Tag Archives: Halloween

How to Halloween

*Cue the menacing evil cackles,  thunder sound effects and organ music!*

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Over the years I’ve been everything from a witch, to Minnie Mouse, and a southern belle, to Little Mermaid (with a ridiculous wig and a turtleneck, despite my fervent objection), to a battered Stepford Wife (really wish I had a picture of this one), and a zombie child, to probably the most frightening of all, Sarah Palin. My crafty mom and grandma would piece, sew, and gather costumes together for us when we were little, and we’d tend to order pizza for dinner on Halloween night, which became a fun tradition. I was that kid who dumped the contents of her pumpkin on the living room floor at the end of the night, counting each piece and organizing it into piles, by category… Also, one year when I was passing out candy, feeling too old to go trick or treating but bitter about it, as a last minute whim, I slathered peanut butter on half my face, to create a “Two-Face” look. The peanut butter melted off and I’m sure I didn’t scare any of the trick or treaters.

I’m particularly excited for Halloween this year, because it marks my first Halloween with Jay! We’re going on five years of dating, but every single year (with the exception of me being in NY last year), he’s had rehearsal, so we couldn’t do anything together. Not this year! He’s going to be in a production of Into the Woods and while he’s not playing the Wolf, he’s always loved that role. So, in the spirit of the play, we’re going as the big bad wolf and little red riding hood, and I’m very much looking forward to it!

Here are a few looks into Halloweens pasts…

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Last year, I spent Halloween gearing up for Frankenstorm (luckily we were unscathed, even though parts of our neighborhood did get flooded). Molly and I went to a serial killer haunted house on the lower east side, and Caitlin and I went to see a band called Morricone Youth perform their own score of Nosferatu, at Nitehawk Cinema. I remember seeing so many great costumes last year, including a women dressed as Annie Hall, who was a deadringer for a young Diane Keaton (it was uncanny, she resembled her to a t), and a guy with a red hoodie, riding a bike with an ET stuffed into his front basket. There were also some seriously scary Halloween decorations in the city…

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Part of the fun of Halloween is the scary movies. Slasher movies don’t do it for me, but here are some of my favorite suspenseful films that never fail to send shivers down my spine:

  • Watcher in the Woods: I’ve been watching this obscure movie since I was little, and to this day, it’s still probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. My dad would always watch it with us, get this terrified look on his face and pretend he saw something out the window, scaring my sister and me every single time. Surprisingly, it’s a Disney movie, and has that chick from Ice Castles in it, alongside Betty Davis at her creepiest. Sure there’s some cheesy special effects and cringe-worthy acting (after all, it is an 80s movie), but its disturbing theme music alone is enough to give me chills and I still l find it just as scary today, at 26, as I did at six. Narek! (Just watch the movie).

 

  • What Lies BeneathUnfortunately this movie has never been as scary as it was the first time I saw it, but I just think it’s so well done. It’s a classic suspenseful mystery with a great twist (although a little predictable), and it’s pretty darn creepy.
  • VertigoThis is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie and the one I find to be the scariest, as well as one of his more brilliant films. I love the complexity and unpredictability of it, as well as  Kim Novak’s mysteriousness against the breathtaking, eery scenery of the Bay Area and the Redwoods.
  • The Sixth SenseI’ll never forget seeing this in the theater for the first time and having my mind completely blown by that famous end-reveal. I’ve always found movies about ghosts to be the scariest, and I thought the ghosts in this film were very realistic looking. There are so many suspenseful scenes in this movie and even years and multiple watchings later, it still has the ability to scare me.
  • The DescentI watched this in college and I don’t know if it’s because it plays on one of my biggest  fears (claustrophobia) and I found the ending incredibly disturbing. Plus I love that it’s an all-female cast!
  • Whatever Happened to Baby JaneAnother movie where Bette Davis is purely terrifying. It’s twisted, and won’t look at a caged bird in the same way again.
  • Practical MagicOkay this one isn’t so creepy anymore,  as it is a guilty pleasure. I am kind of obsessed with this movie. I love Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock and they’re in their prime in this movie. It’s just a lot of fun.

