31 October 2013

Trick AND Treat

Today marks Trick and Treat's second anniversary as part of our household.  You may recall the pair showed up on Halloween and though they were scheduled to go to the kitty jail in November, they never left my house.  

Excited about their anniversary, Trick decorated the kitty tower, though it would seem she failed to do dusting diligence.  The plan was to dress Treat up as my favorite cartoon character, Pepe Le Pew, and Trick would go as Penelope, his unrequited cat love interest.   However, when time came to take their photo, we couldn't find them anywhere!

Oh well, Happy Halloween and Happy Anniversary, Trick and Treat.

30 October 2013

Teddysaurus Rex

Today, octogenarian cryptozoologist, Mavis Mathilda Monroe captured and photographed Teddysaurus Rex. Thought to be myth, the Teddysaurus Rex was often reportedly seen during the week of All Hallows' Eve.

A voracious eater, the Teddysaurus Rex is very fond of Honey Barbecue Fritos. When asked about her discovery, Ms. Moore said, "Happy Halloween."


24 October 2013

A Long Day at the End of the World

A while back, I became a bit disinterested in fiction.  It just seemed to me that real life was far more interesting.  Case in point -- A Long Day at the End of the World.  Brent Hendricks' memoir reads like the most exquisite piece of fiction.  If fact, his story is so downright preposterous that one might think it was fiction.  News reports prove the truth and noting but the truth; what there is of the truth, anyway.

Hendricks tells the story of the Tri-State Crematory.   Back in 2002, hundreds of abandoned and decayed corpses were discovered in a small town in Georgia.  It was the the largest mass desecration of remains in modern American history.  There were 339 bodies resting in various states of disarray around the Tri-State Crematory.  When the investigation concluded only 226 of the bodies were identified.

Brent Marsh had taken over the family business.  He plead guilty and is serving 12 years.  The guilty plea offered no explanation into why Marsh cremated some of the remains and simply dumped others.

One of the bodies dumped was Brent Hendricks' father.  He had been dead for many years when he was sent to the Tri-State Crematory.  Hendricks' mother wanted her husband's body disinterred from his burial plot and cremated.  Her children went along with the plan and five years later, found that the cremains sitting on their mother's mantel were not their father, but bits of cement and animal bone.

Hendricks heads out on the back roads of the deep South to find out exactly what happened to his father.  Most reviewers call this book "Southern Gothic" but in the South were refer to it as Tuesday.  Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction.   A Long Day at the End of the World is a lamentation of the bond between parents and children, a mystery with no end, a exploration of death, and a damn fine read.

In fact, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers were so moved by the book that wrote a song, Roswell.  Give it a listen.

22 October 2013

Teeny, Tiny Batch Preserving

This is the smallest batch of canning we have ever done.

Tiny Mexican Gerkins have been a favorite if elusive veg to grow. Last year, we finally got several plants up and blooming, but they proved to be irrestible to everyone that passed. They picked the darling little cukes and popped them immediately into their mouth. This year, we were determined to grow a bumper crop. Alas, not a single plant grew. Then, in August, a single plant popped up, and a few cucumbers hung on the vine. As the threat of frost grew, the entire 18 cucumber harvest took place.


As planned last year, we made pickles. Simple refrigerator pickles. The 18 cukes, sometimes called "mouse melons", fit into a spice jar. Into a saucepan we put one jar of vinegar plus one jar of water and half a jar of sugar, bringing to a boil. A bit of pickling spice was added to the bottom of the jar with the cucumbers and the boiling brine filled the jar. It was capped and allowed to cool before being placed in the refrigerator.


It should make a nice condiment for Thanksgiving.


21 October 2013

Cocktails At The Burnpit- The Last Hurrah

Until last night, I had refused to give up Summer.  It was still warm, there were still tomatoes and blackberries in the garden and even though the leaves were falling in all around me, I was holding firm.  I had company during the government shutdown and drinks were in order.  I pulled out all the  Summer stops and created this Last Hurrah.

