Pumpkins & Halloween
“There are a host of stories to explain the origin of the Halloween Jack-o-lantern. The Irish claim it first, and tell the tale of Jack, a man so miserly that he once tricked the Devil into turning himself into a sixpence, then snapped the money into his pocket and made the Devil promise not to come for him for a whole year. Jack lived another stingy and spiteful year, and when the Devil came back for him, Jack tricked him into climbing up a tree to pick a big, beautiful apple from a high branch. Jack quickly carved the sign of the cross in the trunk of the tree so the Devil couldn’t climb down, and made him promise not to come for Jack for 10 years. When Jack died soon after, he went up to Heaven, but Saint Peter denied him entrance because of his stingy nature. Jack tried Hell, but was surprised to find that the Devil wouldn’t let him in. The Devil had to keep his promise, and besides, he wasn’t very fond of Jack anyway. For punishment, the nasty old man was sentenced to walk the earth forever with only a lantern made from a carved turnip and one coal for Hell to guide him. When the Irish immigrants arrived in America, they delighted in the size and carving potential of the native pumpkin. The fat orange harvest vegetable was quickly substituted for the turnip, and the carved-out snaggle-toothed Halloween jack-o’lantern was born.”
—Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, Lesley Pratt Bannantyne [Pelican Publishing:Gretna LA] 1998 (p. 78)
“The vegetable most associated with Halloween…the jack-o’-lantern, which also had its roots in British folklore. Jack was a perennial trickster of folktales, who offended not only God but also the devil with his many pranks and transgressions. Upon his death, he was denied entrance into both heaven and hell, though the devil grudgingly tossed him a fiery coal, which Jack caught in a hollowed turnip and which would light his night-walk on hearth until Judgement Day…The Oxford English Dictionary gives a date of 1663 for its first printed record of the phrase “jack-with-the-lantern,” and 1704 , “Jack of lanthorns,” both referring to a night watchman…the jack-o-lantern is definately associated by 1817 with spooky pranks–but not explicity with Halloween or hollowed turnips. Although ever modern chronicle of the holiday repeats the claim that vegetable lanterns were a time-honored component of Halloween celebrations in the British Isles, none gives any primary documentation. In fact, none of the major nineteenth-century chroniclers of British holidays and folk customs makes any mention whatsoever of carved lanterns in connection with Halloween….The Oxford English Dictionary provides no clue as to when the Halloween association began; it credits the United States as the primary source of the modern definition of the jack-o’lantern, followed by England and Ireland, but without dates or citations.”
—Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween, David J. Skal [Bloomsbury:New York] 2002 (p. 31-2)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Combine flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk together for two minutes to aerate.
In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, egg, milk, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix in the flour mixture, and stir just until moistened. (Do not overmix.)
Coat skillet with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium heat.
Pour batter into skillet 1/4 cup at a time, and cook the pancakes until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.