Halloween

This year I was reminiscing about past Halloweens.  We’ve always celebrated ‘All Hallows Eve’ with family and friends in a number of ways.   I’d like to share some of those hilarious events with my readers of Grammomsblog:

Melvin's

When I was growing up, I used to love creating a ‘haunted house’ in my family basement to take all my blind-folded friends through.  It was very low tech with peeled grapes for eyeballs, cooked spaghetti for brains, jello for it’s feel, and an electric chair (don’t ask).

Chris had his own teenage Halloween stories, like the Great Pumpkin Caper,  that you can read about here.

When my children were little during the ’80s, we’d often have daytime ‘dress-up’ parties with friends in our parent’s group.  There would be a scavenger hunt, bobbing for apples, and ‘catch-the-donut’ where we’d hang a day-old plain donut on a string and suspend it – each child had a chance to take a bite out of the swinging treat.  It was tons of fun for the children and adults alike.

CarvingPumpkins2

Carving pumpkins

Carving pumpkins has been a family tradition for 40 years.   Several weeks before Halloween, we buy local pumpkins and set them outside as decorations.  Then a few days before the 31st, we bring them inside to warm up before carving.  At one time, we had 5 or 6 big pumpkins – one for each of the kids to carve (well, okay it was really us adults who scooped and carved most of those pumpkins!).   Some years, we printed off pumpkin patterns that we found on the internet, trace the pattern onto the pumpkin with permanent marker then proceed to carve them out.  Various carving tools have been used such as paring knives, large serving spoons, screwdrivers, electric drills,  toothpicks, etc.   It was a beautiful display of flickering light through the pumpkins…… for the 7 or 8 kids who came trick-or-treating to our door.

1998Halloween

Many years ago, we began the annual tradition of setting up a Halloween ‘display’ in the front yard.   Chris cut out life-size graveyard ‘head stones’ from scrap pieces of wood, painted them white, and I wrote R.I.P. with a name and caption on them.  We installed them on the grass then laid down bags or newspaper covered with sand (often with a stuffed shirt or shoes sticking out) to make them look like they were freshly dug graves.   I made ‘ghosts’ from small, white trash bags filled with paper and tied around the neck – we hung these with fishing line on the apple trees where they blew and twisted with  ghoulish intent.  One year, we found some plastic skulls on a 3′ post and created ‘One-eyed Jack’ and his 7 friends:  Chris installed red Christmas mini-lights in the eyes and we taped wire coat hangers below the skulls where we hung white dress shirts that I bought at a thrift store for twenty-five cents each.   The ‘arms’ blew in the slightest breeze – it was positively ‘frightening’ on a dark, pumpkin-lit night!  The little kiddies had to walk right by these characters to get their well-deserved treats.   These days, the gravestones, ghostly skulls, and tree-ghosts remain packed away but my grown children still like to carve pumpkins.

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And the winner is………….

The kids have always LOVED to dress up on Halloween.  We rarely bought costumes – most were made right at home created by the children themselves.  About 21 years ago, we decided to let the kids participate in the town’s ‘Halloween’ fun day.  Kristi spend days and days taping white circles on black clothing to create a Dalmatian costume.  Baby Nellie wore a pink snowsuit and pink hat that I had sewn ‘bunny ears’ on to.  Marty wanted to be a hockey player so he dug out a helmet and hockey stick to go with his team jersey.  Taylor reluctantly agreed to come along and, at the last minute, ripped his jeans a little more, applied ‘zombie’ make-up, and wore a fake ‘knife-through-the-head’.  All the participating children paraded down the main street of town and back up again ……….. and Taylor dragged his leg limping, for effect, the whole way.  Some of the other children’s costumes were obviously expensive looking, store bought and very lovely.  At the end of the celebration, the organizers announced the winners of the best costume and the grand prize of $25.00  went to……….. ‘the limping kid with the knife through his head’!  lol!   Kristi STILL hasn’t forgotten that!

Our Pumpkinmobile

Our Pumpkinmobile

The kids always loved going around our neighbourhood on Halloween night……. and so did we.  Often, we hadn’t seen some of our neighbours much over the summer so this was a great opportunity to say hello – the kids hated it when we’d talk and talk when they just wanted to go to the next place.  One year, Chris tied down our largest pumpkin on top of the van and installed his blue, flashing plow light inside for the drive over to the next road.  I think we created the first Pumpkinmobile!  lol

A decade ago, we were hosting neighbourhood halloween parties on the Saturday before halloween.   Everyone, children AND adults, would dress up.  We would have a potluck supper then games for the kiddies, apple-bobbing, and in-house scavenger hunt  followed by  Hockey Night In Canada.  The night wasn’t complete until our neighbour Mike performed his animated recitation of “The Cremation of Sam McGee” in front of the woodstove fire with all the lights out – it was spellbinding!

Halloween Party2002

Neighbourhood Halloween Party

And who can forget the neighbourhood ‘Haunted House’……..

Those were memorable days…….

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!

 

 

Apple Crisp

100_2967Fall is here and apples are ripe. The apple tree outside my bedroom window has dropped it’s apples months ago. They usually land with a big thud (that increases as they get bigger and riper) on my metal roof and roll down then off into the garden. Another apple tree by the mudroom door was full of ripe apples, most of which we picked – these Empire Apples are my favourite. I have one more apple tree in the middle of the front yard which I leave for the other inhabitants of this land: birds, squirrels, deer, etc.
To celebrate the season, I want to share one of my favourite recipes. I love to make this Apple Crisp in the fall when the apples from my trees are ripe and juicy. It’s the perfect dessert for those cooler autumn days.

