Sunday, October 31, 2010

Eat, drink and be scary . . . Happy Halloween

When I was a kid growing up in the sticks of Pennsylvania we went Trick-or-Treating like the rest of the youths in America.  I dressed up as a witch most years which has less to do with my personality than the fact that we weren’t particularly well off and recycled the same costume year after year.  Back in those olden days it wasn’t so much about who had the coolest costume anyway . . . it was all about getting the treats. 

Then came the year when I was too old for me to get my mom to take me house to house gathering the loot.  That was way back in the days when there wasn’t such a word as “tween” . . . I was just a kid that was too old to go Trick-or-Treating but too young to get into too much serious trouble.   Not that *I* ever caused trouble . . . I was a good girl.

The tricksters in my neck of the woods didn’t chuck toilet paper, soap windows or toss eggs at houses . . . no . . . we made use of what was abundant around us . . . corn.  Lots and lots of corn.  We were literally surrounded by fields of feed corn. 

If you’re wondering what we did with the corn . . . we went cornin’ . . . duh!   It took weeks of preparation to get ready to go cornin’.  You had to raid a farmer’s field for corn, remove the corn from the cob and let it dry.  Of course, you had to be sneaky about the whole thing . . . first not get caught stealing the corn and second not to let Mom know what you were doing . . . both would have a fit!

Cornin’ is hiding out on the side of the road with your friends and hurling dried out kernels of corn at passing cars.  Most importantly . . . make sure you have an escape route because the chances are pretty good that the person you nailed with the corn is going to come after you. 

 Anyhoo . . . we carved pumpkins, too.   Originally, people carved out the insides of turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets to put outside to welcome friendly spirits.  At some point the pleasant tradition turned into a dark superstition that used the carved veggies to ward off evil spirits which might try to enter the home.   The lanterns were called jack-o'-lanterns.

The story goes that a cunning Irish fellow named Jack tricked the Devil 
into climbing a tall tree. When the Devil reached the highest branch,
Jack carved a large cross in the trunk, making it impossible for the 
Devil to climb down.

The Devil made a deal with Jack . . . if Jack helped him to get out of the
tree then he would never again be tempted with evil.  When ol’ Jack died 
he wasn’t allowed into heaven because of the deal and the Devil didn’t 
want the devious Jack in Hell so he was left to wander the Earth.  The 
tale goes on to say that Jack carved out a turnip and lit it with fire from
Hell to light his way.  Thus the legend of "Jack of the Lantern" was born.

The folks that crossed the pond from merry ol’ England to the new world discovered that pumpkins were a superior medium for their carving activities. 

And so the tradition continues . . .


Happy Halloween!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Take a look at Monster Hunters

My husband turned me on to the first Monster Hunter International (MHI) books last year . . . written by a brand spanking new author, Larry Correia. He self published his first book after being rejected by several publishing houses as being un-sellable. The book gained popularity so unbelievably fast that it was picked up by a major publisher and it is currently in its fourth printing.

Larry Correia creates a world filled with believable characters and a reality chucked full of monsters and creatures we all know, love and fear. He makes you cringe, he makes you laugh and he leaves you wanting more.

If you’re on the look out for a fun and exciting book . . . both of the of books in the MHI series will most definitely fit that bill!

Monster Hunter International
Five days after Owen Zastava Pitt pushed his insufferable boss out of a fourteenth story window, he woke up in the hospital with a scarred face, an unbelievable memory, and a job offer.
It turns out that monsters are real.  All the things from myth, legend, and B-movies are out there, waiting in the shadows.  Officially secret, some of them are evil, and some are just hungry.  On the other side are the people who kill monsters for a living.  Monster Hunter International is the premier eradication company in the business.   
And now Owen is their newest recruit.  It’s actually a pretty sweet gig, except for one little problem.  An ancient entity known as the Cursed One has returned to settle a centuries old vendetta.  Should the Cursed One succeed, it means the end of the world, and MHI is the only thing standing in his way.  With the clock ticking towards Armageddon, Owen finds himself trapped between legions of undead minions, belligerent federal agents, a cryptic ghost who has taken up residence inside his head, and the cursed family of the woman he loves.

