Monday, October 30, 2006

Little Red Hen Syndrome*...

raw pumpkin seeds
Well, yesterday was a nice day: lazy, laid back, just hanging as a family. Very homey, very nice.

Until I ask "Who wants to help get the pumpkins started for carving?"

Shecky announces "Not me, pumpkin guts are gross." (and he is so right about that!)

Bubba was a bit more subtle - he suddenly "remembered" that he had to go into the office. And he left! Whaaaaat?

So, once again, the despised task of degutting the pumpkins fell to me. Urgh.

toasted pumpkin seeds
I know that I shouldn't complain too terribly much about the boys declaring this a "girl job". There are several "boy jobs" around here that Bubba's responsible for, and for which Schecky is being groomed to perform.
These include things like taking out the trash, or capturing the spider and taking it to its new home in the bushes. (or, at the very least, killing it quietly and then pretending to take it to its new home...)

So, I found myself degutting three well-sized pumpkins all by myself.

sugared and spiced
and everything nice
The only thing that stopped me from saying "You know what, let's not carve pumpkins this year!" was the vision of pumpkin seeds dancing through my head.

I do love the roasted pumpkin seed. I really, really love them. And the only way that I can rest assured that I got every single precious seed is by doing the dirty work myself...

So I degutted, and deseeded - and ended up with nearly four cups of seeds! Beautiful, glorious, seeds which are - thanks to my salad spinner, a roll of paper towels, and my OCD - completely free from any pumpkin specks! Enough for four batches of this recipe:

Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds
(or, as Schecky calls them: PowerPuff Girl Seeds
even though they don't have any Chemical X in them)

1 cup of fresh pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 250°. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides. (I use my SilPat mat for this, but as long as you stir the seeds regularly, they shouldn't stick...) Bake for one hour, or until seeds are completely dry.
I check on them and stir every 10 - 15 minutes. The drying time can vary greatly depending upon the moisture content of your pumpkin seeds.

5 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 Tablespoons cooking oil

Combine 3 Tablespoons of the sugar, and all the spices in a good sized bowl. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and the remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Cook until the sugar melts and begins to caramelize (a minute or two), stirring all the while to ensure that the seeds are evenly coated with the sugar.

Add pumpkin seed mixture to the bowl with the spices - stir or toss well to distribute the spices. Allow to cool thoroughly, then store in a tightly sealed container. I have no idea how long these should last, since they never seem to last very long around here.

A slight variation: as I was making my final batch of these, I thought to myself "Too bad there's no way to add some vanilla to this"... since my vanilla addiction is legendary. I really was only kidding, but then I remembered that I have some powdered vanilla on the shelf. I added 1/4 teaspoon to the last batch, and I must say it was quite nice. That batch is sweeter, rather than the zingy original recipe. But it was a nice little variation, and one I would try again....

I don't remember where this recipe came from originally - maybe Martha?
A quick Google search shows me that this is indeed virtually identical to Martha's recipe for Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds - except, her directions are far more well-written! I transcribed mine from the scribbly back of an envelope....

Anyway - I love it! I sometimes wonder if I could make this recipe using the "pepitas" that I sometimes see in the bulk food bin at WholeFoods, so that I could enjoy it year round. I'll probably never try that though - I think that only having them once a year just makes them that much more enjoyable....

*You know, from the old story - the poor little red hen who asks: "Who will help me plant the wheat?" "Who will help me tend the wheat?" "Who will help me (fill in the blanks with some other wheat related task)?" And she gets no help - until the bread is all done, then she's got help coming out the wazoo?

Yeah - well, this little red hen's thinking about getting all medieval and not sharing any of the pumpkin seeds...


autum said...

Do you think those things ship well? If so, you have my address Ms. Hen, cause I don't plan to clean no punkin guts either.

kelp! said...

Yum, I love pumpkin seeds! I grew up eating the "broil, then salt liberally" variety, but your recipe sounds much tastier...

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh I LOVE that puking pumpkin! I have seen it before & I would so make that thing! Oh man now I am wishing that I had bought a pumpkin yesterday when mom & I were at the farm store buying a bushel of apples! DARN! I see another trip in our future today! Great idea on the salad spinner too. Oh & before I forget, Bubba’s chili totally rocks! Thank you thank you!

capello said...

degutting the pumpkin is aaron's job. don't think for one second that i did that disgustingness on myself.

he did make me (well, as well as anyone can MAKE me do something) carve four of the pumpkins. i think last night was the first time i ever carved a pumpkin.

wow. i have a really pathetic learning curve.

beki said...

We are sad. We didn't carve any pumpkins this year. That darned third kid! I really do love roasted pumpkin seeds, I'll have to remember it the next time I carve pumpkins.
Oh, and the little red hen - one of my favorite books. I was reading it to my kids just the other night!

laeroport said...

Our kids fight over who gets to weild the pumpkin gutting spoon, so should I send them over next year? And pumpkin seeds... yum! I only managed to bake mine with a little salt, but that was fine by me.

myra said...

Mmm, that sounds delish! I tried roasting ours the other day and forgot them in the oven. Poor burnt seeds.

Tea said...

Yum, yum, yum!

I might have to buy another pumpkin, just so I can make your version:-)