Happy Hallowe’en!

Ghosts, the BBC version

Did you see the BBC production of a three season TV show, Ghosts? It’s on HBO. Hilarious! A young woman inherits a Button Manor so she and her husband decide to open a B&B. Unbeknownst to her, it’s haunted by the spirit of Lady Button who was shoved out a window by her husband, a caveman named Robin, a Romantic poet who died in a duel, a British WWII army officer, an trouserless MP who died during a sex escapade, a naïve young woman who longs for a best friend, a Boy Scout leader who died during an archery lesson, a beheaded nobleman, and a female villager who was burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft – possibly my favorite character – played by Katy Wix, who you’ll recognize from Agatha Raisin. Watch Ghosts – Stream TV Shows | HBO Max

There’s an American version. It’s okay, not quite as funny.

In parting, I want to share my gluten free dairy free Irish Barmbrack recipe that I recently perfected. In Ireland, this is traditional Hallowe’en (Samhain) fare. It’s tradition to insert small objects in the bottom of the cake. The lucky recipient is foretold his or her future depending on the object: a coin for wealth, a ring for marriage within a year, a bean for poverty, a pea for no marriage this year, a matchstick for an unhappy marriage, and a thimble for single for life.

Gluten Free/Dairy Free Irish Barmbrack

2 ½ cups of dried fruit. I used golden raisins but you can use anything you want or a mixture.

1 ½ cups of hot brewed tea. I used Earl Grey because that’s what Captain Picard drinks.

1 ¾ cups of brown rice flour

½ cup of potato starch – NOT potato flour. They are two different things.

¼ cup of tapioca flour

1 teaspoon xanthum gum

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

1 ½ cups sugar – the real stuff. Honestly, what’s the point of substitutes? Fake sugar is like decaf coffee or pretending carob is chocolate. I’d rather do without than suffer disappointment.

¼ cup of orange marmalade

1 teaspoon of grated orange zest

               1.            Soak the dried fruit in hot tea for 2 hours, then drain and gently squeeze out excess tea. I ended up getting distracted and putting the entire concoction in the fridge for two days before I came back to it. The raisins were fine.

               2.            Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 inch Bundt pan. I sprayed mine liberally with canola oil spray.

               3.            Stir together brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthum gum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda. Set aside.

               4.            Beat the egg with sugar, marmalade, orange zest and tea-soaked fruit until well combined. Gently fold in the flour until just combined. It will be sticky. Pour into prepared Bundt pan.

               5.            Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed. My cake needed 1 hour and seven minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 2 hours before turning out. Continue to cool on wire rack. Press objects into bottom before serving.

It’s your turn!

My question to writers: have you tried your hand at a ghost story? I have not.

My question to readers: do you have a favorite ghost story?

My question to everyone: what’s your favorite Hallowe’en treat?


Keenan Powell


Keenan Powell is the Agatha, Lefty, and Silver Falchion nominated author of the Maeve Malloy Mystery series, Deadly Solution, Hemlock Needle, Hell and High Water.

While still in high school, she was one of the illustrators of the original Dungeons and Dragons. Art seemed an impractical pursuit – not an heiress, wouldn’t marry well, hated teaching – so she went to law school instead. When not writing or practicing law, Keenan can be found oil painting, studying the Irish language, or hanging out with her friends at mystery conventions.

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