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Halloween is my favourite holiday!
I love the magic of that season for so many different reasons.
Halloween candy is a delicious smorgasbord of flavours and textures. I love everything from candy corn to dark chocolate.
There are tons of creative costume ideas out there. It’s wonderful to see what folks come up with. I once knew someone who dressed up as a wedding cake for this holiday. How cool is that?
Seeing kids trick-or-treating makes me smile. It’s such a nice way to encourage neighbours to spend time together and be kind to friends and strangers alike.
Halloween is also one of the rare times of the year when graveyards are mentioned a lot in pop culture. I don’t actually find cemeteries frightening at all. They’re often peaceful, beautiful places to visit in real life.
As far as a recipe goes, why not try something simple like roasted pumpkin seeds?
1.5 cups of raw whole pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons of butter, melted (margarine or other fats can work well, too)
1 pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 Celsius)
Toss the seeds in a bowl with the salt and melted butter until every seed is coated.
(This step is optional if you’re like me and also hate scrubbing oily dishes) Put a sheet of tin foil on a baking sheet.
Spread the seeds in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake for roughly 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. When the seeds are golden brown, they’re finished.
It’s healthy, easy, and delicious. I also find crunchy, salty things like this to be a nice break from all of the sugary foods of the season.
Okay, so that title wasn’t super bookish. Let’s amend it to be My Favourite Halloween Treats While Reading.
Sometimes there’s something to be said for snacking on festive foods while reading something spooky.
My mind has decided that all orange foods are vaguely Halloween-ish. It’s made the same association with crunchy stuff like apples, celery, and popcorn because they’re foods I tend to eat more of during the cold half of the year in Ontario.
Everything else should be fairly self-explanatory, I’d imagine.
Apple Cider (the non-alcoholic kind)
Orange Sweet Peppers
Jokerz (a chocolate, peanut, nougat, and caramel candy bar that’s similar to Snickers)
Cleo’s Peanut Butter Cups
Due to my food allergies and intolerances, I can’t eat many of the most common candies and other sweets that are sold at this time of the year. This has taught me to be grateful for what I can eat as well as for all of the awesome allergen-free substitutes out there.
Happy Halloween to everyone who celebrates it! I love this holiday and am still coming up with ways to celebrate it this year.
What are your favourite snacks to eat during Halloween season or during the cooler portions of the year in general?
Title: Harvest – A Short Story from the Pumpkin Patch
Author: Jason H. Abbott
Publisher: Blue Boar Press
Publication Date: October 7, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Historical, Holidays
Length: 19 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 5 Stars
Equal parts eerie, humorous and heartwarming, Harvest is a short story of down-home fantasy and a fairytale for grown-ups best told in the dark…
With whimsical humor and eccentric fantasy dappled in darkness, fans of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett will enjoy this short tale of kindness found in odd places. If quirky characters with a country twang and a fairytale detoured to the pumpkin patch sound good to you, then Harvest will surely prove an entertaining read!
It’s not every day that horror and humour coexist in the same plot.
Imagine waking up in a pumpkin field and not being able to see or speak. That idea sure made me shudder, especially once Edgar (the protagonist) realized that his head felt like a pumpkin instead of flesh and bone.
What intrigued me even more about it was the fact that this scene was written humorously even more than it was meant to frighten anyone. If horror isn’t a genre you typically read, consider giving this a try anyway. While there was one scary moment near the beginning, the plot has so much else going on in it that I think it will appeal to a lot of different reading demographics.
Sometimes this felt like the opening chapter of a long fantasy novel. There were hints sprinkled here and there to explain what was going on with Edgar’s head and how other folks were dealing with the strange phenomenon on this farm. They quickly coalesced into a surprisingly thorough explanation of how this world worked, especially given the fact that the author had less than twenty pages to work with.
While I was satisfied with what the narrator revealed, I also wanted more. I enjoyed the way the author wrote a short, encapsulated story that also left a lot of room for readers to come up with our own theories about what might happen to the Edgar and Emelia, the woman who helped him, next.
The fairy tale elements of the storyline are best left to new readers to discover for themselves. As much as I want to gush about them, they’re revealed late enough that I don’t want to share any plot twists. Let’s just say that this is a truly magical farm where anything can happen.
Do note that the full blurb for this tale contains spoilers, so reader beware if you’re like me and prefer to be surprised by a book.
If you love Halloween or the fantasy genre, I highly recommend checking out Harvest – A Short Story from the Pumpkin Patch.
I’m veering a little off-topic today and sharing one of my favourite autumn recipes.This is something I found on a vegan blog many years ago. If that site still existed, I’d link to it and give credit.
Not only is this cake dairy-free, it can be soy, egg, and nut-free as well as long as you select allergen-safe chocolate chips for it.
This means that it can be shared with many different types of people who are often otherwise left out of the dessert festivities during Thanksgiving, Halloween, and other holidays.
And who doesn’t love inclusive desserts?
Cupcakes (double these measurements for a cake)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour (all purpose)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Cinnamon Icing (Optional)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp melted vegan margarine (or similar oil/fat substitute)
1 Tbsp non dairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a bowl, stir the first 5 ingredients. Then sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a second bowl. Stir with a fork as using a hand mixer will make the batter gummy. Once combined, fold in chocolate chips.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full (if making cupcakes) and bake for 22-24 minutes or until a toothpick pushed into the middle of one of them comes out clean.
If you’re making a cake, lightly grease an 11×7 baking pan, pour it in, and bake it while using the same toothpick trick to see when it’s done. This takes about 30-35 minutes in my oven.
Cool completely before icing them.
