Making your own fall traditions

My sister, Dette (Bernadette) Hunter, wrote several books on the theme of “Making Your Own Traditions.” These traditions were meant to be shared with children or grandchildren.

Her ideas were always simple, using objects or items available around the house. Dette believed that the time spent together was more important than the results.

Parents, grandparents and caregivers know instinctively what to do with children: how to listen, how to hug, how to tell a good story, etc. But, sometimes they just need an easy, quick activity to occupy, entertain or cement a memory of time together.

In the next weeks, I would like to share some of Dette’s holiday ideas, kitchen-related, of course.

Her ideas include easy instructions, instant inspiration and memory making. So, turnoff the “pad” and start making some traditions.

Halloween (or anytime)

∫ Safe kitchen makeup

Vaseline — Rub cheeks with Vaseline and create a 3-day growth of beard with coffee grounds, a glamorous effect with glitter/cupcake sprinkles or an old man with cotton balls.

Shortening — Use 3 tablespoons white shortening and 4 tablespoons cornstarch. Use cocoa or food coloring for the color of choice to make green monsters, blue berries, dark shadows, brown animals, etc.

∫ Grotesque grabbies — Mix up a bowl of peeled grapes, peeled over ripe bananas, cold spaghetti, raw liver, raw eggs, egg shells, cold gelatin, etc. Blind fold each child and let them “feel” Grizzly Goop. 

∫ Potato amulet — Ward off evil spirits with a potato charm, Peel a potato and roughly carve features of a face or charm. Let it dry in an airy place. Poke a hole with a needle and strong thread and wear to scare.

∫ Fortune telling forach — When fortune telling dishes were part of Halloween tradition, friends would gather around a large bowl and eat spoonfuls of this yummy concoction until the fortune (i.e. wedding ring) was found. For safety, put in edible ideas for telling the future i.e. raisins for the number of children, candy hearts for loves, chocolate chips for years of education, etc.

Fall (some new and familiar ideas)

∫ Leaf waxing — When you get the urge to preserve those autumn leaves simply place a leaf between sheets of waxed paper cover with a tea towel and iron at low heat. Whoa, a work of art.

∫ Leaf rubbings — Remember this one? Easy and suitable for young kids. Just place a leaf under regular paper and a rub with a flat side of a crayon. Decorate lunch bags, napkins, place cards etc.

∫ Cider mull to share — Mull means to sweeten or flavor with spices. This is an original recipe from the 1800s and will keep the children busy if you feed them the juicy pulp.

Recipe: Remove the pulp from 2 small oranges and dry overnight. Mix together 1 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. allspice. Pack the mixture into orange halves, decorate with cloves and allow to harden. Wrap oranges in clear plastic wrap.

Give as give gift with a jug of cider and instructions to simmer together 20 minutes.  

∫ Stuffed pumpkin — Here is a marvelous mingling of favors in this deliciously different treat for the Peter-Peter- Pumpkin Eaters in your family or to impress friend’s.

Stuffed Pumpkin Recipes

One whole 10-inch or soccer ball-sized pumpkin. Cut the lid from the top and keep. Scoop out seeds and scrape clean. Place pumpkin and lid in a large pan, cover with water and bring to a boil for about 30 minutes, until tender, but able to hold shape. Drain, or I prefer to microwave for 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt

Filling — 1 Tbsp. cooking oil

2 pounds ground beef

2 cups chopped onions

1 chopped green pepper

Dash cayenne

1 cup cooked rice

2 tsp. olive oil , tsp vinegar, 1 tsp pepper, 2 large cloves garlic mashed

1 cup raisins, ½ cup diced apple

1 cup tomato sauce

3 eggs beaten


∫ Fry beef onion and pepper together until brown

∫ Add remaining ingredients except eggs. Stir and cook over low heat about 15 minutes

∫ Cool slightly and add eggs and mix

∫ Fill pumpkin with mixture and pack in firmly

∫ Cover with pumpkin lid. Place in shallow baking pan

∫ Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour

∫ Let cool slightly and serve in wedges.

∫ You can eat the pumpkin and the filling.

Pumpkins were once used as an aid to perform an easy haircut. Do you think your kids would let you try using a pumpkin?

 Have a great Halloween!

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