Halloween: Pumpkins, dark nights and super-stews – Autumn is here!

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Pumpkins, dark nights and super-stews can mean only one thing: Autumn is here - and Halloween!

A study of Australian and Danish populations found that people born in Autumn live longer than people born in spring, while another found that individuals born from September to November have a higher chance of reaching the age of 100 compared to those born in spring!

Grainger Delivery’s Bryan Muers & Son, Hector Hall, and Hutton & Oliver are where it’s at for all the ingredients you need to make this magical season pop whichever time of year you were born.



Why do we carve out pumpkins at Halloween?

It comes from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil for his own monetary gain.

Neither God nor the Devil would let Jack in when he died so he was sentenced to roam the earth for eternity.

The people of Ireland then began carving demonic faces out of turnips to frighten away Jack’s wandering soul, and when Irish immigrants moved to the U.S., they began carving jack-o’-lanterns from pumpkins instead.

Dark nights

Love them or loathe them, dark nights do something to your brain.

You can expect changes in your metabolism because, with less access to natural light, your brain sends signals to your body to conserve energy, slowing down your metabolism and increasing your hunger.

Darkness also decreases the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, leading to emotional shifts in many of us.

Because melatonin, the hormone that helps to regulate circadian rhythm, is produced in darkness or dim light conditions it can be overproduced in autumn leaving you feeling lethargic.

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) can also be a problem this weather. Symptoms include decreased energy levels, sleep pattern disruption, trouble focussing, social withdrawal and overeating.

Limited light supply can also impact your hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for sleep and circadian rhythm. This decreases alertness and overall cognitive function.

Grainger Delivery has lots of nutritional goodies ripe for the picking.

Super stews

Check out these super-stew recipes and pick up all your ingredients from the likes of Finlay’s Butchers, Haswell’s Corner Shop, Northern Delicious, Oliver & Eden, Richard Campbell, Chirton Fisheries, Lindsay Bros, Firebrick Brewery and more…


Spicy monkfish stew


1 olive oil

1 onion, finely sliced

1tbsp tom yum paste

450 (1lb) potatoes, cut into 2cm (¾in) chunks

400 can chopped tomatoes in rich tomato juice

600 (1 pint) hot fish stock

450 (1lb) monkfish, cut into 2cm (¾in) chunks

200 bag washed ready-to-eat baby spinach


  1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion over a medium heat for 5min, until golden. 
  2. Add the Tom Yum paste and potatoes and stir-fry for 1min. Add the tomatoes and hot stock, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cover. Bring to the boil then simmer, partially covered, for 15min or until the potatoes are just tender.
  3. Add the monkfish to the pan and continue to simmer for 5-10min or until the fish is cooked. Add the baby spinach leaves and stir through until wilted.
  4. Spoon the fish stew into bowls and serve immediately with crusty bread.

Sweet pepper stew


100 (3½fl oz) olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

4 red peppers, sliced

3 orange peppers, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

2 capers in brine, rinsed

18 black olives

1 freshly chopped flat-leafed parsley


  1. Heat the oil in a very large pan, add the garlic and stir-fry over a medium heat for 1min. Add the peppers, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir well to toss in the oil. 
  2. Cover the pan with a lid and continue to cook over a low heat for 40min. 
  3. Add capers, olives and parsley and stir. Serve immediately or cool, chill and enjoy a couple of days later with crusty bread.

Firebrick Parson's Porter beef stew


1 (3lb) shin of beef or braising steak, cut into 3cm (11⁄4in) cubes

3 level seasoned plain flour

4 vegetable oil

2 medium onions, sliced

4 medium carrots, cut into chunks

440 can of Parson's Porter

300 (1⁄2 pint) hot beef stock

2 bay leaves

700 (11⁄2lb) baby potatoes, peeled

2 freshly chopped flat-leafed parsley


  1. Toss the beef in the flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole until hot. Add a handful of beef and cook until well browned. Remove with a slotted spoon, set aside and repeat until all the meat is browned. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) mark 4.
  2. Add the onions and carrots to the pot, and cook for 10min until browned. Add the Parson's Porter, scraping the base to loosen the goodness, then add the hot stock. Add the bay leaves and meat and bring to the boil.
  3. Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Cook in the oven for 1hr, then add the potatoes. Return the casserole to the oven for 1hr or until the meat is tender. Stir in the parsley and season to taste.
  4. To freeze. Complete the recipe, omitting the parsley. Cool quickly and chill, or pack into a freezer-proof container and freeze for up to three months.
  5. To cook. Thaw overnight at cool room temperature or, if chilled, remove from the fridge 15min before cooking. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) mark 4. Bring the stew to the boil on the hob, then reheat in the oven for 45min or until piping hot. Stir in the parsley and serve.





Written by Jason Caddy

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