The Last Hurrah

1 ounce blueberry vodka
1 ounce blueberry shrub
Sparkling water

In a tall glass, mix the vodka and shrub.  Fill the glass with ice, then fill with sparkling water.  Give it a stir.

OK, I used bulbous, stemless wine glasses.  Not to mention I failed to garnish the drink at all.   While it might look sad, it was ever so tasty.

Which brings me to a slight problem.  I often think about a blog post and then swear I have actually posted it, only to find I did no such thing.  Such was my blueberry post from this summer.  Clearly there was no blueberry post.  Here is an abbreviated version:  I got a box of 10 pounds of blueberries.  I made a blueberry/lavender butter and I did indeed write about that.   I also make a blueberry summer pudding, blueberry/basil sorbet. blueberry vodka and blueberry shrub.  The Last Hurrah is made from that vodka and shrub.

I used a somewhat different approach to making my shrub.  I used a cold-process, meaning I didn't boil the fruit or the sugar and vinegar.   I simple added all the ingredients and let nature take its course.

Blueberry Shrub

1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 cups blueberries.

Wash the blueberries and place them in a sterilized 1/2 gallon jar.  Add the sugar and vinegar.  Close tightly and give the jar a shake to mix the sugar.  Let the jar sit out for 2-3  days, shaking 2-3 times a day.  Place the mixture in the refrigerator and let sit.  When ready to use, strain the mixture into a clean, sterilised container.  

Mine sat for several weeks before I strained out the fruit.

The cold air has arrived and alas, summer is officially over.  We will soon be moving on to ciders and pumpkins, but we think back fondly on summer.

18 October 2013

Deer-Filled Fall

The deer have been out in spades this fall.  Last week I stepped outside, took several steps and felt I was being watched.  I looked over my shoulder to find a trio of deer frozen in mid-munch, at the corner of the house.  
I don't have a good long lens, so I can't get really great photos that are up close and personal.  I found a young deer all alone outside the bathroom window, only to watch the rest of his clan, meander down the drive.
The little ones are quickly becoming rather big ones.  One dusky night I looked up and swore there were moose on the property.  (I didn't have on my glasses)  No moose, just squirrel and some rather large deer.
This was a thwarted attempt to get through the garden fence.
Here, our resident ground hog watches the late afternoon roaming.

15 October 2013

Tomato Toys

Who knew tomatoes made the best cat toys.  Even thought fall is upon us, our tomato plants are still offering up a few tidbits.  I set a basket on the table the other day and Kitty Carlisle extracted several of them giving everyone a new toy.  Teddy took the lead.

Usually shy,  Treat quickly figured out the game.

Trick took on a daintier tomato and after much tossing and batting...

was  quite dumbfounded when the cherry tomato broke into a juicy mess.

I got the green tomato and cleaned up the mess.  Yesterday, I noticed something on the floor.  It was a shriveled green pepper.  They,  too, make excellent toys.

10 October 2013

American Horror Story

I love American Horror Story.  It is creepy and funny, macabre and menacing, cruel and campy, and I can't get enough of it.  Three years ago when Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk first aired American Horror Story, my reaction was, "That guy from Glee is doing horror?"  Exactly.  While the show is often horrific, it is also terribly funny.  The writers walk that razors edge with remarkable skill.  Just when you think you need to look away, it becomes the height of camp.  At the moment you think, this it too silly, you are slammed back into the nightmare.  One would be hard pressed to ever think, "I know what will happen next."

The first season of American Horror Story, now called Murder House revolves around the the classic haunted house that fills many a horror story.  That became a self-contained mini-series.  The second installment, American Horror Story: Asylum, took on another great horror trope, the mental institution.  While the story remained horrific, the setting and local were very different.  The actors (many of them) remained the same.  American Horror Story: Coven, is set in New Orleans at a finishing school for witches. Over the three incarnations, Murphy and Falchuk have kept together a repertory-like collection of actors that appear and re-appear.

