May 20, 2011

New England Pumpkins

Autumn and Halloween in Cape Cod
There is nowhere on Earth like New England for Halloween!

CANDY CORN! CANDY CORN! CANDY CORN! (why can't I get you in Europe?)
Candy Corn and Kimball's Ice Cream were single handedly responsible for serious weight gain in the month that I was in America- my waistline has only just about recovered. Thank god for getting a job in a cafe where the kitchen was up two flights of stairs when I got back to the UK! (blog entry on said cafe to follow shortly)

Candy Corn
So the Americans go pretty crazy at Halloween. It was very difficult to return to the UK at six and spend every Halloween trying to recreate the magic... much to our neighbour's dismay when we showed up on their doorstep with plastic skeletons, demanding treats. 

One lady gave us a long lecture about Jesus and made us come back at Christmas to sing carols. Halloween is slowly becoming bigger in the UK but in the 1990s most people were seriously pissed off that an intermittent stream of children would interrupt their nightly episode of Eastenders. And what happens when you're too old to trick and treat? Well. Our plastic skeletons are now hung on a fence in our garden and every year we have a fantastic Halloween party, where we make delicious Autumnal themed food.

As much as I love these little dinner parties, there's no comparison to being in a small, New England town surrounded by the impending harvest, the magnificent colours of the Fall and the dwindling golden sun that sets on All Hallow's Eve; bathing the faces of children in a warm, rosy glow as they walk around as ghosts, ghouls and vampires!
Nothing is quite the same as driving through the long lanes of Carlisle and looking at the beautiful, colonial wooden houses adorned with cheeky pumpkins, the most fabulously dressed scarecrows and flimsy, white ghosts hanging from the trees; their mouths opened in a wide O, gaping at you as you pass.

Halloween Decorations Cape Cod
Say hello to the Scarecrows who work so hard looking after the harvest.


New England Halloween Fall Harvest

Halloween and Fall in New England

Fall Harvest Scarecrow
And the pumpkin! The glorious colour of the pumpkin and his other rooty pumpkin friends! Fiery orange, rich green, golden cream or a rusty brown in all shapes and sizes!

The pumpkin is the ultimate symbol of the harvest and of Halloween...

New England Pumpkins

Pumpkins, fall and Mums in New England

Jack o Lanterns
I love the feeling of carving a pumpkin.

First, drawing out different designs on a scrap piece of paper with a pen and then dragging the pen across the skin of the pumpkin, squeaking and leaving behind it's thick, inky trail.
Then taking my jagged, little pumpkin knife (which we've had for 20 years) I stab it into the skin and through the flesh like I'm making a puncture wound (the knife is pretty blunt these days!) and slowly begin to carve, dragging my knife until a satisying jagged, carving noise fills the air! I make the lid and, taking the stalk in my hand, I pull, pull, pull until SQUELCH! It comes away in my hand with long, thick, fleshy strings dangling under it.

Then comes the best part. Rolling up your sleeves, plunging your hand into the cold, plump flesh and pulling it all out as if you were yanking on your enemies hair in the school playground. Slowly, your arm is covered with rich, juicy pulp and sinewy strings and there are slippery seeds and mounds of pudgy, pumpkin entrails soaking through the newpaper you have laid out.

I love to toast the seeds after with salt and chilli and then squeeze some lime over the top for a well-earned treat.

New England Cat
"Toasted pumpkin seeds?" Said the cat. "Yes please!"
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