Month: August 2015

Roasted Applesauce (AKA The Best Applesauce Ever)

Yep. My cutting boards are actually used to cut things. I mean I guess I could buy a prop board...but I would end up chopping carrots on it.

Yep. My cutting boards are actually used to cut things. I mean I guess I could buy a prop board…but I would end up chopping carrots on it.

I can’t eat hot apples.

I can eat apples that have been cooked, I just can’t eat them hot. So I’m not sure why I got stuck this weekend on the idea of roasted applesauce-instead of my normal boiled down type.

I’m not even sure why I thought that it would be different-but different, indeed, it is.

We went on an apple hunt this weekend-I ran completely out of canned apple products last week and I had been putting off getting more apples. I decided I was never going to get them if I didn’t just make the plunge, I would keep putting it off, so I went off to my favorite vendor at the North Tonawanda farmer’s market. I came home with a Top’s paper bag full of Golden Blushes for $3.

After some basic Internet searches just to verify that this was even worth attempting, I was off. And sweet Pomona, this stuff is amazing. After blending it takes on this weird rubbery texture (look, it’s a good thing, I just don’t know how to describe it but trust me here) that you don’t get with boiled sauces. It’s more like apple pudding. Amazing, amazing apple pudding.

[I sometimes get asked this, so here’s my stance-I’m not picky when it comes to apples for saucing. If I can get my hands on it, I’ll use it. That means everything from free range wild to Aldis to heirlooms. If I can get it into a jar, I’m not a snob. The trick is trying the apple and seeing roughly how sweet it is and adjusting the sugar added to the sauce that way.]


This, like all applesauces, is most of a structure than a firm recipe. You can adjust this as you go. I did add my sugar beforehand, and would recommend adding at least a little to help draw out moisture as it bakes. You can add a little more when it comes out of the oven if you feel like it needs more sugar.

You can roast other fruits in there with the apples at the same time for mixed fruit sauces.

I didn’t peel, I don’t peel my apples for sauce, but you can if you would like.

I froze this batch but I can’t think of a reason why this couldn’t be canned to be shelf stable. Follow the instructions for canning applesauce in the Ball Blue Book.

Roasted Applesauce

Heavy weight oven safe pan (honestly I baked it in a sauce pan)

apples, cored and chopped

about 1/2 cup sugar to start



Preheat oven to 400 or 425 (temperature isn’t terribly important as long as it’s in that range)

Core and chop your apples. I just chopped until the pan was filled (there are many apples in my kitchen)

Place in the pan, and cover with sugar.

Bake for 40-50 minutes. The apples will come out looking slightly dehydrated.

Very carefully-or let cool first-blend with an immersion blender or carefully add to a conventional blender and pulse till smooth. It might take a moment to get it going.

Add a little more sugar if desired and a couple of dashes of nutmeg, and stir into sauce.

Nutmeg Coffee Syrup


I do have ghost material to post-I went to the Central Terminal for the Carnival of Parahorror, and want to get that post written up at least.

I love pumpkin spice, but nutmeg’s been my current love (though I admit that I’m surprised Pixabay has photos of nutmeg-the camera on my phone is getting touch and go and it’s really gray here today). We went to Spot on Elmwood on Sunday to see someone, and they had cold brew iced coffee-another love-and a shaker of nutmeg. On a whim I made myself a nutmeg coffee, and now I’m off and running.

There’s something slightly retro about nutmeg, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what that is. But I love it. Don’t be surprised if you see it here more often.

Nutmeg is a general healing herb, folklorically speaking. Nutmeg/allspice berries, like most ‘berry’ herbs, can stand in for coins in money draws.


I mix my syrups a little strong, because I don’t like terribly sweet coffee but want the spice to come through when I use it-so I use a heavy hand so I can get flavor out of a small amount of syrup. Use a lighter hand if you like a sweeter coffee.

Don’t over boil simple syrup or you’ll end up with candy.

Nutmeg Coffee Syrup

1 pint water

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tablespoon each good quality ground nutmeg and cinnamon

1 tablespoon vanilla extract (real/alcohol based preferably)

Mix dry spices and sugar together well, add to a pot with water and vanilla.

Over medium low heat bring to a gentle simmer and let cook down slightly to make a sugar syrup.

Take off of heat, cool, and keep in the fridge. It should hold for a fair amount of time, at least a couple of weeks due to the sugar content.

Harvest Sausage


This was a happy accidental meal. Or maybe an off road meal, where I threw things in a pot and let it do its thing, while hoping it worked.

Mid is now a floater. He’s steadily increasing in responsibility, and now has two stores he’s available for. The second store uses him for coverage.

It amounted to 15 hours of coverage today.

I needed a meal that I could set, forget, have it be edible when he got home, was a heavy protein hit to make up for that 15 hours of work, and wasn’t going to be too too expensive the night before pay day.

