Jack O’ Lanterns - the legend
Halloween is here again, bringing with it the usual customs of dressing up, trick or treat and the carving of pumpkins into Jack O ’Lanterns. In Britain, in the early 19th century, a Jack o’ Lantern was simply a term used for a lantern made out of a turnip. It was also a nickname for a will o’ the wisp, linking it to fairies, folklore and legends. According to an old Irish folk tale the jack-o'-lantern represents a wandering soul who cannot enter heaven or hell. The man, named ‘Jack’, encounters the Devil on his way home from a drunken night and strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sin, Jack is refused entry to heaven and keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell too. The Devil throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him and so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, to keep him warm and to give him light. It is said that from that moment on Jack and his lantern have been wandering, looking for a place to rest. In Ireland and Scotland, the turnip has traditionally been carved during Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger.
We all know how much fun carving pumpkins can be at Halloween - there are some amazing creations out there which defy belief, as well as macabre ones, for the particularly ghoulish amongst you, pumpkin carving is a great activity to do with the children. Before you embark on one of the most popular Halloween rituals this year why not think outside the box? Pick up ideas or some more manageable templates from the web and get creative! You will never look at a pumpkin in the same way again!
Forget the trick – go for the treat
The Guardian recently said that Sainsbury’s expects just over one million pumpkins to be sold in the week running up to Halloween. However, after the carving fun has taken place, many are disposed of, ending up in landfill. Bearing that in mind, let’s make the effort to use our pumpkins more effectively this year by trying out some interesting and hopefully, tasty recipes. Here are a couple to get you started:
Trick or Treat Traybake
300g Self Raising Flour
3 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp bicarbonate soda
half a tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp orange juice
500g peeled and grated pumpkin
Preheat oven to 180°C /Gas Mark 4. Butter and line a 30 x 20cm baking or small roasting tin with baking parchment. Put the flour, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, sultanas and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. Beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice, mix with the dry ingredients until combined. Stir in the grated pumpkin. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch. Decorate with frosting or leave plain.
Tasty Pumpkin Tart
100g Greek yoghurt
1 flan case
500g pumpkin, peeled & cut into chunks
20g stem ginger diced
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5 and bake the flan case following the packets instructions. Steam the pumpkin for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the steamer, allow to cool. Blend the pumpkin to a purée, then add the eggs, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg to make the filling. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pastry tart and place into the oven to bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the filling has set. Cool for at least two hours.
Why not have a go and let us know how you get on, send in your pictures, or send in your own recipes for others to try out.