With a television landscape that is often formulaic and filled with cookie cutter actors, American Horror Story breaks the mold.  First, many of the actors are women of advanced age.  Remember in Hollywood, after age 25, an actresses age is measured in dog years.  Rarely does one see a television show where the lead actress in in her 60's, much less a show where several of the pivotal characters are actresses in their 60's.  

As for younger actresses, they all seem to blend together in one homogeneous pot of straight teeth, straight hair and Size 0 dresses.  It doesn't really matter which Jennifer is Chloe, which Jessica is Madison, nor which Madison is Jennifer.  In the American Horror Story world there is a diversity that one rarely sees.  Jamie Brewer, who was in Murder House and now in Coven, has Downs Syndrome.  Oscar-nominee Gabourey Sidibe is no Size 0, yet they fill the screen with the likes of Lily Rabe and Emma Roberts, bringing a complexity to the casting that is liberating. 

My favorite actor in the bunch is Frances Conroy.  Best known for playing the long-suffering wife, Ruth, in Six Feet Under, her various roles in American Horror Story have been a joy to watch.   In Murder House, she played Moira, the maid who came with the house, no mater who the owner.

When Moira crossed paths with  Dylan McDermott (not to be confused with Dylan Baker but quite interchangeable with Dermot Mulroney) he saw Moria in the form of Alexandra Breckenridge, leading

to some rather comical encounters.

In Asylum,  Conroy was the Angel of Death, appearing in a prim black suit and veiled hat.

At the moment of death, however, she sprouted enormous black wings before planting a literal kiss of death on the lips of her intended.

Our first glimpse of Conroy in Coven is as the grandmother of young witch, Taissia Farmiga, and her appearance is memorable.

The first year it was televised, I had a real-life American Horror Story moment.  On Wednesday, Murder House began with a knock on the door.  The owner answered to find a man with blood dripping from his head. He said he had been in accident and needed help and they let him in.   Everyone in the house was, of course, tortured and murdered.

Two days later, I heard a knock at my door.  No one comes to the house after dark!  I went to the door and opened it on to the mudroom.  Standing at the door was a man who said his friend was hurt and needed help.  My heart almost exploded.  But I live in the real world and not the television world.  I called an ambulance and told them they needed to get to the post office, as the ambulance won't go out to farms in this area.   It was midnight before my heart stopped racing.

The next day, two of the guys came back with flowers for me.  They thanked me or helping.  They were on 4-wheelers when one of the group got hurt.  He was an EMT so he knew he was in bad shape.  Before they could get down off the mountain, night fell and they couldn't find their way out.  An old logging road led them to my light.   Their friend made it to the hospital with sever injuries and was air-lifted to Pittsburgh.  I told them about American Horror Story and they gave me a big hug.  "I'm not sure I would have opened the door, " one of them said.   Indeed.

09 October 2013

Modern Farmer

We told you there were a lot of great new magazines out there.  Modern Farmer gives us a -- well -- modern look at today's farmer.   We are not talking about Ma and Pa Kettle and the kids on the lower forty.  We are talking about space, the final frontier.  Farms dotting the globe.  Articles by former President Bill Clinton.   This publication is no issuu project.

The founder and editor in chief, Ann Marie Gardner,has worked for The New York Times and Tatler magazine.  Like many people, she noticed and uptick in interest in farming and conceived of a magazine that might address farming in the 21st century.   To make her vision a reality, she proposed the idea to gazillionaire investors and Frank Giustra said give it a try.  Giustra, who was once the chairman of Lion’s Gate Entertainment was becoming interested in farming himself, after venturing into olive oil production in Umbria.  While no one is talking  money, it was clearly enough to produce a glossy magazine with a nice sized staff.

While their focus is farming, you won't find articles about planting an herb garden, unless you are planting it on the moon.  You will find artisan cowbells, an illustrated 1941 farm journal, a chef who eats dirt, and the hows and whys of illegal milk crates.  Recently, they offered up three of London's hottest farm-to-table restaurants, featuring The Grain Store whose chef, Bruno Loubet, is our Cookbook Of The Day.

