October brings so many wonderful sights, scents and sinful delights to celebrate. As the children begin to dream about what costume they will wear to trick or treat, pumpkin becomes the theme to both decorate with and the flavour to play with in the kitchen.
When looking at the emerging trends in all things Halloween costumery, décor and deliciousness, the Nation has once again delved deep into our research cauldron to come up with the most serious of spooks and sensuous of flavours for this year’s festivities.
What to wear for that perfect scare
When it comes to getting something awesome to wear for Halloween, there is always lots available online and in the big-box stores. But if you want to go the extra mile to get something spectacular, Montreal is the place to shop. This year the Nation decided to check out the Imagine Le Fun costume shop (located at 4815 Saint-Laurent) to see what the big trends are and what kinds of awesomeness is available for those who want to party in a style.
According to store manager Jalila Boucetta, this year’s emerging trend is pretty surprising.
“What are really hot for this season are animal costumes. Right now we are in the last week of September and animal costumes are really selling well and I have no idea why. There are just a lot of people who want to go as animals – like monkeys, crocodiles and wolves. But it’s still early in the season so it’s hard to say if these are going to be our best sellers,” said Boucetta
She said that for children on the other hand, it is all about the superhero costumes, for which they have an incredible selection. This should come as no surprise as the last few years have been all about superheroes on the big screen.
But just what does Imagine Le Fun have that may not be easy to find elsewhere?
Their storefront boasted some spectacular examples of what was available inside but nothing was more impressive than the Bumblebee from Transformers get up which ran a steep $300.
And, if you have that kind of scratch, there were a number of mind-blowing costumes you could buy to keep.
According to Boucetta, the boutique features a collection of costumes that are really haut de gamme, like an impressive Edward Scissorhands costume that’s right off the set of the film.
They also had a Beatlejuice costume that ran for $150 but was entirely authentic, a Wicked Witch costume from The Wizard of Oz that was absolutely flawless, and a 1950s poodle skirt costume that had surprising quality details to it.
Also blowing my mind was a Queen of Hearts costume that looked like it had just come off of a TV set. It ran for $238, but the gold and embroidery in the skirt and crown were incredible.
In the more affordable range was a “baroness” costume that ran for $89 but had loads of 1800s style details on the bodice and skirt with loads of layering and tiers of fabric.
What was really nice about this place was that, looking around the walls and racks of costumes, I didn’t seeing the painful “sexy” types of outfits that have become all too common. Every time Halloween rolls around, the stores and the internet get flooded with loads of “sexy” nurse, French Maid, Alice in Wonderland and yes, even “sexy” Big Bird costumes. It becomes open season on feminism.
Imagine Le Fun had instead costumes like Tinker Bell or foliage ferry and also various animal costumes that allowed for fun and dignity – well, as dignified as you can be on Halloween.
They also had an incredible selection of beautiful, brightly coloured and often glittering masks, hats, wands, scarves, gloves and just about everything else you could imagine. There was also an entire wall of pirate accessories and literally hundreds of wigs and beards.
Even for babies they had a great selection of costumes, featuring penguins, baby owls, parrots, strawberries, ducks, chickens, puppies and kittens.
For more info, go to: www.imaginelefun.com
This year’s trend in decor
When it comes to decorating, it seems that the big trend this fall is to use pumpkins for decor throughout the month of October and not just for All Hallows’ Eve.
Perusing the October covers of numerous magazines, pumpkins are everywhere but not just in their typical carved form – this year it’s everything from pink to gold and other metallic shades.
Our suggestion is if you can find paints in iridescent shades, paint your gourds in lovely light and dark shades or follow this instructional guide to how to go glitter for some incredibly spectacular shimmering pumpkins.
Pumpkin for your Palate as well
While Halloween is just one day, celebrating fall’s sensations can be enjoyed throughout the entire season and what better way to do it than with pumpkins.
Why not make it a family affair? While your older children may not be so keen on dressing up and trick or treating, they can always help pick out pumpkins to decorate with and help out in the kitchen to make one of these sensational pumpkin delights?
Not only is pumpkin a feast for the eyes, but its colour is actually a marker of tremendous nutritional value. Pumpkin is jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients and a walloping ton of beta-carotene, an all-important anti-oxidant that has cancer-fighting properties. The pigment (colour) in pumpkin also contains another carotenoid (nutrient found in certain kinds of pigments that are very healthy), and beta-cryptoxanthin, which has been attributed to decreasing the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
Here are three pumpkin delights that the Nation tested to make sure they were fabulous!
This summer I decided to combine two of my favourite things – Greek yoghurt and pumpkin pudding – to make this healthy and delightful treat that can be eaten as a breakfast, a snack or an after-dinner dessert. Since it is both vitamin and protein rich, it is healthy and very satisfying. I often have one on the go in the fridge.
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
• a tiny pinch of nutmeg (optional)
• a tiny pinch of allspice (optional)
• 2 large eggs (with high omega-3 content, as noted on label)
• 1/2 of a 796ml can of any kind of pure pumpkin
• 3/4 of evaporated lowfat 2% milk
• 1 500ml container of 2% Greek-style yoghurt
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
• 2 packets of sugar-free sweetener (I use stevia) or to taste
1) Preheat oven to 350° F.
2) Lightly grease 11-x-7-inch baking dish or a 9-inch pie plate.
3) Combine the sugar, spices, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl.
4) Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and then add the sugar mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into prepared baking dish.
5) Bake for 35-40 minutes or until centre is slightly wiggly, don’t over bake as the sides begin to burn.
6) Allow to cool.
7) Add vanilla and sweetener to Greek yoghurt and stir.
8) To serve this dish, layer pumpkin and yoghurt parfait style, one tablespoon at a time or pack into a Tupperware container likewise to just scoop out a serving when the moment strikes.
Pumpkin and Spice and Everything Nice Muffins
We decided to try out these fun and flavour-packed muffins from Food Network’s sisters Janet and Greta Podleski’s LooneySpoons Cookbook as they feature healthy pumpkin as well as some other good-for-you ingredients, like wheat bran or wheat germ with just enough chocolate chips so the little ones feel like they are getting a big treat.
I found them to be delightful and moist with hits of sweetness and spice – the perfect fall treat!
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat bran (or wheat germ)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon plus 1/2 tsp each ground ginger and nutmeg)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup, however I prefer the honey)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely grated carrot
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 375º. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
2) In a medium bowl, combine flour, wheat bran or wheat germ, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3) In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, yogurt, honey, butter, egg and vanilla. Stir in carrots.
4) Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir using a wooden spoon just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips (and walnuts, if using). Batter will be thick.
5) Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake on middle oven rack for 20-22 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.
6) Cool on a wire rack.
Maple Pumpkin Tart with a Shortbread Crust
For those of you looking for sinful to serve after the perfect fall dinner party, this delightful tart is a whole new take on the traditional pie, switching up the traditional crust for shortbread and sweetening it with maple syrup in lieu of regular sugar to give it a richer flavour.
For the crust we used this simple and easy Martha Stewart recipe:
• 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon coarse salt
1) Stir together butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in yolk. Add flour and salt, and stir until mixture is dry and crumbly. Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish or spring form pan. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375º.
2) Bake, rotating halfway through, just until crust turns golden brown, 20-22 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack.
For the filling we went with this ultra -decadent recipe:
• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 of a 796ml can of any kind of pure pumpkin
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• a pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1) Set middle rack and preheat to 325º F. Place the pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves.
3) Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust and bake until the centre is set, 60-70 minutes.
4) Let cool to room temperature before serving.
Serve with or without a whipped cream topping.