Business is good…

Welcome to Monster Hunter International. “

The first seven chapters are posted for free at Baen's Webscriptions

Larry’s second book, Monster Hunter – Vendetta, hit the market in September 2010 to an anxious, frothing-at-the-mouth-for-more audience. Within weeks hit the New York Times Best Seller List . . . unbelievable but completely deserved. The book is also in the top 10 best fantasy books and on the bestseller list. He hit the mark again with a worthy sequal to Monster Hunter International. I could not put this book down! It’s exciting, creepy and laugh-out-loud funny. As good or better than the first. OMG! AWESOMENESS!

Monster Hunter - Vendetta

Accountant turned professional monster hunter, Owen Zastava Pitt, managed to stop the nefarious Old One’s invasion plans last year, but as a result made an enemy out of one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Now an evil death cult known as the Church of the Temporary Mortal Condition wants to capture Owen in order to gain the favor of the great Old Ones.”

The Sample Chapters for free at Baen's Webscriptions

I’m looking forward to more and more and more from Larry Correia!

Cher rates these books Number One for Homespun Fun for outstanding reading enjoyment!  LOVE IT!!

Visit Larry Correia's Blog

Friday, October 29, 2010

Firewater Friday . . . Liquid Apple Pie

This time of year when apples are in abundance, the smell of fresh baked apple pie wafting from the kitchen is enough to make you drool. 

What if you could have a little (or a lot) of this slice of heaven any time you wanted it?  What if you could pull a jar out of the fridge and just drink it down?

Come on . . . you know you want it.

I’ve got what you crave . . . Liquid Apple Pie . . . with a kicker.

  • 1 Gallon Apple Cider
  • 2 - 2 Liter Bottles Of Apple Juice
  • 5 - 7 Cups Sugar
  • 8 -10 Cinnamon Stix
  • Nutmeg
  • Whole Cloves
  • 1 .750 bottle Grain Alcohol

    • Large stock pot
    • Funnel
    • Clean glass bottles with lids, such as empty liquor bottles.

  1. Pour the cider into the large stock pot (about a 3 gallon pot) with the apple juice. Start to heat the cider and the juice.
  2. When the juices start to boil add the sugar, one cup at a time, up to the initial 5 cups.
  3. Throw in cinnamon stix and spices. I would add about 10 whole cloves and a few shakes of nutmeg at first. You can always add more.
  4. When the liquid starts to boil, taste for sweetness. If it does not seem sweet enough add one cup at a time.
  5. When gotten to the desired sweetness let simmer for about 30 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat. Cool to just above room temperature. Add the Grain Alcohol.
  7. Let cool completely. The cinnamon and other spices will settle to the bottom. Ladle off the top and use the funnel to put back into bottles. Put in fridge until ready to serve. It can be re-warmed and served hot. Do not boil or you will cook out the alcohol.

Top it with a dollop of whipped cream and you’ve got it ALL goin’ on!

For best results, let it mellow as long as you can  . . . at least 6 weeks. You can drink it sooner, but it's better if it ages. 

It is SO good you can't taste the alcohol and you can almost taste the crust.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Knit your hearts with an unslipping knot

Chants for Learning to Knit

In through the front door, 
Once around the back. 
Peek through the window
And off jumps Jack! (knit stitch)

Up through the hole, 
Around the tree, 

See you right back! (casting-on)

Soft & Cozy Neck Warmer

This is a quick and easy project made up of knitting together three strands of a lovely purple bulky yarn with great big bulky needles.

It only took me a couple of hours to knit up this super soft and cozy neck warmer. 

Here’s how I did it. . .

You will need:
  • 3 balls of bulky yarn . . . I used Sensation Holiday Shimmer in a rich purple.
  • 12″ US 19 needle
  • 1 large button

The total length of the neck warmer is about 33”.  The gauge is not critical for this project.