Modern Farmer offers up a modern digital edition, complete with a web site; as well as a traditional print issue. 

07 October 2013

Broadway + Thresher

In our dreamworld, we would get a magazine every day of the year, and two on Christmas.  We have been loving a new crop of digital magazines appearing on the horizon, or the desktop as it were.  Today we are giving a shout out to Broadway + Thresher.  We saw an early edition of this magazine and then promptly forgot the name of it.  We spent weeks trying to retrace our steps to find it again!  We succeeded. 

Andrew Kohn and David Gobeli both worked for magazine and often crossed paths.  Like many a magazine worker they thought, "Hey we could do this."     Kohn had worked in Washington, D.C. before heading to Ohio to open a bed & breakfast.  Gobeli longed fro the bright lights and big city and when he got there, wanted a more pastoral life and found both in Madison, Wisconsin. Haunting a flea market, Kohn found an old street sign.  When Gobeli saw the sign,  their idea was cemented.

Broadway + Thresher was exactly the lifestyle they wanted to convey.  A modern, urban sensibility in the countryside.  The best of both worlds, really.   Broadway + Thresher has a bit of fashion, a taste of farming, a bite of food, a piece of art, and a cocktail or two.  Who doesn't love that?

Broadway + Thresher is using issuu, so there will be some slow loading.  A subscription will cost you $20, but it is well worth it.  The Preview issue as well as Issue 1 can be viewed for free to get a feel for the magazine.  After that, you will simply have no reason not to subscribe

04 October 2013

Paprika Southern

Yesterday we posted about the cool new game, Lords and Ladies.   Today we thought we might tell you where we fist heard about the game -- in the pages of Paprika Southern. Paprika Southern is a digital magazine originating in Savannah, Georgia. 

Programs like issuu have made it possible for anyone to be their own digital publisher, much like the Polaroid camera made everyone a photographer.   If you have ever seen old Polaroids, you know that just because you can take a picture, doesn't mean you should.   All of you creative types out there probably have at least one good magazine in you.   But publishing a magazine is hard work.  Doing it on a consistent basis and doing it well is tough.  After one or two sporadic issues, most would-be publishers abandon the idea.   Paprika Southern just published their fifth issue and it looks like nothing will be stopping them.

 In the 1950's savvy young women intent on publishing took the bus to New York City, stayed at the Barbizon and wore gloves to work.  Ten years ago, savvy young women flew to New York City, found a third floor walk-up in Chelsea and wore flip-flops to work.   Now days, savvy young women can find a place they love, live in affordable housing, and start their own magazines in their pajamas if they are so inclined.

Sharing a third floor walk-up in New York City,  Siobhan Egan and Bevin Valentine would probably be getting coffee for a senior editor, or running errands, or supervising an occasional photo shoot.  Instead, they are producing a lifestyle magazine with a Southern flair that is regional without being provincial.

Seamlessly integrated in the pages of Paprika Southern the reader will find fashion and farming, beer and opera, art and commerce, and much more.  You will be missing out if you don't take a look at Paprika Southern.

PS:  If there is a problem it lies with issuu which is rather slow at loading the pages.  This had always been an issue with issuu, so don't let this slow you down.

03 October 2013

Game Knight?

As an only child, I am not much of a game player, unless that game is Solitaire.  As a child, I always wanted to play exceeding long games of Monopoly with people who felt five hours of Boardwalk and Park Place was a huge waste of time. 

Recently, I ran across a wonderful new game, Lords and Ladies.  It's like Monopoly with the cast of Downton Abbey.   You build your house by acquiring status.  You can make more money, hire servants, marry suitors, and procreate wisely.   But beware.  One's opponents can spread gossip and those servants might just conspire against you.

The brother and sister team of Jason and Jen Corace came up with the idea.  Like many entrepreneurs, they headed over to Kickstarter where the idea took off.  Now you, too, can have your very own copy of Lords and Ladies.

This might just hold you over until January, when Downton Abbey returns.
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