Happy Halloween, if that is your thing. As my friends and family knows, though, it’s deeply not mine. I did used to get into dressing up as a kid, dreaming up wild costumes that my parents would then be responsible for scaling back. (They were enthusiastic about helping, but way more realistic than I was. I secretly wish I still had the pair of ruby slippers Dad made me one year to go with a store-bought Dorothy costume, because they were AWESOME and a nice reminder of how great my dad is.) Then I basically lost all interest in Halloween in high school. I gamely dressed up for a few more years, before stopping altogether. (The exception to this in recent years was the fantastic Halloween wedding our friends had a few years back, for which Tim and I dressed up as “wedding guests from the 50s.” I mean, it’s a total cop-out, but we looked awesome and were more-or-less in the spirit of wearing costumes. I got a pretty sweet forest green cocktail dress out of it, too.) I do not begrudge anyone their Halloween fun. If getting decked out in a creative costume is your jam, that’s great, and I am content to observe from the sidelines!
Despite my indifference to the holiday, it is firmly a Fall Event, and I love fall. As may have become clear, fall foods are my favorite, so in my weak show of Halloween-related enthusiasm, I roasted some pumpkin seeds last night to snack on while trick-or-treaters are knocking on our door. My cousins sweetly kept the innards of the pumpkins they carved at our annual Family Cabin Weekend (carving pumpkins is also not my favorite, but I like roasting seeds, so I usually beg them off someone else), so Sunday after we got home, I separated the seeds from the fibrous bits. I’ve found the easiest way for me to do this is to put a handful of seeds/innards in a bowl of cold water and pluck the seeds from the top of the water. I use my nails to remove any extra bits of pumpkin and put the seeds on a baking sheet to dry. I think I ended up with seeds from two pumpkins, so prepping them wasn’t particularly fast, but I just watched down the DVR from the kitchen TV for awhile and got into a rhythm of stripping bits off the seeds. After all the seeds have been cleaned, I take a paper towel and pat some of the water off the baking sheet. The seeds will stick to the paper towel, just knock them back down onto the baking sheet and take another pass. I kept going until my paper towel was pretty damp and then spread the seeds out as thinly as possible for drying.
Monday morning I agitated the seeds (so any that had been sticking together wouldn’t be touching anymore and could get evenly dry), picking up handfuls and breaking apart any clumps. They still felt sticky, so I knew they needed more drying time. I agitated them again Monday evening and Tuesday morning, and was pleased when they felt dry to the touch. A few years back, I read about drying pumpkin seeds before roasting them on Pioneer Woman and have been doing it ever since. I know some of my friends roast them straight away, but I’ve been pleased with how they come out using this method. Anyway, they were dry by Tuesday, and I had some unexpected free time in the evening, so I roasted those seeds up. I was also eager to reclaim the counter space being taken up by a random baking sheet of seeds, let’s be real.
I used Joy the Baker’s recipe for sweet and spicy seeds, which I’ve used in the past, but I noticed for the first time last night that it’s geared towards hulled pumpkin seeds. Whoops, they still come out great! The spice blend is tasty, though I don’t include the cayenne and red pepper flakes, because I am kind of a wuss, except when it comes to spicy soda crackers. (Actually, we rarely include cayenne in anything. Tim and I are both of the mind that it adds heat without adding flavor. I usually just add more delicious chili powder.) The egg white binder works really well to make the spice mixture stick to the seeds, and everything smells just amazing while it’s roasting up!
Since our oven is a little unreliable anyway, I have a tendency to check on things periodically, so I pulled these out and tossed them after every 5 minutes, testing one after 10 minutes. When tossing the seeds, they’ll stick together like crazy the first and second times, just try to smooth them back out as well as possible and break up clumps during the next check. This batch I roasted for a total of about 18 minutes and at the end, the seed had a satisfying crack to it when I crunched down (though that crispness will continue to develop a little after the seeds cool, too). I let the seeds cool on the sheet and then packed them up (snacking as I went, clearly). I’m looking forward to crunching through a fair amount of them while kids come to our door for Tim’s amusing assortment of candies. (He’s on an old-school kick this year, we’re handing out Bits O Honey and Charleston Chews, amongst other things.) I’ll probably also dig up my DVD of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which is the extent of the Halloween spirit I can muster. Heh, sorry! But I’m way more enthusiastic about Thanksgiving and Christmas! Happy Halloween to you!