It’s Autumn (my favourite time of year) the leaves are falling, the wind is whistling and the nights are somewhat darker – perfect for Halloween antics and dressing up the house for some seasonal fun. So here are some things to do, make and bake.
When I was just a young girl (for the record, I’m 40 and have no issues with this)…. Halloween was celebrated, but not quite as is today: we would do apple bobbing, dress up a little, carve turnips or swedes (who ever saw a real pumpkin 30 years ago in the UK) and parade about the streets playing trick or treat with lit up jam jars and turnips in hand.
The neighbours didn’t seem to pleased about trick or treating then – it wasn’t as popular as in the US. We saw more curtains shut or folks pretending to be out (with the TV on) than we saw front doors open and gifts of sweets – some even reluctantly pushed a few coins into your hand to get rid of you for fear you’d pull the flowers up as a trick!
The biggest tradition for this time of year was Bonfire Night on November 5th and when I was younger both parents and children took part: collecting wood for the biggest bonfire, making hotpot, toffee apples and cinder toffee and the not so brilliant, but appreciated ‘Standard’ boxes of fireworks that were available then.
Since having my own children, our generation has made Halloween a fun-filled time to be shared and enjoyed amongst our communities and it is a lot safer, with parents taking part in the home and also on the trick or treat rounds. I have known families stock up on goodies and dress the doorways of their homes and be disappointed if not enough children have come round in their best Halloween costumes and with smiling, anticipating faces.
I just love traditions and love to see children (and parents taking part).
Over the last few years I have spent the preparatory part of Halloween and sometimes even Halloween itself, over in the US: New York, Boston, Washington. My favourite was in New York and I have never seen pumpkins as big or the biggest displays of Autumn Fayre in shop windows and doorways that have complimented this traditional celebration. If you want to see Halloween at it’s best – visit New York at this time of year!
Seeing all the beautiful colours encouraged me to not just go out and buy the stuff available in the shops (which we are seeing more of year on year) but to get a bit creative with the window and door dressing with bold colours and surprisingly at less cost!
First of all, its not all about the fancy stuff you can buy – but about how much you involve your children and family.
Secondly, with a bit of imagination, you can do a much better job.
Pumpkins: You can buy these cheaply these days and they are readily available a few weeks before Halloween – buy them at least a week before for the biggest and the best and your local market is usually the best place for this. If you have been lucky enough to grow some (some of my neighbours have) then you will be the proudest parents to display your own and the kids will have loved seeing them grow.
My recipe for Pumpkin Pie is the most popular of them all. A traditional recipe that is surprisingly sweet with the warm flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger. This Halloween and Thanksgiving favourite is even more special with the addition of a crisp layer of gingersnap and pecan pressed into the base. An unforgettable Halloween favourite!
An alternative to Pumpkin Pie (if you find it a bit sweet) is Pumpkin Cheesecake I love all things cheesecake; it’s smooth, creamy, the cheese makes for a great carrier of extreme flavours (most people leave this plain and rely on the toppings, but this is a missed opportunity for contrasting flavours). Adding pumpkin and spices of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg makes this a seasonal dish with all the familiarities a cheesecake should offer.
Pumpkin Drop Scones are great for Halloween Tea Parties. A very easy recipe to make (one for the children to join in with). These tasty scones with a little spice can be served warm as they are, with butter or for an extra tasty treat you can add jam (or citrus lemon/orange curd) with cream.
Great for lunch boxes too!
Looking good on any Halloween table is this Pumpkin Cake You can serve with the frosting on the top or you can layer the cake as many times as you like and add the frosting between layers (sprinkle walnuts and drizzle maple syrup for effect). The mixture could also be used for cupcakes, but remember to adapt the cooking time to suit.
Display your Pumpkins in the most visible window downstairs in your home in the week before Halloween, to encourage other parents to take part and let them know they are in a Halloween Family Friendly area. Then on the day of
Dressing the Doorway:
You can buy so many things and the shops would be happy to let you, given that they are stocking more and more these days – but let your children make some things and get a bit colour creative yourself.
Let your children make a pumpkin, ghost or skeleton garland to hang in the window (high enough away from the pumpkins with candles in) or to colour pre-printed pictures, cut out to display in the window. Drawing with crayons and painting over with watery paint is very effective for that spooky look.
Place a few logs in your porch way or entrance to stand your pumpkins on; put fruit like apples and oranges in a bucket or in small piles around your pumpkin display; add small potted plants with orange and russet coloured flowers or leaves. This display will attract a lot of wows, you will lift spirits and feel you have really contributed to the days events. The good thing about this kind of display is that it can be left out for days after Halloween and still look good.
You can still put the fake cobweb in the doors’ entrance laced with spiders (a favourite of mine) and something that I though was really effective was Halloween recorded music playing whenever there were children by the door.
All of the above recipes are available by clicking on the links and you can find them in HoniesKitchen on my blog.