Jack-o-lanterns

Allen demonstrates how to create a Jack-o-lantern using a non-traditional technique.

Special occasions like Halloween are a lot of fun because you get to do some of those once a year sort of things like carve Jack-o-lanterns. But, if you have ever carved one in the conventional way, you know that they will only last for a few days. There is a way to create a festive Jack-o-lantern without completely carving the pumpkin. This approach starts with choosing a pumpkin with a strong stem.

By laying the pumpkin on its side, and letting the stem serve as its nose, you can get an interesting look. Winter squash, such as pumpkins, will actually last longer if the stem is intact. So when you purchase one, make sure it has its stem.

Once you have established the nose draw the features on its face and then cut them out, only about 1/4 inch deep. A small paring knife is ideal. Then just remove the dark orange skin of the rind.

The face of your Jack-o-lantern can be further accented by using dried beans. I'm using black-eyed peas for eyes and a few navy beans for teeth. Just use your imagination. Now I'll just top off my friendly little guy with a pepper wreath.

Closer to the big night, Halloween, I can cut completely into the cavity of the pumpkin through a place in the back and insert a candle for some dramatic illumination.

And if you use sweet little pie pumpkins as Jack-o-lanterns, cook them immediately after Halloween for pumpkin pies for the next holiday, Thanksgiving.