Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Happy Halloween and a few trick or treat possibilities

by VALLE NOVAK Contributing Writer
| October 31, 2021 1:00 AM

Most residences around the area will be awaiting trick-or-treaters masked both for the fun as well as COVID-awareness safety. Candy bars and bags of mixed candy offerings and healthful options like apples will be doled out at the sound of the doorbell with parties having to be set aside for another year.

When I was a kid, one of the ’40s Halloween offerings was often black licorice — sold in long “whips” — with candy corn, popcorn balls and the afore-mentioned apples as the traditional handouts.

The “tricks” for non-givers, by the way, were real — and often mean. Soaping windows was commonplace, but some more vindictive types (not me!) would use wax which was nearly impossible to remove from the glass.

Now, Halloween means different things to different folks. For classicists, the traditional Halloween “song” would be Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” — especially as portrayed in the old Classic Disney super-movie “Fantasia.” One of my most memorable trip experiences was a cruise on Lake Maggiore in Italy, where we observed historic sites such as where fabled archer William Tell shot the apple off his son’s head — accompanied by the William Tell Overture” from the ship’s excellent sound system - and the famed mountain itself which the captain honored with a booming classical recording of Grieg’s masterpiece. The eerie notes echoed out over the water and one could easily recall Disney’s almost gruesome salute to the site.

Some people think of Halloween in terms of seasonal food, and with that in mind, I offer two apropos recipes.

Quinoa-Apple Salad w/ Mint and Parsley

1 ½ cups dry quinoa

3 cups water

1 red onion

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon EACH ground allspice and cinnamon

5 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 ½ cups packed fresh mint leaves

2 or 3 green onions chopped w/tops

½ cup finely chopped celery

1 1/2 cups chopped apples (peeled if necessary)

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup mayo or salad dressing

Combine quinoa and water in large pot and bring to full boil. Immediately turn heat to low, cover pan and cook for 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, uncovered, then fluff with fork. Chill while preparing other ingredients. Mince enough onion to measure 1 cup and in a bowl, stir together with salt, allspice and cinnamon. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature. Toss together prepared parsley, mint, green onion, celery and quinoa. Stir in mayo, then fold in apples. Serve in a salad bowl, salt and pepper to taste. Chill covered for an hour, before serving. Serves 8.

Spicy Pumpkin Bread

3 cups plus 3 Tbs. cane sugar

1 cup cooking oil

4 large eggs

1 16-oz can plus 1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin

3 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. EACH ground allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg

2/3 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter two 9x5x2 1/2-inch loaf pans. Beat 3 cups sugar, oil, eggs and 16-oz. can of pumpkin in large bowl to blend. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture*. Slowly mix in 2/3 cup warm water. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake until tops are golden and tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer breads to rack to cool 10 minutes. Run table knife around inside edges of pans to remove breads, place on racks to cool completely.

Note: *This recipe came with the tip that it is excellent served with a dollop of whipped cream. Sounds good to me — especially if you take advantage of the fact that you can stir in some raisins, chopped walnuts or even chocolate chips as you see fit for a more “dessert-y” loaf!

Speaking of treats, my resident nuthatches, chickadees and various members of the woodpecker family are obviously appreciating the newly hung suet blocks in their little metal cages. There’s nothing funnier than to see “my” huge Piliated woodpecker trying to hang on to the swaying cage while poking hhis/her bill in for a beakful! The songbirds don’t have that problem, nor the smaller Downy and Hairy woodpeckers. The Big Guy is ultimately successful, though, along with various Sapsuckers and the occasional Ladderback. It’s a joy to help sustain their winter residency.

Time for a report on my month-old meadow “garden” — which is doing just great! The natives have “dug in” and seem content for the coming winter, and my concerns about the non-native Yuccas have faded since their apparent acceptance of their new surroundings, actually visibly growing and thriving! I just pray they continue well over winter. If there are any “Yucca gurus” out there, feel free to call me with any advice — such as winter cover, etc.!

Well, you need to get ready for trick or treat and I need a nap. Love to all of you wonderful reader/friends, and Happy Halloween!

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at or by phone at 208-265-4688 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Valle Novak

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