OCTOBER

OCTOBER

October 31, 2010

Linus....Forever the Optimist!

The Maine House celebrates Halloween....we are finally ready for our little ghosts, goblins and witches....and a few Bob the Builders...one in particular!

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain , pronounced "sah-win".








The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter.

 The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.
The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween. Masks and consumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.


Part of the history of Halloween  is Halloween costumes. The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of "souling," when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy.


It does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the earliest known uses in print of the term "trick or treat" appearing in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939. Thus, although a quarter million Scots-Irish immigrated to America between 1717 and 1770, the Irish Potato Famine brought almost a million immigrants in 1845–1849, and British and Irish immigration to America peaked in the 1880s, ritualized begging on Halloween was virtually unknown in America until generations later.

Trick-or-treating spread from the western United States eastward, stalled by sugar rationing that began in April 1942 during World War II and did not end until June 1947.


Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in October 1947 issues of the children's magazines Jack and Jill and Children's Activities, and by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948. The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon Trick or Treat, Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show, and UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.
A traditional Scottish form of divining one's future spouse is to carve an apple in one long strip, then toss the peel over one's shoulder. The peel is believed to land in the shape of the first letter of the future spouse's name. Unmarried women were told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if they were destined to die before marriage, a skull would appear!

After the evening of trick or treating, we are serving our little treaters the most delicious ....

Estelle's Chicken Stew with Biscuit Topping
6 split chicken breasts, with bone and skin
3 Tablesspoons Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups diced carrots (4 carrots), blanched for 2 minutes
1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley


For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.


In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.


Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.


Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.






"Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere.
 He's gotta pick this one. He's got to.
 I don't see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one.
 You can look around and there's not a sign of hypocrisy.
 Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see."
Linus Van Pelt








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