I am grateful that despite growing up in a fairly strict Christian home I was allowed to participate in Halloween. There were some ground rules of course. I wasn’t allowed to dress as anything that was perceived to be scary or evil. Given my Anne of Green Gables colored world this was never a problem. I wasn’t permitted to partake in activities that were considered evil or scary. This included haunted houses, hayrides, forests etc. I’ve never been a fan of such things because they usually involve a general invasion of personal space. I cherish my personal space. I was not allowed to watch evil or scary movies. Not a disappointment at all given my overactive imagination; that rule has saved me many sleepless nights.
I remember inventing, designing and making my own costumes. My mom did try to talk me out of my “runaway orphan” costume when I was eight because she feared that no one would know what I was, but I simply used the inquiries as an opportunity to enlighten people on the plight of orphans everywhere. I can still recall the feeling of running around with my friends; being as loud and as silly as we wanted because on that day we could. Crunching leaves beneath our feet; our cheeks growing rosy in the brisk fall air as we pandered for candy that would be unceremoniously thrown away by Easter. My most fond memory however, was coming home at the evening’s end. As soon as I walked through the door the comforting aroma of my mom’s beef stew infiltrated my nostrils causing my stomach to growl for something more nourishing than peanut butter cups and snickers bars. She would ladle it out into a big bowl accompanied by several slices of crusty French bread slathered with butter. I would wolf it down while regaling her with my trick –or- treating tales. The stew whispered comfort, love and home.
After my mom passed away I searched and searched through recipes to find that post trick-or-treating stew and was saddened to find that it appeared that it was a recipe that existed in her head. Several years later I was lamenting to my Aunt about my unfulfilled quest to find the recipe for my mom’s beef stew and to my delight she said that she had the recipe. She made a copy and passed it on to me.
Since I have to work on actual Halloween and the stew takes roughly four hours to make, I decided to make it on Columbus Day since the discovering of America affords me a day off.
The first hour was prepping.