Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gross Halloween Food

I'm pretty sure my obsession with Halloween has driven off most of my regular audience, so I'm going to go all the way here and show you the gross Halloween snack I made last night. If you're squeamish, better change channels right now and come back after November 1st when everything will be back to normal.

I warned you....

First you make Rice Krispie treat stuff and shape it into rough cylinders in your hands. Like giant slugs. Oh, butter your hands first so they don't stick and lay them on wax paper to cool.

Then while those are cooling, cut the bottom yellow part off of candy corn. Make sure to get rid of all the orange color, then cut those in half again.

Then melt a bunch of chocolate chips slowly in the microwave and...

coat the Rice Krispie treats with the chocolate. While the chocolate is still soft, push a few pieces of candy corn into it.

Corn Poopies! Aren't they cute?
And speaking of disgusting stuff, I made the "guts" for my Fire Roasted Flesh Worms this morning. I used Julia Child's cranberry chutney recipe and it looks perfect. The original recipe called for chili (!?) for the guts, but this is a Gourmand Halloween party, and a sweet chutney will go nicely with the roasted pork. Much better than chili, don't you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dining Room Decor

Our Halloween Party is next Saturday so I've got the dining room all decorated. The potions ended up on the buffet along with one of those pots of fire and a dead rose bouquet. And lots of spiderwebs courtesy of Teen1. I supported the pot of fire on three branches wired together to form a tripod. And I hung the old tapestry from last year.

And nearly all my potions are arranged here on the buffet. I made a few more over the weekend....

like this Polyjuice Potion.....

and this Pepperup Potion...

and these toad spleens....

and this jar of poisonous mushrooms.

To prepare the dining room table I first put some boxes and books on the table to provide different levels for the various dishes, then put several tablecloths crookedly over that, then layered on some more old books, tarnished silver platters, old candlesticks with blood dripped candles, and a skull, some cockroaches and some mice. And of course, more spiderwebs.
I also printed out these little tombstones where I will write what each dish is; like Fire Roasted Flesh Worm, Kitty Litter Cake, Scream Cheese with Blood Jelly, etc.

I guess that's it from Amongst The Oaks where we are just hanging around waiting for Halloween.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Potion Bottles

Every haunted house needs some Potion Bottles, right? So I've been working on Potion Bottles and strange ingredients that a witch might use. First I scoured the house for odd jars, bottles, and glass containers. Then I started gathering creepy ingredients. For some of them I just used weird seed pods or fruit from the garden. Like those things called Deadly Nightshade; they are merely fruit from my Pittosporum shrub. And below are some tiny figs from a tree out in the field.

For Wool of Bat I used some fake fur that Teen2 had lying around. I just snipped it into little chunks and suddenly I had bat fur.
This is an idea I found on the Internet. You take a little plastic skeleton, wrap some spider web stuff around it, bent it into an awful position, immerse it in colored water and make a disturbing label. Mine says: Shrinking Potion Trials, June 1867, Test Subject No. 013, Healthy Male 22 years, Survived 2 days, 14 hours. The idea came from this wonderfully creative person who just happens to have some other great ideas I'm going to use too.

Here are more strange things from the garden. I think these are quince, but I'm calling them Datura stramonium. I know, I know, actual Thorn Apples are spiky little seed pods, but I'm hoping no one else will know that.
Oh, and this one was fun. It's a little yogurt, some lemon curd and some chunks of strawberry jam with green food coloring. The red jam chunks make a nice surprise when you pick it up and inspect it.
And some of my potion bottles are nothing more than things from the frige re-labeled. These are capers, but suddenly they look a little like Eye of Newt, don't they? And below are dried cranberries, re-labeled as Zombie Scabs.

For the labels you can snag images off the Internet and rearrange them in Photoshop like I did, or you can use felt pens and write your own. But whatever you do, make sure you antique them like I showed you here. Have fun with this, but be careful! You're messing with magic you know!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Old Family Photo

I found another old family photo in a long forgotten box the other day. I wonder how I'm related to these folks. Why are they posing near what appears to be a tombstone? And what is with that young woman's dress? It looks like it's all tattered. And why does the old man look so grouchy? Strange, strange ancestors....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gourmand Party

