The pumpkins I painted for Halloween are still looking good, so they are hanging around for a while. But if yours are ready to retire, don't just throw them away. Pumpkin seeds are delicious and nutritious, and the puree is great for eating and baking into breads and pies.

Carefully cut the pumpkin into halves or smaller, depending on its size. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and inner pulp. I boil the seeds in water for 5 minutes, which helps clean the strings and pulp off, then drain well. You can season the seeds, with Italian salad dressing or olive oil, and sprinkle with salt or other spices. Bake in a single layer on a cookie sheet at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, stir and bake 30-60 minutes more, until crunchy.

To bake the pumpkin pulp, line a roasting pan with foil - do not skip this step... the pumpkin is full of natural sugars which carmelize while they roast and can ruin a pan with burned-on residue (I know, I've scraped a few roasting pans!). Place pumpkin pieces cut side down. Add water to the pan to help keep from sticking. I also recommend covering tightly with foil - keeps down the splattering and slows down the evaporation of the water. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 2 hours, until fork-tender. Remove. When cool, scrape pulp from shells. Puree the pulp with a potato masher or in a food processor and set in a colander over a bowl to drain out extra moisture, and you'll end up with a nicer puree than what comes from a can. The puree can be used immediately or frozen in a zipper bag, in 1 cup portions for easy use later.

Incidently, you'll see some of my mums in the photo. I'll tell you more about this in another blog, but, for now, if you've bought pots of fall chrysanthemums, they can be planted for next year. When the flowers die off, just cut off the tops and plant in your garden. It is a perennial and I've had them come back year after year, even in the cold of New Hampshire. More info on this later.