Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Five (actually six): Apples and Pumpkins

From Singing Owl at RGBP: 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?
We did dress up and trick-or-treat. I do remember one year having a sleep over party just for the fun on it and we made a spider web cake and had a spider web where you attach string to a prize and then wind it all over the room around the furniture, etc. and there's a pencil at the other end to wind the string around as the kids follow it around to their prize. This is great when there are about 10-12 kids at the party!

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?
Well, we'll take L trick-or-treating, maybe go to the church's vespers/organ recital/dress up party this year. I put up the one string of bat lights I have. That's about what we did when I was a kid. We just didn't make a big deal. Oh, we did (and do) carve pumpkins. This seems like it was more for the sake of having some family time though, than really celebrating the holiday.

3. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else?
Absolutly caramel! (I love caramel anything.) I admit, I even eat those caramel apple suckers, but I lick off the caramel and toss the nasty green apple part. Even better, dip the caramel apple in chocolate.

4. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?
We do like to carve pumpkins at our house-love those stencil kits! I'm with reverendmother that we love to roast the seeds. What else to do with them? Compost them, of course! (We've also been known to ignore them long enough that they cave in on themselves and look like little old people with no dentures in.)

5. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.
We stick to the fall stuff mostly. As above, we'll put up our bat lights, but I'm not one to decorate for a one day holiday. At least at Thanksgiving you can get the whole weekend out of, but since you can also use most of the fall decor for it too, it lasts most of the season.
I really wish I had some pictures of the decorations of some of the neighbors in the area. They really get into halloween. It's a little disturbing really. Maybe I'll try to get some photos this weekend and post them later.

6. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?
Costumes are fun, but I'm not really into the alternate personality. I do like to find something I can use a cheesy accent with though.

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.
This in one of our favorites, it's a little more involved than the one in the link at the bottom, but the spices and caramelization are sooooo good!
Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (from MSLiving-with my own commentary)
1 medium pumpkin
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (I usually use canola or even olive oil-though recently I'm into grapeseed oil)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray). Cut pumpkin open from the bottom (we do this from the top since we roast the seeds from the pumpkin we're carving for a jack-o-lantern), removing seeds. Separate flesh from seeds (I rinse them in a colander to get all the slime off). Pumpkin should yield about 1 cup seeds (it doesn't matter except you might need a little more spices if you have much more than that). Spread seeds on parchment in an even layer. Bake until dry (the dry part is important), stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let cool. (We do this while we're carving the pumkin so the wait doesn't seem so long.)
In a medium bowl combine 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne. Heat peanut oil (or whatever you have) in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook until sugar melts and pumpkin seeds begin to caramelize, about 45 to 60 seconds. Transfer to bowl with spices, and stir well to coat. Let cool. These may be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

This is a much simpler, but equally tasty recipe if you want to try it. Pumpkin Seeds with Cinnamon and Salt.

Here are a couple other ideas.
Pumpkin pudding (yeah, it's even WW friendly)
Make a box of sugar-free, fat-free Jell-O pudding (I love the vanilla or cheesecake flavors) according to the box. Add half a can of real pumpkin (not pie filling), add cinnamon, cloves, allspice, according to taste, add half a container of cool-whip lite. Way good in a parfait with gingerbread.

I also make a great pumpkin-cream cheese pie. It's a great twist on the classic. Don't have the recipe on hand, but if anyone's interested, I can always post it later.


RevHRod said...

I love your seed recipe and the description of pumpkins without their dentures is fab!

Wyldth1ng said...

Scary Jack-O-Lanterns! Looking like old people, I am frieghtened just by thining about it.

Mary Beth said...

These recipes are awesome! Thanks.

Singing Owl said...

LOL thinking about pumpkin old people. Heh heh...and that was me who was looking for pumpkin seed roasting tips. Thanks! I'm going to try again. :-)