My nephew Giacomo and his Jack-O'lantern

October was always so exciting for all of us, we loved halloween and costumes. More than anything, creativity was central to everything we Deetz kids ever did. So halloween fell right in line, and we all have a ghoulish streak. Perhaps growing up in the cemeteries of New England added to our fascination, and comfort, with the imagery of death. My dad's grave stone studies were omnipresent for years. Add in the haunted house we all lived in and you can see where we got it.

Eric Engstrom and me with Deetz students in cemetery

Giacomo's fantastic pumpkin design
At home, we had art supplies, craft supplies, free reign of all the materials available to us. My mom was an amazingly talented artist, and she encouraged all of us to do our own thing. If we could suggest a costume, my mom made it. If we wanted to make any kind of pumpkin, we made them. The theme of experimentation ran through everything we did growing up and it is so rewarding to see  the next generation of kids having the same fun. Today my nephew Giacomo spent the day with me while his mom, my sister Kelley spent time researching in the archives here. Like any Deetz kid, he only needed a pile of paper and some markers and he was engaged all morning. Because I had gotten him a pumpkin, he got to design the face we were going to carve.

Giacomo with his Jack-O'Lantern
While this is not about cooking directly, I like the parallels between the art we made growing up and the food we all cook now. Try something new, turn old ideas around and add something unexpected, be ready to have things go horribly awry. The reward is always something unique, something personal and something you really had fun doing.