haunted.

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It is very, very hard for me to work up any kind of enthusiasm about Halloween.

Except for a few great years in my partying days, it’s never been my favourite occasion – and this year, I am feeling especially curmudgeonly about it. If it weren’t for my children, I would, without a doubt, be one of those people who turned off the lights and locked the doors and stayed in the attic drinking wine until it was all over.

Thankfully, earlier this week – before I got too mired in irritation about it all – I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with the fabulous Kristin Sjaarda. We hung out, drank coffee, dissected the latest unpleasant news of our world, weathered an epic rainstorm, and put together a spooky mantel to be featured on the Marion House Book today.

If you head over there right now, you’ll miss my (humbug) rant about the senselessness of sending our children out into the cold, dark night with the sole mandate of gathering and gobbling up as much refined sugar as they possibly can – lucky you! – but if you stick around here, you get this recipe for pumpkin seeds.

First published on this blog three years ago, they have become a Halloween tradition around here (if such a thing exists) and remain my go-to reward for getting through this day.

Well, these and the baby Kit Kats.

Trick or Treat!

Pumpkin Seeds for Snacking

the seeds of one large pumpkin, cleaned of goo, rinsed, and well dried
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp (lightly packed) brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 pinches cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Place pumpkin seeds in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients, then toss with pumpkin seeds until they are well coated.

Spread seeds onto prepared baking sheet and bake 45 minutes, until dry and slightly golden in colour, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Serves one spooked Mama.

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Boo!

I will not be sorry to see the back of Halloween.

I have never liked it, not even as a child, when the lure of the kind of refined sugar that we would never, ever, set eyes on at home should have been a very powerful motivator.

Thankfully, my children are too young yet to express the kind of rabid interest in trick-or-treating (my least favourite part of the whole thing) that I know is inevitable, and I am grateful for another year’s reprieve.

The one consolation, as I wait for the minutes of today to tick by, is the availability of these pumpkin seeds, which my husband prepared himself and then very thoughtfully left at my disposal.

Sweet, salty, spicy (the ultimate taste trifecta) and highly addictive, they, and not the mini chocolate bars in the bowl by the front door, are what I am counting on to get me through.

At least that’s what I am telling myself.

Pumpkin Seeds for Snacking

the seeds of one large pumpkin, cleaned of goo, rinsed, and well dried
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp (lightly packed) brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 pinches cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Place pumpkin seeds in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients, then toss with pumpkin seeds until they are well coated.

Spread seeds onto prepared baking sheet and bake 45 minutes, until dry and slightly golden in colour, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Serves 1 spooked Mama.


are you talking to me?


I recently read a blog post in which the author, also a mother of young children, had had a cold. In her post, she talked about how she’d listened to her body so she’d know how to help herself recuperate; and then she described her lunch, which consisted of something along the lines of steamed beet greens, tempeh and sesame seeds with a bowl of sliced oranges and a glass of soy milk on the side.

Well.

I marvel that there are bodies out there telling their people to eat like that. My own body, on a day last week when I’d been laid low by a virus myself, demanded a bacon, avocado and goat cheese sandwich on a croissant for lunch. Granted, it was a whole wheat croissant, but still, a far cry from the self-healing fare described above.

It’s comforting to think that I’m not the only one whose body speaks to her from a slightly less lofty place: my running coach, who is also a mother and leads such a busily giving life that it puts mine to shame, called me last week on the morning we were set to go out together and said, “I’d like to tell you that I’m sick and can’t run, but the truth is that I have a raging hangover.” Wisely, she stayed in bed that morning.

After hanging up the phone, did I consider the needs of my own overfed body and head out for a run on my own?

No, dear reader, I did not. I stayed home and made muffins and ate more than I should have while flipping through the latest Bon Appetit.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

The soaking method for the raisins here comes from what I consider the best banana bread recipe ever; if rum seems too much, feel free to use water! Also note the lack of sugar in this recipe – I prefer to use apple juice concentrate, but brown sugar may be substituted.

1/3 c golden raisins
1/4 c rum
2c whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 scant tsp ground ginger
1/2 c grapeseed oil
3/4 frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
3/4 c canned pureed pumpkin
1/4 c plain yogurt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or use 12 silicone muffin cups (I have never used these, but I hear they are fantastic!)
In a small saucepan, combine raisins and rum. Bring just to a boil then remove from heat and cover until raisins are plump and liquid is almost absorbed.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger.
In a second bowl or large jug, combine oil, apple juice, pumpkin, yogurt, eggs and vanilla.
Stir wet ingredients until dry until just barely combined, keeping in mind that less stirring makes for lighter muffins. Stir in drained raisins and walnut pieces, if using.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, and bake 16-18 minutes, until muffins are risen and golden and a tester inserted into the centre of one comes out clean.
Makes a dozen.