Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Standard Apple Pie

This recipe, The Standard Apple Pie is from Cooking Comically: Season 2. I really enjoy seeing this guy's recipes. He's got a great chili recipe.

Anyway, I made his apple pie for Thanksgiving, and while I've made apple pies from scratch before, I didn't like how this one turned out. But it's nothing against him or the recipe...I just didn't follow it quite a closely as I should have. This one's on me.

I'm not posting it here, because half the fun of these recipes, to me, is how they are visually laid out. You've got to check it out for yourself.

Anyhoo, it's a crumble top pie and I've never made one of these before. I think it probably needed cold shredded butter added in, by hand. I softened mine on the stove and mixed it in with a spoon. Plus, I think I added too much.

After it came out of the stove, the crumble top was pretty solid, to put it mildly. While the inside was good, I should have gone with a little less topping and little more filling. But like I said, this is a very good recipe, and if you're a visual person when you cook from a recipe, this is the kind of recipe you' like.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Salad Dressing for Thanksgiving

With my husband out of town for Thanksgiving, I'm having just a few friends over for Thanksgiving, and what cooking I can do ahead of time, I'm working on today.

I tend to keep pretty traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving. Later tonight, I'll run to the store and pick up some stuff for a green salad. But I've already made two dressings. (I had two glass bottles from Harris Teeter that had sparkling lemonade in them and I liked them enough to use them for the salad dressings.)

First up is a Raspberry Vinaigrette from Taste of the South magazine. It was originally a blackberry recipe, but I just don't like blackberries. I also have no idea how long I've had this recipe, since it was tucked into a binder here in my kitchen.

  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
In the container of a blender, combine raspberries and sugar. Pulse until liquefied. Add balsamic vinegar, pulsing until combined. With blender running (or not, depending on the strength of your blender...I turned mine off for this part), slowly add the olive oil. Add salt and pepper, pulsing to combine. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

I tried this already and really liked it. In fact, I made it two days in advance so the flavors of everything would have a chance to really combine together. It does come out a bit thick, so you depending on how you like your vinaigrette, you may want to add less fruit or more vinegar.

On a side note, I thought if raspberry vinaigrette was good, then Dragon Fruit Vinaigrette would be even better. And I just happened to have a dragon fruit here. Turns out, it wasn't such a good choice. The dragon fruit vinaigrette came out thick and slightly gelatinous/slimy. No matter how much mixing I did, I couldn't fully get the balsamic vinegar to completely mix together. Some of it stayed in the bottom of the container.

Next up is Japanese Ginger Dressing, a recipe I just looked for online. The ginger dressing I've bought in the store is never as good as the stuff I've had in any Japanese steakhouse. Time to try my own!

  • 3 tablespoons minced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon with some rind (I left this out, as I don't like lemon)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I actually used 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil)
  • 3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium (or 1/2 cup) onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
One quick note of my own that I want to make here: you're probably not going to want to buy an entire bag of carrots and an entire head of celery for this recipe. Go to whatever grocery store near you has a salad bar, and get the veggies there. Chances are, the celery will be cut up and the carrots might already be julienned, which will take a little time out of your prep work. When you get home, throw them out on your cutting board together and start mincing.

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until emulsified. Stir and shake before each use.

So far, with just trying some of this dressing on a spoon, I feel like I've gotten remarkable closer to the steakhouse-style of ginger dressing than I have with buying it.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Virginia Comicon

Yesterday, I went to Richmond for the Virginia Comicon. I had actually bought a ticket to go to it and sit in on some of the panels, but the Rebel Legion table had fairly steady traffic and not too many of us there to man it, so I didn't get over to any of the panels. But I still had a good time.

The big aspect of this con was having Bob Gale, the writer of the Back to the Future movies, attending as a guest, so there were four DeLoreans (only one was a time machine, though), and a bunch of Marty McFly's walking around.

I talked to the wife of the guy that owned the time machine. They had it opened up for pictures, but they weren't letting people sit in in. She said it would be a lot of wear and tear on the 1984 vehicle, but they were allowing photos with it. So there's another entry off the bucket list. :)

I also met Master Plo Koon and had to have a photo with him. :) Plo Koon was a Kel Dor male from the planet Dorin who became a Jedi Master and a lifetime member of the Jedi High Council...or the shorter geek answer would be that Plo Koon was in the Star Wars Clone Wars animated series. :)

And I realized I need to do some serious work to update my costume. I need new pants with better elastic in the waistband and I need to redo the tabbards. They seem to sit rather high on me.

I spent a little more this time too. I picked up a really heavy, thick, vinyl(?) R2-D2 purse and a dancing Baby Groot for my desk at work. I figure, I tried three different times to make a Groot and it didn't work out, so it's time to buy him.

