It’s the spooky time of year again when the USA goes Halloween crazy and the UK half-heartedly goes along with it. The Certainly Wood coven love nothing better than to gather around the fire and tell spooky tales.
However, pumpkin carving is probably the most revered traditions at Halloween, but have you ever wondered why these giant orange gourds are associated with the 31st October?
The legend that led to pumpkin carving originated in Ireland and was based on a folk character called Stingy Jack.
One October evening, Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but instead of paying up, and in keeping with his name, he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin which he could use to pay the innkeeper. However, Jack’s deceit didn’t stop there and, instead of handing over the coin, he decided to keep it for himself, pocketing it.
Jack eventually freed the Devil, having made him promise he would not take Jack’s soul. However, the Devil got his own back by committing Jack to walking the Earth forever whilst carrying a glowing ember in a hollowed out turnip.
The thousands of Irish immigrants in the US kept the legend alive but used pumpkins instead of turnips as they were far more plentiful. Over the centuries, the pumpkins began to feature frightening faces in a bid by children to frighten each other and the round orange vegetable is now a Halloween icon.
Of course you can buy readymade dastardly décor if the thought of carving a pumpkin seems far too messy – it’s amazing how small children manage to scatter the seeds over a vast area. Flying Tiger in Auctioneers Walk, Hereford, has a plethora of orange offerings at just £2.00 per item.
These jelly-like pumpkins and skeletons are great for young children to decorate windows and other flat surfaces. As well as giving them a little artistic license, they can also be used year upon year.
These battery-operated fairy lights feature a string of miniature pumpkins. As well as decorative, they could easily be used to add a little illumination to any Halloween fancy dress costume.
If your Halloween wouldn’t be complete without a glowing pumpkin, this battery-operated alternative might be just the thing. Smaller than even the tiniest of pumpkins, it also gives out a hair-raising shriek at regular intervals – not one for the faint-hearted or easily irritated.
However, if you’re a bit of a rebel who likes to eat pumpkins, then this pumpkin pie recipe provides the perfect solution as to how to use all those scrapings after making your lantern.
Pumpkin Pie Recipe
- 750g/1lb 10oz pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 350g sweet, short-crust pastry
- plain flour, for dusting
- 140g caster sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 25g butter melted
- 175ml milk
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- Place the pumpkin in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins or until tender. Drain pumpkin; let cool.
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 mins. Line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and biscuity. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon. Mix in the beaten eggs, melted butter and milk, then add to the pumpkin purée and stir to combine. Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.
- Leave to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. Mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. Serve chilled.
Recipe from Good Food magazine, November 2011