Spiced Sweet Pickles


I know, finally two recipes in the same week. And two pickle recipes, at that.

I am still hunting for the perfect sweet pickle recipe. The idea for this batch originated in Pickled: From curing lemons to fermenting cabbage, the gourmand’s ultimate guide to the world of pickling, One of the recipes uses brown sugar as the sweetener, and that’s a combination that I haven’t tried yet. I cut back on the sugar (by more than half) called for in the original pickle, and added a ton of spices. I also doubled the vinegar and added 2 cups of water for a batch to fit in a mason half gallon jar. This is a pretty simple, fairly common style quick pickle brine.

I used about 3 tablespoons dried spices, in a combination of chili powder, William-Sonoma’s harissa, and Penzey’s berbere. All of them hot, all of them with a similar flavor profile. You can cut back-and again this is for a batch that fit in a half gallon jar.

This is another fridge pickle. I’m all about the fridge pickles this season.

Spiced Sweet Pickles

Vegetables (I used 1 cucumber, 1/2 bag of radishes, 1 half bag baby carrots, and 3 thinly sliced cloves of garlic)


2-4 cups apple cider vinegar

2 cups water

1 tablespoon canning salt

3 tablespoons mixed spices, leaning towards hot/spicy flavors

1/2 cup brown sugar

Place vegetables into jar

Bring brine to a boil, let simmer for 5 minutes. Place over vegetables and allow to cool. Refrigerate.

Pickles should hold for 2 weeks or so.

Fire Pickles


I’m working towards finding the perfect sweet pickle brine.

This brine recipe, adapted from a Taste of Home bread and butter pickle recipe, is closer to what I’ve tried so far. I love dill pickles but I actually crave sweet pickles when I have pickle cravings.

These pickles are the result of a though experiment-witch’s brew is essentially just aromatics in vinegar, and pickles are vegetables in vinegar, so I wonder what happens when you merge the two?

*I cannot comment to the safety of these pickles as a canned recipe. I make these as a fridge pickle. The upside of making them as a fridge pickle is that they are much more adjustable- add more or less salt (or leave it out entirely), adjust the sugar level, change the vinegar, adjust how many aromatics you use.

Fire Pickles

Aromatics list: mix and match; peel and finely slice or grate roots, onions should be chopped. Spices/herbs-I just eyeball them, up to about a tablespoon each





hot peppers (handful) (the hottest you can find, the point is to have a hot infusion)



1 onion





cayenne pepper

-Raw- honey (optional)

Pickling spice


Use whatever you like, is on sale, or is in season-I’ve done batches with cucumbers, squash, carrots, onions, radishes, peppers, garlic, and summer squash. Chop thinly and as uniformly as possible.


2 cups vinegar

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon or so canning salt


Place all aromatics and vegetables into a large jar (I use a half gallon Ball jar). Heat brine to boiling on stovetop; let cool slightly and then add to jar to cover (1 batch fills my jar with the vegetables added-adjust up or down to fit batch size). Cool slightly and place in fridge.

A batch should hold for about two weeks.

The Tedford Disappearance

Originally posted on Horrific Knits:


The Internet can do weird things to legends. It can take things that would have otherwise just slipped away into silence and make them into ‘mysteries’.

Was a man not getting off a bus just a case of being overlooked, or was it something more?

In the early winter of 1949, World War II veteran James Tedford got onto a bus in St. Albans, Vermont. He was on the bus as of the last stop before Bennington, Vermont. Somewhere between that stop and the final stop in Bennington, Tetford disappeared from the bus.

All of his belongings were still on the bus and his seat was unoccupied. None of the other passengers and the bus driver claimed that he never got off of the bus- he simply vanished into thin air. These types of disappearances are not unheard of in history, and there have been multiple disappearances of this type…

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The Texan

I’ve honestly been avoiding the Civil War ghosts because I feel like I can’t do the history justice in the scope of this blog.

I am the woman who got very upset on Facebook this morning over people deciding that Norse women were warriors because of swords being present in burial sites, even with the lack of any further historical data to back up what the role of the swords were.

Point being, there are situations where I end up sort of digging at my face and moaning, but the historical record?! What does the historical record say?! Social media is enough to give a sociohistorian a stroke.

So at the risk of driving myself into a frenzy, the story of the Texan goes like this;

Sites of large scale death and tension are often the obvious location for hauntings, and there are few areas of the United States that can be identified that way as the battlefields of the American Civil War. One of the most ‘popular’, as in familiar, of those battlefields is Gettysberg.

The level of violence that occurred at Gettysberg means that stating the area, which is now a national park, is haunted is almost sort of ‘obvious’, as in, while I don’t necessarily ignore ghost stories that come out of the places we would assume to be haunted I’m almost more interested in the stories that come out of places that aren’t known for it. But the bare foot ghost, the ghost referred to as the Texan, also is woven into my own personal paranormal history; it is one of the first ghost stories I remember hearing as a child.

The ghost is always seen in a similar manner-tourists or tour guides will see a man, wearing a hat and barefoot, near the area of Plum Run stream. The tourists are sometimes actually lost or at least turned around but the guides are generally aware of their location. Regardless, the ghost will point and say ‘what you’re looking for is over there’. Sometimes he disappears then and sometimes he wanders off and is gone by the time the tourists will make it around the hill.

The clothes make him a member of the Texan militia, and that is pretty much the sum of his story. It’s a fairly short, but deeply ingrained, ghost story in a place that’s almost expected to be haunted.

10 National Parks and the Monsters and Ghosts Who Supposedly Live There

Ghost Encounters at Gettysburg

Half Crowns

A very selfie selfie

A very selfie selfie

When it comes to my veiling choices, I go for single scarf, fast wraps that are lightweight (I have a tendency towards tension headaches) and something that I can actually -wrap up without a mirror-.