To make the icing, stir all of those ingredients together gently. The icing will naturally be a bit runny, so you really don’t want to be using it on a warm cake that will only make it runnier.
Like I said before, double this recipe for a cake.
Yes, you can use any sort of oil you have on hand. I recommend using white flour for it, but do let me know how it is with whole wheat pastry flour if you decide to go that route.
The pumpkin puree makes this cake quite moist and dense. The sugar and chocolate chips create a pretty sweet treat, so I generally skip the icing altogether.
This cake freezes well. Let it thaw gently at room temperature for a few hours or until it’s soft all the way through.
My local grocery store sells chocolate chips that are free of the top eight allergens, including milk, soy, eggs, and nuts. If you can’t find something similar at your local grocery store, check any health food stores that might be nearby. You could also order them online in many areas if you plan ahead a little.
Since most of the people who read this site don’t live in Toronto and Halloween is my favourite holiday of the year by far, this seemed like the perfect time to share some of our spooky local urban legends.
The Lady in Red
Lower Bay subway station was built in 1966 and shut down six months later because the Toronto Transit Commission realized that any delays at that stop would shut down our entire subway system.
A new subway station was built on top of it, and the original one is only rarely available for public viewing.
Legend has it that a woman wearing a red dress wanders around Lower Bay station, but no one knows who she is
. There are no records of accidents that might explain why this spirit spooks TTC employees and the occasional film crew that wander around down there.
We do know that this patch of land was once a Potter’s Field whose coffins were partially cleared out when the city wanted space for public transit, so she might be the ghost of someone who either had no next of kin when she died or who was abandoned by them.
The Underwater UFO Base in Lake Ontario
Multiple people have reported seeing lights shimmering over, plunging into, or leaping out of Lake Ontario. These sightings have given rise to the legend that there is an underwater UFO base located in the bottom of this lake.
Perhaps the aliens come from an aquatic planet and wouldn’t do well out here on dry land?
The Seneca First Nations tribe were the first people to record sightings of our own sea monster. As early as the 1850s, white settlers claimed to see something much bigger than the average fish swimming around in Lake Ontario as well. They described it as a blue-grey serpent that was about 50 feet long.
A Haunting at Old Finch Road
There are many different versions of this tale. They all tend agree that a girl was murdered on Old Finch Road, possibly near a bridge.
Many versions say she died on her birthday and will appear to you if you sing Happy Birthday to her because the person who murdered her wrote “Happy Birthday, Susie” on a nearby rock after killing her. (Although the victim’s name changes quite a bit depending on which version of the story you hear).
Some people have also claimed to hear screams and moans when travelling along this road.
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Island
Mr. John Paul Rademuller was the first lighthouse keeper on this little island back when it was still a peninsula. In order to make some extra money, he was a brewer and bootlegger as well.
Legend has it that two drunken sailors came to visit him one day to buy some of his beer. When Rademuller refused to sell it to them, they killed him, dismembered his body, and buried pieces of it around the island.
In some versions of this tale, it is said that parts of him were eventually found but that his head was never recovered at all. Other versions say his ghost still continues to wander the island because his killers were never punished for their crime and not because parts of his skeleton might still be waiting to be found.
Allegedly, there were some bones found near the lighthouse in 1893, but investigators didn’t yet have the scientific tools to tell if they belonged to Mr. Rademuller or not.
Mrs. Jemima Howard’s Last Days
The unique thing about Mrs. Howard is that we have many historical records that document her life. She was the wife of John G. Howard, and they both gave the land that would later become High Park to the city of Toronto after their deaths.
Mr. and Mrs. Howard lived happily in Colborne Lodge for many years. They never had children, but they doted on their nieces and nephews who temporarily came to live with them while finishing their educations.
Sadly, Jemima Howard was diagnosed with breast cancer long before we had any treatments for it other than morphine and laudanum for her pain. She died at home in her own bed surrounded by loved ones. If she looked out her window, she could see the spot where she (and later her husband) would be buried.
Their headstone is the only one allowed in High Park, and it’s a beautiful, peaceful spot a short distance from their home.
Some visitors to Colborne Lodge have reported seeing a woman peering out of the second story bedroom where Jemima spent her last days. Others have reported cold spots and poltergeist activity.
Maybe Jemima never left home after all.
What is your favourite urban legend from your city, town, or community?
Title: Ceremony of Ashes – A Horror Novella of Witchcraft and Vengeance Author: Jayson Robert Ducharme Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: May 1, 2020 Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary Length: 135 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 3 stars Blurb: Something wicked descends upon Leinster Village Adrian Holloway’s life is turned upside… Read More
Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. Halloween is by far my favourite holiday of the year for the following reasons: There Is Assorted Candy. I only eat candy occasionally, but when I do… Read More
Title: Beyond Death – Tales of the Macabre Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake & Sophie Duncan Publisher: Wittegen Press (Self-Published) Publication Date: 2019 Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Length: 27 pages Source: I received a free copy from the authors. Rating: 4 Stars Blurb: Two tales that look past death into the terror beyond. The Cup Runneth Over by… Read More
Today is the Trick-or-Treat Reads Halloween Book Event! This event was created by Patricia Lynne and is designed to give readers free books on Halloween. Click here to see what the rest of the participants will be giving away this year. There are a lot of goodies on that list! I’m giving away copies… Read More
Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. What an open-ended prompt this week! Was it supposed to be used for for lighthearted, Halloween-friendly fears or more serious topics? I’m assuming it’s the former, but I’ll include one darker fear in case that is what Long and Short Reviews was actually hoping we’d do. Only time will… Read More