USA Today tells me that Americans spend on average $65 per head on Halloween-related cr*p. $20 of this goes for candy, apparently. I spent $4 on two small bags of seasonal-looking candy kisses, some of which has gone into the craws of assorted pals, one utterly inadvertently into the dawg ( she lived!,) and the rest, most of the bags, is sitting near the front door wondering what in hell ever happened to Trick or Treaters? ! I had a carved and lighted punkin up, too.
Moving on--I noticed belatedly that the Queen of mushroom soup in a can, Peg Bracken, had died in Oregon. Her "I Hate to Cook Book" is out of print, "doubtless a casualty of the Age of Arugula," as the NYTimes obit put it. Back in the day when mothers like mine left Halloween costuming to the kids, as in --"go look in the closet-- be a tramp? ( The freightcar riding variety.) A ghost?" -- Peg Bracken was a blast of sardonic joy. "Some women, it is said, love to cook. This book is not for them," began her classic tome, published in 1960. If a recipe was fast, easy and straightforward, it was good, period. ( Frozen foods, canned foods, dried foods in cans, all were stars in this anti-Fanny Farmer, nothing- from- scratch, approach. )
Mind you, by the time Bracken's book came out, with no tiny kids to feed, my mother had already moved rapidly away from once-a-week meatloaf and pork chops with apple sauce. ( The meatloaf was never really jettisoned it was so damn good .) She subscribed to Gourmet and enjoyed experimenting. Urged along by her, ours was the first family to walk through the red and gold doorway of the first Chinese restaurant to open in our suburban area.
Peg Bracken was funny and liberating, freeing multitudes of women from guilt, on a topic traditionally taken very seriously. Throw fodder at your family-- spare me the cutesy baby veggies, for gawd's sake--- and then go have a ciggie.