Apple Crisp
6-8 Apples                                                   1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup raisins                                            1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup water                                             1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats                                        2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Place sliced apples in a buttered 9″x13″ pan. Sprinkle with raisins and water. Combine the rest of the ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the apples/raisins. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the apples are soft.
Serve warm with French Vanilla Ice Cream.

Kalia picking apples

Kalia picking apples

 

Making Applesauce

Last weekend we got busy making applesauce.  I have 3 apple trees out front and two of them  dropped their apples weeks ago.  The third tree, just outside my mudroom door has my favourite tasting apples.  Over half of the apples have already dropped off so I figured that we had better do something with them fast:  make applesauce!

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While 4 of my sons replaced my mudroom front door,  I climbed the ladder and picked about 20 lbs. of apples.  My granddaughters Kalia and Livi arrived just in time to help!  We got out the biggest pot and filled it with water.

cooking apples

cooking apples

Then my daughter-in-law Jeanette and I proceeded to cut the apples up into quarters, about 5 lbs. at a time, carefully removing any bad parts.  I don’t spray my apple trees with anything so they are pure and organic ……….. and often oddly shaped.  The apples boiled until they were soft then I scooped some out into my food grinder.   My granddaughters each took turns churning the food grinder around making the applesauce ooze through the bottom while keeping the remaining skins, pulp, and seeds in the grinder.  That’s the fun part!

grinding cooked apples

grinding cooked apples

After a few spins, we backed up the grinder and scooped out the leftover parts and composted them.  After all those apples were processed, Jeanette climbed the tree and picked another 25 lbs.!  We just kept making apple sauce until we ran out of time.

picking apples

picking apples

 

Afterwards, I used some of the applesauce and spread it on a  small, greased cookie sheet – I was going to make fruit leather, a.k.a. ‘fruit roll-ups’.  I spread a thin layer of applesauce and placed the cookie sheet in the oven with the oven light on.  There is enough heat produced by an incandescent light bulb to heat up an oven.  Overnight, this applesauce turned into delicious apple ‘fruit roll-ups’.  I first made this before commercial fruit roll-ups were on the market.  One of my children, Robin I think, used to take some to school in his lunch.  It was so popular with his friends, rumour has it that he sold some and made a tidy profit!  lol

Homemade apple 'roll-ups'

Homemade apple ‘roll-ups’

Applesauce was one of the first ‘solid’ foods my babies ate when they were around 6 months old.  I used to fill ice cube trays with it and freeze it.   Then I’d pop out the frozen applesauce cubes into a freezer container, put them in a bag back in the freezer, and just take one out whenever I needed it.   Today, applesauce can be used in many recipes and be substituted for oil called for in any recipe.

Harvesting Time

Yesterday, I was busy in my litttle gardens harvesting various crops.  This year, I planted a new heritage winter squash called Pink Banana.  They were advertised on the package as growing up to 3 feet long!  Thank goodness they only grew to around a foot long.  However, I was dismayed that only one squash per plant grew which took up alot of space for the meandering vegetable.  I also harvested a few butternut squash and left a few that were still maturing.  I didn’t plant any acorn squash this year, which I now regret.  So my squash harvest for 2013 is smaller.   Next year I’m going back to my old standard Butternut and Acorn Squash.

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Potatoes and Winter Squash

I planted 3 kinds of potatoes in my raised beds near the house:  sweet potatoes, red potatoes, and white potatoes.   The sweet potatoes were my experiment of the year.  They took a lot to get going in the spring:  First I had to sprout them (cut in half, upside down on soil) which took over a month for anything to happen.  Then, once the sprouts were about 4 inches tall, I had to break them off the sweet potato and root them in water.  Once rooted and the weather was warm ( > June 1st) I planted them in a raised bed covered with black plastic to keep the roots warm.  What a lot of fuss!  In the end, I only got some fingerling tubers – not enough results for all the effort.  My other potatoes needed to be planted twice since the squirrels kept digging them up!  They were more productive although too few.

Hops on the vine

Hops on the vine

Yesterday was beautiful and sunny with a temperature of around 12 degrees Celsius (53 F) so in a short sleeve T-shirt,  I spent several hours painstakingly cutting off individual hops ‘flowers’.   The smell of the hops brought back memories from a decade ago when I used to help my late husband make beer.  Big 25 litre glass Carboy bottles used to sit on our kitchen counters for weeks while the beer was ‘fermenting’ or whatever it does.  The whole house smelled like a still!  I don’t even like the taste of beer or even the smell of it either!   My job was to help rinse out the small storage bottles then assist with the filling of them.  Today, I managed to harvest about 10 cups of hops which are now in my dehydrator in the garage.  I didn’t realize how much my forearms were getting scratched by the prickly vines until later that night!  Ouch!   When the hops are ready, I’ll send them to my son to use.

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Apple

After harvesting, I cleaned the chimney and the inside of the pellet stove.  I figured that since I had my ‘outside’ clothes on already I may as well get really dirty and get this necessary job done.  Now it’s ready to burn.   Next week I’ll get around to cleaning out the cookstove upstairs.

Then I cooked a roast chicken, carrots, potatoes, corn, and a garden squash for supper.  That’s enough for one day……

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