Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pumpkin-tober Show and Tell

We are so excited to show you the submissions we received for October's Theme Challenge! At the beginning of this month we asked you all to find a pumpkin related pin to try out and then send our direction.

I'll just start in the order in which they were sent to us.

1. Kari's Pumpkin Photo Project:
The Pinspiration:
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 The Result: 
We purchased a giant pumpkin from Sam's Club.  I carved the insides out , got my one year old son naked except his diaper, and plopped him on in.  He did not like it one bit!  It's cold and wet and icky.  I couldn't get a single picture where he's not bawling.

2. Kate's Pumpkin Bars
The Pinspiration:
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  The Result: 
I started with the recipe, which has gorgeous photos but confusing instructions, IF you read too fast like I tend to do.  Clearly, there are three layers in the photos, and for some reason as I was asking my husband to put ingredients in a bowl for one of the layers, my eyes skipped some instructions, and two eggs ended up in the mixture that was supposed to be crumbles for the top layer.  *sigh*  It's entirely my fault. We discussed adding something to try to make it crumbly again (flour?) but decided not to, for fear of wrecking it altogether.  And we made sure to go back and add the two eggs to the correct layer as well.

So the first two layers (cake batter crust, pumpkin in the middle) turned out normal. And I spread the much-too-sticky-and-not-crumbly-at-all mix on the top the best I could.

We baked it according to the directions - and with my fingers crossed - and when it came out of the oven, the topping had formed a thin, brownie-like crust on the top. We waited an hour for it to cool down before cutting, and gave it a try... and it was delicious.  Definitely worth trying again with the ingredients in the correct layers!

Now, after two days of enjoying, we're finding that the crunch on the top has gone soft.  The flavor is still quite good, but without the crunch it's more like eating pudding. And that's our Pumpkin Pinstrosity from our house.

3. Claire's Owl Pumpkin

I've been eyeing all of these cool, wood-block inspired pumpkins on Pinterest and just generally around the internet for a while now. They look so cool. When I finally figured out how to do them, I was pleasantly surprised. You see, people do them with something called a lino cut tool, used for making linoleum cut block prints, kind of like wood block prints but easier. You use a kind of gougey-knife thing to carve out strips of what medium you're working with, and it turns out pumpkins, both the real and foam varieties, are ideal for this. I learned how to use a lino cut tool in elementary school and again in high school (why they let ten year olds around very sharp, stabby, knife-type things is beyond me).  So this year, being that I'm a graduate of Warren Wilson College, whose mascot is an owl, and seeing as how owls are just a general trend right now, I decided to use my lino cut tool to carve an owl into my funkin pumpkin. The attached photo is what I ended up with. I used a google images picture for reference, sketched out a general design with a pencil (make sure to do this lightly if you're using a foam pumpkin or it'll make a permanent indent) and started carving. It's important to cut out chunks  all the way through as well as simply carve away strips. Also, I recommend using the biggest rounded tool that comes with the standard Speedball lino cut set. Another good pointer is that you want to think direction and texture. There is going to be a definite texture made by the carving tool, so use that to your advantage. Create wind swirls blowing leaves, recreate Starry Night, or use it to create feathers like I did on my owl. Really, the sky is the limit. Now as for that whole soft glowing from the inside from the cut away sections bit, I've never gotten that to work, even with a real pumpkin, so these pumpkins look best with enough ambient light to see the lighter carved sections. Light will only come out of the parts that are completely cut away. Well, that's it for me, and happy pumpkin projects, Pinstroteers.



4. Nicole's Fall Paper Book Pumpkin:

The Pinspiration: 
(via)
The Result: 
I think this challenge thing is great! Gets me doing pins that I probably never would've gotten to otherwise. I chose to do the 'Fall Paper Book Pumpkin' Mine isn't perfect, but I still think it's super cute! I used a really thick book and switched from a box cutter to scissors part-way through, so the pages aren't even. If I were to make another one, I'd probably use more orange spray paint. And it didn't take forever to do (the longest part was cutting the book). Maybe a couple of hours? Thanks for doing this challenge!


5. Eilonwy's Accidental Pumpkin Cheesecake: 

The Pinspirations:
(via)
(via)
The Result: 
Hi! I've been going back and forth on whether to submit my pumpkin challenge or not, since I dramatically altered a recipe and had it come out fine with no problem, and this sets a bad example for inexperienced cooks.