Last night was the Gourmand/Murder Mystery party at Guy Dedd-Tour and Miss Di Wreckted's Spooky Castle. What fun we had. Everyone dressed up and really got into their characters.
Di did a WONDERFUL job on the organization, decorations, and food planning. It was pretty much non-stop hilarity from start to finish.
Here is a serving of the Death By Chocolate cake. I got some creepy labels at the Halloween store, and put one that said "Blood" on the bottle that held the raspberry sauce. That was fun pouring a little on each plate while everyone watched. The bones should have been a lot bigger for maximum effect, but it tasted good and that's what counts. I think I might make this cake again sometime; it was that good.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Natural Halloween Decorations

I like my Halloween decorations to look natural; well, as natural as Halloween decorations can look anyway. So I don't have any giant purple nylon inflatable spiders. But I do have these shriveled grapes and this spider on the web Teen2 made out of yarn.
And I also have this real spider in the front garden. I've been watching her for about two weeks. I worried about her during the storm, but I found her in the same spot with a new web this morning. I think she is in the Neoscona family, but I'm no expert. Any guesses?

I really like spiders and am always happy to see a web in my garden. They are such good neighbors! Eating all the nasty flies and such for us and never asking for anything in return. And apparently she has eaten LOTS of flies because she is huge. Her abdomen is easily 1/2" across. If you click on the photo below you should be able to see her many eyes. And her hairy legs.

Whilst photographing the spider, this Northern Flicker flew over and landed in the tree. What a treat; they are usually so shy. However, the flicker is not very Halloweenish, but if I could get crows to land in my graveyard, my decorating would be perfect!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Death by Chocolate {or} The Cake That Nearly Killed Me

So our Gourmand Club is having a Murder Mystery party Saturday night, and I am bringing the dessert. In keeping with the theme (think Death by Chocolate) I decided on this flourless chocolate torte, so I did a trial run last weekend. Unfortunately, I used a 10" pan so it only came out about 3/4" tall, but I was basically pleased with it. And judging by the quick work the family made of it, they were pleased too.

So Wednesday night I made the party version using the proper sized pan. Preparing the pan is crucial; first you butter it, then line the bottom with parchment paper, butter that, and dust with cocoa powder. A springform pan is recommended, but I don't have an 8" springform pan, so wish me luck getting this baby out of here.

Next you slowly melt a pound of dark chocolate with two cubes of butter. You can use a double boiler, the microwave, or the preheating oven like I did. The important part is to do it slowly and stir often.

Then you beat the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons sugar until they are thick....
and mix them into the chocolate.

Then you wash that bowl, have a sip of wine, find your glasses, answer five questions, and proceed to beat the egg whites until almost stiff....

then fold them into the chocolate mixture half at a time.

Finally you pour it into the prepared pan and bake it at 300 degrees for 35 minutes.

And this is what it looks like. It needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours or up to a week. Then you heat the bottom and sides of the pan with a hot damp towel and quickly unmold it onto the serving plate. And finally serve it at room temperature with a garnish of....

meringue bones and blood (raspberry) sauce. Yum. I hope to share photos of the finished dessert on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stormy Weather

Living Amongst The Oaks during storms is always nerve wracking. Two huge old oaks spread their branches above our roof and I worry about them crashing down on us when it's windy. Thankfully, we only had this one small branch fall; not nearly as big as the one that fell last year, but it did break our backyard party lights. On my way home from work last night I saw several whole trees down, blocking entire streets.

And in other news, I made this cardboard silhouette at Teen1's suggestion. It hangs (get it? "hangs") in the upstairs window of Acorn Cottage and I rigged a fan to blow it gently back and forth. (Sorry for the rubbish photo, but I took it from inside through a rain splattered window.) You can see it from the house, so it should be great fun for our Halloween Party.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Old Boneyard

We set up the old boneyard in our front yard yesterday. What do you think? Is it creepy enough? It looks creepier at night with the green spotlights, but even during the day I think it looks pretty good.
Teen2 made that giant spiderweb over there. And the headless guy on the broken bench is supposed to be one of the spider's victims.

We carted in lots of clippings of ivy, grapevines, and shrubbery from the field and it should be nice and dead looking by October 31st.

I'm sure the neighbors think I'm daft.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Halloween Invitations

How would you like to get one of these in the mail - a coffin with your name on it?

And then when you open it you see a crinkled bloody wrapper...

enclosing a little skeleton. But the wrapper is actually an invitation to...

our Halloween party! Oh, I had such fun making these. If you double click on the photo perhaps you can read my creepy poem. Let me know what you think about it.