I love the half crown for a number of reasons-it’s easy to put up, once you get a feel for the movement you can get it wrapped without a mirror in under a mirror, and it still has some visual interest to it. I also prefer it over a full crown because the tail gives it the visual movement of hair and makes it slightly less harsh.

halfcrown1Using an oblong scarf (over an undercap or not, volumizer or not, up to you) tie a half hitch so you have two unequal tails. Take the longer tail, and twist it tightly so you have a rope. Place the rope across your head where you want the crown to lay (do this in front of a mirror until you get a feel for the size of your head) and tuck the end of the tail under your scarf so it holds in place. Don’t try to tuck the entire tail in one place, just start tucking it along your scarf like you’re making a bed.

*Making equal tails and placing two ropes will give you a full crown.



2015 Canning List

From Pixabay

From Pixabay

It’s not so much that I’m behind on my canning so much as it is that I’m still working on eating through my canned hoard from the last couple of years (and I need to get a new burner for my stove).

I need more tomatoes. So many more tomatoes. I’ve resorted to buying store canned again. That can’t keep happening.

This is pretty much the same list as last year, just with less blueberries. I’m not sure what was up with my blueberry obsession last spring.

-Carrot Cake Jam


–different fruits as well as peaches

—-pineapple has been requested

apple pear jam

-apple sauce

-cyser style apples

-banana fridge jam

-dilly beans

-whole and crushed tomatoes

-dill pickles

-spiked oranges

-plum sauce

-pickled hot peppers

-bbq sauce

-apple butter

-peach butter

-peach pie jam

-cherry jam

-mint syrup

-preserved mint


-cider molasses

-pickled beets


-sweet pickles

-blackstrap strawberry jam


-strawberry mint syrup and jam

-fruit syrups

-hot sauce

-whole peaches and nectarines

It Follows

It is very, very rare for me to enjoy a movie as much as I did It Follows anymore.

It’s not just that I found the movie terrifying-in itself a very rare statement from me anymore, though that holds true as well. But the depth of this film, it reminds me of why I got into cultural studies and the sociology of horror in the first place.

The movie works in all the places that a horror film should work, and that is certainly solid enough praise as it is. Jay agrees to go on a date with Hugh, which turns out to be one of the worst decisions that she has made. She is drawn into a world where things are never as they seem, slowly pulling in her sister Kelly and childhood friends Paul, Yara, and Greg. The casting is beautiful, the acting is exceptionally strong, and the pacing is almost perfect. Even the jump scares work-and the enemy, with the way that it shifts, is freaky as all hell.

But the movie works on a much deeper level; I will say, however, that having a solid exposure to Hitchcock and pre-1980s European horror will do a viewer well here. Even the score, with its repetitive, metallic screeching is Hitchcock Nouveau. The film moves deeper than that, however, with the follower easily being the shadow self and the movie being seen as the liminal between childhood and adulthood, between the seen and the unseen, between past and future.

The entire movie is set in the liminal. It even factors into the dialogue; Yara waxes poetic about how her family wouldn’t let her past 8 Mile while she was a child and the boundary seemed so arbitrary. The pushing of boundaries is what this movie does so well-from the opening shot we have no clear sense of setting. Is this morning? Is this night? Why is our first character dressed in night clothes and blood red pumps? What season is this, even? Everything is green and yet Jay and Kelly are wandering around in sweaters.

This is arguably a very feminine (and yes, feminist) film, though as with all the best movies that are placed in those characterizations it’s not a slap in the face with either. You’re not going to walk away from this movie thinking about girl power, but that’s exactly what’s going on here-Jay is in fact finding her own power (it is only by facing that which she is running from that she will find her power; you could easily argue that Jay is running from herself with the way that the past is constantly pulled into the future, the constant repetition of dated furnishings, cars, and technologies, and the ambiguous seasonal setting).  The incessant use of water and mirrors (they’re in almost every scene, in some form), the heavy use of door imagery, and the way that we never once allowed to see her family other than in the faces of the follower and glimpses of her mother in mirrors  (again with the mirrors) are all suggestions of movement and breaks away from her past and a line between the world she knows and the ultimate unknown. The movie starts to toe the line with Jungian symbolism and it’s absolutely beautiful to watch unfold (I would normally comment that it’s probably not deliberate, but with mirrors, the color blue, and water showing up in almost every scene I’m not going to give that warning this time).

There is one other area that this film impressed me greatly (though it’s obvious that this movie has me on a roll and I kind of wish this movie came out a decade ago, I would have had a field day)-the way that it subverts the sexuality tropes within horror. Jay is sexual. Jay is openly sexual, and yet does not in fact die in the manner of the first girl. In fact, she is allowed to overcome the monster (which could be viewed as her own sexuality, actually). The first girl is only sexual by suggestion-though those blood red pumps could carry a deeper discussion of their own. Jay is also allowed to be beautiful without it becoming a hinge to the film; Kelly comments that ‘at least she’s nice’ when Yara points out Jay’s beauty. Yara’s relationship with her body is masculine in a way that is often not allowed on film. period-she eats, she drinks, she’s allowed bodily functions, in a lot of ways Yara is treated like a male character, and that is in itself worth noting. In fact -a lot- of the women in this movie are twisted in ways we’re not normally allowed to see. Jay is sexual, for example, but it’s not suggested that she’s being punished for being sexual; in fact, I would argue that this has one of the best discussions on assault and the healing therein that I’ve seen in genre in a very, very long time.

Obviously, this movie impressed me-but as I said at the beginning of the review, this is just an enjoyable film overall. It’s well worth a watch even without all the postmodern criticism.

[This movie flirts with enough symbolism and folkloric content that this review is going up on a Sunday.]