And Fire Was Created
(fortunately, ovens were then created)
I made two batches that night(I still have a big bag of unbaked in the fridge!) and seasoned them differently.
Both with salt and pepper and olive oil, and then one with cayenne pepper and the other with turmeric.
Oh, and the next night I made another batch because my daughter carved two more pumpkins the next morning. Those I additionally seasoned with cinnamon and sugar. YUM! Those ones are my favorite.
I think I baked them at 325 F degrees for a few hours. After an hour I would pull the trays out and try to toss and mix the seeds around. Use a plastic spatula if you are lining your sheets with foil, so you don't rip the foil when you are scraping the seeds off to flip them over.
Step 4: The Payoff
The real reward is at night, when they are all lit up and the trick o' treaters love them! The parents, mostly, as the kids are more focused on adding to their loot. It's kinda neat when people compliment you sincerely, even wondering if they are fake, and then when you tell them, "No, and we also grew them." That's the icing on the cake.
We kept them lit all night, way after trick o' treating was over. We worked so hard on them, and the scene, I thought it'd be nice for drive-by's to enjoy it all.
My Instructables for the two costumes above are:
The Instructable for the building of the walls, fireplace etc. is almost done...
Step 5: Chickies Play With Jacks
A few days later, we went back to my Mom's to retrieve the Crime Scene set, and to gather all of the Jack o' Lanterns to bring back to the Farm to give to the chickens.
They loved them!! I didn't even bother breaking them, they went right to town. Maybe they had their own ideas about what to carve. It sure made their play yard look cute and they deserve a bit of belated Halloween decor, 'cause they make such nice eggs for us.
The next morning I brought my Doc's down upon them all, breaking them up into smaller bits to enjoy more easily.
The pumpkins!, not the chic....
Step 6: Pumpkin Cheesecake
These are some of the pumpkins that we have left that we are willing to bake/experiment with. We'll save the remaining eight or nine that are in/outside of my shop until Thanksgiving.
I believe all pictured here are sugar pumpkins. I thoroughly washed all of them. I want to bake some to make pumpkin cheesecake, and experiment with the rest for some quirky autumn decor.
Oven at 275 F
Put oil in bottom of glass casserole pans.
Put chopped up pumpkins in, just like that and bake for 3 hours.
Let cool for an hour or two.
Put everything in juicer. Yes, everything.
Run it through twice.
Pumpkin puree(the stuff I just made)
1 pkg of softened cream cheese
2 eggs, room temperature
1/8 tsp almond extract, 12 turns of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp grd cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar
blend brown sugar into cream cheese
add spices, continually blending on medium speed
add 2 eggs. then the puree.
Bake at 325 F for 50 minutes(mine cooked for 60, so I would minus 10 minutes for aesthetics)
Enjoy warm, or chilled
Step 7: Marbling
I wanted to try a marbling technique. Mark Montano did a beautiful spooky-black-and-gold version, here on Instructables, with a special acrylic paint that you bake. I didn't want to paint, or prime the pumpkins to cover up their natural colors. I stumbled upon another type of marbling, using nail lacquer and a bucket of water. She didn't provide a video or pics of her actually doing it, just a written description, so I was eager to see what kind of horrible mess or lucky outcome would ensue. (a little of both, but mostly the former)
I also wanted to do one or two just using Bits of Nature that we would gather from outdoors and pin on with satin pins. I ended up experimenting with more of the the pumpkins using the nail polish in an attempt to get a decent-looking one. My first one was, "Ew." My second one was, "Huh, interesting, slightly better than the last." And my third one was finally cool, but so round that I missed the top parts. After seeing the results, I concluded that I'd be combining these with the Bits of Nature idea to cover all that didn't look "good".
First off, I bought some crappy polish in pearly autumn colors. What I mean by crappy is that they were maybe $3 each, rather then, the nice "organic" ones that we get for $8-$11. What does this mean?
!VENTILATE! This stuff smells! I loaded up the wood stove and opened the windows.
I filled a big pot with water. I lined the pot with 2 plastic bags to protect it.
I dumped some or all of the colors into the pots, maybe a third of each bottle per session.(3 sessions)
The polish all floats on the top. I dragged just the tip(okay, at first I didn't and the skewers got covered with lacquer gunk) along all the colors, creating a marbled effect.
Pick up your pumpkin and slightly roll over the surface. That sounds like a directive. It is not. It is what I did and not necessarily the correct way. : )
Anyway, it is amazing to watch nearly all of the polish adhere to the pumpkin!
I feel like this would have come out better if I had a rectangular bin, the length of the circumference of the pumpkin.
Like, way better. But I didn't go that route.
The whole process took no more than 10 minutes. Fast and furious. I set them on the counter on towels and let dry for about 2 hours.
(After about one hour, surprisingly, the pumpkins didn't smell anymore.)
Dump the waste water conscientiously. There actually should not be much left floating on the top, but this stuff stinks and I don't want to smell it again.
Step 8: Adding Bits of Nature
We went outside and scavenged what we could find; different colored leaves, pine cones, and acorn hats.
We used the satin pins to attach the leaves right onto the pumpkins, then added cut-off pine cone petals and acorn hats on top of those, to really anchor them in. You have to gently hammer the pins through the acorn tops, the shell is too hard to just push through. The pine cones are sappy and will share that generously with your fingers. Just a fact of nature. : )
Overall, we ended up with some Attractively Homely decor for the table, and did something that we have never done before(and will probably never do again.)
Another come-away from this Instructable is that I would implore Oxford to officially drop the second "p" from Pumpkin. I don't know if it is just me, but I just can't seem to ever include it. I glance back at my screen and there it always is, "pumkin" in red.
Please check out my other Instructables, some are quite entertaining and silly.
And please vote for this if you like!