Happy Halloween and some possibilities for tricks or treats


Most residences in the area will be waiting for masked trick-or-treaters for both COVID fun and safety. Treats and bags of mixed candy offerings and healthy options like apples will be handed out at the ringing of the doorbell, with the holidays to be booked for another year.

When I was a kid, one of the 1940s Halloween offerings was often black licorice – sold in long “whips” – with sweet corn, popcorn scoops, and the aforementioned apples as traditional gifts.

By the way, the “stuff” for non-donors was real – and often mean. Soaping the windows was commonplace, but some more vindictive guys (not me!) Used wax which was nearly impossible to remove from the glass.

Now Halloween means different things to different people. For the classics, the traditional Halloween “song” would be Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” – especially as portrayed in the old classic Disney super-movie “Fantasia”. One of my most memorable travel experiences was a cruise on Lake Maggiore in Italy, where we observed historic sites such as the place where the legendary archer William Tell pulled the apple from his son’s head. – accompanied by the William Tell ‘overture of the ship’s excellent audio system – and the famous mountain itself which the captain graced with a booming classic recording of Grieg’s masterpiece. The eerie notes echoed over the water and one could easily remember Disney’s almost gruesome salute to the site.

Some people think of Halloween in terms of seasonal food, and with that in mind, I suggest two recipes for you.

Quinoa-apple salad with mint and parsley

1 ½ cup of dry quinoa

3 cups of water

1 red onion

1 teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon EACH ground allspice and cinnamon

5 cups wrapped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 ½ cup wrapped fresh mint leaves

2 or 3 green onions, chopped with tops

½ cup finely chopped celery

1 1/2 cups chopped apples (peeled if necessary)

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup mayo or dressing

Combine the quinoa and water in a large saucepan and bring to a full boil. Immediately lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes. Let cool, uncovered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Refrigerate while preparing other ingredients. Mince enough onion to measure 1 cup and in a bowl, toss with the salt, allspice and cinnamon. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature. Combine the prepared parsley, mint, green onion, celery and quinoa. Stir in the mayonnaise, then stir in the apples. Serve in a salad bowl, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate, covered, for an hour, before serving. For 8.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

3 cups plus 3 tbsp. cane sugar

1 cup of cooking oil

4 large eggs

1 16 oz can and 1/2 cup solid pumpkin

3 1/2 cups flour

2 tbsp. baking soda

1 C. baking powder

1 C. salt

1 C. EACH ground allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg

2/3 cup lukewarm water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter two 9x5x2 1/2 inch loaf pans. Beat 3 cups of sugar, oil, eggs and 16 oz. can of pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture *. Slowly mix in 2/3 cup of lukewarm water. Distribute the dough evenly between the prepared molds. Bake until top is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a table knife over the inner edges of the tins to remove the breads, place on wire racks to cool completely.

Note: * This recipe came with the advice that it is excellent served with a dollop of whipped cream. Sounds good to me, especially if you take advantage of the fact that you can incorporate raisins, chopped nuts or even chocolate chips as you see fit for a more “dessert” bread!

Speaking of treats, my nuthatches, chickadees, and various members of the woodpecker family obviously enjoy the newly hung blocks of tallow in their little wire cages. There is nothing funnier than seeing “my” huge pillared woodpecker trying to grab onto the swinging cage while cramming its beak for a bite! Songbirds do not have this problem, nor do the smaller, hairy, minor woodpeckers. The Big Guy eventually succeeds, with various Peaks and the occasional Ladderback. It is a joy to help maintain their winter residence.

It’s time for a report on my month-old prairie “garden”, which is doing wonderfully! The natives have “pushed back” and seem content with the coming winter, and my concerns about the non-native yuccas have faded since their apparent acceptance of their new environment, in fact visibly growing and flourishing! I just pray that they continue well through the winter. If there are any “yucca gurus” feel free to call me for any advice – like a winter blanket etc!

Well you got to get ready for something or a treat and I need a nap. Love to you all, wonderful readers / friends, and happy Halloween!

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 208-265-4688 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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