And by abandon, I don’t mean sad-eyed dogs and cats in shelters. I’m talking about the fun kind of abandon. Do you remember the last time you experienced abandon? If you didn’t remember that it is a noun as well as a verb, then I’d say it has been way, way too long.
Which brings me to a subject near and dear to my heart. Let’s talk about Halloween. Now, you get it, right? Remember how you used to enjoy Halloween with reckless abandon? The costumes, the role-playing, the chance to get wild, even on a school night, all fueled by a sugar high as you ate the best candy on the way home before your father got hold of your bag to “inspect” it. (My father used to grouse every year that no one gave out his favorite Hershey bars with almonds. Hahahaha, here Dad, have a Zagnut).
If you refused to grow up, you kept celebrating Halloween through your 20s and well into your 30s, just in a different way. And every year, as Halloween draws near, my friends and I reminisce about the fun, the adventure, the pranks and the scares. And guess what? No one ever got hurt on Halloween. No one ever got a razor blade in an apple or poisoned, kidnapped, or even hurt – much. (There was the Halloween when my best friend, Linda, and I decided to be a two-headed ghost and got tangled up in the sheet and fell in a culvert. But that was nothing a little Bactene couldn’t handle.)
And also, just for the record, none of us even thought about worshipping Satan, or going occult or becoming a Wiccan. We knew it was make-believe. And we knew it only lasted one night, so we made the most of it.
I know, I know. You’ll say times are different. People are different. Kids are different. But seriously, why are we trying to take the fun, the abandon, out of the one day of the year when everyone gets to be childish?
As adults, we should appreciate that we don’t have to shop for or wrap gifts for Halloween. Unlike other holidays, it’s not labor intensive – no baskets to fill, no turkey to carve, no tree to decorate. We can ignore Pinterest and all those magazines with time-consuming crafts. Put some pumpkins out (you don’t even have to carve them), buy candy, throw a store-bought costume on the kids and it’s done.
But no, now we’ve extended Halloween into a 10-day ordeal, with planned (planned!) activities held at times that are convenient for us and in ways we think are appropriate. Halloween is no longer for children, it’s for busy adults and I think we’ve got it all wrong.
So, to do my part, I will do something with abandon Halloween night, since we no longer get more than half a dozen trick-or-treaters. I’m going to get some oil really, really hot and fry up what my mother used to call Swedish waffles. They are actually called rosettes and traditionally are made at Christmas. But we’re going to get all anarchist and make them for Halloween. You can still buy the cast-iron sets of rosette molds online. I’m going to use my mother’s set that turned up when we moved to our new house.
Rosettes are time-consuming and messy and fun and require at least two people. More is better. Take turns frying, scooping and sugar shaking. You make a runny, eggy batter, dip the hot molds into it and plunge them in the hot oil. The batter releases from the mold as it browns and shrinks and you get lovely, crispy butterflies, snowflakes and stars. Sift some powdered sugar over them and eat them as soon as you can without burning yourself. Now that’s abandon.
Swedish Waffles (Rosettes)
Peanut or vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. sugar
a pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla
Over medium-high heat, bring oil to 375 degrees in a cast-iron pot or dutch oven. You’ll need about three inches of oil. Spread paper towels on two cookie sheets for draining and set aside.
With a mixer, beat the sugar, salt and eggs together until smooth. Add the milk, flour and vanilla and beat again until smooth. Heat a rosette iron in the hot oil for three minutes. Dip the hot mold into the batter, up to 1/4 of an inch from the top. Immediately dip the mold into the hot oil. The rosette will brown and release itself from the mold. Scoop it out and drain on paper towels. Sift confectioners sugar over the drained rosettes. Heat the mold between each use at least one minute in the hot oil.