Holding a strand from each ball, CO 9 stitches.
Row 1 – *P1, k1; repeat from * to end.
Repeat Row 1 until approximately 28 inches.
Add a buttonhole in the middle of the row.  Make the button hole to fit the size of the button you’ve chosen.  My button hole was two stitches.  If you are using a smaller button you may not even need to place a button hole.
Knit to the point where the buttonhole will be placed.
Slip the first stitch on the left needle as if knit.
Move the yarn to the front of the work and leave it there. Slip the next stitch from the left needle to the right needle as if to knit. Pass the first slipped stitch over the second slipped stitch and off the needle. Repeat until you have bound off the number of required stitches for the buttonhole.
Slip the last stitch from the right needle back to the left needle. Turn. Bring the yarn to the front of the work. At the edge where the buttonhole was begun, cast on the number of stitches you bound off plus one additional stitch. The twisted purlwise cast on is a good choice.
Turn. Slip the first stitch from the left needle to the right needle as if to knit. Pass the extra cast on stitch over the next stitch; then slip this stitch back to the left needle.

Continue knitting pattern until piece is approximately 33”.
Bind off loosely in pattern and weave in ends.
Attach button to center purl stitch approximately 1 inch from cast on edge.

Cozy and warm!  A wonderful pattern for a last minute gift!

This lovely cowl is for sale at my Etsy store.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pig pickin'

My friend Michael is the best . . . he smart, funny, cute as a button, giver of the bestest advise and generous with his recipes.  If my hunny would allow me to get him a brother-husband, Michael would be my first choice. . . though HIS wife might have something to say about THAT!
I made this amazingly easy and delicious recipe for the birthday party of another awesome friend.

Pulled Pork . . . LaPaglia style!
To make the sauce combine:

·        6 Tbl Olive Oil
·        1 ½ Cup Ketchup
·        ¾ Cup Soy Sauce
·        ¾ Cup Canadian Whiskey (Canadian Club, Or Seagram’s V.O. ONLY, Trust Me On This.)
·        3 Tbl Brown Sugar
·        3 Tbl Yellow Mustard
·        1 Tbl. Worcestershire Sauce
·        3 Clove Garlic Minced

Plus 4-6 cloves small garlic for the pork shoulder

Start with a 3-5 bone in pork shoulder Make 4-6 little pockets in the pork with a knife push a small clove of Garlic in the hole making sure its not going to pop out. Brown well on all sides in a heavy frying pan in 3 tablespoons of oil. Put in the crock pot and cover with the sauce. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

When it’s done remove from the sauce and pull it apart. It should be cooked enough so that it will just fall apart when you pull on the meat. If you are a wimp you can use two forks instead of your fingers.  

Skim as much oil from the sauce as you can. If sauce is too thin, reduce it on the stove. It should be as thick as it was when you first made the sauce. Most times you will have to reduce it by 1/3 to ½ to get it thick enough. It’s not real thick but it is not thin either, Pay attention to the thickness when you make the sauce.   

Once the sauce is the right consistency reserve about 8 to 10 oz of the sauce and pour the rest on over the pulled pork and mix well. Serve it on a good crusty roll and have potato salad and cole slaw as sides. Put the reserved sauce in a squeeze bottle and let people add extra sauce if they want it.

I have never used it on chicken but I imagine it would be quite good.  Brush it on the chicken during the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Canadian Whiskey is not the same as Jack Daniels or Seagram 7 or Scotch. It’s a rye based whiskey so don’t substitute without expecting a big flavor change. Also the cheap stuff is not worth the time. It just tastes bad. Stick with the brands mentioned above.

This will serve 4-6 hungry people with leftovers.

