Homesteading Tip-Make Your Own Coffee Bags

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Sometimes I will lay down for a nap and get to thinking about things, and really obvious ideas hit me.

I have a Keurig, that I use in the winter more than anything (with reusable filters, not the cups from the store), and a French press that I love but hate taking apart to clean (and then the grounds get everywhere). I also have a ‘normal’ pot that I don’t think I’ve used in years and keep meaning to pull out for camp.

I also have a box of fill your own tea bags that got pushed to the back of the cupboard and forgotten.

Have you ever seen those coffee bags? The ones that look like tea bags? I lived off of them in college. I actually love them, and you can dispose of them the same way you can tea bags (and I -believe- they can be composted. You might want to double check on that one though). But they’re so pricey.

If you have a box of filters and paper folding skills (I don’t) or a box of tea bags, you can make your own coffee bags. Just putĀ  1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of coffee into the bag and tie off or staple shut. You can use a filter and then fold it into an envelope and staple that shut. You can staple twine to the bag to fish it out if you want.

You steep like a French press-almost boiling water for four and a half minutes or so, to taste.

Mexico Barbaro

Two things to remember before I get into the meat of this review: I enjoy international horror more almost as a rule above American horror, and I love folkloric horror with a passion-and have a much wider definition of what falls into that subgenre than I think a lot of reviewers are willing to work with.

I will admittedly give folkloric horror that plays with themes from outside the horror mainstream a lot more give than I do horror with more common themes, just for showing me something. New here is being used loosely, I’m just tired of seeing the same three movies being made in American horror over and over again, just with a new cast. But I digress.

Mexico Barbaro plays with a lot of themes and images, some of them probably more familiar than other. Ranging from ghosts into echoes of folk saints, all eight segments rework traditional folk stories. These are not just ‘dark’ fairy tales though, and this is -definitely-a horror movie, with a fair amount of violence, gore, bodily injury, and sexual content. However…I almost love it for that. I love seeing world folklore get down and dirty with its shadow side [not to sound like a cultural tourist. I’m just tired of Little Red Riding Hood being used as an example of how ‘dark’ folklore was and is.]

Is it a ‘good’ project thought? If you like projects like V/H/S you’ll like this film. But it has the same weaknesses-some of the segments feel forced, some are rushed, some are a little vague. Some feel like a study in gore with a slight attempt at a theme [I’m not a fan of the closing segment]. But it’s fun, in the way that a slasher can be fun. And some of the images linger impressively. So it’s not an instant classic, but it’s fun for the gore hounds.

The Halloween Host

The Halloween Host

S. M. Barrett

209 Pages

Accessed as an Ebook

$0.99 on Amazon at time of writing

I am actually annoyed with myself for not having written this review sooner, as I actually dearly loved this book and will gladly give it one of my strongest recommendations thus far on this blog.

This isn’t horror, though there are some eerie aspects to it and it falls a little too far into magic for true magical realism (I suppose then that the genre answer here is seasonal fantasy). This isn’t even fully creepy, though again, some of the imagery is a little dark. But truly just a little.

In all honesty this is probably one of the ‘lightest’ pieces of fiction I’ve covered on this blog, but it’s a beautiful book, especially if you’re a deep lover of Halloween. I am. Technically falling within the range of YA fiction the book is actually full of a dense, rich imagery of a type that a horror fan will find appealing-even if the imagery itself isn’t horrifying. One of the aspects of the book I do find most endearing is the use of traditional but often overlooked seasonal imagery, things that are most definitely Halloween appropriate but get overlooked in modern media in favor of gore and jump scares (and which does make this book older child safe-there is discussion of death but nothing graphic throughout the novel).

Arthur Brim has failed his son, and through failing his son, has failed the whole of Halloween. He one day finds a guest in his kitchen who informs him that he now holds a debt to the holiday, and will pay that debt off by hosting the October Senate, those beings most closely associated with the holiday. Brim slowly rekindles his love of the season-and heals his bond with his son-through hosting the senators and learning deep, though admittedly seasonally appropriate, life lessons from each of them.

Master Base Soup Recipe

master soup recipe

[I know that this is going to look like a lot of processed food and the associated issues that people have with it. However, if you look at it as ratios, you can make this as clean-or dirty-as your personal preferences desire. There’s no reason you couldn’t use this base with bone broth and heirloom tomatoes.]

I love recipes like this. It’s barely a recipe-in fact when my friend Nathan gave it to me on Facebook, that was his comment: it’s not a recipe. But at the same time, its ‘lack of structure’ is what makes it so awesome. It’s a ratio for a soup base that can be modified with broth types, vegetables, meats, tofu, spice preferences, etc. You could easily make this vegan.

For beginner cooks and homesteaders, that’s the type of recipe you need in your back pocket. Or even those cooks who know what they’re doing but have gotten so used to scratch cooking they need to ask for basics on Facebook [cough cough cough me cough].

As written the recipe came out tasting like Campbells, to me. But I also rarely use this level of salt in my cooking so it may be a matter of exposure.

Master Base Soup Recipe

1 can broth of choice (roughly 15 oz)

1 can roasted tomatoes (roughly 15 oz)

1 bag frozen vegetables (2-3 cups)

 

Add everything to a pot, and add enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes or so. I also added Beekman House’s soup seasoning because I had it, but use preferred soup spices.

A Head Full of Ghosts

A Head Full of Ghosts

Paul Tremblay

309 Pages

Accessed as an Ebook

$11.99 at the time of writing

This book is one of those genre spanning books that can be so slippery and hard to pin down that you end at dark fiction and call it good.

With some novels that becomes a burden-the reader is forced to wade through so many style changes and tropes that it becomes almost more work than what the pay off is worth. However, in this case, it works for the plot and in a lot of ways the plot throws side way glances at genre, like the way that Tremblay pulls from so many genres is the point of the entire thing.

Tremblay doesn’t give us a true academic horror novel, but there’s enough depth here to keep a reader who needs complexity in their horror happy. The book is meta, but stays within the bounds of mainstream fiction enough to not require too much thought-up until the last chapter (and arguably the last 10 pages or so of the book) when the reader is forced to confront who, or what, the driving force of the novel has been the entire time.

I am not using the word conflict here deliberately. At its core, the book centers around the tensions of the Barrett family when the family patriarch, John, decides to approach his elder daughter Marjorie’s mental illness as a possession-and then decides to use reality television as the site of her healing. The plot is narrated by Merry, the younger daughter, both as an adult in the near future and as her 8 year old self at the time of the possession in what is roughly now.

The possession plot is actually solid enough that if the novel were less complex (and again here the complexity isn’t forced or overly dense or artificial), the book would still be interesting. Tremblay manages to find several rather novel additions to the demonic possession subgenre, enough that it doesn’t feel like a replay of the Exorcist or other possession classics (though in one of the meta zones the novel questions its own ability to avoid that). However. It is truly the end of the book that forces the reader to sit up and question who or what was the real villain or force at play here-because the ending of the novel is both disquieting and a touch confusing in all the best ways, and certainly forces a perspective change on everything that has come before.

The Hallow [2015]

I’m pretty blunt about the fact that one of my main criticisms with horror as a whole is that there’s a world (literally) of folklore out there but the genre keeps coming back to the same handful of mythical themes over and over again.

I have a parallel argument about how the only images we get out of certain branches of world mythology are those that were heavily modified by the Victorians. I’m trying to be deliberately vague here as I don’t want to give away too much of this movie, but if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time-or know your Irish folklore-you’ll probably pick up on what I’m talking about via the details I do relate.

According to Internet land, the production team of The Hallow holds a similar mentality to mine and decided to rely on traditional Irish folklore to form the base of this movie. And it’s really a solid entry into folkloric horror-though it’s not without its weaknesses (the actual scares aren’t terribly deep in that they occur and then are almost immediately ended, and the film is overall not gothic enough to really carry its weight as a gothic piece. But that being said, there’s some fairly startling imagery and the traditional/unconventional aspects of the storyline make up for whatever the movie lacks in depth of characterization).

I will grant that the film is in fact solid enough to overcome someĀ  of my normal pet peeves with horror that play with the tropes that are presented here-I’ve been pretty upfront with my annoyances with using babies and children to amp up the tension, but with one of the superstitions forming the base of this film it’s actually necessary to keep putting the baby front and center. Even the use (misuse?) of the family pet here links back to folklore like Black Shuck (I know Shuck is English, but there are dogs in the Irish folklore as well).

What impressed me about the movie, which is hard to explain without spoiling too much of the film or being too extremely vague, is the attention to detail-folkloric detail. The travel into mounds, the ownership of lands,the iron on the windows, light sensitivity, throwing of glamours that fail at dawn. It’s actually really refreshing- especially the incredibly unattractive creatures (seriously, do your reading, the idea of a glamour was to hide the real nature of the thing, to make it that much more appealing to humans than they were. They were never really considered truly, fully beautiful, at least not all of them. -Them- being that vagueness I want to put into this review, because I really want you to see a movie with a non-traditional/traditional monster.)

[I am not exactly certain what they’re supposed to be, to the minute detail. I know what the Internet says they are, but I’m not sure the description fits the behavior.]