Blog Archives

Hallowed eves of old

I don’t think of myself as old. I often think of myself as a big kid, never quite having grown up. So many memories of how much fun I had as a child are still so vivid in my mind.

I wonder, is the imagination still an active organ? With images supplied for almost everything today, where is the chance for mystery and magic? Hallowe’en is a perfect example of that. I do hope people can still enjoy a good old-fashioned scare.

My dad was a good-natured fellow, but he was also the youngest of four children with two much older brothers. From the stories he told my brother and me, he was scared plenty of times thanks to his vivid imagination, his sister’s equally healthy creative mind and his brothers’ ability to sound really creepy.

The anticipation of what might be under the stairs or behind the door or lurking “out there” in the dark is the scariest part. Apparently studies have shown that we can come up with much scarier things that we will see on a screen. I know I have. I hated the dark as a kid. I am still not fond of it; I just learned how not to think about it.

Gathering a pillowcase of candy while skipping from house to house all dressed up, yelling “Hallowe’en Apples!” – it was good entertainment with a suitably cool reward. But now that I am a big kid, I like to know the story behind the tradition.

Perhaps it is the respectful tone of the day that I admire. Even if one isn’t interested in pagan rituals, it’s hard not to appreciate all the thought that goes into them.

At its heart, Hallowe’en comes from the ancient celebrations of the harvest – the end of the growing season and all its life, and the coming of the darker, winter season with its shorter days.

Festival of the Fires is Ireland’s oldest festival – a celebration of Irish culture, art, heritage, music, ceremony and sport which has been held at the historic Hill of Uisneach for over 1,400 years.

Legend has it that this transition is when the veil is thinnest between the worlds of the living and the dead.

  • Wearing a disguise or costume was a way to avoid being recognized by evil spirits.
  • Food was also put out, or possibly given, to spirits as a way to placate them. Today we call that trick-or-treating.
  • Carving pumpkins today is done because of a fellow named Jack who tried to outsmart the Devil, if you believe the legend. Jack was left to wander the earth with a hollowed-out turnip lit with a lump of burning coal as his lantern.

I come from a childhood full of mist and smoke and fairy dust. The legends I learned made the world I lived in even more special. I hope the children out there tonight will find something special as they gather their treats. They deserve to have a good old-fashioned scare, and to believe in something bigger than all of us.

May your soul be safe under the light of the Blue Moon.

Apples Galore

It’s harvest season in the Okanagan and apples are the feature at the moment. I asked my husband Martin to weigh in this week, as he is a chef and a big fan of apples. He even offers his recipe for apple compote, which he calls “goop”. Please feel free to offer your two cents in comments with a favourite apple recipe or variety!

apples galore Okanagan Happy Gourmand

She says:

Apples are a symbol of so many things – certainly autumn, as they fill the fruit stands by the bin and taste of the fresh crisp fall air; also good health, being the quintessential simple nutritious food that could “keep the doctor away”. They have become a symbol of technology too – Steve Jobs apparently liked the apple because of its simplicity and beauty. Maybe there is a lesson in all that symbolism, that life itself can be simply enjoyed.

Apples are one of the first foods ever recorded, being a symbol for not only knowledge but also temptation. Did you know that as far as the 17th century, all fruit and even some vegetables were referred to as a kind of apple? Tomatoes were “love apples”, and cucumbers were “earth apples”. Apples have been at the centre of many tales in history, both true and fictional… Snow White succumbed to an apple from the evil witch, Sir Isaac Newton is said to have come upon the idea of gravitational forces and apples abound in religious and mythological stories from Norway to Greece to Wales. They certainly seem to have an impact on our lives, so I think it behooves us not to make sure we enjoy them. candied apples

apple bobbing Happy GourmandIf you can’t think of anything better, perhaps a bit of apple bobbing is in order for Hallowe’en? At least a candy or a caramel apple seems appropriate this time of year. If you want festivities, check out your local events calendar for fall fairs and farmers’ markets. The Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market happens outside through the end of October. There are lots of great vendors featuring local products, including my friends from Westbank Harvest who have a delicious apple cider they only produce in the fall. The Family Pumpkin Fest is on at Davison Orchards in Vernon this weekend, and they have very tasty caramel and candy apples 🙂


He says:

Well, believe it or not the summer is over and apple time is back. Most orchards are just picking the last fruit off the trees and soon will be closing their doors until next summer.

