Singing Owl over at Revgals writes: All Hallows Eve (Halloween) is near. As a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. We didn’t yet worry about razor blades in apples or popcorn balls or some of the other concerns people have with Halloween these days. Halloween was a chance to be mildly scared, and better yet, to dress up and pretend to be something we really weren’t. Let’s talk about that a bit, but then let’s add in some food ideas for this year. Where I live the leaves are falling, the temperature is chilly and pumpkins are for sale everywhere, along with many kids of apples. What's more, the "Holiday Season" will soon be upon us. ACK! I could use a new idea for dessert. So, here we go…
1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?
Halloween as a festival has only really hit the UK since I grew up. When I was small, I loved the idea of telling stories by the fire (come to think of it, I still do) so I would try and organise my parents into doing just that somewhere around 31st October….and if I had a friend over, we’d maybe bob for apples (catching them in your teeth as they float in a bowl of water) and raid the dressing up box for long skirts and make sugar-paper witches hats. When I was a teenager, there was one year when I had a sort of low key fancy dress party and put candles all over the house….You see, I was longing for stones and tea-lights even then. But that’s about it.
2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do?
Nope. Partly because the way the festival has arrived here is mega-commercial and slightly unpleasant. Instead of being about small children looking sweet dressed up as cats, it is apparently rather too often more about teenagers frightening the elderly with the nature of their tricks…There’s also a lot of confusion around as to whether we are celebrating the dark, and encouraging people to play with dangerous things, so some churches get very anxious about the whole caboodle. I'm not fully of their persuasion, (it seems to me that most of the activity is harmless fun) but it does mean that it would feel rather incongruous for a clergybird to be actively encouraging the festivities - just in case they go bad. When we lived in the village, we used to run a Light and Laughter party in church, which went down a storm. Gave kids a chance to dress up and play traditional games with apple; gave them the opportunity to be pleasantly scared by torchlight tag in the churchyard -but sent them home with a message of celebration of the light that no darkness can quench. It worked for us then.
A couple of years ago the diocese organised the most fantastic youth event in the Cathedral – again setting out to reclaim the Christian foundations of All Hallows Eve…I'd love to celebrate like that with 500 teenagers singing "Light of the World" on a regular basis.
2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else? I’ve only ever had the “toffee apple” variety – which I used to love, but suspect would make my teeth fall out nowdays ;). They weren't a Halloween special, though. I used to buy one when the fun fair came to town each summer - I wasn't allowed candyfloss, as my mother thought it too unwholesome to tolerate, but toffee apples might not quite count for your "Five a day" but they were technically fruit, so all was well. As to a cinnamon alternative - well, it is one of my favourite tastes, so who knows?
3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them? Deeply inept at such things. When I was a child, it was supposed to be turnip lanterns that you carved – and frankly a turnip is so jolly hard to carve that I decided the whole thing was Too Much at an early age and have never aspired to an alternative viewpoint, even now that the cult of the pumpkin is taking a firm hold on British society ;-)
4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures. Fraid not – we once got a rather cute ceramic pumpkin designed to hold a tea light free with some purchase or other – so that sat on the kitchen window cill at our old house till it got broken…and that was it.
5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?
I'm useless at clever craft ideas (see above re pumpkins), so hated fancy dress parties in my youth, as I could never create anything that matched the scope of my imagination. On the other hand, I used to really love it when I was duty parent for school trips to a Victorian school room . We first went the year we celebrated the centenary of the village school. The children had to dress appropriately, take a suitable lunch (hunk of bread and cheese) in a suitable package (that meant a brown paper bag) and staff and helpers were in costume too…and got bonus points for talking in 19th century English. Having done The Victorian Novel as a special study in my final year, I entered into the spirit of this with embarassing enthusiasm....in fact I could probably have made a good shot at taking on the role of the school mistress had the need arisen. But that was pretty much the exception...though perhaps I'm pretending to be something different all the time? I certainly wear a strange costume - but I get the feeling that I'm mostly being allowed to be my truest self. Whether robes based on the everyday wear of the 1st century Roman contribute much to this I really don’t know…If I were a trad. Catholic, I guess I’d be aiming for obliteration of self by my vestments – but as it seems to me that my self is about all I can bring to the worship, that’s not too helpful (though please, Lord, don’t let the me-ness of Kathryn get in anybody’s way…)
Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones. Aaargh…..There is a yummy apple cheesecake that I used to make to use up the glut of apples from our mini orchard at the old house. Can’t disengage from the computer enough to go and hunt it now, but this one is pretty close
Short crust pastry (sweetened if you prefer)
225g (8oz) Stewed apple 110g
110g (4oz) Caster Sugar
110g (4oz) Butter
4 Egg Yolks 2 Egg Whites
1 Lemon, rind and juice
Peel, core and boil sufficient apples to make 225g (8oz) when cooked.
Add the sugar and the melted butter.
Add the beaten eggs, grated lemon rind and juice.
Stir the mixture well.
Line patty pans with pastry
Add the mixture.
Bake about 20 minutes.