A scarecrow cheeseball appetizer is perfect for fall or Thanksgiving get-togethers. Formed with a cheddar, Velveeta and cream cheese mixture that's molded into a disc, the scarecrow's face is created using olives for eyes, a grape tomato for a nose, and a strip of red pepper as a mouth. Matchstick carrots are perfect for straw like hair, and crackers form a rustic scarecrow hat.
As I was working on this fall scarecrow appetizer I got to thinking about the importance of scarecrows in rural Ireland in years gone by.
And, so before I share this cute fall appetizer recipe, that's always a hit with kids both young and old, I thought we'd explore the importance of scarecrows in Irish culture and heritage.
Time for a little ramble before we delve into my recipe.
Scarecrow Riddles From Ireland
Let's start with a riddle from rural Ireland. Here's how it goes...
What is it that has one leg on which it stands,
wears clothes and has two hands,
lots are afraid of it,
yet it has no life in its body?
Answer: A scarecrow
Here's another riddle from my Irish childhood...
What crow has no feathers?
Answer: A scarecrow
If you have any scarecrow riddles why not let us know by sharing them in the comment section at the very end of this post.
Scarecrow Rhymes From Days Gone By:
I love to read the Irish folklore collection on the Dúchas.ie website, and I found two versions of the following rhyme. The first one is from Ulster, and the second version is from Dublin.
As I went up slippery lane,
I met my Auntie Joisie,
She had iron toes and a wooden nose,
And upon my word she would frighten the crows.
or here's another version
As I went up the hill of Tara
I meet my Auntie Jamie,
Long nose, crooked toes
And I declare she would frighten the crows.
It appears poor old aunties Joise and Jamie were a sight for sore eyes.
Instructions For Making A Scarecrow From The Irish Folklore Collection:
Scarecrows were made by Irish farmers in centuries past to keep crows away from their crops. Black crows are very widespread in Ireland, so the services of scarecrows were required before the arrival of the automatic bird dispersal equipment of today.
Here are the instructions for making an old fashioned Irish scarecrow. This is an excerpt from the Irish Folklore Collection which has been shared online. These treasure troves of cultural heritage were collected by a governmental folklore commission in the 1930's.
A Donegal woman, who was living in County Meath, contributed the following piece about how to make a scarecrow.
"A scarecrow is made in the following manner :-
A long stick in the shape of a cross is put down in the ground representing the body of a man.
An old coat and a pair of trousers are then put on the imaginary body, and a turnip made in the shape of a head to represent the man's head.
Holes are bored in the turnip shaping the eyes, nose and mouth of the man, and this is attached to the body.
The so-called man wears an old hat and is usually smoking a pipe, or has something in the shape of a gun in his hand.
The scarecrow is generally set up in the middle of a tillage field where seeds or potatoes are sown. It prevents the crows from taking the potatoes or rooting up the seeds."
Scarecrows on Shrove Tuesday:
On Shrove Tuesday night a fake man made like a scarecrow was put in a tree opposite the home in which a young girl of marriageable age lived. This scarecrow was known as a Brídeogach (pronouced breed-oh-gock).
The "Brídeogach" was considered a sign that the girl cannot get married until after Lent is over, and the only man in her life for the duration of Lent could be the scarecrow in the tree.
In some parts of Ireland the "scarecrow" was dressed and placed high in a tree near the house of an old maid or an old bachelor.
Source: The Irish Folklore Collection
Scarecrows and Straw Men In Old Irish Marriage Customs:
Old Irish wedding customs in centuries past involved the arrival of strawboys to the celebration.
When a couple got married, men dressed up as straw men, and visited the bride's house for the post wedding party. Known as the "Collicks" in some regions, these straw men spent the night dancing to the lilt of their own music.
The night the newly weds returned from a honeymoon the "Collicks" returned to greet them, dressed in their scarecrow costumes. If they were recognized they would leave.
An Fear Bréige:
This is the name for a scarecrow in the Irish language.
Fear bréige is pronounced as far bray-ga. It quite literally means a false man.
Here's an old Irish saying about false people.
Mealann an fear bréagach an fear santach.
Pronunciation: Mal-un on far bray-gock on far sahn-thock.
Meaning: The false man attracts the selfish man.
