How can young kids have fun without all the plastic? Here's a simple starting point for a Conscious Living Halloween.
We don't do Halloween. Well, at least not until this year after the pressure of certain expectations from our 5 year old. She has been brainwashed by the American style and though we face this kind of thing head on and don't allow traditions, customs or cultural norms to prompt us into anything that sets us up for the consumerism trap or goes against our conscience, Halloween can be just a bit of spooky fun. Mia wanted treats, sweets and candy and she suggested we make our own without plastic wrappers. Seeing as she was so conscientious about it the least I could do was oblige.
I found a prefect small pumpkin at Fatma abla's* stall in the market. Knowing the garden that this pumpkin came from made it even more special. As soon as I had carved out the eyes and mouth I used the pumpkin flesh to make an easy soup (recipe below)
The chocolate spiders (recipe below) and the decorations were made as a two part activity with Mia. She got to pour the melted chocolate and stick on the eyes and then, while the spooky spiders chilled in the fridge we drew and cut out the bats and spider's web.
We made zero planning for this activity and used what we had at home (we had the black paper luckily, but when the lights are dim any colour will do!) We will save the decorations and use for many years (as with all the other decorations we have made or bought)
The children here (in Şile Turkey) don't go 'trick or treating' (I haven't ever either actually), but Mia has asked that we make more chocolates and hide them around the house for her and her friends to find and devour!
It is always great to have an activity inspire another one.
Flesh of the pumpkin eyes, nose and mouth bits,
1/2 glass of red lentils
olive oil and/or butter
salt, pepper, spices and herbs to taste (I kept mine plain as the pumpkin and onion make it sweet, but cumin and ginger are great in this soup)
Cook in pressure cooker for 10 minutes then blend with stick blender and yum!
(Note the pumpkin lasted 3 days out and then started to go a bit soft and moldy looking so I cleaned off the soft bits and the peel, chopped it up and made it all into a big batch of soup and froze the rest.
Waste not Want not!
I hope all the pumpkins used at Halloween become something tasty and are not just used for fickle amusement!
Chocolate Spiders (for approx 10 spiders)
80g of chocolate (we mixed milk and 80% dark chocolate)
2 dried apricots (cut in half)
4 half walnuts
8 or 10 hazelnuts cut into small bits (you could use bits of candied cherry for a really scary look)
Melt chocolate (in bain marie).
Place walnuts and apricots upon a piece of cooking parchment (I use non bleached which I reuse many times and then put in my compost)
Spoon some of the chocolate onto each nut and apricot.
Spoon remaining chocolate into a decoration syringe and then draw on the legs.
Place hazelnut or your chosen alternative for eyes.
*Fatma abla is one of the local women who has an amazing line of produce from her garden which is a living, breathing, sustaining and producing haven of beauty and delight.
Her honey-vinegar is awarded by the Slow Food movement and she has certificates from Italy apparently. i will be learning more and hopefully supporting her in her vision to have a larger workshop and to travel to Italy.
I am a personal fan of her blackberry-vinegar and a large glug of olive oil upon my bean salads (piyaz)
If you want to try some of her wares she can be found at the Sile Yer Yuzu Pazari (though in the winter it may not be as vibrant and only has a few stalls)
(here you can see a photo of Fatma but it's in Turkish)