I was playing around with the idea of a from-scratch substitute for Krusteaz' pumpkin bars, which I recommend, but which require a trip to Big Lots. 

Messing around with their elaborate crusts was a "not gonna happen," so I made a basic graham cracker crumb crust... with olive oil instead of melted butter, hoping the milk proteins in butter don't do something magical that I'd miss. They don't.

Then I decided to substitute sweetened condensed milk for BOTH the evaporated milk and the sugar in the filling, 'cause guess what I had in the house and guess what I DIDN'T have. (Has anybody after 1970 bought evaporated milk for a purpose other than making pumpkin pie? I didn't think so.)

I used olive oil in the streusel, too, because might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and it's not like butter had magically appeared in my refrigerator while the custard was baking. Butter has an amazing propensity to not show up on its own.

It came out with a convincing taste and texture -- a little more cheesecake-y than pumpkin-bar-y, which is apparently a win, as when I told my mother about it, she suggested I make it for Xmas dessert instead of the overwhelmingly tedious and nitpicky Cooks Illustrated recipe that I usually use and which requires a special pan, about 83 steps, and a mint on its pillow while it "rests."

The thing is, I can get away with this nonsense because I've made custards from total scratch (including sweet-potato pie that started with peeling and parboiling the sweet potato), so I know how the ingredients ought to interact. Going off-road without experience more likely leads to falling in a pothole. Next month, I promise to tackle something that I find scary!

Anyway, even though this doesn't really fit your mission, I owe y'all some thanks for prodding me to find a substitute for the Pumpkin Cheesecake of Tedium!


6. Carolyn and Wyler's Jack-o-Lantern and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

The Pinspirations:
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(via)

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The Results: 

Today I thought it would be fun to carve a jack-o-lantern.  Most years I have several carved by now (Oct. 30).  I guess I'm slacking.  My 3 year old, Wyler, saw me setting up to carve the pumpkin and was instantly interested.  "What you doing Mommy?" I showed him pictures of jack-o-lanterns and let him pick a face to carve.  We pulled chairs up to the table and cut into the pumpkin.  When it was time to pull the seeds and guts out Wyler dove right in.  (Last year as soon as he touched the slimy innards he took off begging for me to wash his hands.)  After it was gutted he eagerly watched me carve the face he picked out.  On the back of the pumpkin I caved a W for Wyler, since he was an awesome helper.

We then washed the seeds, and roasted them.  I combined the recipes and the idea to boil them in salt water came from from two different pins.  I boiled the seeds in salt water, then tossed them in oil and BBQ sauce.  We then roasted them for about 15 minutes.  Not sure exactly how they turned out, since they are still to hot to eat (and this is pretty much my first time eating pumpkin seeds I'm gonna wait till my husband is home to try them and pass his verdict).

I'd say it has been a Pin Win day.




Aren't those great! These are exactly what we were looking for. Projects following the pins exactly. Projects inspired by pins, but given a personalized touch. Projects that had to be tweaked. Projects that worked. Projects that didn't work quite as hoped. We just want to get you trying out pins and you did! 

We're getting November's Challenge ready, so check back soon for this month's theme! 

6 comments:

  1. This is hilarious! The baby in the pumpkin made me laugh out loud. Just look at his little face! Love this blog. :)
    Grace Anne
    http://totallygraced.blogspot.com/

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  2. I now have a burning need to try Kate's egg mistake as an on-purpose technique, as the crunchy top crust looks really good in the photo and sounds like it came out enjoyable.

    Definitely a pin-win month. I am in awe of people who can carve pumpkins or, indeed, cut anything straight.

    The baby's expression is kinda wonderful, even though it's not the one wanted. Kiddo has "dismay" nailed.

    ~eilonwy

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  3. Oh baby Sam! I remember telling Kari she should send you that photo! It was far too perfect :)

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  4. I totally forgot to submit my pumpkin stuff....I blogged about them yesterday. Oh well.

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  5. I can't stop laughing at that poor baby!

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  6. The picture with your baby is absolutely perfect for Thanksgiving cards if you can come up with a cute caption

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