Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Even though today is Halloween, it feels as if it has already come and gone since we celebrated it at school on Thursday. These are the Spanish teachers I am surrounded by at school.  (No, I am not Señor Tomatina in the photo...)
 One of my students, Steve Earkel here--
kept asking me who I was.  I finally just said "A redhead."  That seemed to satisfy him so I let it go at that.  Some of the older guys at school said I looked like Ann Margaret.  My students would have no idea who she is.  I just wore my red wig because I didn't know what else to do...  I know, lazy.
We didn't have school on Friday.  It is the end of the quarter and the teachers used Friday to work on grades and progress reports (and finally get to the post office to mail penpal letters to France and to make a trip to Costco where somehow my keys got locked in the car and AAA had to come rescue me because the Ex-Ex had the spare and he was in Charlotte-- I am telling on myself here).  C'est la vie.
Anyway, high school-age son and his girlfriend found a perfect pumpkin a couple of weeks ago and it has been sitting on the porch by the front door.
He needs to be carved at some point today, although I do not anticipate any trick-or-treaters.  We had none last year.  That makes me sad.  I think of all the costumes I made for my guys over the years-  the Duke Blue Devil, Batman, Power Rangers, Robin Hood...  No doubt high school-age son will head over to Franklin Street tonight, but he'll probably dash out the door before I have time to even take a photo.
In 2008, when I was living in Arles, Chef Érick found a pumpkin for me to carve.  His two boys had never made a jack o'lantern so I thought it was high time they did.  (Ok, I needed to do this for me, too... even though they are half American.)  Jonas and I carved him, put a candle in him, lit it up and we did actually have one little boy and his dad come by and ring the doorbell.  I had a stash of candy, just in case, (as I will break down and have here tonight, just in case).  Jonas and Leo were not sad that they got all the leftovers. They leave Halloween to us Americans and don't really celebrate.
The week before, we'd been to the Cévennes Mountains to visit Richard and Nadine who took us to the Apple and Onion Festival in Le Vigan.  The onions from there are quite famous.  We bought a box to make onion soup.
Among all the goodies there, I saw some pumpkins.
Interesting looking specimens, n'est-ce pas?

These are from a market in Arles--

One of my favorite recipes from Chef Érick's collection is Tian de Potimarron.  I plan to make this one today in honor of Halloween.  Potimarron is a bit different from our usual pumpkin here in North Carolina.  It is a darker orange and denser.  I found a small one that sort of looks like it at Harris Teeter and chopped it up.  We'll see how it turns out.
This is one we made at Thanksgiving 2008 when the Goolsby clan came to visit.  We had quite a feast!

Tian de Potimarron / Baked Squash

1/2 c. olive oil
3 slices bacon, cut in 1/4 in. short strips
2 onions, minced
3 lb. (1 1/2 kilo) squash, peeled, sliced and cut into 3/4 in. cubes
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
Grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. honey

Pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large deep frying pan.  Heat the pan to medium high and add the bacon and onions.  Sauté until the onions are sweated and the bacon is cooked.  Add the squash and remaining oil.  Cook over a medium flame, allowing them to slightly brown, for about 15 minutes.  They should start to become tender.
Remove the squash from the flame, fold in the bay leaves, minced garlic, and nutmeg.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to a baking dish (that is what a tian is, the baking dish) and place in the oven at 400F/200C.  Let bake for 30 minutes or until tender.  When just about done, drizzle the honey over the top and return to the oven to bake for about another 10 minutes or until the honey caramelizes.

Bon appétit, Halloween et le potimarron!

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