Jack-o-Lantern Guilt and Pumpkin Bread

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. For me, much of the joy comes from carving pumpkins. I love the feel of thick pumpkin flesh as it yields to a sharp knife. I love the feel of my fingers wiggling deep in slimy pumpkin guts (the part my stepbrother always hated). I love the sound the spoon makes as it hollows out the inside. But more than anything, I love seeing the gourd’s demonic grin shine as I set it alight for the very fist time.

But, if you stop and think about it, jack-o-lanterns are a big fat waste of edible pumpkin flesh. I hadn’t stopped and thought about it until I read a friend’s blog post just a few days before Halloween. She argues that pumpkins are simply too delicious to be turned into jack-o-lanterns. Here’s an excerpt.

While I am not against these haunted decorations per se, when I see them sprouting up in advance of Halloween, I shake my head, wondering why someone took one of the earth’s brightest bon-bons, turned it into a monster and set in on the stoop to rot. Pumpkin is far too yummy for decoration!

Just a day or two after I read her manifesto, I purchased my pumpkin. It wasn’t a sickly looking grocery store globe. Oh no! It was a bona fide pie pumpkin from my local co-op. Round and glowingly orange and probably organic to boot. I took out the carving knife and began sketching a crooked, toothy grin, but Robin’s words haunted me. I just couldn’t turn that fleshy vegetable into a seasonal ornament. Instead I chopped it up and roasted it. I sprinkled the seeds with Cajun seasoning and roasted them too. The only parts of the pumpkin that ended up in the trash were the slimy guts and the skin.

One smallish pumpkin yielded a whopping 4 cups of pumpkin puree. Half went into the freezer and the other half went to make olive oil pumpkin bread. If you decide to attempt this bread, you may want to cut back on the oil. I think 3/4 cup or 1/2 cup plus some apple sauce would do just fine. The recipe calls for nuts and raisins. I added walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Yum!

To celebrate, my clean conscience and I took to the streets dressed as Zombie Diva (in truth, all I did was add zombie makeup to my Tina Turner costume from 2006. But hey, who has time to shop for a Halloween costume when they’ve spent all day slaving over a hot stove!).

(Halloween 2009 & 2006. Notice the similarities?)

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