It is very, very hard for me to work up any kind of enthusiasm about Halloween.

Except for a few great years in my partying days, it’s never been my favourite occasion – and this year, I am feeling especially curmudgeonly about it. If it weren’t for my children, I would, without a doubt, be one of those people who turned off the lights and locked the doors and stayed in the attic drinking wine until it was all over.

Thankfully, earlier this week – before I got too mired in irritation about it all – I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with the fabulous Kristin Sjaarda. We hung out, drank coffee, dissected the latest unpleasant news of our world, weathered an epic rainstorm, and put together a spooky mantel to be featured on the Marion House Book today.

If you head over there right now, you’ll miss my (humbug) rant about the senselessness of sending our children out into the cold, dark night with the sole mandate of gathering and gobbling up as much refined sugar as they possibly can – lucky you! – but if you stick around here, you get this recipe for pumpkin seeds.

First published on this blog three years ago, they have become a Halloween tradition around here (if such a thing exists) and remain my go-to reward for getting through this day.

Well, these and the baby Kit Kats.

Trick or Treat!

Pumpkin Seeds for Snacking

the seeds of one large pumpkin, cleaned of goo, rinsed, and well dried
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp (lightly packed) brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 pinches cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Place pumpkin seeds in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients, then toss with pumpkin seeds until they are well coated.

Spread seeds onto prepared baking sheet and bake 45 minutes, until dry and slightly golden in colour, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Serves one spooked Mama.

indulge me.

I tend to be a bit childish about my birthday.

Never mind that I am an adult – a parent, even! – with responsibilities and practical concerns to attend to daily; when it comes to my birthday, I insist on indulgence of all kinds.

This year was no different.

Although my actual birthday was this past Friday, I have enough wonderful friends and family in my midst that my celebration spilled into the weekend and is still, in some senses, ongoing.

So, I know I owe you more (much more!) than just this, but I hope you’ll indulge me for a few more days…

Birthday Brownies

1 1/3c soft unsalted butter
400g bittersweet chocolate, chopped – the best possible quality (I use Green and Black’s)
6 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2c brown sugar
1 1/2c flour
a pinch of sea salt
1/2c white chocolate chips
1/2c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9X13-inch baking dish and line with parchment. Fill a saucepan with water to the one-third mark, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Combine butter and chocolate chunks in a medium bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and melt butter and chocolate together, stirring regularly with a heatproof spatula, until combined.

In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla and brown sugar. Combine flour and salt in a separate small bowl.

Let chocolate mixture cool slightly, then whisk in egg mixture. Add flour mixture, white chocolate chips, and pecans, and beat until well combined.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes.

Cool completely in pan on a rack, then cut into squares.

You should get a minimum of 32, but really, the size (and level of indulgence) is completely up to you.