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31 October 2011

Happy Samhain

Samhain is another name for Halloween, the word means Summer Sunset or Summers End
Our pumpkin, carved by my lovely Husband Stu.

Before the fancy dress, sweet sellers and merchandisers got hold of this day it was traditionally celebrated as a harvest festival, and a way to  honour the dead. It was the time when you choose which livestock to kill and did a stocktake of the grains store, and then beginning of Winter. Traditional feast were had using seasonal foods,of beets, apples, corn, nuts, pumpkins, cider, mulled wines and gingerbreads. A table place was often set for departed loved ones, and they were toasted, made part of the proceedings.
Being close to the Scottish Border means a lot of their strong Celtic customs are kept here too. When I was little we carved a Turnip, a tradition from Jack of Lantern and then went out Guising in a handmade costume around our small village, I remember being given fruit and money but never sweets.
Another custom was to divine your future Husband, I remember my Nana trying to show me one Halloween.  You were meant to peel an apple all in one long peel, think of your future Husband and throw the peel over your shoulder, and it would spell the First letter of his name. I suppose in my case it did, as it always just looked like an S to me.

These days Halloween in Britain is hot on the heels of the Americans, the traditions that British travels took over there have be changed and sent back. But I think it's still important to remember it's roots in The Harvest.

So today to celebrate Samhain, I made Damson Gin, Pumpkin Soup and Roast Pumpkin Seeds, as well as dressing up my children and giving out sweeties.

Pumpkin Soup 
Ingredients: Big Pumpkin(fleshy big)
2 chopped large onions
4 chopped carrots
2 cloves of garlic 
2 pints of veg. stock
Mustard seeds, cinnamon, turmeric 1 tablespoon each
Splash of milk(or substitute)
Olive oil

Take one lovely fat pumpkin. Take out seedy gloop but don't throw away, place it in a bowl for later. Using a metal spoon or ice cream scoop, scrape out the pumpkin flesh. This way you have a thin shell left to carve.
Heat oil and sauté onions, add garlic and spices and stir through the onions. Add pumpkin and carrots, muddle with spices and onions. Add the veg stock and boil for 20 minutes, then simmer till veg is soft.
While simmering add the milk to give creamed appearance, and using hand blender give it all a whizz.
Hmm, yummy soup.If you like spice you can add chillies at the beginning with the onions. 
Add salt and pepper to your taste. Serve with squishy bread.
Or if you feel very posh some cubes of feta cheese.

 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Now don't you throw away that gloop from the middle of the pumpkin, mix with some cold water and skim the seeds from the top onto a kitchen towel. 
Lay the seeds onto dry baking tray, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
 Bake on gas mark 5 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. They could do with a shake in the middle of the time. Then you these little beauties.
Which of course you eat instead of your children's Trick or Treat chocolate, won't you?

The Damson Gin can wait for another post, I've got soup to eat.

Happy Samhain, Blessed Be.


  1. Nice pumpkin! And hello :)

  2. Ooh might try that recipe at some point, I do quite like pumpkin. Hopefully there'll be some left going cheap! And hello, I hope this is working :)


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