My daughter is now 20 years old and like most kids that age, hanging out with dad at a fruit stand is not as much fun as it used to be. barrel of applesThe good news is that I did that many times with her when she was younger so my hope now is that she passes it on to my grandchildren one day. Food values are not something that comes naturally to our children like many other values, we as the parents need to educate, show by example and even push upon them that eating one apple a day is still a good idea. Eating something that grew on a tree has to be more important to them, more so than eating any old thing – like frozen pizza pockets flushed down with a Red Bull.

Food values come to children just the same way as if you tell your children eat broccoli and don’t eat soap. Early on in their lives, you decide what is good for them and what isn’t and later on you hope that these short lessons stuck with them so that as they grow older they make the right choices. Guess what, eating dinner, sitting down at a table the whole family together is still the best place for those lessons.

If you are having a hard time selling this to your kids, try showing them the IPOD, or IPAD or even a MAC computer… and show them the logo… “yes honey, it’s an apple, and guess what there’re a bit missing in the apple to show you that apples are good for you, honey!”

Good luck

Chef Martin
waffles with apple goop

Make Apple Goop with your kids this Sunday and show them that cooking is simple and good for them.

Hallowe’en Apples!

This is truly a day for the children in all of us. Whether you like to eat the candy, dress up in costume, or you enjoy  being scared speechless it is all about the thrill of being a bit outside the box. In the interest of bringing back great memories for all of us big kids, I am going to share some of my favourites…

I think for me it started with the first Hallowe’en costume I remember, when I was three. My Mom sewed up a leopard costume, complete with a hat that had cute little ears, and a puffy tail. She painted a cat nose and whiskers on my face with paint and sent me out with my Dad, carrying my pumpkin treat bucket. everyone said I made a lovely leopard, and they filled my bucket with goodies.  What’s not to love?! I wish I had a picture but all those old shots are on slides.

When I got older, I had a younger brother to take trick-or-treating, so he wore the leopard suit that I had grown out of, and I wore a newly sewn clown suit. Since I was a tall kid, the clown suit was a good fit; I was a bit clumsy anyway, and from a practical standpoint it was more adaptable. When I got taller,  Mom added stockings so that the short legs wouldn’t look the wrong kind of funny. The other practical change was using pillow cases instead of those pumpkin tubs – you could stay out longer and not have to go home to dump out your loot.

Mom and Dad had to approve your loot before you ate it. You weren’t allowed to eat anything en route, and you were to beware of homemade goodies that people put in your bag; apples could have razor blades in them. There was one elderly lady on our block that made puffed rice squares that we could eat,  because we knew her and she put her address on the saran-wrapped packages. Mom and Dad told us it wasn’t a good idea to eat all the treats right away – wouldn’t it ruin the fun if we threw up all those Tootsie rolls and chocolate bars? But when I was a kid, no one gave out healthy treats. This was an honest-to-goodness junk food occasion.

In university the parties became a bit crazier; in those days jello shots and yucca flux were cool. We still bobbed for apples, but the guys were more concerned with impressing the girls than actually grabbing an apple. One year I went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show with friends. We dressed up as characters, and brought props to take part. We put up our umbrellas and sprinkled water from spray jugs when Barry Bostwick gets out of the car to fix the tire. When someone at the grand table, says “A toast, we must have a toast!” we all threw toast. It was completely irreverent, a totally appropriate Halloween experience. In case you haven’t ever seen this film in a theatre with others, here are some tips for you when you do 🙂

I think the theme of Hallowe’en  is the same as with many other celebrations – you just need to believe in the essence of the occasion. Let yourself be scared, step outside your comfort zone and see what it’s like to be different. Enjoy the thrill.

Need a reminder of how to make the most of Hallowe’en, or why it’s important to believe? Who better than Linus to tell us…

%d bloggers like this: