Cre­ative ways to en­joy pump­kins all sea­son long

The Covington News - - At Play - STAFF RE­PORTS news@cov­

Au­tumn is the sea­son when pump­kins are ripe for the pick­ing, and since Hal­loween is just around the cor­ner, lo­cal farms, stores and road­side ven­dors are packed with pump­kins.

Many pump­kins are turned into dec­o­ra­tive jack-o’-lanterns, only to be tossed in the trash come Nov. 1; how­ever, the cre­ative fun doesn’t have to end there. Check out the list be­low to keep up the pump­kin fun all sea­son long. Pump­kins can be trans­formed into bowls to hold soup, punch, fruit, or even dips. Make sure the pump­kin has been cleaned well of its pulp and seeds, as well as the stringy flesh that is inside. Rub the inside walls of the pump­kin with oil to keep them from dry­ing out and cav­ing in, then fill with your food of choice.

- Puree from a pump­kin can be used in all types of recipes, from soups to baked goods. The puree also can re­place the oil in cake recipes. Cut the pump­kin and scoop out the seeds and stringy mem­branes. Then place it cut-side­down in a pan with a lit­tle wa­ter in the bot­tom. Bake at 350 F for around 90 min­utes. The flesh will be­come ten­der and eas­ily re­mov­able. Blend the re­sult­ing puree in a food pro­ces­sor and re­serve flesh for recipes. Some pump­kins are sweeter or bet­ter to use as part of recipes. Check the va­ri­ety you’re pur­chas­ing. Use some pump­kin puree with a lit­tle brown su­gar and a dash of milk to cre­ate a vi­ta­min-rich fa­cial mask. Turn hol­lowed-out mini pump­kins into can­dles. Melt soy wax, beeswax or the gel type of can­dle wax that can be found at most craft stores. Add your fa­vorite scent and place a wick into the bot­tom of the pump­kin. Then pour the wax into hal­lowed-out space and al­low it to har­den. Try the same thing with bumpy and multi-col­ored gourds for added dec­o­rat­ing ap­peal.

Fill a hol­low pump­kin with soil. You may not have to worry about scrap­ing the pump­kin com­pletely clean be­cause the pulp can be used to help fer­til­ize the pot­ting soil. Plant your fa­vorite fall flow­ers into the fes­tive and earth-friendly flower pot. When the pump­kin shows signs of rot­ting, sim­ply put the whole thing into a tra­di­tional flower pot or bury it di­rectly in the ground.

While veg­etable or meat-based stocks may be the stan­dards, pump­kin can be used to make stock as well. Clean out the seeds from the stringy guts of the pump­kin and put the guts into a pot filled with wa­ter. Add cel­ery, car­rots or any other aro­matic veg­eta­bles for ex­tra fla­vor. Al­low to boil for at least 30 min­utes. The stock is ready when it be­gins to change color. Strain and re­serve the stock for use in a va­ri­ety of recipes.

Pump­kins are rich in zinc, vi­ta­min A and vi­ta­min C, among other nu­tri­ents. You can add the dis­carded pump­kins to your back­yard com­post bins to fur­ther re­plen­ish the soil.

- In­stead of a stan­dard jack-o’-lan­tern, put a glass jar into the carved pump­kin, add dish soap and hot wa­ter to the jar and then put in a piece of dry ice. Bub­bles and smoke will pour out of the pump­kin to cre­ate a spook­tac­u­lar ef­fect.

Metrocreative con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

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