Halloween Shindig and the Pumpkin You've All Been Waiting For

Well, I know I bragged incessantly about the perfect pumpkin that Loving Boyfriend had so graciously given me, but I confess that it had to go to a higher purpose other than my foodie longings...the Halloween Shindig. Now, we don't have parties very often (well, not ragers anyway) but occasionally, you have to give the people what they want...and I do have to say, we're good at what we do. When we do have one, we go all out...and I've heard they are

The "White Trash" party for our housewarming was hilarious...people who didn't come in character actually left the party to go get decked out in trashy attire...but that's another story.
It's Halloweentime, and we filled the house from front yard to back yard full of Halloween horrors.

I know I talked about carving an apple tree into my perfect pumpkin...but that didn't happen, so instead, we hung a zombie from the apple tree.

Entry into the party required a costume, and a brave heart...there were even ghouls coming out of the carpet in the living room (Loving Boyfriend is very proud of this one). There were no real lights in the entire place, just black lights, red lights, and blue lights...

The dining room was complete with a kitty from pet cemetary (I was not the one who hung it from the ceiling fan, I promise! All you weekend kitty bloggers, I'm sorry!) And we had some food (the decorations took all day and I didn't get to make any food!) - mostly orange chips, gummy worms, candy corns, and roasted pumpkin seeds with curry powder and cinnamon and sugar (okay, I did take time out to make those). We also provided apple cider with ice made from filling a glove with water and freezing it so that when it's removed it looks like a hand. I thought this was a great idea, but getting the glove off of the ice proved to be rather difficult, so next time I'll freeze bugs in ice cubes instead.

And of course, the kitchen...a foodie witch's dream...

The backyard was our graveyard...

And of course, the pumpkins. I couldn't get my camera steady enough to take decent pictures of them lighted - it was raining and I couldn't simulataneously get far enough away and put the camer on something to steady it...but here's Loving Boyfriend's perfect pumpkin (plus another one we did...the girl from the Exorcist):

Honestly, believe it or not, I considered buying another pumpkin last night and attempting to carve a kitchenaid mixer in it for all of you...but it didn't happen. Instead, I gave into my longings and I finally got to make some Halloween treats last night (for us, as we didn't get a single trick-or-treater...booooo...). This was right before I watched what is possibly the worst movie I have ever seen in my entire life...I think I lost brain cells the entire 2 hours it was on. Jason X. Did you know there were TEN Jason movies? I had no idea! It was the only scary movie we could find on the television (which still is beyond my understanding...it was Halloween, after all!), and my brain regrets that I wasted 2 hours of my preciously short life watching it. It wasn't even scary enough I got to snuggle up to Loving Boyfriend and feign fear. But hey, it was still a good Halloween, and I spent it making caramels (the first real cooking I've done in almost a week!) and with my honey.

Butter Rum Caramels, from Gourmet, October 2005

vegetable oil
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick (1/4 cup unsalted butter)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp dark rum
1/4 tsp. vanilla

You'll also need: parchment paper and a candy thermometer

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and oil the parchment. Bring brown sugar, cream, butter, salt and 1/4 cup rum to a boil over moderate heat in a 3-4 quart heavy saucepan. Stirring frequently, and watching so that it doesn't boil over, boil until the thermometer reaches 248F (firm-ball stage)...they say this takes about 15 minutes, but on my stove, it took closer to 25. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 tsp. of rum and the 1/4 tsp. of vanilla. Pour into the pan and let cool until fi
rm (1-2 hours). Invert onto a cutting board and discard parchment. Turn the caramel over so that the glossy side is up and cut into 1-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to one week with parchment paper between layers of caramels.

My notes: These didn't come out as thick as the picture in the magazine, so next time, I would either use a smaller pan or double the recipe to get that real caramel square shape. In addition, have you ever lined a pan with parchment paper? It's impossible to do it so that it isn't a big mess! This was the hardest part of the whole thing...are you supposed to cut the corners or just push it down into the pan and hope for the best? grrr.... I also would maybe cook it until it reaches about 230 F because they're a bit more chewy than I like them...I prefer them soft and pliable than stick-to-your-teeth hard, but they are tasty!
And don't forget to turn over the caramel so the glossy side is up...I promise you it will stick very well to your cutting board if you forget! Enjoy!

7 comments from you:

vlb5757 said...

The carved pumpkins were spoo-tacular! I would never profess to do anything except to cut them up to bake! I was an art major for about 15 minutes years ago when dirt was created. Thank goodness I got over that! You guys did a great job. How many did you have for the party? Everything looked really good and I see why you haven't blogged in a bit. How on earth did you have time with school and research and Loving Boyfriend? So, like next year you can come here and do that...? lol!

Beth said...

Your parties sound so fun! You really DO go all out!

Melissa CookingDiva said...

It seems to me you were really busy! everything looks so spooky :) The most terrifying thing of all was the cut hand on the cutboard---

ilva said...

wow! So fun! and great and I can tell you I'm stunned! Where do you get the time and the energy-this makes me feeling old and worn out...
I just love the cat in the fan and the hand in the kitchen and please tell LB that his carpet art is spectacular!! Not to talk about the pumpkins-BELLISSIME!!! It's the first time in my life I felt like joining a Halloween party!! And not only to eat the Butter rum caramels...mmmm

michelle said...

Hi Vickie!
Lol! I'm sure that you were not around when dirt was created! We had about 50 for the party - far more than we were expecting, but the house was in surprisingly good shape...though we're cleaning the mud out of the carpets this weekend b/c they're so gross. Life is funny how much you can exhaust yourself in a thousand different directions...you just have to pick your battles, right? Be careful how many times you invite me out there - I might just show up on your doorstep!

Hi Beth!
Well, you'll have to come out for one then!

Hi Melissa!
The kitchen was the best part, in my opinion - but I'm biased, as you know!

Hi Ilva!
Yay! You're back! I don't really have the energy to do this very often at all...in fact, this is only our second party in over a year. Plus, it's too much work to do it very often! I'll send on your message to LB, and I wish you could have joined us! Perhaps some day...and you could have as many rum caramels as you'd like. I'm trying to give as many as possible away so that I don't eat them all!

LisaSD said...

Positively ghoulish!!

Michèle said...

Ok I now Im late on this one, but your pumpkins look great and I so wish I could have come to your party, it looks like great fun. And I thought your apology to the cat bloggers was hilarious, with that cat hanging from your ceiling fan!