Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane. oil, 26 7/8 x 33 7/8 in., John Quidor (1801-1881) 
  One of my favorite stories, and especially at this time of year, is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. First published in The Sketch Book in 1820, it is based upon a German folktale that takes place in Post-Revolutionary Dutch New York.  Although I have never visited Hudson Valley, I long to go.  For the time being, I must re-create this atmosphere in decoration.
Halloween Block Party by Eddie Ross
   Eddie Ross, decorator extraordinaire, was featured on HGTV last year for their Halloween Block Party.  On that show, he took over the party decor of one house, and changed it into an ode to Sleepy Hollow.  I love what he did, and aspire to duplicate it in my own home!  He even had the homeowners dress in colonial attire!  (Now if I could just get my husband to wear knee socks!)

   Some things you could do to imitate a Colonial Halloween atmosphere - lots of candles (or flame-less candles if you are worried about little hands), a true to character graveyard (not gory, look up pictures of gravestones dating back to the 1700's), use natural additions for decoration as much as possible (think twigs, fruit, vegetable, leaves), use pewter or pewter-like serving dishes, simple non-dyed linen works well for table coverings., light a fire in the fireplace; the smell of wood smoke evokes a home-spun atmosphere, , hay bales make great seating options, and last of all, don't forget to use antique copies of the The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to adorn your mantel and table.

Here is an authentic Colonial Dutch recipe from Food, Drink, and Celebrations of the Hudson Valley Dutch. by  Peter G. Rose  The History Press, 2009 :

Ginger beer
1 cup minced fresh ginger (about 1/2 pound)
1 quart boiling water  
Juice of 2 lemons
3-1/2 pineapple juice
Generous dash of freshly grated nutmeg
Sugar to taste
In a quart jar combine ginger and water and steep for 3 hours. Strain liquid into a large pitcher; add the lemon and pineapple juice. Stir in the nutmeg. Taste and add sugar as necessary. Serve over ice cubes.
The ginger beer is also very good as a cocktail: for every 8 ounces of ginger beer add 1-1/2 ounces of light rum. 

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