Pumpkin, Poker and Gingerbread

Possibly growing up in the deep English countryside, where I never had the chance to dress up and trick or treat explains why I am taking Halloween just a bit too seriously now a days. In fact, I don’t think England really noticed Halloween in all its glory until recently, which is odd when reading about the history and origins of this celebration.

But Harbour Island, here in the Bahamas, goes big on this night. In our little settlement of Dunmore Town, the kids run from stoop to stoop, wooden cottage to wooden cottage, wild with anticipation. The older folk sit out on the street under the baobab trees watching. As the sleepy sun sets over the bay, and babies dressed as little fat pumpkins are taken home to bed, the twenty-something-year-olds begin to crawl out onto the streets, disguised behind deathly masks, to terrorize one another.

Occasionally a small lack of judgment occurs, and gigantic werewolves and evil clowns grab the smaller kids to evoke absolute terror. I will never forget a tiny-sized Wesley being snatched by such a creature in a mock graveyard and the ludicrous sight of me, dressed as Tinkerbell, grappling with the hairy werewolves trying to rescue back my small Dracula.

After so many years of island Halloween traditions, including Claire’s Gingerbread cake (once even shaped into a coffin- see below for recipe) I asked the question of what to do with all the crazy amounts of candy?

Domino and her circle of friends came up with the idea of using it as poker chips – running a skillful gambling racket around the
high stakes of skittles, peanut butter cups and candy corn.

Top Banana’s Gingerbread Recipe


225g/8oz Butter
225g/8oz Soft Brown Sugar
225g/8oz Black Treacle
340g/12oz All Purpose Flour
3 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
2 Eggs Beaten
290ml/1/2 Pint Milk
2 Teaspoons Bicarbonate of Soda


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas mark 2
  2. Grease a 30x20cm/12x8in roasting pan with butter and line with greaseproof paper.
  3. Melt the butter, sugar and black treacle in a saucepan. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Sift the flour with the ginger and cinnamon then stir in the melted mixture with the beaten egg.
  5. Warm the milk, poor it on to the soda, stir it in and add to the mixture.
  6. Stir well and poor into the prepared tin.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Cover the top with greaseproof paper after 45 minutes. It is cooked when a skewer comes out clean after being inserted in to the center of the gingerbread.
  8. When the gingerbread is cold, cut it into squares and serve.
  9. This gingerbread keeps well, in fact it improves.