Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Buon, Halloween Everyone" Plus "Sicilian Style Pumpkin Seeds"

Buon Halloween everyone! It is hard to believe it, but Halloween is just a few days away. The cooler temperatures are finally upon us. The leaves are falling and the colors are spectacular. (or I should say spooktacular) There is so much to see and do at this time of the year; such as apple picking and bobbing, costume parties, visiting haunted houses, horror films, trick-or-treating, carving jack-o‘-lanterns and many more fun activities, too numerous to mention.

1965- I was 11 yrs old
I have so many fond memories of when I was young, going to Halloween parties and wondering what costume I wanted to wear that year for Trick or Treating. I remember when I was about 11 years old, my grandmother “Nanni,” make this basket of flowers as a costume for the Girl Scouts Halloween party I was invited to. It was hard to wear, as you can see in the photo.  I literally was a basket of flowers. Due to her creative flare, I won first prize for the best costume that year. Another fond memory was of my brother, Chris. I would help him get dressed up in his costume and would take him up and down the blocks in our neighborhood Trick or Treating. We would then go back home and empty out all the candy and goodies from our bags, and continue up and down the blocks. At that time, you would be able to go from door to door with no worries. By the time we would finally get home, we were both exhausted, but it was fun and a memory I will never forget. Halloween was always a fun time in my family growing up, even my parents got in on the act. (see photo)
1993- My mom & dad
Did you know that since 1995, trick or treating in the town of Sandusky, Ohio, has been against the law for anyone older than 14? Did you know that it is very rare for a full moon to occur at the same time as Halloween? It has only occurred in-1925, 1944, 1955, and 1974. The next time it is said to occur is October 31, 2020. Or, maybe you knew that according to ancient superstitions, if you stare into a mirror at midnight on “All-Hallows Eve,” or “Halloween“, you’ll see your future spouse. But, I bet everyone knew that pumpkin is one of the best sources of vitamin A, and it tastes so good especially in a pie.

In Italy, the popularity of Halloween has grown immensely over the years. Even though Halloween falls on October 31, All Saint’s Eve is becoming a popular day for costume parties and events. On All Saint’s Day Catholics attend church services in honor of the saints, the martyrs, and those who have died for the Catholic faith. On All Souls Day, Catholics attend mass and they remember those family members that have died. Candles are lit and prayers are said to honor their memory. 

1976- I was a Geisha

In Italy, Halloween is primarily celebrated as the festival of adults, rather than the children. Trick or Treating, which is the customary celebration for children on Halloween, is not followed in Italy. It is the adults that put on masks during the celebration. However, recently more Halloween costume parties are being organized for children.

Many Italian cities now have what they call Urban Trekking, “a sport for all”. All Saints Eve walks are used to visit medieval towers, crypts, dungeons, or castles. Some of these cities hold children’s walks during the afternoon as well. Italy has several chilling displays of mummies and bones in catacombs, churches and crypts. These mummies have been naturally preserved and the displays can be a macabre sight, not recommended for young children.

In Italy, most every household arranges for a special cake called the Ossa dei Morti, or “Beans of the Dead”, which was in the shape of a bean. This ritual stands for their belief that the living and the departed souls of the near and dear ones, come together to participate in the Feast. Today’s recipe is my tribute to Halloween and to all Italian food lovers. It is one of my favorites and a great way to appreciate those pumpkin seeds from your carved pumpkins. In Sicily, Italy, it is still a tradition to eat salted pumpkins seeds.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Sicilian Style
 A traditional recipe from Academia Barilla

Cooking time: 1 hour
Plenty of Pumpkin seeds
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Black Olives
Black pepper, to taste
Start, by scooping all of the pumpkin seeds out of the pumpkin. Make sure to rinse the seeds very thoroughly to remove all of the pulp. Drain the seeds and spread them out on a paper towel, allowing them to dry for at least 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 275 F. While the oven is preheating, pour some extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Toss the pumpkin seeds in the mixture. Drain the seeds and lay across a baking sheet with an edge. Sprinkle with salt, black olives, and black pepper. Bake about 30-45 minutes, tossing every 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow the pumpkin seeds to cool before serving.
And don’t forget to accompany the toasted pumpkin seeds with a Vampire Kiss drink. I thought it would hit the spot. Here is my recipe, if you DARE!!! Enjoy!

Vampire Kiss
Serves 1

2 parts passion fruit-flavored rum
1 part tonic water
Splash of cranberry juice
Black cherry, for garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice.
Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a black cherry.

Till Next Time…….

Copyright © 2011 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved.



  1. Dottie-this is a very informative post-lots of things I did not know. I love the old pictures here-I am sure those represent some wonderful memories.
    The italian roasted pumpkin seeds would make for a great snack and the drink has my favorite juice in it-cranberry. Thanks for sharing this. Great post.

  2. Thanks Tina, Yes, the photos have many memories, and the pumpkin seeds do make a great snack. They taste very different, especially with the olive oil. Do try them sometime. Thanks for your comment. :)