I have a problem with following directions . . . just ask my husband . . . I NEVER listen to HIM!  :D

This recipe, as marvelous as it is, is no exception.  Since I was making it for a party, I doubled the recipe.  And, because I double the recipe the pork shoulder didn’t fit in my crockpot.  So, I decided to cook the big, honkin’ piece of meat in my cast iron camp oven.  I cooked it in my conventional oven at 200 degrees for 14 hours.  It was falling of the bone and smelled like a slice of barbeque heaven.  I reduced the sauce  . . . and this is where I took the biggest step outside the recipe . . . I added some red pepper flakes for a bit of fire and some real honey for a bit of sweetness . . . the result was nothing short of spectacular. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Porcupine Illusion

Porcupine balls are DE-LISH-US!  Growing up in the sticks of Pennsylvania they were a mealtime staple . . . even our school lunch ladies served them up with a heaping pile of smashed taters. 

Yes, I come from a place called Blue Knob up the road a lick from Bulls Creek (pronounced Bulls Crick)  but we did not, I repeat, NOT eat actual porcupine balls. Yes, yes . . . some of those country folk slept in the same house as their livestock . . . if a tarpaper shack counts as a house . . . and married close relations.  And, I’m sure there were plenty of them 'uns nomming on unusual critters and roadkill and the like.  

But porcupine balls are really just meatballs with rice in a tomato-ee sauce.  The rice poking out of the meatballs kind of look like porcupine quills, but they don’t stick like real porcupine quills.  And they are really, really good!

This is definitely a retro-dish from the 70’s.  It’s a simple dish that deserves a comeback and is sure to be a family favorite if you give it a go.

What you need:

  • 1 Can Campbell’s Tomato Soup (10 3/4 Ounce Size)
  • 2 Soup Cans Of Water
  • 1/4 Cup Uncooked Rice
  • 1 To 1 1/2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
  • Finely Chopped Onion (About 1/3 Cup)
  • 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Mix meat, rice, onion, salt & pepper in a large bowl. 

Form into meatballs, this recipe should make about a dozen average size meatballs.  In a large, pan mix soup, Worcestireshire sauce & water over low heat. Gently add meatballs to the soup. 

Simmer for about 1 ½ hours; the sauce will thicken as it cooks. 

Serve with a pile of mashed potatoes and a side of peas.  Sure to please!!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Afternoon Delight - A Not-So-Liquid Lunch

What inspired this little rhyme?
One part kitteh, one part lime.

This quicky is inspired by the yummy drink . . . you can have the taste of a margarita without getting trashed (or fired) at lunchtime.

Quick, simple, tasty . . . what else can you ask for. 

Excellent for a snack or an accompaniment to other noms.

Margarita Cucumbers

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 Limes
  • Coarse Salt to Taste

Slice cucumber.  Spread the cucumber onto a plate and then cut the lime in half.  Squeeze the lime all over the sliced cucumber.  Sprinkle with salt.

 Want a little extra kick?  Sprinkle with chili powder. 

Seriously . . . it doesn’t get much easier than that!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekend Whimsy . . . A small price to pay

Oooooh!  $350 for brillo!  Sweet!

The Golden Fleece - Spun and Knit - Necklace

The Golden Fleece - Spun and Knit - Necklace
The Golden Fleece - Spun and Knit - NecklaceThe Golden Fleece - Spun and Knit - NecklaceThe Golden Fleece - Spun and Knit - NecklaceThe Golden Fleece - Spun and Knit - NecklaceThe Golden Fleece - Spun and Knit - Necklace


A bold statement necklace that is intricately gorgeous and easy to wear. Wear it with anything with an open neckline.

Over 10 metres (11 yards) of hand-knit wire were used to created this fabulous, one-of-a-kind necklace.

Looped lengths of knitted wire form the intricate golden mass that increases in volume as it nears the centre. The loops have been sewn (with wire) onto a chain of knitted and woven wire.

End to end, this neckpiece measures 38cm (15"). The hand-formed and hammered clasp and rings can add up to 5cm (2") of extra length. If desired, extra links can be added.
Added on Aug 13, 2010