Archive for Halloween

A Ghostly Halloween in Old Louisville, Kentucky

You don’t have to stay home to celebrate Halloween. Locals or visitors within a couple of hours of Louisville, Kentucky can pack the kids in the car and drive over to Old Louisville, the third largest historic preservation area in the country. Once there, they will find plenty of treats at most every door as they go trick or treating in the spookiest neighborhood in the US. And, be assured, there will be plenty of ghosts lurking in the shadows.

Ghostly HalloweenIf you venture out on Halloween night, you’re liable to see ghosts peering from the silent gardens and leaning against many of the old iron gates. It is said that they sob from the windows of the Victorian mansions, crouch behind the bushes growing along the walkways, and sit on the steps of the Christian Science Church on the corner of Third and Ormsby. The tree-lined streets dotted with turn-of-the-century mansions are covered with gargoyles, chameleons, serpents, swans, turrets, and towers.

Bring your trick or treat carryalls. Knock on the huge antique doors lit by Victorian lanterns and punctuated with beautiful stain glass. Walk quickly past the hidden balconies, secluded courtyards, and secret passageways to avoid any unruly spirits. You wont regret it and the kids will love it. Thrills and chills await costume wearers of all ages.

If you decide to spend the night, there are ten beautiful bed and breakfasts to choose from, all situated in the heart of Old Louisville. You can book on the internet or call ahead to make a reservation. It’s an ideal location for taking advantage of all Louisville has to offer on Halloween. If it suits you or your family, you can spend the whole day and check out some of the activities available. Louisville loves Halloween and you will love Louisville.

Nancy Hinchliff, freelance writer/innkeeper

Call and reserve a Ghost tour (Tour the spookiest neighborhood in the USA)

The Spirit Ball/ (a gathering of spirits at the Conrad Caldwell Mansion)

Pancakes in the Time of Pumpkins

by Nancy Hinchliff: Innkeeper/freelance writer

Fall is a great time to visit Louisville and stay in one of our wonderful bed and breakfasts. The weather is near perfect, sun shiny days but not too hot. The outdoor festivals are in full swing, and trips to the countryside to view the turning leaves, taste the fall wine, snd visit the beautiful working farms to pick up pumpkins for Hallowe’en and delicious apples is relaxing and fun.

Most of our Inns feature wonderful fall selections for breakfast like Pumpkin Pancakes, baked German Apple Pancakes, and fresh melon. You will not be disappointed. I have included a guest post from another blogger here and a couple of delicious recipes.

guest post by Teresa Rice

We are living in the time of pumpkins. Great boxes are filled with them at the local farm market–gone now to jack o’ lanterns, many of them and unceremoniously tossed out after their night of drama.

Some go on to be cooked and used now or saved for special holiday recipes. Many will go into pies, the iconic Thanksgiving dessert. Some will go to lovely warming soups or pumpkin bread or muffins. A few will go inmore exotic culinary directions. And don’t get me started on the squashes–so many varieties, from mirlitons to sweet dumplings, butternuts to buttercups.

I’m tempted and bewildered by my imagination as my table, loaded down with all manner of squash and pumpkin can testify. What to make and write about? Pumpkin ravioli–buttery, tender and delicious? Or a butternut soup, fragrant with saffron and rich with cream and ghee? I ponder long over a delicate pumpkin roulade, filled with sweetened mascapone. Then I think about swiss chard wrapped around sausage, pumpkin and barley mixture, or mirlitons filled with highly seasoned shrimp stuffing.

These, along with pies and cakes, muffins and breads, will be welcomed in my home as we travel the calendar into the holidays, to the winter solstice and on to a new year. But one special dish–an ultimate comfort food–comes first.

