Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pumpkin Seeds

This morning was my town's trick-or-treating.  I know, yesterday was Halloween, but in Westminster, we currently have mosquitos with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which basically kills you (and horses), so all dusk-time activities have been canceled or postponed.  Trick-or-treating was moved to this morning.  I was all excited to pass out candy in my new home, and got a group of 4 boys right at the start... and that was it.  All the kids go to Bacon Street, where people set up haunted houses and go all out.  The town even collects donations for the families on that road.  I knew that, but I still thought I'd get a few; after all, we figured surrounding towns might come by for two days of candy collecting, and I don't live too far from Bacon Street, so I thought kids might meander down my way. No such luck.  Now I have a bowl full of candy.  I'd better find some recipes for them, since neither Mark nor I are big candy eaters!

With Halloween and October over, now we can look forward to Thanksgiving, and with that, the end of fall.  As you all know, I am not a fan of fall.  I hate winter, but fall is a season I spend lots of time complaining about.  I currently have the heat on and I am not happy about it.  I miss summer and tomatoes and corn and sun.  With that said, even I can admit that fall has some good things.  I like to eat squash and bake with cranberries (and heat the house with the oven).  And I really like to roast sugar pumpkins to make my own puree.  The last time I did this, Mark insisted that I also make some pumpkin seeds with the pumpkin's seeds.  I decided to do a little research to make them perfect... and I have succeeded.  Three different people have asked for my "pumpkin seed recipe" in the past few weeks, so you know they must be special.  To be honest, it is not so much a recipe as a list of steps and tricks, but you should know them, so here we go:

First, use sugar pumpkins if you can.  Their seeds get extra crunchy.  Plus, then you can roast the flesh and make pumpkin puree!  You certainly can still use regular pumpkin seeds after your jack-o-lantern-making sessions; just don't expect sheer perfection.

Second, boil your seeds in salted water before you bake them.  This helps to soften the outer shells, which makes them easier to digest and more crispy when they get cooked.

When it comes time to bake them, I have fallen before into the trap of throwing lots of spices and flavorings onto the seeds.  I've done everything from paprika to garlic powder.  But in reality, pumpkin seeds are delectable little gems.  I don't want to cover up their taste; I want to bring it out and let it shine.  So a little olive oil to prevent them from sticking, and some sea salt and pepper, is really all you need.  Don't overdo it.  This isn't garlic bread.  It's a seed.

Lastly, don't neglect them while they are baking.  You have to stir them at least once, or they will cook unevenly - or burn.  And that would be very sad.  Keep an eye on them; the line between perfectly baked and burned can be thin.

When you have done all these tricks, you end up with such wonderful crispy, crunchy, salty pumpkin seeds!  We devoured the whole pumpkin's worth in two days.  I ate way more than my fair share.  Since then, I have passed on my tried and true pumpkin seed routine to a few different people.  It may add a step or two, but it is so worth it.  Did I mention that pumpkin seeds are healthy snacks?  Full of iron, magnesium, fiber, zinc, potassium, and protein?  I am craving some right now.  Those pumpkins sitting out on my porch, waiting for the trick-or-treaters that never came, better watch their backs.


perfect pumpkin seeds
from Oh She Glows

pumpkin seeds from a freshly-carved pumpkin (sugar pumpkins are preferred)
olive oil


1) Clean the seeds.

2) Boil for 10 minutes in salted water.  Add the pumpkin seeds to a medium-sized pot of water along with 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes over low-medium heat.

3) Drain the seeds in a  colander and dry lightly with a paper towel.  They don't have be bone dry - just a light pat down is fine.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

4) Spread seeds onto a baking sheet and drizzle with 1/2 - 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Massage oil into seeds and add a generous sprinkle of sea salt and pepper.  Try to spread the seeds out as thin as possible with minor overlapping.

5) Roast the seeds for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and stir.  Roast for another 8 - 10 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of roasting, remove a few seeds and crack them open to make sure the inner seeds are not burning; they should not be brown, just golden.  Cool a couple and test them; the shell should be super crispy and easy to bite through.

6) When done, remove from the oven and add more salt if needed.  Eat and enjoy!

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