By our guest writer Kate Huntington
It’s that time of year again when in the spirit of Halloween and the celebration of all things spooky (or is it all things candy?). A rite of passage for most children these days is the annual pumpkin carving.
This is not something I enjoyed in my youth for the simple reason that my mother enjoyed her annual tradition of making a pumpkin pie (which was amazing). Although decisions based on gluttony rather than principle, I have still been brought up with the notion that food is principally for eating rather than decoration.
Other than the quantity of food wasted there are some other difficult ones I have with pumpkin carving. One is the difficulty of carving it. I have bought one of those carving kits from the supermarket but that barely lasted one pumpkin and was awkward to use before it did. And More effective large kitchen knives are dangerous with me in charge never mind my son. And the second problem I’ve had was where to put the thing when it is done. I have read about way to preserve them when carved but I don’t have the patience for that. So leaving them in the kitchen can result in fruit flies and bad smells. Leaving in a first floor flat in London meant I had no outdoor space to leave it and the window sills on our flat weren’t generous enough for the average pumpkin.
So this year I have turned to other ideas with the realisation that there are loads of things you can carve that (a) waste less food, (b) cost far less than the average pumpkin, (d) last longer before smelling or attracting insects and (e) provide so many more options to decorate the house.
I’ve heard that turnips have been used in the past but there are also the options of squash, tomatoes or, as I choose this year, peppers.
Peppers have so many possibilities. Other than carving them just as you would carve a pumpkin, you can also incorporate the candle by slicing off the bottom and using the pepper has a candle ‘cover’ rather than making a lid and struggling with getting the tea light inside. Because peppers are so much lighter, you also have the option of threading some string through the top and hanging them up as decoration.
Being a mum of a four year old, I found the smaller vegetable much more suitable to getting my son more directly involved. A pepper is so much easier to carve than a pumpkin. So i can leave him to his own devices with even a standard dinner knife to carve his own design. Though I’ve never been ashamed to use sellotape on our carvings when his efforts go awry.