Recently Skylar told me he thinks Utah has a Halloween fetish. I pressed him on this and he said he's never lived anywhere that takes Halloween as seriously as we do.

I told him this sounded like nonsense, and then he pointed out the 20+ pumpkins I have brought into our home and said, "this is not normal."

Anyway, every Halloween I make pumpkin stew in a pumpkin while we give out candy to the pathetic showing (5 to 8 children) of trick-or-treaters that show up on our doorstep. And every year I think I should write this recipe out for you, but by the time I get to it, Halloween is already over so it just seems too late.

But this year, I decided to seize the day and make it a week early so I could take some bad photos and do this post. NEW YEAR NEW ME.

Ingredients (this will feed an ugly family of 4-6)

2 pounds of stew beef

5 red potatoes, cubed

4 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 large onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes

64 oz of beef stock

Italian seasoning

Onion powder

A very cute pumpkin that will fit in your oven

Canola oil

  1. Place the beef, 2 tablespoons of canola oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper in a Dutch oven on low and brown the meat.

Look. I'm not going to lie to you good people who came to this incredible website for wisdom and self-esteem. I forgot I was making this until 2 hours before the dinner guest I invited was set to arrive so I did not have time to slow cook this meat. In a perfect world, I would have let this cook on low for several hours. In my flaky ass world? I put it on medium, browned the meat as fast as I could, screamed many profanities, and prayed to ol' Jebus it would work out. It didn't really because Jebus doesn't have any powers and asked me to stop calling her at work like five years ago. But my dinner guest didn't complain because I'm very intimidating and mean.

2. Chop all of the vegetables and place them on a cutting board so you can worship them.

So here's the thing. I forgot to buy carrots, and by the time I realized this, I had already promised myself I was done going outside for the day. And look. I break a lot of promises. But never to myself. I don't do me dirty like that.

So instead, I dug around in the refrigerator until I found a sad bag with like 6 mini-carrots in it and they were all half soft and and dehydrated like E.T. when the government shows up at the end and tries to perform medical tests on everyone. But I said to myself I said, "Eli. You are a hot confident man and the good people of it just gets stranger dot com won't know how bad these carrots look if you just edit the photo a little bit by adjusting the saturation through your phone thingy."

Wait. Shit.

3. Put all of the vegetables, whatever spices and herbs don't violate your moral code, and beef stock in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer for like 2 hours.

I know that's a blurry photo. I didn't realize it at the time because I was very much watching tv while making this so my brain was only 1/10 involved in the cooking. I'm not going to make this again just so I can take a better picture.

Also, you are supposed to simmer this for 2 hours, but as I previously mentioned, I did not have time for this, so I had to just bring it to a boil for like 15 minutes and then move on with my life.

4. Put such a cute pumpkin on your counter so you can take a photo of it and then cut a 7-inch hole in the top and gut and deseed. Rub canola oil all over the pumpkin. Keep the seeds. We will roast them. And don't sass me.

The pumpkin has to be cute or none of this is even worth it. The whole purpose of making this recipe is so you can post pictures of it on social media and have the strangers comment that this looks like "white people nonsense."

P.S. I recently learned a trick where you use an electric hand mixer to loosen up all the shit inside the pumpkin for easier removal and the fact that I had to wait until I was mumble mumble years old to learn this trick is homophobic.

5. Ladle the stew into the pumpkin. I never said it would be easy I only said it would be worth it. (I didn't say it would be worth it.)

I spilled EVERYWHERE. My marriage did not improve during this experience.

6. Bake the pumpkin, lid on, on a baking sheet at 325 degrees for 2 hours.

If you've been doing the math you may have realized that this recipe takes eleventy hundred hours to make. So you'll be very impressed to know I did it in 2.5 hours.

You want to bake this until the inside of the pumpkin is soft enough that you can relatively easily scoop out the pumpkin with a spoon, but not so soft that the stew starts leaking through the pumpkin. This is an impossible standard to impose on you. Sorry.

7. Roast the pumpkin seeds.

I coat the seeds in olive oil, salt, and whatever spices are at the front of the cupboard at the moment and then bake them at 325 for about 15 minutes.


I learn this lesson the hard way every single year.

8. Ladle the stew into bowls, scooping out parts of the pumpkin as you do. Sprinkle in seeds. Eat with bread.

I don't have a picture of this so here's Skylar and Duncan sharing one chair.

That's all. Happy Halloween.

~It Just Gets Stranger