Saturday, October 24, 2015

#Microblog Monday: Halloween Safety and Pumpkin Muffins

When I was growing up, we all carved pumpkins.  If you had a pumpkin for Halloween, that's what you did with it.  You didn't paint it, you didn't cover it in glitter, you didn't stick Mr. Potato Head parts on it, you didn't do some crazy Martha Stewart Pinterest thing to it.  There were no special carving tools. You got out your kitchen knife, and you went for the jugular.  Probably you had some adult on hand to help.  But you certainly stuck your hands into the guts and pulled out the stringy seeds; even the littlest of children could do that.  I admire the intricately carved pumpkins you see more of now: people have made it into an art form.

An email came to my inbox yesterday with a host of things you could do to your pumpkin to avoid carving it, avoid the mess, avoid the seeds.  And I wondered, for the fifty billionth time, whether we're overprotecting ourselves.  So I did a little research.

It turns out that of the 4,400 injuries in Halloween 2013, half of them were pumpkin-carving-related. And a nine year study between 1997 and 2006 found that finger/hand injuries accounted for the greatest proportion of injuries on Halloween (17.6 percent), that 33.3% of those injuries were lacerations, and that children ages 10-14 sustained the greatest proportion of injuries (30.3 percent). All of which suggests to me that children who usually have things cut for them were suddenly being handed deadly weapons.  (Oh, and in case you're curious, some of those 4,400 injuries were power-tool related.  Yep, pumpkin-carving with chainsaws.  Very American)

I'd still like to believe we can do things the old-fashioned way.  I still think that we ought to make our kids de-gut the gourds.  It's like a rite of passage.  But maybe it's safer not to give them a knife, but to give them the can opener to open the pumpkin puree for making muffins.

To carve or not to carve? Tell us below.

Pumpkin Muffins

1 c.all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
3/8 t. ginger
pinch of ground cloves and allspice
1 1/3 c. canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1c. + 2 T. sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put liners in 12 standard-sized muffin cups.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice in medium bowl.

In a larger bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and sugar. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined. Divide batter among muffin cups (each about 3/4 full).

Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.

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  2. I grew up the same way. And carving pumpkins is a tradition I want to continue with the Beats. But your post brings up a powerful point of the importance of being involved and also teaching knife safety from an early age. Though I have been guilty of cutting myself, I also know that it was because I wasn't practicing basic safety rules I was taught. Thankfully nothing serious, but enough to teach me to be careful.

    And power tools for pumpkin carving?!?! Wow. That's a new one.

  3. On the one hand, that sounds like a lot of injuries but maybe not when considered as a fraction of the entire population?

    I let my daughter use a steak knife with dinner, and she cuts vegetables and such with a paring knife on a daily basis. I suspect that many kids in the 10-14 age group do as well? Just musing...

    But we do have pumpkin puree downstairs that needs to be used....

  4. We always carve a pumpkin -- very basic, nothing fancy. Someone made a comment on FB about our "retro" pumpkin -- ummm, yeah, sure. Dh always does the cutting; I do the scooping out. I very rarely do the cutting. When I was a pre-schooler, my mother cut her hand badly while carving a pumpkin for me & my sister. She got a neighbour to come stay with my sister but I insisted on going with her to the dr's office (she drove herself) & sat there watching intently while she got stitches -- so poor Mom had to put on brave face. Since then, my dad has done all the pumpkin carving. ;)

  5. We carved when we were kids (we drew the design, my dad cut it out), but we never carve pumpkins now. It just feels wasteful. I'll set out undecorated pumpkins and then turn the pumpkins into puree. But I'm not even setting out undecorated pumpkins this year. I'm totally bah-humbug about decorating for any holiday.

  6. I have never carved a pumpkin - Halloween simply didn't exist in NZ when I grew up. I wouldn't know how. I do like the look of your pumpkin muffins though. If I could get over the bias I have about sweet pumpkin things (again, not a tradition here), I might make them. Except that we don't have canned pumpkin! Maybe I'll just drool at your photos. It's less likely to put on pounds on my hips!


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