…or Happy Halloween, if you care to contradict my youngest sprog. We’re not big on the imported tradition of trick or treating in this house. This is in no way meant as a slur on those that choose the true Wiccan path, simply a reaction to the commercialisation and it’s temporary appropriation by budding blackmailers each autumn.
In this neck of the woods, any little toe-rag wearing a 99p mask or combined witches hate and nylon wig seems to qualify as a bone fide trick-or-treater. They wander the local estates mob-handed, seemingly in groups that never fall below three digits, bashing on doors and demanding treats with menaces. Years back, a sweet or novelty was proferred to each and the mob went about their business in a fairly amiable manner. Nowadays, offering anything less than a PlayStation 2, a fully tricked out BMX bike or an all-inclusive family holiday to Florida is seen as a snub and an invitation to make the householders night a living hell. This being the case, we have taken a neutral stance and simply do not answer the door – as someone always buzzes them through the communal door – to anyone, preferring to spend the evening wondering if the car still has wheels and the cats have avoided ritual sacrifice at the hands of pre-pubescent diabolists.
That said, yesterday our assembled brood threw themselves unbidden into a frenzy of creative activity. Dress in suitably dark dressing-up outfits, accessorised with long stick-on nails and the odd witch’s hat, they produced and amazing array of ghoulish pictures and posters to decorate the flat. Even the youngest sprog joined in, producing her first ever all-by-myself picture of a ghostly pumpkin face. Halfway through this Vision On-on-acid session, SWMBO arrives home from the supermarket with a corker of a pumpkin. This beauty was duly dissected and carved into the superb Jack O’Lantern you can see above. The pumpkin flesh we scooped out was used to make a cracking soup, a second portion of which I have just had for lunch. My gift this Halloween to a loyal readership, who never complain when I fail to post for days, is the recipe for this most autumnal of soups. Enjoy.
Pumpkin Soup for six
50g/2 oz butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
500g/1lb pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
250g/8 0z potatoes, thinly sliced (peeling’s too much hassle)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
A sprig of fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme
1.2 litres/2 pints chicken stock
4 tblsp lemon juice
150ml/Ã‚Â¼ pint double cream
salt and pepper
- Melt butter in large saucepan and fry onions over a low heat until soft.
- Add pumpkin, potatoes, thyme and garlic, then cover the pan and cook slowly on a low heat for 20 minutes by which time the vegetables should be soft.
- Add the stock and salt and pepper to taste, brining to the boil before reducing heat to a slow simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Reduce the soup to a purÃƒÂ©e using a blender, processor or a sieve and return to the pan, along with the lemon.
- Stir in cream and heat through, taking care not to boil.
- Serve with warm bread.
Yum yum pig’s bum! The recipe based on one culled from Hamlyn’s ‘The Complete Cook‘, a superb 600 page compendium which, with me in mind, a friend kindly grabbed from one of those Ã‚Â£5-for-any-book shops that spring up all over the West End, only to disappear just as quickly.
* Toe rag is a term that, disputedly, originated in and around the docks a quarter mile from where I sit. Toe rag was the moniker given to those stevedors who unloaded the grain for the local mills. These dockers wrapped hessian or cloth around their trouser cuffs puttee-style to prevent spilt grain dropping into their boots. The alternative, which is equally likely, is that it refers to the cloths that shoeless (transported?) convicts wrapped their feet in. Given the disparaging nature of the term and it’s use in Australia, I suspect the latter is more likely.
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