Month: October 2012

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Food Trends

pre-pre-Sandy Buffalo

I have finally jumped a fairly large (for me) hurdle. It wasn’t a matter of the hurdle being large; in fact it wasn’t a matter of skill at all.

I hate trends.

I especially hate food trends.

I’m so sick of bacon making its way into every food item on the planet that I want to scream.

But, regardless.

I have finally browned butter. It took me an entire batch of cookies to recognize the smell of browned butter and fresh brown sguar as toffee.

Mid has been hounding me about cookies all fall, and since he got promoted to assistant IT director (!) I decided that it was an occassion for a ‘foodie’ type recipe- I ended up using the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (the big book that I got for Christmas last year). I’m not going to write out the recipe because it’s involved enough that I don’t know if I could do it justice. It is however on their site, but be warned you have to register. Or buy the big book, it’s an investment piece for your collection.

The only thing I noticed is that I didn’t use parchment paper (I’m out) and I used new pans- and they came out much darker than my cookies normally do. I don’t know if it’s the new pans or the higher baking temp, but I’m going to have to keep that in mind for the future.

Death to the Easter Bunny!

original here

Death to the Easter Bunny!

Alan Ryan

Yes. That’s a literal title, and sums up the story fairly well.

Four friends travel Upstate (why is it that Upstate seems to be a hot bed of weirdness for people?) and stumble upon an old man in the woods who appears to have a strong talent for convincing people of bizarre theories if nothing else. Insistent that the world is being invaded by strange, aggressive creatures determined to overthrow the world, he manages to convince the four to come back at Easter.

What they find in the woods manages to both horrify them and solidify their belief in the man’s quest. The story ends with what amounts to the beginning of round two.

This story reminded me of a very odd trip down the rabbit hole (hah). One of my friends pointed out that what is interesting about this piece is that the proof of the existence of the Easter Bunny is proof enough to the group of the legitimacy of the old man’s quest. But really, it probably shouldn’t be. Just becase the Bunny is real doesn’t mean the threat is and the man may be the evil here slaughtering what amounts to thoughforms just because he manages to get people to do it. And honestly the oddity of the scene aside there’s something horrible about the description of what happens to the Bunny that really does make it unclear who’s the threat in this piece-especially since they fully intend to keep doing this.

I knit this into socks, which had to be mended tonight. The things we do for favored finished projects- and frugality!

Horrific Knits

mid’s mother gave me a box full of yarn about a week ago. most of the yarn is left over from projects that she completed in the past. the skein on the top of the box was a full skein of fishermen’s wool (lion brand). i’ve been wanting to try dyeing fishermen’s wool for awhile now (or is it fisherman’s wool? well it doesn’t make that much of a difference).

i got out of work early christmas eve and a coworker drove me home, which gave me several hours worth of time before bedtime to play with dyeing.

i’ve been playing around with sock knitting (yes. let me repeat that statement for the 18th time this month in this blog…) and i’ve been wanting to play around with knitting heavier socks to wear with my boots. i normally dye for warmer colors, for whatever reason but an informal poll of…

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The Tengu

The tengu are a class of spirits that encompass human, canine, and bird-like qualities. When in human form the spirit tends to present itself with a long nose which is the main identifying feature of the ghost.

In most cases the spirit while being aggressive is not completely harmful. Some Buddhists hold that the tengu are harbingers of war, but generally see them as being protector spirits most commonly found in mountain ranges and forests. While known for having dog-like tendencies, the tengu are most often portrayed as either a bird or a human. Tengu carry fans that allow them to bring up winds.  The tengu date from the 8th century where they were described as being more dog-like, but as with other Japanese monsters and demons, there may have been crossover with images from other cultures that influenced the transition into birds.

When the tengu is portrayed as a ghost, it is sometimes assumed to the ghost of a priest who neglected or rejected his duties. In this manner they attempt to possess the living (often a woman or girl) and cause destruction. The tengu would sometimes engage in behavior like making people eat dung (driving them to madness) or tying them to the top of trees.

The dual nature of the spirit may be that there are different types of tengu. Buddhist writings suggest that there are at least two, one of whom being dangerous, destructive and vain, and the other being protective. Since the 17th century the protective spirits have been much more common in Japanese folklore. Folklore regarding the tengu have them being helpful to humans, being curious of human behavior, or commenting on the nature of human action.

Tengu

Cranberry Sauce (Whole Berry)

I haven’t cooked with cranberries before this year, and the last batch of cranberry sauce I made was a little odd (at least compared to the way I’m used to cranberry sauce-but I did greatly enjoy it).