And if you’re in the mood for a scary read, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic, The Yellow Wallpaper—a short story from the 1800s, about a woman’s journey into madness, is a must. It’s one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. It’s a quick read too.

Halloween is also special because it’s an excuse to consume more candy than is considered socially acceptable. I’m not a big candy freak but I definitely eat more than candy than usual the week of Halloween, and here are some of my favorites:

  • Pink Strawbursts: Seriously, why are they so good? All of the others might as well be useless because these are the only ones I care about, and I will furiously and tediously unwrap every single duo packet until I uncover one. But just for Halloween of course.
  • M&M’s and Peanut M&M’s: These are easily my favorite.  I normally opt for the peanut ones because otherwise, I could just chain-eat the plain ones.
  • Krackel Bar: While I’m not a fan of Hershey’s chocolate and I prefer dark chocolate over milk, this under-appreciated mini candy bar is an exception (along with real Cadbury Dairy Milk), and I’ve loved it as long as I can remember.
  • Candy Corn: But only about four pieces and then I’m done.

Whether you go to a party or not on Halloween, you should definitely have something fun to drink. There a lot of great bottles of wine with fun, “spooky” names and labels, perfect for Halloween. I’m excited to try this shiraz-durif blend, 19 Crimes (a modest $11.99), which comes in a black frosted bottle with a vintage sepia photo-label of an ex-con and a depiction of the particular crime they committed. I also think this cocktail titled “The Blackbeard” looks incredibly fun and creative.

Whatever you do and however you celebrate, have fun and be safe, and don’t get lost on the way to granny’s!

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2010, Wrapped and Unwrapped.

As I sit here, snuggled in the cozy confines of my bed, with a smidge of coffee left, I can’t help but feel it is finally time to get my act back together and pay this blog a much needed visit.   The trees and grounds outside blanketed in snow, and as much as I would like to remain cuddled in a makeshift fort of blankets and pillows, eating Whiskey Bread Pudding and watching more episodes of Dexter (recently addicted), the real world outside calls and it has it’s own demands.   However, I am here to explain why it has been so long since I have been here and to talk about food.  Lot’s and lot’s of food.

The easiest thing for me to do, having been absent for over two months, is to pick up where I left off.  So get ready because I have a lot to share with you.  Here goes:

Halloween brought pumpkin spice cupcakes with light cinnamon cream cheese icing and chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel icing.

Around this same time, my computer failed me and I procrastinated on taking it into the doctor (otherwise known as “Two Geeks,”) to have it fixed.  I was able to rely on Jay’s computer for a few weeks.  Luckily it was nothing major, only a bad memory.  I still hate Dell and would very much love to serendipitously inherit a Macbook Pro…any day now will do.

November appropriately awarded me a new job (my first full-time, legitimate position), just a couple weeks shy of Thanksgiving.  I am working one on one with several students, all of which, have various developmental disabilities.  I am working sort of as an instructor/mentor, helping them accomplish their goals, be active and to be more self-sufficient.  It’s all new territory for me and certainly has it’s challenges and frustrations but also has its good days, where I feel I have made a significant impact on someone’s life.    This is another reason I was so M.I.A, but I know, I know, it is not an excuse.

November and December also brought a wealth of new kitchen gadgets and cookware, several of which, I have coveted for years.

This incredibly lucky girl got:

  • An unbelievably generous gift from my best friend Kelley, a Le Creuset stoneware cooking/baking set in beautiful cobalt blue, including a square casserole dish, a rectangular one, an oval one and some adorable, mini round casserole dishes with lids.  This gift came at the perfect time, just before Thanksgiving and was definitely put to great use.
  • A stunning Le Creuset cast iron enameled 6 quart Dutch oven in Jamaica Blue (which was a birthday present from me to myself).
  • An awesome pancake griddle from my dear friend Donna, which I can’t wait to make blueberry pancakes on.
  • A potato ricer, perfect for easy mashed potatoes and making gnocchi!
  • A gorgeous milk green glass hobnail cake stand, which I intend to use this week, when I bake a Devil’s Food Cake with Angel Frosting (from the new cookbook, Baked Explorations).
  • A cake slicer/leveler, which I will also excitedly use on aforementioned cake.
  • A MICROPLANE, finally!
  • Last, but not least, perhaps the fairest of them all:  a long awaited Artisan series 5-Quart 10 Speed Kitchenaid mixer in “ice!”

