Normally, I absolutely adore Hallowe’en. You may have guessed I have a passing interest in ghosts and witches and the like, being that I’m also features editor of It’s Fate magazine, and yeah, I hold my hands up to it. Ghost stories are one of my absolutely favourite things. It would be a duller world if it turns out they don’t actually exist. Which, of course, they do, because I want them to, so ner.
Anyway, moving on from that scintillatingly brilliant piece of deductive reasoning, I can’t muster up my usual enthusiasm for Hallowe’en (which, by the way, is NOT an American custom that we’ve slavishly adopted, whatever the papers sneeringly make out. All Hallows Eve has pagan origins in the Celtic festival Sahmain, marking the end of harvest and beginning of winter, which existed for a good few centuries before anyone came up with the idea of dressing as a zombie cheerleader.) I think I’m just really tired after the move, and a weekend at Centreparc in Longleat with my family, which consisted largely of swimming for hours, and clearing up toddler vomit.
I’ve tried to get into the spirit of the season. Yesterday, I made toffee apples. It took me three goes – turns out you can’t just make a small amount of the toffee, enough for say, two or three apples, you have to make a ton of the stuff or the pan boils dry before the toffee reaches the requisite ‘hard crack’ setting point. I now have a huge plateful of toffee apples that nobody can eat because my husband doesn’t like them, Savannah’s seven teeth wouldn’t be able to cope, and I’ve totally gone off them because I’ve caught some vile lurgy off the kids and spent most of the early part of this morning staring mournfully into a toilet bowl.
They look good, though, don’t they? The recipe was pretty simple – just boil up 400g caster sugar with 350g golden syrup, 350ml water and 8 drops of red food colouring. Heat at a medium temperature for about 45 mins, until the sugar thermometer (I have one, get me) reaches 140 degrees centigrade, or alternatively, if you drop a little into cold water it forms a very hard ball. Then dip your be-sticked apples in the goo, coat (carefully, boiling sugar syrup is not to be messed with) and leave on a piece of greaseproof paper to set.
Savannah and I also made ghost biscuits yesterday. Here she is, rolling away. Most of the dough ended up either on the floor, or in her mouth. I used a very simple biscuit dough – 150g sugar combined with 150g butter, an egg and 250g flour and 50g cocoa powder – but I think I used self-raising flour as the biscuits are a bit puffy. This is what happens when you cook while going down with a lurgy; you get all erratic. Plus I now have a tin full of biccies I can’t touch either. And Sam wants me to make him a zombie-skeleton costume for the little party we’re going to tomorrow. That should really help with the nausea!
Happy Hallowe’en! Bah humbug.
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