I used the Ball recipe, but halved it because I’m the only person in the household who really eats cranberries. I didn’t want to be eating cranberry sauce every other day for the next year…

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

(Adapted from the Ball Blue Book)

4 cups whole berries

2 cups white sugar

2 cups water

Bring water and sugar to a boil, boil for 5 minutes. Add berries and allow to boil until berries pop. I boil mine for about 5 to 10 minutes. Process in prepped jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. This recipe gave me 2 pints (processed in half pint jars).

Fall Into the Holidays #6

Fall Into the Holidays #6

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(Seasonal) Sunday Legends-Black Cats and Pitbulls

This column has looked at the role of cats in superstition before, and has highlighted the ways that the connections between felines and luck are not universal. In fact, in many countries, it’s not the stereotypical black cat that is considered to be a harbinger- it’s white ones.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that for many Americans the connection between cats, luck, and Halloween exists with black cats. The connection is so strong that it’s almost a given for many people; I’ve caught Mid pleading with black cats to hide until All Souls Day just for their own safety.

Cats regardless of color do have a historical place in the superstition of various cultures. In the United Kingdom cats can signal good or bad luck and had such a connection to folk belief that the cat sith are faeries. The connection to luck may have developed due to fears of witchcraft where the cat is a familiar of a witch, or is even the witch itself. The belief in the black cat’s use in witchcraft led to violence against the animal. Oddly, in some cases the connection to luck is fickle-in Germany the cat is only unlucky if it’s traveling in a certain direction. Sailors saw black cats as being lucky as well.

Unfortunately the connection between animals and luck, and animals and violence on Halloween, has started leaching into other species. A recent internet hoax, spurred by the rumors of breed-specific legislation, claims that Halloween 2012 has been dubbed Kill a Pitbull Day wherein all adults should club to death any dog that even looks like it may be a pitbull before midnight. Luckily, the forward was identified as a hoax early, and hopefully no animals will actually be harmed.

Kill a Pit Bull Day (snopes.com)

Oddities

I love this show. Love, love, love. I marathoned an entire season in a day when I discovered it on Netflix, which is something I never do.

I will say off the bat that Oddities is reality television, of a sort. I rarely watch reality tv but people kept talking up this show. I decided that it was worth a shot. Oddities follows the functioning of a store called Obscura in New York City. Obscura deals with antiques, but antiques with odder histories or usages. Mortuary equipment, side show props, relics, and other pieces of material culture come and go through this story.

As someone with a deep interest in death studies (and material history) I adore the objects that come through this store. They’ve sold everything from beds of nails to Victorian hair sculptures (once used as momento mori). I don’t really care so much about the customers that come through the store, though those are certainly interesting- Is that a….straight jacket?-I want to know more about the items that the store buys and sells.

Not for the faint of heart, and not your normal antique shop. This is not Antique Roadshow. But I love this series.

Crockpot Bread

If you haven’t tried bread in a crockpot yet, you really should. It’s pretty much what’s going to save my bread making career.

This batch was made with this no-knead recipe. I modded the recipe a little; the dough came out really wet when I mixed it as written. I added another 3/4 cup or so of flour before putting into the crockpot, parchment paper and all.

I cooked it on high in the crockpot for 1 3/4 hours, then put it into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or so. Small loaves can be done completely in the crockpot, this loaf just seemed to be stubborn. I always forget to score my loaves as well, so I’m not sure how much that has to do with it either.

Linked to-
Saturday Dishes

the chicken chick     momnivore’s dilemma

i should be mopping the floor

create with joy     call me pmc

addicted to recipes    the prairie homestead

clairejustine

Have you stopped by this week’s Fall Into the Holidays?

Haunted Western New York-Holiday Inn (Grand Island)

Out of all of the hauntings that I’ve researched, I think that I find this Grand Island haunting to be one of the most interesting.

What is interesting about this particular ghost is that there is absolutely no historical basis to the story. The legend goes that the Grand Island Holiday Inn is haunted by the ghost of a young girl, commonly referred to as ‘Tanya’. Tanya appears as a child dressed in white, who roams the building and grounds. Since the early 1970s she engages in fairly common childhood behaviors such as running the halls, playing mild pranks on guests and staff, and disrupting rooms. The legend claims that Tanya lived on the grounds once, and died in a fire in the 1800s.

Unfortunately for believers, no such occurance can be verified. There was a house on the property, in which children were raised. None of them were named Tanya. The house did burn, but not until the 1960s; there were no deaths reported in that fire.

This is all fairly common knowledge- all of it is obtainable through the Grand Island historical society. So why has it made the jump into the realm of urban legend? What about this story makes it so appealing?