PUMPKINS AND PANCAKES

Saturday mornings were hotcake eating time at our house, also at my grandma’s. Mamma would get out her round twelve-inch griddle and she’d let me skitter water drops across the surface to test the heat. Then she’d ladle out five or six little hotcakes at a time. When bubbles formed and just began to pop the spatula would swoop down and flip them, splat splat splat. I’d watch their cooked tops rise up when the raw side hit the hot griddle. They’d hesitate, then sigh and lower themselves to the pan to finish cooking.

We’d gather around the table like baby birds, waiting our turns. Hot stacks piled onto our plates as they got done, never one by one, so you’d have enough to pile together with butter pats. We buttered them up and ate them down with Steen’s Cane Syrup–thick, dark and smoky flavored–or a lighter syrup my mother made with maple extract added to simple syrup.

The ettiquete was to use your knife to cut the stack into eight triangular wedges and load as much as you could get onto your fork. The fork became a mop and the hotcakes became hot, tender butter-and-syrup delivery devices. Wow.

Mamma’s hotcakes were always pristine and plain. No blueberries or pecans, no bananas or walnuts. But I remember my grandma making us pink and blue and green hotcakes at Eastertime. They didn’t taste any different, but they were crazy fun.

The pumpkin was not a familiar part of our lives and certainly didn’t find its way onto our table for hotcake mornings. The Louisiana yam filled its place in pies and cakes and anywhere else a pumpkin might be. They must have been somewhat available, though. On the road between Baton Rouge and Hammond a little sign indicated the turn off to Pumpkin Center, Louisiana–pronounced “punkin.” The sign actually gave the turn for Baptist, Louisiana and then Pumpkin Center so it looked like all the Baptist pumpkins must gather at the Baptist Pumpkin Center to do who knew what. This was a hilarious joke at the time and still makes me smile.

RECIPES

I would have found these incredibly exotic in my childhood, even as I do today. They are the deep old gold of spectacular winter sunsets. Spice aromas capture you the minute you begin to mix the batter and the hot griddle instantly careens the smell throughout the house. No one will sleep through breakfast when you make these. I find I close my eyes and breathe these long before I get to taste them. Once I finally get a butter-drenched pumpkin-butter-slathered bite, my tastebuds rise up to meet the flavors on a cloud of weightlessness.

Many recipes for pumpkin pancakes are dense and heavy from the added pulp. Leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda are too wan to carry pumpkin up to the lightness a pancake deserves. The secret is to beat the egg whites and delicately fold them in to assist with the rise. This batter, as a matter of fact, is very similar to an airy roulade recipe, frothy and tender. The pancakes must be baked quickly or the egg white advantage deflates. The optional sprinkle of pumpkin seeds gives a satisfying counterpoint. If you’re not fond of pumpkin seeds, try my favorite chopped and toasted pecans, which is not to say that they aren’t perfect without nuts of any kind.

The pumpkin butter–oh lordy, what can I say? A touch of rum for breakfast? Let the good times roll, dawlin’. I prefer a thick spread, particularly for my pancakes, but adjust the liquid to suit yourself once the cooking is done.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients

•1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup fresh cooked pumpkin or canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling)

3 large eggs, separated, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil, butter or non-stick spray for the griddle

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, optional

Instructions

Whisk buttermilk, pumpkin, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend; whisk in melted butter. Sift flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into large bowl. Add dry ingredients to buttermilk mixture and whisk to combine. Beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold whites into batter.

Lightly oil or butter heavy large skillet set over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto skillet. Sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds on each pancake and cook until bubbles form on top, about one-and-a half minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook until second sides brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve with Rum Pumpkin Butter and maple syrup.

Rum Pumpkin Butter

1 cup fresh cooked pumpkin or canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling)

1/2 cup orange juice or apple cider

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dark rum, optional

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 5 – 20 minutes or until blended, stirring frequently. Add more orange juice or cider if mixture is too thick.

