Cooking With Myra: Pumpkin carving has changed over the years

Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:26 a.m.

Myra Starkey

Myra Starkey

Once in a young lifetime, one should be allowed to have as much sweetness as one can possibly want and hold. - Judith Olney

Taylor does not like to wear costumes. Of course, this is not really an issue for most of the year, but I do think it would be fun if he would wear one when we went to our friends' house for their annual Halloween bash.

Some of the wives I know somehow get their husbands to put on all sorts of crazy things.

One guy I know even loves costumes so much, that he went home three times to change into a new outfit. And maybe, if I had to choose between a husband who really liked to dress up in costumes and wanted to wear them often whether it was Halloween or not, versus a spouse who resisted wearing them at all, then I would chose the latter.

Kate and Carter came over on Thursday to spend the night because their parents went out of town. I've known these two since they were small, and they are both kind and well-behaved, so I was glad to watch them. Besides, it seemed like a good chance to work on my grandparenting skills, since I hope to have grandkids in a few years.

These two kids know that I like to do crafts and love to cook, so they were ready for an evening of Camp Myra. The craft they chose was to carve pumpkins.

We started the evening with making home-made pizzas. I made the dough and then had them add their favorite toppings.

Once we cleared the table, it was time for the pumpkins.

When I was a kid in Louisiana, my mom would buy a pumpkin for me, set it on some newspapers on the kitchen table, give me a very large and sharp knife and tell me to not cut myself.

I recall that the first step was to use a magic marker to draw the traditional round or triangular eyes, triangular nose and large grin with various teeth missing to evoke a scariness that was appropriate for Halloween. To a kid, a large grin with lots of teeth missing is a frightening thing.

The next step involved grasping the large knife firmly in hand and trying to figure out how to attack the menacing and thick-skinned gourd. About that time, my father would step in to assist, not wanting to make a trip to the emergency room to reattach any amputated fingers.

After the completion of this facial surgery, including the removal of the top of the head, he would give me a large and safe spoon, so I could dig out all the pumpkin innards. This was really messy, but neither of my parents offered to help me with that part of the process.

In the end, we would place a candle in the bottom, turn off the kitchen lights and watch the jack-o'-lantern grin in a way that only a sinister gourd could do.

Back then, most jack-o'-lanterns looked pretty much the same.

As Kate began describing her vision for her pumpkin last Thursday, I realized that times had changed. There was to be a contest for the best and most creative design. The old, simple carved gourd would not carry the day. I can't say what exactly we did to the pumpkin because the contest requires keeping each entry secret until the judging Friday.

I can say that the first step involved spray painting the pumpkin before we began sewing and gluing together the accessories. And spray paint takes a long time to dry on a pumpkin. It looked great in the end, and Kate was proud. I hope we win the contest.

I purchased some Halloween treats last week for all the goblins in my life. I decided to make a chocolate brittle with some of it.

Chocolate brittle is like a slab of chocolate with all sorts of other candies melted on top. With ingredients like that you know it has got to taste great.

Lately, most of the food magazines have showcased the scary holiday with themed meals and recipes.

This is indeed a scary recipe if you are counting calories, but maybe you can share it with the trick-or-treaters in your life. Enjoy.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail



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