Month: June 2015

BBQ Sauce

bbq sauce

When you invite a canner to a wedding reception/pot luck you need to expect at least one or two jars to show up.

Five showed up. Applesauce, firestarter, dilly beans, relish, and pickled chilis.

Some came home empty. Some came home a quarter or less full. This time of year though I need fridge space and empty jars, so I decided I wanted to make bbq sauce-a project that I enjoy doing but never really hit where I want it to be. It’s going to be like the tomato butter, where I spend all summer aiming for it.

I started with a base of Neely’s BBQ Sauce recipe.

In a Pyrex measuring cup I scraped out the sweet leftovers-applesauce and firestarter. I added a half pint of crushed tomatoes, and added gourmet ketchup until I measured out a full 2 cups of sweet/tomato base.

I added about 3 oz of apple cider vinegar, a cup of water, and a healthy squeeze of honey.

I brought the mix to a boil, turned down the heat and let it reduce down to less than half volume. It took about two hours.

If the firestarter hadn’t been in the mix I would have added more heat-I did add some cayenne and some garlic powder. I eyeballed the mustard.

The sauce sat in my fridge for about a week, until I decided to braise some chicken in it. It was good, but it could have benefited from a deeper flavor profile.

I Don’t Actually Mean Beauty When I Say Beautiful.

*I just realized this one needs a language warning. And maybe a content warning. So there you have it. I swear.

I had a conversation this week that involved the show Beyond Belief, a deer that lives in some bushes, and an elf.

This is the nature of my life.

Apparently it was also International Faerie Day (and National Catfish Awareness Day) earlier this week. But of course when people say faerie now, they don’t actually mean faerie, they mean ‘fairy’ and bring on the Disney wings and glitter. Because that’s all that’s left anymore.

The elf conversation is related to a very long running and odd situation involving a lot of bizarre occurrences, most of which most people are completely willing to believe are nothing at all beyond overactive imaginations and maybe some air currents. What gave me some pause however is that enough of them do link back to things that relate to fae interactions, folklorically speaking, that a little voice in the back of my mind worried about what we just did and if I shouldn’t get some salt and milk.

I’ve mentioned the nature of fae in passing several times but there is one aspect that modern folklore has stripped out of the Mounds Folk. These are not ‘pretty’ creatures.

I’m flying by the seat of my pants on this one, as well as working with a lot of oral tradition that I’ve been taught directly, but the basic reality of it is this-the Victorians had a habit of making things ‘quaint’. Couple that with the rise of a middle class, the modern concept of childhood, and an increasing interest in scientific reasoning you have a social environment that began the evolution away from the slaugh and towards Tinkerbelle.

If you ask modern readers why the fae are the Beautiful Ones, you end up with an answer that makes sense for the current understanding-because they’re beautiful, obviously. They’re attractive and mischievous and sweet. They’re the hot men on romance covers, and they really just want to play.

Except that they’re gorgeous because they want to be and they need to be so you’ll approach them (I do have an entry on glamouring already, that explains the concept with a deeper understanding).

The other issue is that for a lot of these spirits, they came with a certain amount of danger so you approached in a way that would cause the least potential for offense. So they were beautiful because you didn’t want to say ‘you sort of scare the shit out of me, you know that right?’ I dealt with a situation where this modern sensibility (isn’t it adorable how they steal the silverware and do cute things!?) and a historically driven practice (I have to put out the first splash of milk or it’s going to get pissed) ran into each other and led to a lot of flailing, ‘please don’t invite anything to the party if you don’t deeply understand who you’re about first’.

So the thing is this: the folklore that is driving modern fae thought isn’t wrong, it’s just not that old and ignores a great deal of preexisting thought. If you lean to the woo-woo side and think that the fae are nothing but sweetness and light and a magpie tendency to stealing shiny things, then I really hope you don’t run into the dullahan, the slaugh, the cu dubh…you get the general idea. Because I’m not certain you’re going to have the party that you think you’ve been invited for.

Or you’re just going to slap the ‘demon’ label on it and not understand that there’s a whole wealth of stuff out there that doesn’t get talked about because it doesn’t make for cute animations.

Cooking By the Books-Peaches in Tea Syrup



Now that the wedding is over I’ll go back to the normal balance of horror and food but right now my free time is spent canning.

I don’t think while I’m canning. Well, confession, I think about Chris Pratt while I’m canning but I don’t think about the more important stuff that slowly drives me insane. So this is mental health maintenance as much as anything.

I adore Saving by the Season, but I’ve never actually cooked from it before. I look at the projects,sometimes use the spice combinations for different projects, and get ideas-but a lot of the recipes that I would use, are in line with the recipes I already use. But the book is very nice to just read and look at.

One of my summer projects this year is to cook more out of my canning cookbooks. There is a recipe in the book for peaches in tea syrup, and with my sister’s wedding, I don’t have a lot of time to cook down jam or similar.

The recipe is pretty straightforward-brewed tea, sugar, citric acid, peaches. I steeped four tea bags in my syrup water, brought the sugar, water, and acid to a boil and blanched my peaches for five minutes. The peaches were hot packed.

The smell was amazing. I hope they end up tasting good, and not bitter. I did notice they foamed up more than normal.

Success [Simple Applesauce Layered Cake]


I have finally managed to do something that has always bothered me to anger that I couldn’t accomplish.

