If you’ve got school-age ghosts and goblins in your home, you should know these basics of Halloween parties.
• Edible fake blood: Mix together light corn syrup with enough red food dye to get the color you want. Sprinkle in a little unsweetened cocoa powder to darken the mixture. Too thick? Thin with water. Too thin? Thicken with flour or cornstarch, mixed in slowly.
• Dry ice vapors: Handle dry ice with care as it can cause frostbite. To make a steaming cauldron of vapor, place the dry ice in a container and add water, which will make a foggy vapor arise. This works great outdoors on Halloween. (A bird bath works well outside as the container.) The liquid will bubble crazily initially, in addition to the smoke, but you’ll need to replenish it with more dry ice to keep it going.
If you want the vapor coming out of a pumpkin, place a tall container with dry ice inside a carved jack-o-lantern, then add some water to the dry ice.
To create vapors in a punch bowl, place a smaller bowl to hold the punch inside a large bowl that will hold the dry ice and water. It will appear that the steam is coming from the punch bowl. (This is to avoid having anyone accidentally sipping on dry ice.)
To find a retailer for dry ice, check online. You will need to buy it the day you are using it.
• Icy hand in the punch bowl: Using a clean rubber glove (turning it inside out if it has a cloth interior), fill with water (leaving a little airspace), tie off at the wrist and freeze overnight. When ready to use, dip glove in warm water briefly, then peel off – or cut off – carefully (those fingers are delicate!). If you want a colorful hand, add food coloring to the water before you add it to the glove. But beware, because the color will come off on your hands as you remove the rubber glove.
• Gelatin hand: Prepare the gelatin with less water than usual so that it is very firm (1 ¼ cups water for a 6-ounce package will fill an average glove). Cool slightly. Using a clean rubber glove (inside out if there’s a cloth interior), fill with prepared gelatin and refrigerate until set. Carefully peel off the glove and serve.
• Wiggly worms: Cut Gummi worms with a kitchen shears into thinner long strips. Soak them in a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda mixed with 1 cup water for about 15 minutes. Take the worms out of the solution and drop them in a container of vinegar. There will be a chemical reaction that will cause the worms to wiggle. (From Liz Heinecke, author of “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids.”)
• Goblin goo: In a medium-size bowl, mix together 1 cup of cornstarch and ½ cup water, with a little food coloring (purple, green or red would be Halloween-oriented). Use your fingers or a spoon to combine them. Goo will be the consistency of syrup. (Note: this is messy.)
When you roll the mixture into a ball, it will act like a solid. When you run it through your fingers, it will act like a liquid. (From “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids.”)
Wicked Witch Dippers
Frozen bread dough for 12 dinner rolls, thawed but still cold
1/4 cup melted butter
Egg yolks, beaten, for nail color (see Note)
Food coloring (see Note)
Note: You will need a small paintbrush if you “paint” the fingernail with the egg/food coloring. An alternative is to press a sliced or whole blanched almond at the fingertip.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll each roll into a 7- to 9-inch pointed rope.
With a sharp knife, define finger nail on pointed end and knuckles and lines along the finger.
Place on a greased baking sheet. Pinch finger thinner on both sides of knuckle. Brush finger with butter, avoiding fingernail. Sprinkle cheese and garlic salt on finger but not on nail.
Make nail color by combining egg yolk and food coloring to achieve desired color. Paint nail with small paintbrush. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
Pumpkin Spice Popcorn Bags
From “We Love Cooking, Totally Tasty Food for Kids,” by Lilly and Audrey Andrews, twin 12-year-olds.
12 cups popped popcorn (from about 1/2 cup kernels)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Melt butter and stir in pumpkin pie spice, sugar and salt. Drizzle spiced butter over popcorn while stirring constantly until coated. Fill individual goody bags with about 1 cup popcorn per bag and serve.
Yield: 12 (1-cup) popcorn bags.
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