I do recommend ‘decent’ ingredients for this, since it’s so simple-but it will still probably work out to be cheaper than fast food, even, for a full meal. Serve it with a starchy grain or fried potatoes.

Harvest Sausage

*I let mine come to a simmer over medium heat and then lowered to medium low for about an hour, flipping the sausage over once halfway through. You could probably raise the heat and cut the cooking time down.

1 good sized, decent quality Polish sausage. I used the fresh sausage from Wegmans, it’s generally pretty good.

1 can ale/light (as opposed to dark) beer

1 cup applesauce

Bring sausage, ale, and applesauce to a simmer and let cook down for about an hour.

Seriously. That simple, but the flavors from the beer and the applesauce do amazing things to the sausage.

Chana Dal Tadka


You really can’t get much more frugal than lentils.

They pack a punch for nutrition and are insanely cheap per bag. Put them in soup, eat them as dal, use them like beans.

I have a confession though: as much as I love the humble lentil I haven’t made them in -years-. I have a bag of yellow ones, and every time I cooked them for the recommended length of time, they were still hard. So I put them in a jar and put them in the cupboard. I would glare at them every so often. That would be the full amount of use they would get-move the jar around, glare.

I found this recipe on Pinterest. It’s simple-lentils, onions, garlic, curry spices, a little bit of salt. But the kicker is that it calls for twice the amount of cooking time-which assures me that it’s not me or my lentils, it’s the stuff that I’ve been reading.

So my hack on this recipe, though I do fully encourage you to go read and use the original:

I put 1 cup lentils in a pot with about four cups water. Placed on medium heat.

I added about two tablespoons rogan josh powder because Mid will only eat lentils with a heavy flavor profile. Use whatever curry powder you have in the house, or mix yours fresh. Add a little salt.

Cook for about 40 minutes, and while cooking the lentils fry some garlic and onions. Stir into the lentils.

Holly wants to add chicken when she tries it. I think that adding another protein source would be lovely, but this is crisis cooking in our house-two days before payday and my s.w.agbucks gift cards haven’t come in yet, so no money for meat right now. Lentils are solid enough you probably wouldn’t need meat (or mead, either, since that’s what I wrote first).

Original recipe-Chana Dal Tadka on NY Food Journal

Operation Autumn Week 2


Still not much headway into the list, but it’s still only mid-August.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

I asked at Starbucks earlier this week and all I could figure out was ‘the next few weeks.’ Well yes, they’re always out by Labor Day, so that much was obvious. I don’t know if the barrista didn’t know or if there’s something odd going on with planning again this year.

They (Starbucks) did announce that there’s going to be actual pumpkin in the lattes this year. Call my cynical but now I’m waiting for the flood of ‘this doesn’t taste like normal’ complaints. I’ve always taken the stance that ‘pumpkin spice’ is a separate entity from actual pumpkin and therefore didn’t care/rolled my eyes at the Foodbabe melt down of 2014.

Seasonal Displays

Tops and the dollar store are both putting out their Halloween/autumn stuff. There’s a wreath I want at Tops and the dollar store has some signs I want with turkeys on. I might see how much stuff I pick up at the dollar store before I go for that wreath (my Facebook also exploded over the Tops display, stating it’s much too early. I don’t feel like it’s any earlier than normal).

dollarstoreM.R. James

One item I can cross off the list-I’ve started reading my way through M.R. James’ ghost stories. Sometimes you have to go back to the masters.

Beauty Babble-Return to the Madness Edition

I haven’t written one of these in months because with the exception of my sister’s wedding in June, I haven’t been wearing anything.

Let the madness return! I have said in this column that I wear cosmetics to help ground me, and I’ve been flapping around lately so I pulled out the boxes. I’m still not wearing foundation (nothing like having your face melt off) but bring on the eyeshadow.


Blue/Red Duochrome (Wet and Wild, Comfort Zone palette)

This duochrome is pretty infamous online, and now having worn it, I can see why. It’s pretty amazing. I love the color even in this terrible, dusk phone photo-it only gets better in real life. Even with a sloppy, couldn’t be bothered to blend out the edges application this shit’s amazing. This will probably end up one of my favorite ‘dark but not as nasty dark as black’ shadows.

I have an weird relationship with my actual palette. I found it while I was cleaning last month, brand new, in a Walgreen’s bag with a balm stick. I have absolutely memory of buying it. I’m glad I found it because I had every intention of buying it this fall.

first class

Rimmel 710-First Class

I found this in the clearance bin at Target for like $1. I know you’re not supposed to buy cosmetics on clearance, so sketchy, but I like to live dangerously (and it’s not that hard to detox lipstick if necessary).

