At this time of year, formerly barren lots on even the busiest city streets are transformed into pumpkin patches.

Local farmers’ markets display a bevy of gourds, and kids go into hyperdrive as they suit up to turn their carefully selected finds into jack-o’-lanterns.

Pumpkin carving is much like driving: safety first. Thankfully, alternatives to serial killer-style kitchen knives are available at supermarkets, party stores and organic food stores. The Pumpkin Masters Carving Kit, for example, includes five tools and 14 patterns. The company also offers a children’s version.

As I’ve admitted in the past, I usually opt to cook with canned organic pumpkin puree—in particular, Farmers Market Organic Pumpkin. It’s a hassle-free base for Early-Morning Pumpkin Maple Oatmeal, Pumpkin Curry Soup, Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Bisque and Pumpkin Five-Spice Butter.

Tune in tomorrow for a new recipe: Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. In the meantime, check out some of my past posts: