Sleepy Hollow, New York

Autumn weekend in Sleepy Hollow, New York

From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by name of Sleepy Hollow ... A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere.
Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

It's nearly autumn and time to start planning a few weekend trips for Fall Festivals, haunted houses, pumpkin picking and peak leaf-color drives.  I am a fall fanatic, I just love everything autumn.  So of course Washington Irving’s book The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorites. 
Washington Irving

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story by American author Washington Irving, contained in his collection of 34 essays and short stories entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.  The book was written while Irving was living abroad in Birmingham, England.

I have always wanted to visit the little town described in Irving’s book and one beautiful autumn weekend I did.  There is so much to see and do in the area you may want to plan a longer trip than just a long weekend like we did.

Sleepy Hollow is a village in the town of Mount Pleasant in Westchester County, New York. It’s located on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 30 miles north of New York City
The village is known as the setting of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", written by Irving in 1820, who lived in neighboring Tarrytown and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Originally incorporated as North Tarrytown in the late 1800’s, the village officially adopted the name of Sleepy Hollow in 1996.

My daughter and I made the trip and had just a wonderful autumn adventure.  Here’s what to see and do to follow along the lines of Irving’s book:
Early morning Farm Market in Patriot's Park
Patriot’s Park:
Early Friday morning we drove into Tarrytown and the Sleepy Hollow area.  First up was the farmer’s market in Patriot’s Park.  This is the marshy area where Ichabod first encountered the headless horseman, but has long since been drained and turned into the park. Historical signs are plentiful, but one of our favorites is the “Andre Captured” marker.

My daughter Alexis and the Andre Historical Marker

This monument marks the spot where, on September 23, 1780, John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart captured British spy John André.   At this same location Ichabod was waylaid by the Headless Horseman near the tree where André was hanged.  The massive tulip tree is no longer standing.

“About two hundred yards from the tree a small brook crossed the road, and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen, known by the name of Wiley’s Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream . . . It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate André was captured, and under the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomen concealed who surprised him. . . .In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the brook, Ichabod beheld something huge, misshapen and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveler. . . He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions, and mounted on a black horse of powerful frame.” -The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

We purchased fresh hot coffee and an apple pastry from the farm market before starting our tour of the area and sites.
Sleepy Hollow town sign

Of course the trip would not be complete without photos in front of the town’s Sleepy Hollow sign!
And really cool is most of the street signs in the area have the Headless Horseman on them!

Cool street signs have the Headless Horseman on them!

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside:
After walking around the town square and finishing our coffee we headed to Washington Irving’s home Sunnyside for a tour. Washington Irving’s home tour includes the house, grounds, outbuildings and extensive gardens.
That's me and my daughter Alexis at Washington Irving's home: Sunnyside

Sunnyside, originally a Dutch farmer’s home, has been meticulously restored and filled with Irving’s possessions including his writing desk and walls of books.

Sunnyside, home of Washington Irving

It just so happened that a fall festival was taking place while we were there, so the upstairs area of the home was closed to tours.  But because we had come so far to see the author’s home and area the book was written about, (and our faces showed such disappointment) the curator of Irving’s Sunnyside took us on a private tour of the upstairs (yea!).
Gardens at Sunnyside

Legend Weekend At Sunnyside:
Family fun festival at the home of Washington Irving, author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip van Winkle". Puppet shows, games for children, 19th century magic shows, reading of stories by Irving. Daytime children's programs.

Legend weekend at Sunnyside

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery:
Back in the main area of Sleepy Hollow we took a tour of the 90 acre Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  I would highly recommend this 2 hour cemetery tour.  This cemetery is the supposed resting place of the Headless Horseman in Irving’s book. 
Irving family graves

Irving's grave marker, very modest

There are also numerous other real life stories connected to the graveyard, and many very famous people buried here.  

Washington Irving is there of course, but also Andrew Carnegie, Walter P. Chrysler, Brooke Astor, Elizabeth Arden, Thomas J. Watson of IBM, Samuel Gompers, and many others. And many of the gravestones are extremely elaborate, beautiful and a few very strange.

 While walking through the cemetery grounds, you’ll also see many of the surnames Irving used for his book.

“Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried in the church-yard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the church-yard before daybreak.” -The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Old Dutch Church:
We toured The Old Dutch Church also mentioned in the book, and is the location where the unfortunate Ichabod sought refuge. This church has been in continual use since 1690.
The Old Dutch Church and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
In the evening there's a reading of The Headless Horseman which was very good.   The dramatic retelling was done by Jonathan Kruk by candle light and accompanied by spooky organ music.

Photo is from the Historic Hudson Valley website

If you happen to be at the church or in the graveyard after dark, keep in mind that "...the Headless Horseman... it was said, tethered his horse nightly among the graves in the churchyard." 

Headless Horseman Bridge:
We also stopped by the thought to be site of the original headless horseman bridge. The precise location of the old, timber bridge where Ichabod was unseated by a pumpkin is lost to time but would probably have been located east of the current Route 9 near The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  Because the newer bridge is made with rough-hewn boards, they clatter like hoof beats under the wheels of modern automobiles.

Possible site of the Headless Horseman's bridge

The Old School House:
This too is not longer in existence.

Phillipsburg Manor:
Frederick Philipse, the builder of the grist mill and manor house, was also the builder of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. 
Old Phillipsburg Manor
The historic Dutch manor and mill have been restored to its appearance in the late 17th to early 18th century.  Philipsburg Manor is also a living history museum where you can experience Sleepy Hollow’s agrarian past.
This is Dutch manor beside whose millpond Ichabod Crane strolled with the local girls. 

Horseman’s Hollow Haunted Trail:
One of our favorite things on the trip besides Irving’s Sunnyside was the haunted trail.  Oh my gosh this was great and one of the best haunted houses or haunted sites we have ever visited.
We were not allowed to take photos during this event, so I used one from the Historic Hudson Valley website.
Photo is from the Historic Hudson Valley website

Philipsburg Manor transforms into a terrifying landscape ruled by the undead, the evil, and the insane. There were zombie British soldiers, voodoo slaves, a witch's coven, a mad knife murder, school house for of the dead, and more. As you begin walking the haunted trail, you stumble upon scary scenes of a town driven mad by the Headless Horseman. Elaborate costumes and the work of award-wining feature-film makeup artists make it all too real and very scary!

Lynhurst Mansion:
We did not have time to tour this mansion or see the pumpkin display but reviews say it is well worth the visit.  Lynhurst is also home to The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze.
And since we did not visit Lynhurst this trip, this photo is from the Historic Hudson Valley website.

The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze at Lynhurst Mansion

There's more than 5,000 individually hand-carved, illuminated jack o' lanterns in this elaborate walking trail. Stroll through an historic, 18th-century riverside landscape and discover a breathtaking display of jack o' lanterns!

Sleepy Hollow in Pop Culture
  • Sleepy Hollow is the location for the book The Hollow by Jessica Verday.
  • Sleepy Hollow appears in "The Tale of the Midnight Ride", a third season episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?".
  • Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 film by director Tim Burton and based on the aforementioned short story.
  • Sleepy Hollow is the setting of the television series Sleepy Hollow, though in this series, Sleepy Hollow is greatly expanded from a small village to a large city with a population of 144,000, as indicated by a sign at the beginning of the pilot episode. Several exterior shots of the actual village are incorporated into the series.
  • Dark Shadows Fans of the 1960's television series Dark Shadows will recall that Lynhurst in Tarrytown served as the Collinwood Estate in the feature-length film House of Dark Shadows (1970). Sleepy Hollow Cemetery’s receiving vault made a cameo in that same film as the Collins family mausoleum.
Johnny Depp and the movie Sleepy Hollow, directed by Tim Burton

As I said I am a Fall fanatic, but I'm not the only one in my family.  We all seem to love autumn.
My nephew Jeremy Sony is a playwright and does fabulous work.  One of my favorites (of course) was his rendition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow called "Ichabod: Missing in Sleepy Hollow".  We went to see the play live and I just can't say enough about this work. This play was also selected as the winner of the 2013 Playhouse Nashville playwrights contest.
Here is a little more about the play form Jeremy's website, :
A re-imagining of Washington Irving's classic tale, Ichabod: Missing in Sleepy Hollow adds a new chapter to Irving's legend and picks up right after The Legend of Sleepy Hollow "ends". Shortly after Ichabod Crane disappears, his students, led by the fearless Hanna, meet their new school mistress, Abigail Seymour. Abigail is more focused on teaching than chasing ghosts---that is until she has her own run-in with the Horseman. As she and the students race to retrace Ichabod's final night in Sleepy Hollow, we discover new revelations, gain clues on who the Headless Horseman could be, and meet all the original Irving characters.

My nephew Jeremy's Play

But wait, that's not all.  My sister Kathy Wright (and her husband Beau) own and operate the South Jersey Pumpkin Show.  A couple years ago she decided to have the Headless Horseman make an appearance at the festival right after the reading of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  It was a huge success as is her festival! I plan on doing a blog post sometime in the future about her festival, it's that good.  It is family, kid and pet friendly and  focused on good clean fun.  She really goes over and above to make the festival a success.

My sister Kathy's Fall Festival

The weather has cooled off here in central Ohio and it's really starting to feel like fall on our little farm.  I have been busy harvesting the last of the vegetables in my garden and stockpiling firewood. Another cold bitter winter is forecasted  for our area, yikes!

Happy autumn,

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Canning Hot Peppers

Most years we go through our garden fresh peppers pretty quick and never seem to have enough peppers. We use them on sandwiches, to make appetizers, on pizza and subs and as the main ingredient for Stuffed Hot Peppers.

So this spring I planted extra pepper plants.  Now, near the end of summer, I have such an over abundance of hot peppers I decided to can them so we have a supply this winter.

Peppers are also great as added heat or flavor booster in many dishes, soups, stew, in breakfast eggs, on a relish tray and in salads.  Their great on hot dogs too, along with this Homemade Pickle Relish!

Heat Measurement
The heat in peppers is measured by the Scoville scale with the highest numbers having the most heat.  As of writing this post, the Trinidad pepper is the hottest on the chart, followed by the Ghost pepper, then the Scotch Barnet and Habenero peppers. 

Prehistoric remains in Peru show that peppers were around way back then and were even cultivated in Central and South America in very early times.

Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter hot peppers and brought them back with him to Europe in 1493.
In fact, it was the Europeans that gave peppers their name. 

When the peppers were first introduced into Europe, they were grown in the gardens of Spanish and Portuguese monasteries. 

The monks experimented with the hot peppers and discovered that they could be used as a substitute for black peppercorns. At the time black peppercorn was extremely costly and used as legal currency in some countries.

Pickled Hot Peppers
Makes about 7 to 8 pints

Items Needed

2-3/4 lbs banana or jalapeno peppers
6 cups vinegar (5% acidity)
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Mustard seed (optional)
Celery seed (optional)
Pickle crisp (optional)

How To Can Them

Wash and sterilize jars.  Prepare Water bath canner.  
I place my jars in the water bath canner, fill with water and boil jars. This sterilizes the jars and prepares the canner at the same time.
Place lids in hot simmering water, do not boil.
Newer lids made without BPA (or BPA Free) do not need to be placed in hot simmering water. These are new guidelines and are not as yet on the Ball website but is being widely discussed on many websites.

Use fresh blemish free peppers.  Garden fresh or farm market fresh are best and have the most flavor.

Slice peppers or leave whole

Leave peppers whole or slice into rings.  If slicing into rings, remove stem and discard, then slice.  Make sure to wear rubber gloves to prevent hands from burning from the hot peppers! 
If you do get some of the hot pepper juice on your hands or skin, rub on or soak hands in vinegar.  It helps to neutralize the pepper acid and stop the burning.

I found that repeated rinsing of the pepper rings will remove most of the seeds. But leave them in if you like the peppers hotter.

Repeated rinsing will remove most of the seeds

Combine vinegar, water, and garlic in a large sauce pot. 
Bring vinegar mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Discard garlic.
Do not alter the vinegar to water proportions.  The acidity in a pickled product or recipe is for food safety to prevent the growth of the botulism bacteria.

The following spices are optional but do help with flavor:
Add approximately 1/4 teaspoon to half pints and a half teaspoon to pints of celery seed (or to desired taste). 

Add celery seed

Add approximately 1/4 teaspoon to half pints and a half teaspoon to pints of mustard seed (or to desired taste).

Add mustard seed

Pack peppers into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. 

Pack peppers into hot jars

Add Pickle crisp to each jar, if desired, but it does help with texture
Add pickle crisp

Ladle hot vinegar mixture over peppers, leaving 1/2 inch head space. 
If you need more vinegar mixture, mix another full batch or mix 3 cups of vinegar with 1 cup of water and boil with garlic. Do not decrease or change the vinegar to water proportions.  

Ladle hot vinegar mixture over peppers
Remove air bubbles.  Wipe rim and adjust two-piece lids.

Add two piece lid

Place filled jars in hot water bath canner and process 10 minutes.  Timing begins when canner starts to boil.  Water should cover jars by about 1-1/2 to 2 inches.

Place jars in water bath canner

Remove jars from canner and allow to cool, undisturbed for 24 hours.  Check lids for seal, then store jars in a cool dark pantry.  If any jars did not seal, store in the refrigerator.

  • Use a combination of hot peppers and mix together in each jar. 
  • Dice jalapeno peppers before canning  
  • Peppers are adaptable to many forms of preservation; canning, freezing and even drying.

I'd love to hear back if you canned hot peppers and which types.  Have you tried canning them whole or mixed many kinds together?  I canned whole habenero recently and they look beautiful in the jar.


Other Recipes


The Mothman Festival

The Mothman Legend, Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Older Mothman Fest Poster
Need something a little different, strange even, to see and do in September?  How about visiting the area that made the Mothman famous?

How It Started

The Mothman is said to be a moth like creature seen in and around the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia from November 1966 to December 1967. 
The first reported sighting was on November 12, 1966 by five men digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, WV.  They claimed to see a man like creature fly down from a tree and over their heads. 

Three days later, on November 15, 1966 two young couples from Point Pleasant told police they saw a large white creature whose eyes glowed red when the car headlights shined on it.  The couples, visually shaken,  described it as a large flying man like thing with approximately  10 foot wings following their car while driving in the TNT area.  The TNT area is the site of the former World War ll munitions plant.


Canning Tomatoes

Easy Home Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes are one of the first things I canned well over 20 some years ago as a beginner canner.  I read it was one of the easiest things to learn as a newbie canner and they were right.

There is nothing better than a fresh tomato straight off the vine, but I think the second best thing is a jar of home canned tomatoes in the middle of winter!

I use canned tomatoes in chili, spaghetti sauce, soups and casseroles and many different recipes.  If I run out, I also make salsa or tomato juice from the tomatoes I canned. 

I can so I can preserve my garden harvest but also because I can control what's in my food.  I grew it and I grow organic. I know what's in each and every jar. 

Canning is the process in which foods are placed in jars and heated to a temperature that destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes. This heating and later cooling forms a vacuum seal. The vacuum seal prevents other microorganisms from recontaminating the food within the jar.


Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween Costumes: Part 1

Who doesn't love fall and Halloween? 
Around our house, we get really excited thinking about the coming pumpkin recipes, fall leaves, corn stalks, stews, college football and all things autumn. 

We host a Fall Party every year and encourage everyone to come in costume, it's great fun. 
We also wear our costumes to Fall Festivals and our local Circleville Pumpkin Show, no really, we do.

Every year since the kids were little,  I have made their Halloween costumes, and every year I started in August. 
Now I know some people are not very organized, or don’t want to think about Halloween costumes in August.  But for us we have found it is less stressful to decide on a costume in August. We then spend the next few weeks gathering together the needed items or props.


Easy Banana Cream Pie

I usually keep bananas on hand just to snack on and as one of my staple food items.  Besides just eating them, bananas can also be added to fresh fruit salad, cereal, yogurt, on a sandwich with peanut butter and added to ice cream.  
When they start getting a little too ripe I use them in homemade Banana Nut Bread or Banana Cream Pie.  
(I have the best Banana Nut Bread recipe ever, and will post that at a later date!)

I love easy recipes that taste fabulous and look as if you spent a lot of time on preparation! And this is one of those recipes. It also comes in handy for last minute company or if you need to take a dessert to a dinner party, book club or church pot luck.


Canning Green Beans

It’s great to preserve some of your garden's bounty to use during the cold winter months.  There is nothing like pulling a jar of preserves from the pantry shelf while the snow’s falling and the wind’s howling and getting a little whiff that takes you right back to summer.

For the best green beans, pick fresh tender pods first thing in the morning. Growing and picking from your own garden is always best, but purchasing from a local farm market will be just as good.
You will need about 1 pound of green beans for each pint jar and 2 pounds of beans for each quart jar.

Please Note: 
When canning green beans you must process them in a pressure canner.  There is a higher risk of botulism when canning low acid foods, such as green beans.  Pressure canning is the only recognized safe option. Dilly Beans, which are pickled green beans, are preserved in vinegar so can be water bathed.