One good popcorn-ball recipe and bam! It’s Halloween.

Ghastly Halloween thing

No one can accuse us of not being ready for Halloween here at the Manse. Why, just look at this ghastly thing Raymond picked up on a recent shopping excursion and has hung on the front porch! I absolutely hate it, but I guess if it gives the wee ones a not-too-scary frisson of fear, it’ll have done the trick. Note the ghostly reflection in the window… Boo!

Welcome to a slightly late (due to mild technical difficulties) Monday at the Manse, dear readers! Before another Monday rolls around, Halloween will have come and gone, and so I thought I’d tackle that topic today.

Honey Bunny and Teddy

Honey Bunny on top (as usual) and ever-so-patient and sweet Teddy on the bottom.

Now, until a short while ago I wasn’t going to tackle that topic; I was going to write about the new Manse cats, Teddy and Honey Bunny, and delight you with some decidedly cute photos of them, and maybe even a video or two. But I think that Teddy and Honey Bunny can wait another week or so for their adorable habits (and the proof that they have Raymond and me wrapped around their tiny little fingers) to be revealed to the world.

So yeah, Halloween. I’ve written about Halloween in Queensborough before, notably here, wherein I reminisced about the Halloweens of my childhood growing up in this very Manse. As I wrote back then – on the eve of my first Halloween here since those long-ago childhood days – the best part of the whole affair was the homemade candy that we kids could count on getting at many houses in the village. The fudge – maple and chocolate – was superb; “store-bought” candies like chocolate bars and chips and candy kisses paled in comparison.

But the best, the absolute best, of that homemade Queensborough candy was the popcorn balls that we’d get at Frankie (Frances) Cassidy’s house. I adored those popcorn balls – a wonderful mix of sweet and salty and sticky and soft. And Frankie was a lively grandmotherly lady who made us little kids feel welcome in her comfortable old home as she doled out those wondrous popcorn balls.

(I was reminiscing about that decades-old memory not too long ago with Pat, the current co-owner of Frankie’s house, during a chat in her front foyer. She has done a terrific job of preserving the place, and her gardens on the grounds are wild and stunning.)

Frankie's house

Frankie Cassidy’s house as it is today, with beautiful gardens in front and back thanks to current owners Pat and Randy. 

So anyway, when the folks at New York Times Cooking – a section of that great newspaper and also a stand-alone app – featured a recipe for what look to be absolutely superb popcorn balls in their lineup the other day, I decided that Halloween, and not Honey Bunny and Teddy, would be the topic of today’s post.

NYT popcorn balls

People, you have the wonderful New York Times Cooking folks to thank for the topic of tonight’s post. Well, the New York Times – and the late Frankie Cassidy of Queensborough.

Not only because the Times’s recipe brought back wonderful Halloween-in- Queensborough memories, but because this recipe means that you and I can now make those popcorn balls ourselves!

Here it is, and I don’t think you need worry about whether you can find cane syrup on the shelves of your local grocery store; as recipe-writers Julia Moskin and Kim Severson say, you can use good-quality corn syrup instead:

NYT popcorn balls recipe

I lament the fact that no one gives out homemade candy anymore – that even if I made these wonderful popcorn balls, they would be frowned upon by parents as a dodgy prospect, not being labelled with the ingredients and all.

But hey, I tend to look on the bright side. If I can’t be like Frankie and give those popcorn balls out on Halloween – I can eat them all myself!

4 thoughts on “One good popcorn-ball recipe and bam! It’s Halloween.

  1. As usual Katherine your blogs usually make me a bit lonesome for Quensborough. I had one of the granddaughters help me decorate the house this time with a skeleton, witches, pumpkins and pumpkin lights, as we now have a little one living next door. Either that or I am in my second childhood. I am not smart enough to take a picture and send on the computer, to old to learn that stuff. One of my favorite treats as a child was the chocolate fudge we got from Mrs. Green and Jessie and now that lovely old brick house is no longer there.

    • Barbara, I don’t think it’s your second childhood at all! Like you, I find that as the years go on I take greater delight in decorating our house to celebrate occasions like Halloween and Christmas – partly for my own enjoyment, and partly to share the fun with others, especially children. You should just see the Manse at Christmas! Those retro ornaments and decorations I keep finding in thrift shops and the like are making it wonderful. But back to Halloween: I’m happy you too have great memories of Queensborough chocolate fudge – and isn’t it amazing that after all these years we remember which homemade treats we’d get at each house? It is so sad that the Green house is gone – it was truly a tragedy for our hamlet when it burned down. But even so, Queensborough is looking pretty great (and well-maintained) these days!

  2. My kids loved going to “Gramma Grace”, (Grace O’Rourke’s home). She made the best fudge,and pop corn balls.

    • What a great memory, Anne! I too have fond recollections of Grace O’Rourke, though I don’t think I ever ventured as far afield as her house (not that it’s very far afield!) way back in my trick-or-treating days. As I just wrote in a reply to Barb Martin’s comment, isn’t it amazing that all these years on we still fondly remember exactly what homemade treat we (or in your case, your kids) used to get at various houses?

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