All text and images copyright 2010 Theresa Rice

Fantastic Fall Foliage, Spooky Neighborhoods, and Halloween

by Nancy Hinchliff, Innkeeper/freelance writer

Fall Foliage

Fall is a great time to jump in the car with the kids and head for our beautiful state. October is the most colorful month

turning leaves in Kentucky

of the year in Kentucky. The state parks are either at peak color or soon will be. Although the Oak trees are still green, a variety of trees, from Dogwood to Sourwood and Blackgum to Maples and Hickories, among others, are in full color. Trees are showing off their glorious reds, yellows and oranges all along the countryside. And hopefully there will be some color throughout the remainder of the month.

Old Louisville

Plenty of ghosts

It has been said that Old Louisville is one of the spookiest neighborhoods in the country. Why? Because, according to legend, there are ghosts on every block peering from many of the gardens and leaning against the mansion gates. They sit on the steps of the Christian Science Church and sob each night from the windows of the houses down the street. Seems as though they’re everywhere.

Old Louisville has beautiful tree-lined streets with turn of the century mansions built in seven major kinds of architecture. They are decorated with gargoyles, chameleons, serpents, swans, turrets, and towers and enhanced with a variety of wrought-iron fences, hand-carved doors, and stained-glass windows.

Ghost stories galore

There are also hidden balconies, secluded courtyards, and secret passageways. All of this dark and spooky ornamentation sets the scene for our ghostly reputation. I keep thinking there must be some explanation for all these creepy decorations … some reason why they’re here … and why so many of them? It certainly is something to ponder. The many ghost legends and the historical accouterments make Old Louisville one of the most interesting areas in Kentucky.

The Spirit Ball

The Spirit Ball, a wonderful Masquerade Ball in Old Louisville, will be held on Saturday, October 30, 2010 from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. This will be the fifth annual Spirit Ball and will be held in one of Louisville’s most opulent Victorian mansions, a 1890s masterpiece known as the Conrad-Caldwell House. Gourmet fare and expertly mixed cocktails amidst the backdrop of costumed splendor will be served. Join us and keep the past alive as you enjoy a one-of-a-kind masquerade ball that is sure to be the highlight of your Hallowe’en season for years to come. Tickets are available online now

A magnificent Richardsonian Mansion on St. James Court, it is the finest example of this architectural style in the city.

ghostly Conrad Caldwell house in Old Louisville

Also known as “Conrad’s Castle,” this is one of the most stunning of Old Louisville’s houses and defines Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.

Hallowe’en

You don’t have to stay home to celebrate Hallowe’en. Bring the kids, stay in Old Louisville, and go trick or treating in the spookiest neighborhood in the US.

Hallowe’en, “celebrated each year on October 31, is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity and life and death, Hallowe’en is a time of celebration and superstition. Hallowe’en has long been thought of as a day when the dead can return to the earth, and ancient Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts.” … “The more secular community-based Hallowe’en has become a children’s holiday. Although the superstitions and beliefs surrounding the holiday may have evolved over the years, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people can still look forward to parades, costumes and sweet treats to usher in the winter season.”

The American Hallowe’en tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

celebrating haloweenl

The tradition of dressing in costume for Hallowe’en has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Hallowe’en, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Hallowe’en, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Other Attractions

October is a great time to visit one or two of the wineries and distilleries for samples of superb Kentucky wine and Bourbon, and makes a great day trip from Louisville. A drive down the Bluegrass Parkway to the horse farms or a trip down a country road to the Huber Farms, just across the bridge in Indiana, for fresh apple cider makes an enjoyable fun day of fall fun for the whole family. There are also plenty of Fall festivals and outdoor concerts going on.

Accommodations

The Louisville Bed and Breakfast Association has twenty member bed and breakfasts. Their Inns are beautiful, comfortable, and clean. Rates vary according to room sizes and amenities. All of them serve wonderful breakfasts each morning and will be happy to accommodate your dietary needs.

If you decide to visit, be sure to book a Ghost Tour with the Old Louisville Visitor’s Center.