Halloween is a magical time of year, where everyone gets to be a kid, dress up in fun costumes, decorate the front porch with ghouls, witches and goblins, and best of all gorge on large amounts of candy and chocolate. Growing up, my mother used to come home early on Halloween and we always made candy apples before going trick or treating. I have such good memories of that tradition that I wanted to build similar traditions for my children.
In my opinion, Halloween is the worst holiday for food allergies. It is a day built around food, so it’s hard when your kids can’t participate in the same manner as everyone else. We had to devise some rules to make trick or treating safe for the kids:
- An adult always accompanies them.
- Nothing comes out of the bag until one of us goes through it at home.
- If someone is giving out nuts or homemade goodies, just say no thank you.
Once at home, we go through the candy and usually end up with a bowl full that passes the test for each child. It is all very clinical and a bit of a killjoy. I wanted to bring some of the fun back to the holiday, so I started creating spooky dinners when the kids were small.
I always make a fabulous vintage-looking menu that describes the horrors coming to their plates. I take a piece of paper and hand write the menu in very fancy cursive. Then I dye it with tea, and burn the edges. I make one for each child. The menu changes, but some of the things I make are:
- Bat wings – teriyaki chicken wings, as dark as I can make them.
- Witches fingers – cheese strings moulded into fingers, with red pepper nails.
- Witch’s brew + eyeballs – cranberry or grape juice with peeled grapes floating around.
- Ghastly apparitions – ghost-shaped mounds of mashed potatoes, with bits of black olive for eyes.
The grand finale is always graveyard surprise (chocolate pudding, oreo crumb layer on top, two gummy worms dangling down). This is topped with a gravestone personalized for each kid. I usually make up a silly or funny name to inscribe.
Now that the kids are older it isn’t as scary as it used to be, but we all enjoy our traditional dinner so much, I won’t stop making it until they stop giggling over the menu…