Q. What are the most essential tools for pumpkin-carving?

A. Crafting a proper jack-o’-lantern requires more than a kitchen knife. A variety of blades (serrated, looped and curved) make carving easy and accurate. Assemble a set of tools, below, to quickly remove the pumpkin’s insides and sculpt intricate details on the rind. You can find all of these tools at art-supply stores.

Keyhole saw: This tool’s sharp teeth cut through the rind to make the large hole, either on the top or the bottom.

Fleshing tool: A serrated loop easily scrapes away the flesh, allowing light to shine through.

Linoleum cutter: Make a skin-deep outline and pattern with V- and U-shaped blades in a few sizes.

Miniature saw: To cut out areas with lots of detail, like for facial features, use an easy-to-maneuver blade.

Q. Is it safe to put my pet in a costume?

A. Yes, depending on the attire. “Costumes shouldn’t limit the animal’s movement or sight, or its ability to breathe, eat, drink, or relieve itself,” says Katherine Miller, a certified applied animal behaviorist at the ASPCA. Also avoid choking hazards, such as dangling beads. Ultimately, if your pet seems distressed, remove the costume right away — no matter how cute it looks!

Q. Why should I sift flour for a recipe?

A. Sifting (or just whisking) breaks up clumps that form when flour sits for a while. It also adds air and volume, so a cup of sifted flour and a cup of unsifted flour are two different quantities. Read recipe instructions carefully to determine whether sifting is needed: For “a cup of sifted flour,” sift first, then measure; for “a cup of flour, sifted,” measure first, then sift. The exception: cake flour, which should always be sifted.

Questions should be sent to Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10036. You may also email questions to Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number.

Read or Share this story: