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With Halloween on the horizon, how can I not share a few of my favorite treats?

First, after carving your jack-o'-lantern, save the seeds. Did you know those pepitas you pay a premium for in the markets are nothing but roasted pumpkin seeds? Do it yourself, make it a family project and enjoy this timeless treat.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds



After cleaning pumpkin, rinse seeds and air dry. Place in a bowl and toss with just enough oil to coat lightly, adding salt to taste. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast in a 250-degree oven for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Turn heat up for the last 5 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Had a nice visit last week with Joanie Brundige. I tend to think of her as a frog-voiced little girl with a gift of gab and a way with words. As a teenager, she contributed to the pages of the Valley News and later moved on to Flagstaff, Arizona, and a career in journalism.

Now, as Joanie Brundige-Baker, she and her husband spend part of the year in the Valley and seeing her always brings to mind this classic Native American dish.

In her words, “the ‘state’ food of Arizona,” Navajo tacos on fry bread, was a favorite when she worked for the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper.

Navajo Tacos on Fry Bread

Dough: 2 c. of flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1 c. of buttermilk

Hot oil for frying (canola is OK)

Topping: 1 lb. hamburger or ground turkey

Taco seasoning

1 c. of pinto beans, home cooked or canned

One  14- to 16-oz. size tomato and green chilies (such as RoTel)

Mix flour with baking powder and buttermilk to form a ball. Set aside to rest and make topping. Cook meat with seasoning and a little water. Add pinto beans, tomatoes and green chilies and simmer until cooked. Divide dough into 6 balls, flatten with hands into tortilla-like shapes.

“A Navajo grandmother slaps it between palms of her hands, back and forth until large pancake size, but I am not that swift,” Joanie said.

Fry in hot oil until brown, turning a few times to get cooked through.

Top with meat or chili, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, etc., as for a taco.

And, as if you don’t need another pumpkin recipe, here’s a moist, rich and easy dessert that’s just my kind of recipe.

Pumpkin Squares

2 c. pumpkin pulp

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One 12-oz. can evaporated milk

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 c. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. white sugar

3 eggs, well beaten

1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. vanilla

1 box yellow cake mix*

1 1/2 to 2 cubes butter

1 c. chopped walnuts

Cool Whip, whipped cream (my favorite) or ice cream for garnish

Use a large bowl and mix pumpkin, milk, salt, both sugars, eggs, spices and vanilla together until well-blended. Pour pumpkin mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over top. Cut butter into small squares, place on cake mix, covering as completely as possible. Sprinkle nuts over butter and bake in a 325-degree oven. Check for doneness after 50 minutes. If a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, remove from oven. If not, bake for another 10 minutes and check again. This is better, the recipe states, if not overcooked. Cool, cut into serving pieces and top with whipped cream or ice cream.

* Don’t use the “butter recipe” mix for this one.

Longtime Valley resident Elaine Revelle can be reached at