The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Frost on the Pumpkin: Halloween almost here – The last Thursday in October and five days before Halloween. There has been several hefty frosts in the garden plot and the lawn has felt its cold breath. The lawn shows traces of tan and brown and many leaves are gone from the trees. The furnace flexes its muscles and a blanket on the bed feels good every night.

A Spicy Jack-o’-lantern on Halloween – As trick or treaters and guests come to your door on this week of Halloween you can give them an unexpected treat in the form of a spicy pumpkin scent. All you need to do is apply 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice in a jack-o’-lantern, rubbing spice on all insides of the pumpkin, light the candle and let the aroma flow.

Celebrating the Pumpkin: Pumpkin Crisp – The ingredients are: 2 cups pumpkin, large can of evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spices, one box yellow cake mix, 1 cup chopped pecans, two sticks light margarine melted, three eggs. Step one – preheat oven to 325°. Step two – grease and flour a 9 x 13” pan. Then line pan with sheet of waxed paper, spray with Baker’s Joy. Step three – mix pumpkin, sugar, milk, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice. Pour mixture into pan. Spread dry cake mix over the pumpkin mixture and spread it out. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the dry cake mix. Pour the melted margarine over the top of the cake. Bake for one hour. Step four – K cool completely. Turn cake onto a cake board or cookie sheet – the pecan layer becomes the bottom crust. Step five – cover the cake with this frosting – 18 ounce box of cream cheese softened, 2 cups powdered sugar, three fourths cup Cool Whip.

The Season of Chicken Stew, Harvest Festivals and Halloween Parties – A pot of chicken stew topped with crackers is a meal in a bowl. It finds a warm spot on a cool October night. Many are cooked in black iron pots outdoors but they can also be prepared in large canners in kitchens without the risk of bad weather, uncontrollable temperatures, ashes in the pot and sticking because of the heat of black iron. Whether made in kitchens or black iron pots, chicken stews are a tradition in the Piedmont. Harvest festivals and Halloween carnivals are also popular events and fundraisers that feature cakewalks, fish ponds, haunted houses, hotdogs, barbecues, desserts, raffles, costume contests and hayrides.

All Saints Day will be next Wednesday – All Saints Day is always celebrated on the day after Hallows Eve which is also known as Halloween. We can celebrate the day with a pot of collard greens seasoned with country ham or bacon chunks or as my grandma in North Hampton County used fatback meat to make it more “artery clogging”. On a Friday night in October her supper table featured collard greens, fried cornbread and “collard pot likker” which is simply grease, water, and fatback the greens were cooked in. If you didn’t eat that, you just left the table. We always ate the “likker” with chunks of cornbread dumped into it. We don’t know of any physician who would recommend such a concoction, but then again, they don’t endorse Krispy Kreme donuts either! The old adage is that “anything that’s good is bad for you!”

Moving the Panda and Asparagus Fern Inside for Winter – The ferns have spent spring, and summer on the porch outside and will spend winter in the sunny living room. All they need is a trimming before bringing them in. They stay bright green all winter making the living room have a “greenhouse effect”. We decorate them at Christmas with snowmen and red shiny ornaments.

Use Commonsense on Halloween Night – Next Tuesday night will be Halloween and we all need to watch for children and parents who are trick-or-treating in our area. Keep porch and carport lights on to let parents know your home is kid friendly. Make sure the treat you give are bagged and wrapped. Greet kids at door, Make them feel welcome, and display treats in a large bowl and allow them to choose. Keep a great variety of treats available.

Witches Brew at the School Halloween Carnival – A a fourth grader on a Friday night before Halloween, the school PTA always had the annual Halloween carnival at the school to raise funds to purchase playground equipment. All the classrooms were turned into special attractions such as a haunted house, fishing pond, movie house, a hotdog booth and a costume center where you could vote for those you thought were winners. There was an auction sale for items donated by local merchants. In the auditorium, a giant cakewalk was set up where homemade cakes were to be won. In the center of the principals office was the witches brew room. A beloved teacher in a witches costume served “brew” from a very large black wash pot. No two batches tasted like because I kept pouring all kinds of soft drinks and cans and bottles of juices and then adding chunks of ice. Needless to say it was a strange and unusual mix but very good for kids with cast iron stomach’s!

Ray Baird