Witches, ghosts and vampires, oh my.
Halloween is a celebration dating back to Celtic rituals thousands of years ago, but nowadays it's all about trick-or-treating, costume parties and carving jack-o-lanterns.
Your pumpkin still isn't carved? There are dozens of websites offering free carving patterns. Here are a few: www.pumpkinlady.com, www.bhg.com/halloween/pumpkin-carving and www.ehow.com/halloween/templates.html.
And don't toss those seeds. Instead, separate them from the fibrous membrane, give them a rinse and follow these directions from allrecipes.com:
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Toss 2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon salt (add any other seasonings you'd like to taste).
Spread the seasoned seeds on a baking sheet and slip into a 325-degree oven for 45 minutes or until lightly toasted. Do stir them every few minutes.
While they're toasting, the following are some fun facts from the U.S. Census Bureau to test your family and friends' Halloween knowledge:
-- 41 million: The estimated number of potential trick-or-treaters -- children ages 5 to 14 -- in 2012.
-- 132 million: The number of occupied houses, apartments and condos across the nation -- all potential stops for trick-or-treaters to pick up sweets.
-- $113 million: The value of pumpkins harvested from the top six pumpkin-producing states: Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
-- 1,155: The number of manufacturing establishments producing chocolate and cocoa products in 2010. Pennsylvania led the nation with 102 factories, followed by California with 100.
Tri-Cities Wine Festival
Enjoy an evening tasting wines and microbrews at the 34th Tri-Cities Wine Festival on Saturday at Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick. The event begins at 6 p.m. and includes a silent auction and appetizers.
Tickets are $55 per person and can be found through Ticketmaster or at the Toyota Center box office. You must be 21 or over to attend. Photo ID is required.
For more information, go to www.threeriversconventioncenter.com or www.tcwinefest.com.
The book: Kitchen Simple: Essential Recipes for Everyday Cooking by James Peterson.
Best for: The author has taken everyday dishes and given them a culinary twist turning plain fare into something special without adding a lot of time to the prep or cooking. The majority of the 200 recipes in the book are tailored for weekday meals with a few thrown in for when there's more time, like Red Wine Pot Roast. Even then, prep time is minimal because the meat spends the next few hours, alone, in the oven.
*Loretto J. Hulse: firstname.lastname@example.org.