Frightening Frolicking


Did I scare you? OK, I doubt it, but I’m just trying to get into the proper frame of mind for Halloween, which is fast approaching.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, probably because DotMom literally reveled in it. Not only did she en-courage her children to be creative in their costuming, but she often donned a costume herself.

Her costume of choice was usually what she called a “Schmo.” I have no idea where that came from, whether it was an adaption of the Yiddish word that means “stupid or foolish person” or a take-off on the Schmoo character from the Li’l Abner comic strip. For DotMom, it meant dressing up in baggy clothing, putting a nylon stocking over her face to distort her features and cramming a hat over the top. She would talk friend Dorothy N. into accompanying her on this venture, and they would show up at friends’ homes on Halloween night, refusing to talk and miming their request for goodies. Then they would go on their merry way to the next house, often without anyone having a clue as to their identities.

I think DotMom was also the mastermind behind the talking pumpkin and talking witch, which drew a multitude of trick-or-treaters to our Okabena Heights home. Brother Marty, then a young teenager, would rig up his walkie-talkie set inside either a witch dummy or a carved pumpkin. Marty or some other family member would then sit in the darkened living room, watching out the window, and use the radios to greet the young visitors, sometimes scaring the wits out of the younger ones. Boy was it fun to watch the startled expressions when a creepy voice emanated from that witch’s form.

When I outgrew trick-or-treating in junior high, Mom decided a Halloween party was in order instead. The menu for the evening was the aforementioned (Lagniappe of 10-16) gimmick in which the guests were presented with a list of selections with creepy names from which they had to choose. So one guest might dine on plain spaghetti noodles (Witch’s Hair) with a side of grapes (Mummy’s Eyeballs), while another received just spaghetti sauce (Vampire Blood) and breadsticks (Skeleton Bones).

When I expressed my wish to find that long-ago menu, an online blog reader suggested this Web site: The site offers a variety of spooky suggestions and recipes for dishes such as Dried Scabs (dried cherries), Black Bat Wings (chicken wings), Pond Scum (green gelatin) and Bleeding Gums (gumbo).

I noticed that the Black Bat Wings recipe was similar to one that DotMom printed long ago, only enhanced by the addition of food coloring to make the sauce really black. It might make a good appetizer or light supper to feed trick-or-treaters before they hit the streets next Saturday night.

Black Bat Wings

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil 4 pounds chicken wings for 20 minutes in a large pot.

While the wings are cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large roasting pan, whisk together 2 cups dark soy sauce, 2 cups dark brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until the brown sugar dissolves. Whisk until the sauce is smooth. Add enough black, blue and green food colorings to the sauce to make a dark black sauce. Place the pan in the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, stirring once.

Drain the wings well and add them to the sauce and toss to coat evenly, poking each wing liberally with a fork. Bake for 20 min-utes, then increase the temperature to 450 degrees. Toss the wings in the sauce again to coat evenly. Bake until the sauce is very thick and glossy, flipping the wings over frequently, about another 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Here’s another holiday recipe — intended for Christmas but easily adaptable for Halloween by using orange and black candies. According to Textile Treasures owner Roxanne Hayenga, this concoction was the hit of the recent Pajama Party, where area volun-teers sewed pajamas for donation to the local Christmas Basket program. It was brought to the event by Delores Fricke, the original recipe from the Land O Lakes Web site. Fricke substituted cashews for the pecans.

Sweet ’N’ Salty Snack Mix

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with no-stick cooking spray. In prepared pan, combine 4 cups regular-flavor cone-shaped baked corn snacks; 4 cups bite-sized square crispy wheat cereal, 1 cup small salted pretzel twists and 1 cup pecan halves; set aside.

In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, combine ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar, ½ cup butter, 3 tablespoons light corn syrup and ½ tea-spoon salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil (4 to 6 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and ½ teaspoon baking soda. Pour syrup mixture over cereal mixture in pan; toss to coat.

Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, or until coating is set. Remove from oven; stir.

Spread mixture onto waxed paper. Cool 5 minutes, then stir in one 14-ounce bag holiday-colored candy-coated chocolate pieces. Cool completely, then break into pieces. Store in container with tight-fitting lid for up to 1 week.