In addition to all of these new toys, I have also gotten to reap the benefits of a brand new Cuisinart Slow Cooker – a Christmas gift Jay received (lucky us)!  I did not score so poorly by the way of cookbooks/food writing books either, this holiday.  The Essential New York Times Cookbook, How I Learned to Cook, Will Write For Food, and Chefs of the Triangle – what an especially perfect gift.

Not sure what I did to deserve all of this, but I am eternally grateful!

November and December also brought new Food52 cooking challenges and creations, including a Sweet Potato Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Brown Sugar Bourbon Glaze, Pumpkin Semifreddo with Ganache and Candied Pepitas.

I also crossed a milestone when I hosted my first Thanksgiving meal (for my sister, her boyfriend, our dad and grandparents, here in Greensboro) and with great trepidation and intimidation, roasted my very first turkey.  Okay, so it wasn’t an entire turkey, just the breast – but the breast was 10 pounds!  It definitely seemed like it was a whole turkey.  The entire event was truly (and thankfully) a great success.  I was terrified the turkey would be under or overdone and after reaching the four hour mark, I began to take it’s temperature every five minutes, monitoring it closely like a first time mother with a sick child.  I also made whipped bourbon maple mashed sweet potatoes with a brown sugar pecan streusel, cranberry pomegranate sauce (also a first time for me), stuffing (with sourdough bread, dried cherries, cranberries, celery, onion, apple, pecans and herbs), we had my granny’s famous mashed potatoes, which are the silkiest, richest mashed potatoes I’ve ever tasted and we had rolls, green beans cooked with ham, a black forest cake (a labor of love and not the greatest attempt but beautiful nonetheless), bourbon chocolate pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon pecan sauce, and a pretty but inedible blackberry apple pie (which I intend to try again this summer and get it right).  It was SO much food, but all delicious.

December was full of other sweets and treats, including: the insanely addictive Sticky Toffee Pudding (which I’m pretty much obsessed with), Smoked Almond Turtles (which I think will have to become a Christmas tradition, as they made for delectable, fun and easy Christmas gifts), Chewy Sugar Cookies (which will also have to be a new Christmas tradition) – YUM, my great grandmother’s fudge, and her coffee cakes (that we always make on Christmas Eve and have for breakfast Christmas morning).  It’s a wonder I haven’t turned into a balloon of sugar and butter!

We also broke in the new Dutch Oven with some classic Coq au Vin, which was quite apropos and recently made Julia Child’s Chicken with Port Wine, Cream and Mushrooms – a really tasty, savory dish but far too high maintenance for our tastes.

I have yet to (embarrassingly) do a recap of our great summer road trip, our recent long weekend trip to Portland Maine, mine and Cecelia’s dinner party and our most recent trips to Miami and Savannah.  All in good time though and certainly in the next post, since I have already written a novel.

So what to expect with the new year?  A blog makeover, more posts (my goal is at least one a week), and more recipes.  A friend of mine, well-versed in graphic and web design is going to be meeting with me to plan out a complete blog makeover, since I’ve been displeased with the aesthetics for some time now and clueless as to what I should do about it.  Lately, I have also been toying with the idea of instating a “Slow Cooker Sundays” and “Meatless Mondays,” though it might work better with our schedules to slow cook during the week.  I just liked the ring of it.  So here is to a new year of a better blog, more travel and adventure, new restaurants,  new cooking challenges and many more kitchen escapades.  Happy New Year!

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