The history of the Jack O'Lantern starts at the Irish legend of Stingy Jack who played tricks on and stole from everyone he ever knew including, once, the devil himself. One such story, for there were many different ones, goes that Jack tricked the devil to climb a tree and then surrounded the tree with crosses. The devil, being unable to climb down, struck a deal with Jack. Jack made him promise that he would never enter hell, and the devil agreed. Jack removed the crosses and continued on with his life. When Jack finally died, he was denied entry into heaven because he was too mean to everyone while he was alive. So, down to the gates of hell he was sent, but the devil would not let him enter! Jack didn't know what to do, because he was surrounded by darkness and couldn't find his way around in the land between heaven and hell, so he asked the devil for help. The devil threw him an ember from the fires of hell. Jack took the ember and placed it in a hollowed out turnip and wandered the earth from that time forth carrying his light in a turnip.
This was Tina's first time carving a pumpkin, but she wanted to do something fun (not the common scary face) and ended up deciding on this emoticon: :-P
I looked through a bunch of my photos of Yosemite Valley and drew up a plan in Adobe Illustrator to make a relief, light shaded carving of a slightly exaggerated drawing of the valley. Here's a link to a similar view from Inspiration Point off the yosemite.com website (for those who haven't visited this magnificent park).
Here's a closeup of the landscape in the dark:
Details on how the carving was accomplished can be found in this article.
And did you roast and salt the pumpkin seeds inside the 2 pumpkins? Jack o'lantern pumpkins don't usually have good pulp for cooking, but that hasn't stopped me from trying in the past with variable results.
Do people generally just throw away the contents of the pumpkin, or do they make a soup or something?
1. Newspaper all over the floor, usually five sheets thick (we got messy)
2. Set out the pumpkins, carving knives (cheap, dull "knives" specifically for carving), and the biggest bowl in the kitchen
4. All the goop with seeds in it goes in the bowl. After or during the carving, Dad would separate the seeds from the goop, rinse them off, spread them out on cookie sheets, salt them, and stick them in the oven until they were golden.
5. Get sick on pumpkin seeds before bed. They're the best right out of the oven, when they're almost too hot to touch. Nice and crispy. Don't ever buy pumpkin seeds in a bag, they're awful.
So you don't make soup or pie from the orange flesh? Here we often make pumpkin soup in our household, but we use a different variety of pumpkins from the ones that Americans seem to use for carving.
Generally, the large pumpkins that Americans use for carving aren't used in cooking. It can be done, but typically other sweet varieties are used to make traditional dishes like pumpkin pie. I've been planning to bake a pumpkin pie, but I've been debating whether or not to start with canned pumpkin (what more people will start with) or with fresh pumpkins. I think it will end up depending on how much time I have.
Keep it up, BTW. I always enjoy reading this blog.
Anyways -- this is just a little look at a pumpkin that I carved about 7 years ago:
Nicely done, Kevin!
I expect more people to post their pumpkin creations this year!
I've always loved that particular pumpkin carving. I'll try to find some more pics and toss them online for all to see.
They took me about three hours but well worth it.