Wishing everyone a very Happy Halloween!
Like all holidays, Halloween comes with its own requirements.
Decorations, candy to hand out and costumes for the kiddies - and not so kiddie - are pretty much mandatory for a bare minimum Halloween.
If you have those three, you’re good to go.
There is one item that is open to debate:
Whether or not to buy a real pumpkin, carve it up and insert a candle to highlight your artwork.
Some families can’t imagine Halloween without a real jack-o-lantern on their front porch.
Okay… it’s decided, and no tough choice to be made there.
Others have an annual argument: should they swiftly walk past those huge pumpkins in the produce section, or should they get one, cart it home, carve it up, and then find something to do with the bits of pumpkin that are all over their kitchen?
I mean, it is real food, right?
And what with the high cost of fresh produce, it should be eaten, right?
Ma had her own solution for the pumpkin innards problem.
We had a real pumpkin, and we also had a supper of pumpkin soup.
Soup is a dish that welcomes a cook's creativity, and it also makes use of what's in season, on sale, or just sitting in the kitchen.
Since it’s Halloween, you could garnish the soup by drawing 3 to 5 circles of yoghurt or sour cream on top of a serving. With a knife, starting at the centre, draw a line outward, cutting across the circles. Make a few more slashes, always starting at the centre, and you’ve created a spider’s web.
Or you could use a Halloween-themed cookie cutter on slices of cheese, as if you were making a cheese cookie. Instead of baking them, just place the ‘cookies’ on bowls of soup and serve to the kiddies.
They can always use an extra serving of calcium.
About the seeds… don’t forget to roast them for an easy, great snack.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Place in a bowl
1 1/2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons butter, melted
Toss and spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle lightly with
1/4 - 1 teaspoon salt
Stirring occasionally, bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
Chop and place in a large pot
about 4 pounds pumpkin chunks (without skin and seeds)
4 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
6 Cups chicken or vegetable stock
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until the pumpkin is tender.
Remove from heat and stir in
2 Cups milk
Scoop some of the soup into a blender and puree to make it smooth.
If you want the whole soup smooth, repeat until the soup is the way you want it.
If it’s too thick, you can add more stock or milk.
salt and pepper
Reheat soup, if necessary.
Serve with crusty bread, such as Ma’s Hobz.
If you’d like a more ‘pumpkin pie’ flavour to your soup, no problem.
Reduce the amounts of onions and garlic, or avoid them completely.
Season with Pumpkin Pie Spice.
I had posted a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice a while ago.
Here’s a recipe with slightly different proportions of the ingredients.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Place in a small jar
3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
Stir to blend.
Store with a tight lid.
About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…
Hope you enjoyed The Orionid Meteor Showers on October 21 - 22. These showers originate from debris from Halley’s Comet. The best time to observe any meteor shower is during the early morning hours, between midnight and 5:00 a.m. Generally, with the Orionids, observers can expect to see 20-25 meteors per hour. Hope you spotted a couple.
October 28— Set your alarms to see the faint, thin waning crescent Moon paired up with Jupiter. Look to the east 1 hour before sunrise.
October 30— New Moon, 1:38 p.m. It’s invisible to the naked eye.
October 31 – The nearly-invisible waxing crescent Moon will again be at apogee, meaning its farthest point from Earth during the lunar month.
An easy way to remember: (A)pogee = (A)way.