I…kind of love the washed out lip look on me, so much more than I ever would have thought. I would never had tried it at full price, but it’s like the corpsey-cousin to Airy Fairy, which is one of my go-to lipsticks when I want color but don’t want to scream ‘I’m wearing lip product’. Yes I’m wearing it with my sort of retro 80s kind of hair and black eyeshadow. This is how I roll.

It’s also a selfie grade filtered photo but the color’s actually pretty accurate with the filter and I wasn’t expecting to drag this column back from the dead this week.

Tattered Lace



tea-stained bourbon vanilla, with white cognac, coconut bark, Oman frankincense, and woodmoss over opium tar-stained silk.

.I am starting to not so slowly get back into my end of year beauty routine. I only wear cosmetics Autumn-late Spring, I haven’t wanted to wear oils when it’s terribly sticky.

I have been on hormones for over a year, and while it’s a TMI it’s actually relevant to my oil collection. Any shift in biochemistry is going to impact how your oils smell on you. So while I’m waiting for the ‘Weenie update, I’m starting to retest my imp collection knowing that I have no idea what does and does not work on me anymore.

I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Tattered Lace (Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab) tester that I had, the last time that I tested it. But I pulled it out anyway and decided to give it a try, because of this chemistry shift.

The initial blast on me was something sharp and almost nasty, like what white musk sometimes does on me. But as I was digging through my closet looking for something I kept getting a whiff of something very nice, like spiced vanilla and resins-it smelled a lot like one of the oils out of the Carnival line does on me, actually.

Something has happened to this tester. Tattered Lace is pretty awesome on me now, and I don’t know if it’s the fact that the oil is now pushing 4 years old and has aged into something wonderful or if it’s my meds. At first I get a solid hit of the vanilla. Underneath there’s the oakmoss and something woody, which I’m guessing is the bark. The opium hangs out in the back, giving it not-spice to ground it out. The sillage, though, is all spice all the time which might be the resin interacting with the wine, I’m not sure. It’s lovely though, but maybe still not a oil I’m going to wish I had more of since I have other oils with a similar feel that I like better.

The Oils You Know


Every so often my Facebook life (all of it) explodes with the discovery of Lush…and then the inevitable search for something better.

This is a cycle, it’s happened four or five times over the last few years.

Oils are my thing, and to a point, body products (scrubs, mostly).

Here’s my handy guide to the brands I fall back on most frequently-all what I consider ‘true’ indie, as in, there’s no convenient mall store front.

*I believe all indies on this list are using all natural oils, but I can’t verify that for all companies so I’m leaving that off. I also believe they’re all vegan, but I’m only mentioning that on the brands that I’m certain are. Check with the company. BPAL is all natural but can’t say that because of a prototype line that never actually was sold that used synthetics. All oils offered currently however are all natural, to the best of my knowledge.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

My first and longest, truest love. Large catalouge, frequent LEs. Probably the largest of the brands on this list, other than maybe Arcana. Primarily oils but the Trading Post offers t shirts, candles, and some body care products. Mostly (if not entirely) vegan.

Haus of Gloi

Heavier on the body care. Vegan. Small batch. Updates move fast.

Paintbox Soapworks

I believe still on Etsy as well. All your scrubs will belong to me. Seasonal offerings. Body care products.


Via retailers; link lists sites that stock it. One of the heavy hitters in indie body care, along with oils.


Oils, body care-and corsets.

Violette Market

Known for their ‘foodie’ style LEs and seasonals.

Deep Midnight

I’m in love with the Halloween/fall seasonals. Sample sets available.


All the beautiful resins.


Slightly more horror/goth tinged. Solid foodies.


Possets offers some of the very rare florals that actually work with my skin chemistry.

Conjure Oils

Heavier on the esoteric influences. Love the vanillas.

The Grave

summer of ghosts

The Twilight Zone has more than a passing familiarity with American folklore and urban legend. It is not infrequent for episodes to be based, sometimes lightly and sometimes with an almost word by word retelling, on urban legend and established ghost stories.

The Grave is episode 72 of the original series and first aired just before Halloween 1961. The basic plot should be familiar to anyone fond of American folklore-the story is essentially a Western retelling of the knife and the grave. Conny Miller, a bounty hunter, returns to the town who had hired him to take down the outlaw Pinto Sykes to find that Sykes has already been killed. During conversation with the townspeople, he is taunted into visiting Sykes’ grave by Sykes’ sister and others. Sykes had made a promise to kill Miller if Miller ever visited the grave site.

The next day, Miller has gone missing and several men decide to go to the grave. Sykes’ sister is already there, with the corpse of Miller pinned to the grave with his own knife-he was supposed to leave the knife in the grave to prove he had been there. The town assumes that Miller had pinned himself to the grave and died of fright, while Sykes’ sister tells them that it was Sykes who had killed him, in order to fulfill the promise he had made.