I have finally made a layered cake that didn’t fall to pieces. Sure it’s lumpy and my frosting skills are sub par (and I ran out of frosting) but I have finally -made- a successful layered cake.

All of this wedding stuff means that there’s stuff in this apartment that I almost never have, one of them being white cake mix. I also have a zoo of half or less filled canning jars in the fridge from the ends of batches of the stress canning I’ve been doing. I combined two of these things, a cake mix and applesauce, to clear out jars and use up mixes that would just sit there otherwise.

Simple Applesauce Layered Cake

1 white cake mix

2 round cake pans

1 1/2 cups water

about a pint’s worth of applesauce

3 eggs

Optional: pumpkin or cake spice

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix cake mix, fruit, water and eggs.

Pour into pans, and bake for 34-36 minutes.

Let cool, remove from pans and frost with frosting of choice.

The Appeal of Chicken Legged Huts


This is a repost from my side blog, from last summer. It’s just applicable now more than ever. My side blog is where I go when I feel the need to be openly cranky. I don’t post over there that often, but when I do there’s a rawness that shows up that doesn’t show up here that often. I’m busy right now, and am working on getting the links up to date, so you know, expanded repost.

I thought that maybe my time with Baba Yaga had finished.

There have been several things that I have finished this summer, and I have found myself back to where I started on path [literally]. The only way that this would be more literal would be to somehow move back to the apartment I was living in when I was in grad school and started practicing outright.

But I haven’t felt the old hag poking around in close to a month, and honestly, I missed her.

It sounds weird to say that I miss Baba more than any of the other energies that I’ve worked with that wandered away, but I feel like I’m finding my center the most while I’ve been working with her. She is not a pleasant person. I can understand why people shy away from the hags and the crones, and the darker queens. Baba is not a person that you go to for comfort. I’ve heard it said that Frau Holle is who you use as Baba’s balance; she’s the one that you go to when you need a grandmother.

But I don’t need a grandmother right now, I need someone to slap me lightly [who am I kidding, Baba doesn’t do anything lightly-and the folklore shows that] and tell me that I have the wisdom to do this-the wisdom you find in crisis, in fights, in stress, and in the hard times (don’t worry, it’s not as worrisome as all that sounds. July is just always a high energy month for me). Baba is not nice but she’s fair. You put in the work, you see results. You do not deserve a reward just because you asked for something. Baba Yaga is who reminds us that just because you feel as though you are deserving, doesn’t mean that you are actually deserving. Yet.

And frankly it was sort of like being taken halfway on a quest and then being dumped in the middle of the woods. Like, sorry, it’s been real. Find your own way home now.

That’s just it though, if you approach the mysteries with respect, put in the work regardless of how picky, nasty, absurd, and ‘dark’ it seems, you learn how to find your way home. Baba Yaga is not the person you turn to for a fast fix and an easy turn around.

But she’s come back grumbling, leaving a trail of ash and chicken feathers behind her. She’s mouthing off of about other people’s mud and why have I let myself slip on my covering, I’m a respectable married woman [I’m not married, but that’s besides the point] and if I’m not going to learn Russian I need to at least take conversational Polish.

Let me get right on that, Baba.

The Dullohan

This isn’t a particularly pretty or fluffy folklore entry but hey you know. They can’t all be.

I really wanted to write another folklore entry and sometimes the only thing that sounds appealing to write about are headless fairies. What can I say. I’m an odd creature.

This is actually a fae spirit that American school children, at least those raised in the Northeast would probably recognize on sight. While most likely not a dullohan, though potentially a cousin, the horseman that chased Icabod Crane around the Hudson Valley is the prototypical dullohan-a headless spirit that has very little interest in playing nice with the living.

The only issue with Irving’s image in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is that the dullohan actually has its head, it simply doesn’t wear it. It carries it with it while it rides through the night. As with many of the dark faeries it functions as a death omen, bringing nothing good to those who see it.

The dullohan is Irish but the image is fairly common through European folklore. However, the image is not always fae; often headless ghosts fall into the same role. Saturdays may have been particularly popular (Saturdays actually factor into death folklore with some frequency), but whether or not that’s a regional invention, I’m not sure.

I suppose just be glad that I’m not writing about Crom Dubh or Crom Cruach, since he’s who I really wanted to write about today-you can thank my knitting of all things for that one.

Phantoms and Hauntings


Wine Apples, Revisited

wine apples revisited


I have a habit of overbuying produce (and cooking too much food for canning too but that’s another issue).

This happens the most with apples. Normally I just end up saucing them but sometimes I like doing something more exciting-and decidedly more well loved than my applesauce.

The citric acid is compared to other similar recipes I’ve found, and helps ensure the acidity levels.

Wine/Cyser Apples

3-5 pints

Assorted apples and/or pears, cored and chopped into slices (peeled if you want, I normally don’t bother)

1/2 teaspoon of citric acid

Chenen (or mead, or favored semi-sweet to dry white wine)-about a normal sized bottle’s worth gave me about 4 pints of apples

Pie spice-depending on what style wine you’re using, or use a complimentary sweet baking spice

honey and/or sugar (about 1/3 a cup of sugar, or to taste depending how dry your wine is)

Prep your jars in a water bath canner

Bring everything but fruit to a boil

Add fruit, bring back to a boil, boil for 5 minutes

Pack into hot jars to 1/2 inch head space. You may have to beat up on them a little. *I have found that jars with shoulders are best for this project

Process for 20 minutes