Legend of the Jack-o-lantern

My week was fairly quiet until Saturday when my twin grandsons and the family of one of them came for a visit. The one is in transition from being stationed in Hawaii and his next posting; the other came along as he hadn’t gotten to visit in a while. The family was his wife and three children that I hadn’t seen in three years. To say the children have changed would be putting it mildly; they grow a lot in three years! We had a wonderful day, the youngest one learned how to cast his line fishing, of course he just had a bobber and no hook, but he got pretty good. The girl learned very quickly also and actually had an artificial bait on hers, but unfortunately nothing was biting, the oldest boy knew how to cast, but had no luck also. They all were happy to shoot at turtles with my favorite Red Ryder BB gun…they came close a couple of times. My granddaughter-in-law had not ever had the chance to shoot even a BB gun, so she had a good time also. Their next post will be in Florida, and they seem to be looking forward to it, I know they will miss the friends they’ve lived around for several years, but they seem to just deal with it.
The practice of decorating “Jack-o-lanterns” began with an Irish folktale about a man called “Stingy Jack”. Back then, large turnips and potatoes were used, rather than pumpkins. As the Irish immigrated to America, they brought customs with them, and this was one of them. In America, pumpkins were available, and this is what they started using. Following is the story of “Stingy Jack” as I found it in a search. As I was typing this, I realized that parts of the story were not continued in a cohesive way, probably due to a mistake of mine.
How the History of the Jack-o-lantern came to be
An old Irish tale of folklore tells the tale of “Stingy Jack” and the Devil and how trickery led the man to become forever famous. There are variations of the story, as tends to happen with any story passed down through the generations, but the general idea remains fairly consistent. It starts with Jack having a pint at the pub with the Devil himself. Having the nickname “Stingy Jack” obviously meant that the man was always looking for a way out of paying, and so on this particular occasion he saw the Devil as a way free and clear of paying for his drink.
He asked the Devil if he would consider shifting himself into the form of a coin that could be used to square away the bill. Old Stingy offered up his soul in exchange for this deal. The Devil of course agreed and turned himself into a sixpence. Of course, once the Devil had done so, Jack got to re-thinking the deal they’d made and was tempted by the feel of money in his hand, so he slipped that Devil coin into his pocket, keeping it near a silver cross so that there was no chance of a change back transformation.
After some time, Jack thought of a better deal he could strike with the Devil. He agreed to set the Devil free, as long as this demon assured Jack he would not try to steal the mortal’s soul for ten full years.
Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years. (This is where a part is missing, sorry!)
When Jack finally did die and tried to enter Heaven, God wanted no part of allowing entry to this man wh had demonstrated such terrible behavior while living. The Devil could not allow jack”s soul to enter Hell, and therefore, sent Jack back to where he came from The way was dark, and Jack, unable to see his way out from Hell requested something to light his path. The Devil then tossed a hot, burning coal ember for Jack to carry. This ember would never burns out since it was from the flames of Hell. Since the coal burnt his hands, Jack looked for a vessel to use to carry this coal and eventually came across a turnip which he carved to create a lantern. This created the legend of Jack the Lantern, also known as Jack O’Lantern.
Tomatillo Guacamole
7 (medium sized) tomatillos, husks removed, and tomatillos washed and dried
2 large, unpeeled cloves garlic
2 large jalapeños, seeded and halved
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
½ teaspoon white or red wine vinegar
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 or 3 large avocados
Preheat broiler. On a cookie sheet lined with foil, roast tomatillos, garlic and chilies (skin side up), for 7 minutes. Remove garlic and chilies, and turn tomatillos over, and broil until charred, about 5 minutes more. Remove from pan to cool. When tomatillos cool, chop into small pieces and set aside. Remove skin from garlic and discard. Mash garlic. Remove skin from chilies and chop or dice chilies.
Place chopped onion in bowl with vinegar, stir to coat. Pour into colander to drain and discard vinegar. (This rids the onion of a strong taste). Add cilantro, salt, pepper, mashed garlic chilies and tomatillos to the bowl with the onions and stir to mix. Peel and pit the avocados, add to above mixture, mash with a potato masher until well blended. Taste for seasoning and serve at room temperature with chips. May be made up to 8 hours ahead of serving time and refrigerated. Use in 2 days. (Mine never lasted that long, as we always snacked while waiting for everyone to get there for a meal! If you weren’t there early, you probably didn’t get even a taste).
Stuffed Avocado Shells
2 avocados
Chicken salad or seafood salad
Cut avocados in half and remove pits. Using a spoon, scoop out about 1/2 of the avocado meat from each one, leaving a shell with some avocado meat still in it. Make up (or buy) your favorite chicken salad or seafood salad, dice the avocado you removed and stir into the salad, mound into the avocado shells and serve on a lettuce leaf. 4 servings