Singing Owl wants to know:
1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?
I went trick-or-treating around the neighborhood with my cousin or friends from the time I was old enough to understand why, until I was about twelve. After that we enjoyed handing out the candy. One year my friend Joy and I rigged an elaborate scary scene in my house--but I felt so bad when one little kid really got scared, that I turned the lights on to show him it was just pretend!
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?
Not really. I get a couple of big bags of candy (something I don't like, so I won't be tempted to eat it myself) and hand it out. When it's gone, it's gone, and the porch light goes out. So far nobody has egged our house (knock on wood). Back when we had more young children on our street, my next door neighbor and I used to stand outside with a glass of wine and watch the parade! But now we know very few of the kids who come by, and it's not the same.
2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else?
I like caramel apples all right. But I really would rather have a baked apple stuffed with raisins, cinnamon, and brown sugar--or better yet, an apple dumpling!
3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?
I haven't made a jack o' lantern in a couple of decades. The Scientist's family never made them when he was growing up, so after we were married the custom sort of fell by the wayside. On second thought, I think we did make one, the first Halloween we were in this house. As for what else to do with them, one year I cooked a pumpkin and made two fresh pumpkin pies, one for our Thanksgiving dinner and one for our church's bake sale. It was awful--so stringy. I was mortified to think that whoever had bought that nice-looking pie at the bake sale would have such a crummy Thanksgiving dessert! I've stuck with canned pumpkin ever since!
4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.
No, I never have. I wait and pull out the stops at Christmas!
5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring out an alternate personality?
Yes, costume parties are fun. It's a great challenge to try to stay in character all evening. When my friends and I were involved in our college Renaissance Festival, we would try to stay in character all weekend!
Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.
We fell in love with apple dumplings the first time we ate them at the Texas Renaissance Festival. The recipe I use is from my mom's 1951 Joy of Cooking.
Prepare enough dough for two pie crusts and chill it.
Pare and core four medium-sized apples. Fill the hollows with this mixture:
3/4 c. brown sugar
4 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon.
(I add a little handful of raisins.)
It won't all fit inside the apples, so just spread the rest around on top of them before you wrap them in the dough.
Roll out the dough in a thin sheet; cut it into four squares and completely enclose each apple. (If you brush the dough with egg white before wrapping the apple in it, it may help keep the juices from leaking through the crust. But it probably won't. It doesn't matter.) Use a little water to make it stick together on top. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake about 45 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a cake tester or toothpick.
Serve with your favorite vanilla ice cream, or--our favorite--heavy cream!