Halloween, gingerbread and two kinds of pumpkin
When I was eight years old I went into hospital for a small operation. All my classmates sent me “get well soon” cards that they made at school. Some of the girls drew princesses and fairies on the cards but my closest friends covered theirs with potions and witches. One card says “I hope you will die”. I loved it; we were obsessed with witches and spookiness. Halloween was a night that you felt extra safe indoors because heaven knows what was flying up in the sky on a broomstick. Trick or treating was a foreign thing. “Give us a treat or we’ll play a trick on you” sounds more like a scene from The Sopranos to me, but bringing up children overseas means that it has been part of our lives in a way that, regretfully, bonfire night hasn’t. Sharing the excitement of dressing up and going out in the dark with groups of children makes me remember how much I loved all things gruesome at that age.
First carve your pumpkin
So I’ll be putting a sign on my door and handing out spooky gingerbread that me and my teens have made, to those that ring the bell. We’ve got a ‘scary sounds’ cd to play and have even carved a pumpkin which was great fun. We made a skull. See How to carve a pumpkin and more great pumpkin pics for inspiration and directions.
My favourite gingerbread
The gingerbread recipe is one I have made countless times and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t find it irresistible. It’s been the basis for fairies, camels, Easter bunnies and of course Christmas decorations. It’s very forgiving so children can roll it out again and again. Download a copy of the gingerbread recipe here. Gingerbread (If you are in Dubai and want an icing class I can recommend Vinitha who runs Wilton classes at Tavola on the Beach Road).
Hay, hay it’s Donna day
And what to do with the inside of the pumpkin? Donna Hay is a celebrated cookery writer from Australia who pares food down to modern, tasty and elegant recipes. This recipe is adapted from one chosen by Chez Us for Hay, hay it’s Donna day. I tinkered a bit to turn it into a vegetarian autumnal feast for my daughter – the colours are perfect – but just replace the peppers with some chicken breasts ( and serve the rice on the side) to transform back into a carnivorous feast. Simple and no magic spell required.
Spicy pumpkin with roasted garlic and stuffed peppers
- 350 g pumpkin, peeled and chopped
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 2 cups cooked brown rice (I used 200ml volume brown basmati)
- 2 or 3 peppers (capsicum)
- cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup torn basil leaves
- ¼ cup (60 ml) white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
Preheat oven to 220ºC (425ºF). Place the pumpkin, garlic, olive oil and chilli on a baking tray and toss to combine. Cut the peppers in half, discard the seeds and membrane and stuff with the rice. Top with a couple of halved cherry tomatoes cut side down. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Squeeze the garlic from the skins and place in a bowl with the pumpkin, basil, vinegar and extra olive oil. Mix well to combine. Serves 4.
Are there any traditions you’ve adopted especially edible ones?