Durrow Scarecrow Festival:
Ireland is a land of festivals, and there are some whacky and quirky festivals held in different parts of the country during the summer months (all on hold for 2020, but they'll hopefully resume in the not too distant future.)
In the town of Durrow, in County Laois a scarecrow festival is held at the end of July or beginning of August each year. Scarecrows, large and small, are spotted all over the town, and the festivities continue for days. This scarecrow festival is scheduled to return in summer 2021.
Enough of my scarecrow ramblings. Let's get on with making this cheesy appetizer.
Ingredients for a Scarecrow Cheese Appetizer:
Here you’ll find a quick list of what you’ll need for this recipe. Check out the printable recipe at the bottom of this post for US and Metric equivalent versions of the recipe. There you can choose the measurement system that works best for you.
Here's what you'll need for the cheeseball:
- cream cheese, softened
- Velvetta cheese, room temperature
- sharp cheddar cheese
- garlic powder
- smoked paprika
- Worcestershire sauce
Here's what you'll need to decorate your scarecrow...
- Triscuit crackers
- matchstick carrots
- red bell pepper
- black olives
- grape tomato
- small stem of parsley
Directions for Making A Scarecrow Party Cheeseball
First make the cheese ball or disc. It needs to be refrigerated before decorating, so plan this recipe in advance if you'd like to use it for a party or a potluck.
Place all of the ingredients for the cheese ball into a large mixing bowl. Beat them all together until they're completely blended.
Line a flat bottomed, deep dish platter with a layer of plastic wrap.
Leave additional plastic wrap over the edges so that they can be folded back over the cheese ball to keep the air out as it chills in the refrigerator.
Spread the cheese mixture into the deep dish platter, and shape the cheese mixture into a round disc with a smooth and flat top.
Cover the cheese disc with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate at least one hour prior to decorating and serving.
When ready to serve, peal the plastic wrap off the top of the cheese disc. Turn the the cheeseball out on a serving plate and remove the remainder of the plastic wrap.
Across the side of the circle designated as the top, place a row of five Triscuit crackers about one inch below the top of the circle. Gently press the crackers into the cheese.
Then, place a row of four crackers over the first row at the top of the cheese disc. This forms the bowl of the scarecrow’s hat above the lower cracker hat rim.
Add a small piece of parsley as the flower. Arrange the matchstick carrots as straw hair below the hat.
To make the scarecrow face, slice the black olives and place two slices as eyes. Press the grape tomato into the cheeseball as the nose.
Then, press the red bell pepper slice into the cheeseball as a mouth.
Serve with additional crackers or vegetable dippers.
If you'd like to add this recipe to your printed collection here's a printable version.
Scarecrow Cheeseball Appetizer
For the Cheeseball or Scarecrow Face
- 16 ounces cream cheese 2 packages full fat cream cheese
- 2 cups cheddar cheese extra sharp and shredded
- 16 ounces Velveeta cheese
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
To Decorate the Scarecrow
- 9 wholewheat crackers Triscuit
- ¼ cup carrot matchsticks
- 1 slice red pepper
- 2 black olives
- 1 grape tomato
- 1 sprig parsley
- Add the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Velveeta, garlic powder, paprika and Worcestershire sauce to a large mixing bowl. Beat all of these ingredients together until completely blended.
- Line a deep dish platter with plastic wrap. Fill with the cheese mixture and shape into a round disc. Refrigerate at least one hour prior to decorating.
- When ready to serve, turn out the cheeseball onto a serving plate, and remove the plastic wrap.
- Designated one side of the circle as the top, and place a row of five Triscuit crackers below the top, and gently press the crackers into the cheese. Next place a row of four crackers over the first row, indenting them by half a cracker to form the scarecrow’s hat. Add a small piece of parsley as a flower.
- Arrange the matchstick carrots as hair beneath the lower row of crackers.
- Slice the black olives and place two slices as eyes. Press the grape tomato into the cheeseball as the nose. Then, press the red bell pepper slice into the cheeseball as a mouth.
- Serve with additional crackers or vegetable dippers
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
And there you have it - my Thanksgiving starter. I hope you like this scarecrow cheese ball. It's such a cute appetizer for young and old.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
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