Have Your Pumpkin And Eat It Too

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (Creative Commons)

For most of the year, the space on Doheny between Harland and Keith Avenues is just an empty lot.

I’m sure there are a ton of very interesting and controversial reasons for the lack of development at this site.

But I don’t care about any of them. I’m just thankful that this spot in West Hollywood is home to the best pumpkin patch to be found, the Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch.

You’ll probably pay a bit more for a pumpkin here than at the supermarket (the admission fee of $4 for adults and $2 for kids is credited to your pumpkin purchase), but your inner child will thank you for it. That’s because it’s more than just a pumpkin patch — it’s basically a mini-Halloween theme park, perfect for kids with pony rides, face painting and a petting zoo, among other things.

They have pumpkins of every size and shape. If you’re more artistic and talented than I am, you will probably carve a kickass Jack-O-Lantern that will be the envy of all of your neighbors. After years of terribly ugly attempts at carving pumpkins, I have given up. I submit (with the sourest of grapes) that a plain pumpkin is more beautiful than any fantastically carved one.

Truth be told, the thing that I like the most about having a fresh pumpkin is roasting and eating the pumpkin seeds. They are a perfect snack, very easy to make, and the homemade kind is incomparably better than store-bought. So why not give it a try this year with your pumpkin innards? Here are some tips and ideas:

Preparing the seeds: The easiest way to separate the seeds from the rest of the pumpkin innards is to fill your sink with cold water and put the stuff you scrape out of the pumpkin into the water. With just a little effort, the pumpkin seeds will separate and float to the top, where they are easy to skim off.

Roasting the seeds: There are two equally acceptable methods: in a skillet on the range or in the oven on a sheet pan. Go for the oven if you’re roasting a lot, but the skillet is easy if you’ve got a small amount.

If using a skillet, dry the seeds with a towel (letting them sit for a day helps with this), then heat a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in the skillet, add the seeds, half a teaspoon of salt per cup of seeds, and a bit of black pepper (optional). Stir/toss the seeds over medium heat for five minutes until medium brown and nutty smelling. Place the cooked seeds on a paper towel to remove any excess oil, and enjoy!

If you opt for the oven, you can dry the seeds in the oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes in a single-layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then toss the seeds with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil per cup of seeds, half a teaspoon of salt per cup of seeds, and a little black pepper (optional). Return the seeds to the oven and roast for another 20 minutes or so until crisp.

Cinnamon
Scrolls of Cinnamon (Creative Commons)

Flavor ideas: There’s no need to stop at just salt and pepper. Use your favorite spice mixes.

  • Cinnamon/Sugar: Instead of salt, toss the seeds with sugar and cinnamon. I love this on yogurt.
  • Parmesan/Chili Powder: Toss the seeds with grated Parmesan and chili powder or paprika. Use a little less salt as the cheese is salty.
  • Herbes de Provence or Italian Seasoning: Adding these spice mixes lends a Mediterranean taste.
  • Smoky: Toss the seeds with brown sugar, salt, cumin, and smoked paprika for an approximation of a steakhouse spice rub.

Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch is at 702 N. Doheny Drive, West Hollywood, California 90069. For more information, check out www.mrbonespumpkinpatch.com.