Besides anxiety about Sandy, Halloween has obsessed me for much of this week.  This past weekend I helped to run a Halloween Party for my UU church, complete with a Haunted House put on by some of the older youth including one of my daughters, who played her role to creepy perfection.

While waiting for Sandy to hit, we finished carving our pumpkins in accordance with this year’s theme, Lord of the Rings.  (My daughters dressed up as Elven maidens in medieval-style gowns and their ever-useful Vulcan ears.)  Here’s my pumpkin, carved with the head of a Balrog, the fire demon that the wizard Gandalf battles in the mines of Moria.

Carving vegetables into scary shapes was already a custom during the Regency, although potatoes and turnips were often used.  If you want to learn more, check out my post about Jack-o-Lanterns from a few years ago.

We were fortunate enough not to lose power, so I was able to toast the pumpkin seeds the next day. This year, we experimented with a Mexican-inspired version. They were quite yummy. Those that I didn’t spill on the kitchen floor while transferring from pan to storage container, that is!

Here’s my recipe should you care to try it:

Ingredients: pumpkin seeds, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt.

  1. Rinse pumpkin seeds. Remove all pulp. Drain and spread on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 250F. Line baking sheet with foil.
  3. Toss pumpkin seeds in enough olive oil, salt, cumin and chili powder (about twice as much chili powder as the cumin) to lightly coat them.
  4. Bake for about 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 months.

Lastly, I was browsing around Youtube and found this clip of Northanger Abbey as if it really were a Gothic horror novel.

I hope you all enjoyed or will enjoy your Halloween, if you live in an area where it has been rescheduled. I think it’s important for the children (all of us, really) to maintain fun traditions even during scary, troubling times.

So what did you do for Halloween or what are you planning?