Perfect Halloween Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins is the perfect Halloween-eve activity. Dan Piraro shows you how.

You know him as both a former VN columnist and all-star cartoonist, but you might not know that Dan Piraro is also an award-winning pumpkin carver. Here are his top five tips for perfecting your pumpkin artistry!

  1. Use a real pumpkin. Plastic or resin pumpkins sold as decorations are problematic.
  2. Procrastinators beware—pumpkins rot. Pumpkin carving is not something you can leave unfinished and go back to in a few weeks.
  3. Use the proper tools. X-acto knife is too small, chainsaw is too big.
  4. Save the insides of the pumpkin. They can be used as a terrific Halloween fright wig.
  5. Whenever using sharp objects, have a tourniquet nearby.

Seriously, there are no simple tips for carving a good pumpkin. Get a kit from the craft store, follow the directions, use the tools, and have fun.

Of course, there's no reason to discard the seeds after your art project is done. Here's our favorite recipe for slightly spicy seeds. These are perfect straight out of the oven, but if you can restrain yourself, toss them over a salad or top your favorite fall soup with them for an element of crunch.

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Seeds from one medium pumpkin, washed and dried

What you do:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saute pan over medium heat, melt non-hydrogenated margarine. Add cajun seasoning and sugar, stir, and cook for 1 minute. In a mixing bowl, toss pumpkin seeds and seasoning mixture. Spread seeds onto prepared baking sheet in a single layer and roast in oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

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