Delicious Horror: Sonora Taylor

Welcome back to Delicious Horror! Today and on Monday we will have a Sleepy Hollow double-feature! I am very excited about both of these posts, so if you’re a fan of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” be sure to check in on Monday to see who our second post is from. Today, Sonora Taylor is taking us down into the hollow on a delicious pumpkin journey.

Sonora Taylor

Sonora Taylor is the award-winning author of Little Paranoias: Stories, Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories.  Her short stories have appeared in multiple publications, including Camden Park Press’s Quoth the Raven, Kandisha Press’s Women of Horror Vol. 2: Graveyard Smash, The Sirens Call, Frozen Wavelets, Mercurial Stories, Tales to Terrify, and the Ladies of Horror fiction podcast. Her latest book, Seeing Things, is now available on Amazon. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours:

I love a good scary story, but come autumn—especially October—I also like cozy autumnal reads. Ones that highlight the harvest, the changing seasons, and the goldenness of everything as the veil thins. I especially love it when ghosts and witches appear, but less as monsters and more like chills in the air, women (and men) in tune with nature, natural shifts, and the like.

I’ve loved Disney’s version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow since I was little, and in my twenties, I finally read the short story by Washington Irving. It’s more folklore than horror, which disappoints some readers (especially readers coming to the text from the Tim Burton adaptation), but it pleases me. I see myself walking by golden cornfields and through ominous woods when I sit down to read this story with a cup of tea in my hand and chimney smoke in the air.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is in the public domain, so you can download it for free for most e-readers. There are also wonderful illustrated versions in print.

In addition to “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” I want to highlight as an addendum Brian Jay Jones’ Washington Irving a biography about the author himself. It’s really well-written, interesting, and a great autumn read if you’re looking for something cozy to settle in with for a week or two (the biography is around 500 pages). One of many highlights? Washington Irving and Mary Shelley were acquainted—and it’s possible that Shelley wanted to be more than friends!

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat?

I cook seasonally and, as much as possible, locally. Pumpkins grow in Virginia, and they show up at the farmers market around mid to late September. I like to buy sugar pie pumpkins and make my own puree, though last year, I used a large, turquoise-skinned (but orange-fleshed) Cinderella pumpkin I’d used for decoration in early fall. I had so much puree that I still have some in the freezer!

I of course make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, and also enjoy pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin apple bread. But I also like to use pumpkin for savory dishes. In the States, we associate pumpkin with sweet treats—“pumpkin” is usually synonymous with “pumpkin pie spice” when we describe the flavor profile—but as a squash, it’s a warm and cozy addition to curries, soup, and macaroni and cheese.

Yes, macaroni and cheese! I make a savory pumpkin mac-and-cheese every autumn. The pumpkin puree turns the sauce golden, as do the olive oil-soaked bread crumbs and toasted walnuts. A little sage makes it smell and taste like Thanksgiving. It comforts me the way folklore like “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” does. Go ahead, bake a batch and read the story while it cooks—and maybe use pumpkin-shaped pasta to give it something extra!

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe?

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups dried elbow macaroni or small pasta of choice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whipping cream (you can sub with more whole milk if you wish)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crushed
  • ½ cup soft bread crumbs (Panko is fine in a pinch)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated is better!)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sage leaves (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.

2. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

3. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.

I also have a recipe for a good vegan version if anyone wants it!

Thank you to Sonora for sharing her photos with us!

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