Four stories about Halloween:
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On Halloween evening, when my pumpkins are carved, my ghosties are hung, and my porch lights have been swapped out for eerie green bulbs, I'm all ready for trick-or-treaters!
About six p.m., when the sky is dark, my doorbell begins to ring. When I open it, groups of adorably costumed children are waiting for me, and call out, "Trick or treat!" the moment I open the door.
And this is how I greet them:
I usually hold the bowl down low so they can reach in and help themselves - unless my supplies are running low, I encourage them to take two.
As each child in the group chooses their candy, I chat with them about their costumes. Without fail, each of my guests waits politely for a turn, and then carefully thanks me for the candy. Our calls of "Thank you!" and "You're welcome!" mingle in the air until the last person is served, and then we all call out, "Happy Halloween!" Sometimes, the traffic is so heavy that one group of children is waiting to step up to my door just as the others are leaving but usually, I shut the door and go back to the kitchen until the doorbell rings again.
And what, you may ask, am I doing in the kitchen on a typical Halloween evening?
Well, I am partaking in my favorite Halloween tradition of all: roasting pumpkin seeds.
Remember this big bowl of pumpkin guts that I dug out while carving my jack-o'-lantern? It looks ugly, but trust me, it will soon be delicious.
There's still a bit of work to be done, though. Someone - and by someone, I mean me - has to sort through that slippery mess and separate the seeds from the pulp. It's not my favorite job in the world, but in the search for delicious, it's a sacrifice I must make.
Once the seeds are sorted, I pour them into a strainer and rinse them well. Next, I pour them onto a baking sheet and give them a goodly amount of salt. Coarse kosher salt is best. Some people pour on a bit of oil at this stage, but I don't bother.
Honestly, I'm in a giant rush to get these pups into the oven. They need to bake for about an hour in a 300°F oven. After about 45 minutes, I start checking them every few minutes to be sure I don't burn them. Of course, this requires me to eat a few each time. And let's be honest, at this point, I am severely lacking in self control. Invariably, my tongue ends up burned. I don't even care.
Finally, finally, by about eight p.m., two lovely things happen: first, my doorbell quiets down, as all the trick-or-treaters have gone home to sort through their haul and devour their treats. And secondly, as my family breaks into their own piles of sweets, I sit down to enjoy my annual feast of freshly roasted pumpkin seeds.
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Let's be honest. Holidays are all about the food. Read here for more stories about what I serve on special days.