Archive for October 19, 2008

Make Your Jack-o-Lantern and Eat It Too

In honor of Sasha, this post is about eating your jack-o-lantern.

Image from

Instead of letting all the perfectly good pumpkin food go to waste, it’s possible to make tons of sweet and savory treats from your Halloween decor. Carved jack-o-lanterns keep several days before they start rotting. Cut away any rotting parts before you cook. Instead of sooty candles, the the Ultimate Cheapskate recommends using an electric light.

When cutting, remove the seeds, rinse them, dry them, salt them, season them, and bake them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet in a 250′ oven for around an hour. Stir every 20 minutes.

Scrape out as much pulp as you can. Steam it for 30 minutes or until it’s tender, then puree it in a blender.

Painted jack-o-lanterns are OK too, but make sure you don’t get paint in the food. Pop them in the oven and bake them to make the skin flake off.

How-to from Mother Earth News:
1. Remove any paint with metal pot scrubber, or peel skin off.
2. Scrape out seeds and stringy fibers with soup spoon.
3. Cut pumpkin into 4-6 pieces, or keep whole and replace the cap when scooped
4. Place on greased cookie sheet
5. Bake at 350’F until tender (about an hour, or an hour and a half if whole)
6. If whole, pour off any collected liquied
7. Cool it quickly in cold water and drain. Cut the meat away from the skin and puree it to remove lumps.
8. If you have lots of pumpkin puree, pack it into pint or quart jars or freeze.

You can make pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread….

Some more ideas from Frugal Fun:

1. Pumpkin butter
(pureed pumpkin plus mace, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and apples)
2. Pumpkin soup
(pumpkin, hot pepper, apple, garlic, almonds, mozzarella)
3. Pumpkin chocolate chip bars
4. Pumpkin chips
5. Chilean Squash Casserole (from Moosewood Cookbook)
(pumpkin, cheddar cheese, carrots, cumin, salsa)
6. Pumpkin latkes
(grated with eggs, onions, and flour, and fry patties)
7. Thai pumpkin curry
8. Baked pumpkin seeds
9. Pumpkin pie
10. Stuffed pumpkin
(vegetables, cheese, milk, bread crumbs, spices)

If you don’t like eating pumpkin, there are still ways to get another use out of it – Gaiam Life recommends composting or donating it to your local zoo.


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How to Make the Most out of an Inefficient Furnace

So, like many renters, I don’t have much say over the furnace my apartment has. As it just so happens, our furnace’s efficiency is rated near the bottom. We live in a floor of a drafty old house, and I’m terrified of my upcoming Xcel bill. The Department of Energy says we spend most of our money heating and cooling our home (see this chart).

In honor of this expense, I bring you tips for maximizing the heating efficiency of your living space.

1. Lower the thermostat as much as you can stand. Even turning it down 2 degrees can save you $300/year, according to New Jersey Natural Gas.

This comes from a person who can’t stand it any colder than 66, but at least 66 is better than 70. They say you should be able to withstand 60 dressing in layers, but I just can’t do it. I do turn it down to 60 whenever I leave the house, though. But don’t turn the furnace off altogether – if you do, the furnace will have to spend a lot of energy the minute you get home.

2. Weatherize your home. If you have storm windows, be sure to close both sets of window. When fall has arrived, get plastic weatherization film.

3. Take shorter showers. It means you’ll spend less heating the water. Wash clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot.

4. Make sure your vents are unobstructed. I was keeping my laundry basket in front of a vent, which was dumb.

5. Open shades to let sunlight in during the day. Who needs solar panels! Close blinds and curtains before the sun sets to keep the night cold out.

6. Limit the use of kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans. This shoots your nicely heated air out into the world, wasting all that heat!

7. Add a rug to wood or tile floors.

AFUE is the American Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating. Your furnace will say what its AFUE rating is – a rating of 78 means that, of every dollar you spend on natural gas, 78 cents of it turns into heat and 22 cents is wasted.

(more tips from GasSouth)

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