Trick or Treat
As a child in a rural area, my Halloween trick or treat forays were boring and pretty simple. My Mom would take me to couple of neighbors houses, and after “oohing and ahhing” over my homemade costume, they would get out the stale donuts and cider, and then proceed to visit. Real fun. The couple with the stale donuts, owned greyhounds, and lived in some kind of weird shack with magazines stacked to the gills. Rumor had it, that the husband lost his medical license performing abortions. The wife had died black hair, and painted on eyebrows, and I didn’t know of it then, but she was the model for Chris Elliott’s, Perfume Soaked Hag spot on Get A Life. (just kidding on that one.)
My Mom always saved the best for last though. My gardening mentors who gave me the milking stool, always had fresh cider and homemade blond brownies and a couple of candy bars. I never minded the visiting there. Mostly because these people seemed real to me. The stories told were usually just day to day stuff, eggs gathered, gallons milked, number of jars put up, etc. Usually, they only got a few kids who came to the door, and we stayed until the coffee pot and cider pitcher was drained. There was usually sauerkraut fermenting away, and the last of the season’s canning sitting on the table, awaiting labeling and packing down to the basement. Their house smelled of homemade laundry soap, wood smoke and milk.
They grew a few pie pumpkins every year for decorating, but did not carve them, not wanting them to spoil. They were so frugal, nothing went to waste. As soon as Halloween was over, they would make pickles out of them. They grew squash to make pies out of, and the little pumpkins were for pickles, that would need three weeks in the jar, to be ready for their Thanksgiving dinner. I got to help when I was smaller, because I had developed a taste for those pickles, but I didn’t ask for the recipe until I was out of high school. Like before, I had to help, and take notes since she didn’t have a recipe.
We don’t really eat very many pickles, and I’m the only one who will eat these. So, I don’t make them every fall. I think it is the comfort food factor for me. Sweet, spicy and dense in texture, I like them on sandwiches. But, I really like them for the memories, stale donuts and all.
5 cups sugar
5 teaspoons pickling salt
3 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag
Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, vinegar and water. Add spice sachet. Cook for 1 hour on medium heat or until pumpkin is tender.
Pack in hot jars and seal. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Best if not opened for at least three weeks.