Brighten the Dark Side

Looking outOctober’s crisp autumn air and brilliant forest colors quicken our thoughts and actions to prepare, as nature does, for the shortened hours of sunlight – the “dark side of the year.”20181022_063540 As a grandmother, I’ve experienced this transition many times. Preparation comes in many forms and has evolved as did ancient customs.

Puking PumpkinEyeball eggs

The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (Gaelic pronunciation – sow in) was considered the most important of their quarterly fire festivals. Harvest was complete and time threatened the onset of winter, midway between the fall equinox and winter solstice. Halloween skull and snake - CopyThey believed it a time when barriers were breachable between the physical world and denizens of the underworld. Celtic Druid priests set circular bonfires (to represent the sun) while the Celts wore costumes to scare off ghosts.

By the eighth century when Pope Gregory III established a day to honor all saints on November 1st, Samhain customs of the Celts melded into the activities of All Saints Day. October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve evolved into Halloween. Jack-o-lantern carving, costumes, trick or treating, festive gatherings, apple bobbing and yarn tricks to foretell the future were a few of the common activities practiced.

My personal evolution with Halloween hovers on the bright side. The crisp air and autumn colors prompt me to prod my husband to bring me numerous containers jack-o-lanternmarked “Halloween” from storage. I decorate our home with the delightful contents. Each item evokes memories of years past, even to the scents and joys of childhood.

In my childhood, the major decision of the week before Halloween was what costume we would create. Father often was the creative costume designer. Mother would bake sugar cookies cut-outs of

jack-o-lanterns, jack - o- lantern.slugmoons, stars, and witch hats for the classrooms of each of my sisters and me. When the awaited day arrived, the afternoon of the school day commenced with students dressing in their costumes for the elementary school parade. We marched throughout the halls and classrooms admiring the creativity of our efforts. We returned to our rooms for a party of treats and laughter. We knew this was not even the end of day’s fun.

After supper, we donned our costumes again to follow the town fire truck (with siren sounding and lights flashing) as we marched down Main Street. We were led to the high school gymnasium for a costume contest and movie, after which each child received a popcorn ball, fruit and candies in a small paper bag.

As we “aged out” of these activities our local theater offered the adventure of a midnight A skeleton in your closetmovie. We’d walk to the theater around 11:00 pm to begin our night of terror with the entertainment of Boris Karloff and Bela Jenna eyesLugosi. Some of the more deviant souls of the crowd would leave early to lunge at us from behind hedges as we passed on our walk home. This would send us on a dead run, breathless until we were behind our locked door. Now living in another small town, with our own children grown and off to greater endeavors, I delight in seeing the ghouls, goblins, angels, butterflies, mini SWAT team members, witches, minions and others that come to our home to trick-or-treat. We have approximately three hundred and fifty each year.

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Halloween is the greatest! Young and old alike can be whatever we want for the day (and eat a lot of sweet treats as well)! If you are passing by this Halloween, you will find my sister-in-law and me greeting our ghoulish visitors in our new inflatable TREX costumes. I know, two grandmas dressed as dinosaurs.

A final tip from the two grandmas. If you toilet paper the neighborhood, be certain you do your own house as well, or they’ll know it was you!

Brenda Erickson

Happy Halloween from 3 Witchy Sisters

3 sisters

Bev, Betty & Brenda

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Is Pumpkin a Food?

Fun Food for Cool Fall Days

The tantalizing aromas of cinnamon apples, hot apple cider and homemade pies are in the air. Our mother was a master apple pie baker. Family and friends raved about her delicious apple pies but bright-cake-cinnamon-sticks-248469also loved her pumpkin pie. As kids, we preferred Mom’s apple pie and gagged at the thought of eating pumpkin. However, one day, she surprised us with a chiffon pumpkin pie. One bite and we were smitten by its delicate flavor. She had changed our minds and broadened our dietary horizons. We learned pumpkin really was edible.

Pumpkins originated in North America but are now available world-wide. This nutritious low-calorie squash is high in antioxidants and vitamins. It is used to flavor coffee and ice cream. Pumpkin seeds are toasted, salted and sold as snacks. Other uses include oven-roasted chunks, deep fried spears, mashed as a ravioli filling, cubed in soups, pureed for pies and even made into candy. Pumpkin oil is considered a delicacy in Europe.

Veterinarians recommend canned pumpkin as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats. We have a recipe for dog snacks our pups love. Native American and Chinese medicine practitioners prescribe both the pulp and seeds for various ailments.

Pumpkins typically weigh in at about 6-10 pounds, but in giant pumpkin-growing contests, many weigh in at the 75-pound range. A giant U.S. winner this year in Connecticut weighed 2,294.5 pounds. While larger pumpkins are used for pies and fillings, many are carved for Halloween.IMG_9542

Halloween is our favorite holiday. We carve big pumpkins for fun but also buy a few small sugar pumpkins each year. We slice off the tops, scrape out the seeds and use them as soup bowls.

For an easy interesting meal to serve on a cool fall day, place the small (cleaned out) topless sugar pumpkins in a baking pan with a bit of water in the bottom. Bake at 350-degrees for 30 minutes. Serve wild rice soup or another favorite in your holiday edible bowls. Wild rice chowder is a favorite. We hope you will give it a try.

Sm Pumpkin.wildrice

Happy pumpkin eating from the Lipstick Logic Sisters.

Bev Erickson &  Betty Kuffel, MD

Wild Rice Ham Chowder Soup

1 ½ cups water

¾ cup uncooked wild rice (rinsed)

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup chopped onion

¼ cup butter

4 cups water

4 chicken flavored bouillon cubes of 4 teaspoons chicken flavor- bouillon

1 ½ cups peeled, cubed potatoes (2 medium potatoes)

½ cup chopped carrots

½ tsp thyme leaves

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ – ½ tsp pepper

1 bay leaf

17 oz can whole kernel corn/undrained

2 cups half & half

1 lb. (3 cups) cubed cooked ham

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In medium saucepan combine wild rice and 1.5 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until tender. Don’t overcook.

In large stovetop pan, sauté onion and garlic in butter until transparent. Stir in ½ cup flour. Cook one minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add 4 cups water and bouillon. Add potatoes, carrots, thyme, nutmeg, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add corn (undrained). Cover and simmer additional 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in half & half, ham and rice. Cook until heated through. Do not boil. Remove bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley sprig. Makes 8 (1.5 cup) servings.