Halloween, know as Samhain by some, Hallow's End in Azeroth.
In this world or the virtual it is my favorite holiday. I look forward to it every year. Nerdwife and I used to host costume parties. That changed when we came to Rochester. This town does not celebrate Halloween. No haunted houses, not haunted hay rides, no scary movie showings or special events. I don't know what the issue is with this place. The mall every year around this time puts up Christmas crap and only pays token nods to Halloween and Thanksgiving. Which is odd, from a capitalist perspective, Halloween is, or was, the #2 holiday where people spend money. I suppose that is now Valentines's Day if you go by the local mall, which puts up Valentine's stuff the day after Xmas it seems.
Luckily some grad students we know throw a party, though this year there they won't be. Last year I was the ghost of Albert Einstein. This year I was going to be Professor Moody, but couldn't get the stuff together in time.
Why Halloween? I dunno, I've always liked the scary stories of ghosts and ghouls. Stories like the Headless Horseman and The Raven. I liked dressing up in costume and trick or treating...back when you could still do it after dark before the panicked parents brigade and their over protectiveness took the country by storm. No one trick or treats after dark anymore, well at least not down here.
In St. Paul Nerdwife and I would always stay home and dress up a little and watch scary movies with a big bowl of candy and wait for the children. We lived in a part that was not considered safe, so we only usually had the little girl from across the street, but it was a time when we could connect at least with one of our neighbors.
My elementary school used to hold giant Halloween parties for grades K-6. The gym was turned into a haunted house. There spooky story sessions, costumes of course, and candy...lots and lots of candy.
High School Halloween was when...uh...nevermind...moving on, no need to incriminate myself with tales of certain types of paper and certain projectiles of a certain kind. Lets just say...if teenagers come to your door asking for candy, give it to them and don't be stingy.
Our biggest and most successful Halloween party that Nerdwife and I hosted, as Count and Countess D'Ghoule will always have a warm spot in my heart. Here is the recipe for the chili we made:
Seasoning mix: Other ingredients:
1 tb + 2 tsp salt
1 1\2 c. toasted cornmeal
3 tsp cayenne
3 tb vegetable oil
3 tsp cumin
6 cloves garlic
3 tsp onion powder (optional)
4 c chopped onions
3 tsp oregano
3 lb. lean beef chuck
3 tsp white pepper
2 tb coarsely ch fresh jalapenos
3 tsp thyme
2 tb ch. fresh Hungarian wax peppers
2 tsp cinnamon
4 c beef stock
2 tsp nutmeg
1 large red bell pepper, ch
1 tsp ground coriander
1 large yellow bell pepper, ch
2 tsp black pepper
1 large orange bell pepper, ch
2 tsp paprika
2- 28 oz cans plum tomatoes in juice
2 coarsely ground dried guajillo peppers
3 1\2 c pinto beans
4 coarsely ground dried super chilies
Fresh basil to taste
Fresh cilantro to taste
Combine seasoning mix. Toast cornmeal in a 6-8 inch skillet over high heat, stirring frequently, until it turns light brown. Set aside, Heat oil in a large pot, and add 2 c onions and all of the garlic. Brown for 5 minutes. Add 1\2 the seasoning mix, the fresh jalapeno and wax peppers, and meat. Cook until meat is lightly browned. Add cornmeal and 1 1/2 c stock, then vigorously stir and scrape pan bottom. Add remaining broth, bell peppers, and onions. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bean, bring to boil, and reduce heat. Cook until well thickened and meat very tender, 2-3 hours. Add basil and cilantro, if desired. Serves an insane number.
Vegetarian: omit meat; use vegetable broth in place of beef broth.