We have a pretty great mix of advice this week that includes politics, spooky seasonal events, and cheese. First up, how to talk to friends who don’t want to vote, then how to make your own ricotta, what to do with tofu, and some fun events about monsters, scarecrows and other scary fall fare.

We’ve collected our best articles with our best Philly tips. They’re in one place here.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and, as much as possible, it’s still a good idea to stay home.

A scarecrow walk through the Morris Arboretum is one of the cuter spooky fall events on this week.
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
A scarecrow walk through the Morris Arboretum is one of the cuter spooky fall events on this week.

Your questions, answered

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Did you know this?

You can make your own ricotta. Really. It’s not complicated, and you you won’t believe how tasty the fresh stuff can be. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just a thermometer, a slotted spoon and some cheesecloth if you’ve got it (though paper towels work in a pinch. Jamila Robinson has an easy step-by-step guide to DIY cheese.

Try This

What do you do if a friend of yours tells you they’re not going to vote? Elizabeth Wellington says there are more productive things to do than to hit that ‘unfriend’ button. With a lot at stake in November, here are some ways to talk to your apolitical or apathetic friends, and not have that conversation feel like you’re banging your head against a wall.

  • “My vote doesn’t matter.” How to respond: It does, especially this year. Voters in Pennsylvania will have a powerful impact on this year’s presidential election, because we’re a swing state. And we aren’t just voting for a president. Voters will be choosing an attorney general, an auditor general, a treasurer, and seats in Congress and in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. These elected officials routinely make decisions that impact our day-to-day lives.
  • “I’m in the same boat no matter who is president.” How to respond: This year’s presidential candidates have such different policies, it’s likely they will be acutely felt on the local level. “One facet of democratic politics that people don’t appreciate is that everything is negotiated,” said David Nickerson, a professor of political science at Temple University. “We all have to consider the candidate in this election who is going to negotiate on behalf of you and your community.”
  • I don’t like either candidate.” How to respond: The president is like the CEO of the company you work for: He isn’t your friend. “Voting for someone doesn’t mean that you think that person is perfect or you won’t take issues with their positions,” said Adjoa B. Asamoah, a political strategist whose focus is Black voter engagement. “It also doesn’t mean that you are 100% aligned with that person. Even our spouses don’t solve our problems. But someone has to manage this country.”

More useful advice in Elizabeth’s full story.

Eat This

Tofu is having a moment. Sales have jumped both locally and across the country. And it makes sense: Tofu is a cheap and versatile source of protein. But if you’re no bean curd expert, Grace Dickinson breaks down what the different types are best for.

  • Silken tofu. Silken tofu never gets pressed, which gives it a higher water content, and an extra smooth, silky texture. Be gentle when removing its packaging, and let it drain on a paper towel. Try it: Pureed into smoothies, salad dressings, sauces, dips, and creamy desserts like mousse, pudding, and cheesecake.
  • Soft and medium tofu. Soft tofu is delicate, with a custard-like texture similar to silken tofu; medium tofu is just a bit more firm. Drain and then blot it with a paper towel before using. Try it: Cubed in miso soup, noodle soups, and mapo tofu, fried in age dashi tofu, pureed into smoothies (soft tofu only), or steamed and topped with a soy-chili, garlic-ginger, or oyster sauce
  • Firm and extra-firm tofu. This denser stuff has a chewier texture. Try it: Crumbled into tofu “egg” scramble, “egg” salad, or Italian-herb-seasoned “ricotta,” cubed into veggie stir-fries, fried rice, and noodle dishes, sliced for banh mi or baked BBQ tofu, air-fried for salad croutons, or pan fry slices for sandwiches.
  • Smoked tofu. Almost always an extra firm tofu, smoking tofu makes it even denser and chewier, and is a flavorful snack you can eat right out of the package, with no need to cook it. Try it: Cubed atop salads or grain bowls, sliced for sandwiches (try replacing the bacon in a BLT), stirred into chili, or raw as a snack

More tofu types and what to do with them in Grace’s full piece.

Plan this

Here are some of the spookiest ways to keep busy this week, from our weekly events calendar:

  • 👻 Spooky Twilight Tours at the Betsy Ross House (Tours / in-person / history) The scariest thing about the Betsy Ross House’s Friday night spooky tours may just be that the subject matter — infection, inoculation and Philadelphia’s sickly history — hits close to home this year. Masks and social distancing required at the two-hour tour. ($10, Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, 6-8 p.m., historicphiladelphia.org, map, add to calendar)
  • 🌳 13th Annual Scarecrow Walk (Outdoors / in-person / kid-friendly) Fall fun arrives at Morris Arboretum in the form of 50 carefully designed, fairytale-themed scarecrows. Walk the garden grounds and vote for your favorite scarecrow. (Free-$20, Oct. 3-Nov. 1, morrisarboretum.org, map, add to calendar)
  • 🎃 Bok-tober Fest (Fall event / in-person / outdoors) Enjoy the best views of the city while painting a pumpkin and enjoying snacks and drinks at Bok Bar’s outdoor, timed-ticket-required Bok-tober Fest. Pumpkins and paint are included. Masks and social distancing are required. ($20, Oct. 4 and 11, bokbar.ticketleap.com, map, add to calendar)
  • 💀 October Extended Hours Pop-Up at the Mutter Museum (Museum / in-person) On select evenings this October, the Mutter Museum stays open a little later for after-hours tours of the collection and special pop-up events. On Oct. 7, learn about how the word “monster” has been used in the medical field during the last 500 years. (Free-$20, Oct. 7, 15, 21 and 29, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., muttermuseum.org, map, add to calendar)
  • 🌙 Night Tours at Eastern State Penitentiary (Tour / in-person / ongoing) Arriving in time for the spookiest season of them all is the penitentiary’s brand-new Night Tours, where you can explore the cell blocks by moonlight. The audio tour is narrated by Steve Buscemi, and features large-scale projections, artist installations and more. ($19-32, until Nov. 15, easternstate.org, map, add to calendar)

» More great events at inquirer.com/calendar