I know, I KNOW! I’m back with one of those annoying “how to” posts. You know, the ones I said I’d never do. And this time, I’m Halloweening it up big time, and I figured that as today, at the ripe old age of 37 (never get tired of saying that. I can definitely no longer get away with not being able to adult satisfactorily) I carved my very first Halloween pumpkin (forgive me, for I have led a sheltered life) and I did this all by myself, with just a little website how-to for assistance, therefore there must be a market for this sort of thing, since I myself am accessing said content.
Admittedly the how-to I found at the top of Google came from the BBC website, and featured a glamorous woman appropriately attired in a plastic apron, who seemed to have a pumpkin which took literally seconds to transform into a monstrous-looking Jack-o-lantern, whereas I toiled for what seemed like hours trying to extract various slimy membranes from the interior of said squash with a large serving spoon (as per recommendation in the tutorial) and my own bare hands, but despite the Beeb’s irritatingly membrane-free kabocha (see, still remember a bit of the ol’ Ni-hon-go from 2003. That’s Japanese, to those of you who didn’t share my footloose and fancy free years in the Land of the Rising Sun debating with schoolchildren who does the best pumpkins and learning that, without exception, it is definitely the Japanese) the tutorial did make sense. However, I reckon I could do a better one. Just without before and after photos, as I was so convinced I was going to fail utterly at this task that I didn’t bother to take a “before” photo in the assumption that the “after” would consist of me lying slain on the floor of my pristine white kitchen, strangled by pumpkin membranes, with a gurning Jack-o-lantern standing over me wielding a sharp knife.
So, without further ado, here I go with my Four Easy Steps.
- Find yourself a pumpkin. It really is remarkable how easy it is to find a pumpkin these days, especially in October. I didn’t even have to morph into one of those Godawful identikit mummy blogger types with a brace of cherubic blonde children running adorably through a field of lavender and landing conveniently in some ludicrous American invention known as a “pumpkin patch,” which in my day was called a city farm. No, apparently you can buy pumpkins in the local greengrocer! Who knew? And I got to feel all warm and fuzzy with my ethical supporting-local-businesses pumpkin-buying credentials. I have no idea where they got the pumpkins from though. Probably Connecticut.
- Cut the top off the pumpkin. AND DON’T THROW IT AWAY! The BBC neglected to mention this last point, which led to an unpleasant rummage through the food waste bin when they unexpectedly came out with the instruction to pop the top back on at the end. This is why my how-to is better than theirs. I don’t skimp on the important details.
- Scoop out all the seeds and membranes. After a brief inspired moment when I considered whether I could put the pumpkin seeds to good use, for example by planting them in the front garden so that I could have my own personal pumpkin patch right outside my front door next year, like I was Felicity Kendal in The Good Life or something, I realised (thanks Gardener Google) that now wasn’t the time to plant them (gardening, eh? So ruddy complicated), which meant that there was nothing to see me through the endless hours of scooping out sticky vegetable membranes except relief at the thought that if I couldn’t have my own pumpkin patch right now, at least it would avoid the potential problem of having opportunistic Trick or Treaters queueing round the block ALL YEAR ROUND.
- Finally, when you are eventually membrane-free, cut out the eye and mouth holes, plus any other adornments you care to add, taking care to avoid accidentally knifing your toddler, who has long since decided that pumpkin carving is a tedious and messy business, and it would be far better to turn the kitchen table into a car park for Paw Patrol vehicles instead.
As this is four easy steps and I don’t want to complicate matters, I shall add a couple of footnotes here. These being a) put the top back on, assuming that you didn’t discard it into the rotting mass of food waste under the sink already, and b) stick a tea light in it. I am yet to perform b) so if it all goes pear shaped and you accidentally burn down your house after following my “Four Easy Steps,” don’t say I didn’t warn you that this was an untested part and therefore is to be performed At Your Own Risk.
So there we have it, a gurning Halloween Jack-o-lantern at your service. Now just have to put it in an appropriately subtle location so as not to a) burn house down or b) entice hordes of unwelcome Trick or Treaters bearing weaponised flour and eggs.
Soz about the visible biro marks where I’ve cut out the, um, facial features. You can’t win ’em all.