Halloween has always been a bone of contention in Australia, especially when it comes to the subject of trick or treating. There are basically 2 camps you can fall into…
“Ah its a bit of fun for the kids, as long as they’re supervised and don’t cause a nuisance then where’s the harm?”
Anti Halloween Camp
“Bloody American nonsense it’s bloody taking over we don’t want bloody kids roaming around the bloody neighbourhood we never did it when we were kids and it never bloody hurt us bah humbug straya mate. ”
As you may have guessed I’m from the Pro-Halloween camp, but I didn’t used to let the boys go trick or treating in case people DID think they were a nuisance.
Then about three years ago an American family moved into our street.
They quickly instituted a new tradition of dropping a note in everyone’s letterbox inviting those who were keen to participate in Halloween to tie a couple of orange and black balloons (conveniently sticky-taped to the note) on your letter-box to show you were up for it.
It works like a charm. Heaps of houses in our street get involved – in fact it’s turned into a major neighbourhood event! And those that don’t want to be involved are left in peace so everyone is happy.
But even if you don’t live in a Halloween-friendly street there’s no reason you can’t get into the spooky spirit at home.
So why not try your hand at carving your very own Jack-o-Lantern? Its the ULTIMATE in spooky decorations and now that both Coles and Woolworths sell the big orange pumpkins there’s really no reason not to!
Here’s a few we did last year…
Now I’d like to take credit for the lot but in fairness Brook carved pumpkins 2, 3 and 4 which are arguably the more complicated designs. There are definitely perks to being married to a chef and exceptional knife skills is one of them!
But in the last 3 years of pumpkin carving I have learned a few tricks myself and have picked up a few more from the scouting around on the internet.
So here are my tips on how to carve a pumpkin into a kick-ass Jack-o-lantern…
1. Get a sharp knife and cut a hole around the stalk – its got to be big enough to get your hand into but not too big
2. Scoop out all the seeds and flesh with a metal spoon – if you have kids this is a good bit to get them to do. Then you need to scrape as much of the stringy flesh from the inside of the pumpkin as possible. This can be tiring and time-consuming so you’ll probably need to do this bit unless the kids are older.
3. Draw your design – grab a coloured texta and draw your design straight on to the pumpkin. The great part about this is that is you make a mistake or don’t like what you’ve done you can simply wipe it off!
If you don’t rate your drawing skills you can download any number of templates from the internet. Print it off and then cut out the eyes, mouth etc and use this as a guide to draw on the pumpkin.
4. Nail it! Get a nail and carefully prick the pumpkin skin along the lines of your design. This allows you to wipe off the texta and still be left with a clear outline to carve to.
5. Get carving – take your knife and carve along the dotted lines. I like to use a smallish vegetable or paring knife for this bit as I find it’s easier to control but that’s just me.
6. Keep it fresh – when you’re finished give it a spray on the inside with some bathroom cleaner or bleach. This kills bacteria which can cause the pumpkin to rot. Then just keep it in a cool dry place like the pantry cupboard until you need it.
And there you have it – a spooky Jack-o-lantern to make your house look a fright this Halloween!
If you have a go at carving a Jack-o-lantern I’d love to see it.