  • I'd like to take a tour of a Navy sub, but my husband and I don't know anyone that works on board a sub.
  • I'd like to take a tour of a Navy ship that most people will never get to go on. I got to go walk around under a ship while it was in dry dock, and then I walked up the scaffolding around the mast, almost to the very top!
  • I'd love to go for a ride in a fighter jet of some kind.
  • I want to go jet skiing in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • I want to go scuba diving or snorkeling in the Caribbean.
  • I want to go to the top of the Washington Monument. 
  • I want to go to NYC, and see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers, and go to a show of some sort. We went there in 2000 and saw The Late Show with David Letterman.
  • I want to go to the Saint Louis Arch. We did this in 1999.
  • I want to go to Niagara Falls. We did this in 2000.
  • I want to go to Universal Studios Florida. We did this in 2001 and I'd love to do it again!
  • I want to go to the Poconos and stay in one of their themed suites. We did this in 2006 and stayed at Caesar's in the champagne glass suite.
  • I want to stay in a themed suit at the HoJo in Florence, KY. I'm crossing this one off without doing it. I took a look at their rooms again (apparently, they were bought by another hotel chain). The rooms on the new website look pretty cheesy, even for a themed hotel. Plus, the room I would have liked is a smoking room only, so you know it's going to stink.
  • I want to visit Santa Claus, IN, "American's Christmas Hometown."
  • I want to go to Metropolis, IL.
  • I want to get a memorial tattoo in honor of my mom and my mother-in-law.
  • I want to take a road trip up to DC to see the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum and go to Horace and Dickie's Seafood Restaurant This one was both completed (wax museum) and not completed (Horace and Dickie's) in April 2015.
  • I want to write a bad sci-fi horror script and present it to The Asylum to see if they'd be willing to make it into an actual movie for the SyFy Channel. I finished this on April 12, 2015.
  • I want to finally order the "Hell's Admin Assistant" patch for my motorcycle jacket that I've been thinking about for years.--I figure it's a funny alternative to a Hell's Angel patch, which I'm clearly not a member of Hell's Angels. I ordered one from Star City Stitchery
  • I'd like to cuddle a baby gorilla. I really don't know where this one comes from, but aren't baby gorillas the cutest babies EVER??!
  • I want to take a painting class, a la Bob Ross. I did this in a restaurant in Virginia Beach with a bunch of motorcycle riders from an American Legion post, in 2014.
  • I want to go hang gliding in Kill Devil Hills, NC. I did this over Memorial Day weekend with my husband.
  • I want to see the archaeological dig at the Jamestown Settlement.  I did this in April 2015.
  • I want to go charter boat fishing in the Atlantic Ocean: I tried doing this in 2012, but the water was really rough that day. I didn't catch anything but I sure made a lot of chum! In July 2015, we went charter boat fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • I want to go to the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • I want to see KISS in concert, in the make-up. 
  • I will get a job at some kind of animal shelter, and I'm going to be damn good at whatever I end up doing there. 
  • I will get at least one old, beat up piece of wood furniture, save it from going to the landfill, and refinish it. I've actually done two pieces now.
  • I'd like to go on an LCAC ride with my husband before he transfers to his new command.I had to cross this one off finally, because Shane left this command already. This bummed me out. I never got a ride on an LCAC out on the bay. Some of his family members did, and even though I offered to take any number of half days off from work, I never got to ride. 
  • I will go to see the Booth Trail in 2013. 
  • I will go to Natural Bridge, VA (We did this in 2013) and the Shenandoah Valley and stay in a cabin in the woods.  We did this for the end of the year in 2014.
  • I will go to Hiddenite Gems, an emerald mine open to the public, in NC. 
  • I will go to the Richmond Zoo and the Virginia Zoo (they have done a lot of remodeling and I haven't been there for a several years). 
  • I can't drive a clutch and have no desire to learn, but I'd like to go for a ride in a 1957 Chevy BelAire and a mid-80's Lamborghini Countach.
  • I'd like to sit in any of the Batmobiles (did the original series Batmobile at ROFCON 2015), ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters, a DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future (had my picture taken with this at Virginia Comicon in November 2015) KITT from Knight Rider, and the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • I will go to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. 
  • I want to go to Rhode Island, Boston and Seattle, just for the sake of going.
  • I want to go to Tokyo some day.--I've been to Hanoi and Hue, Vietnam, but it wasn't close enough.
  • I want to see the pyramids and sphinx in Egypt. 
  • I'd love to see the Mona Lisa (she's in the Louvre in Paris) and The Scream (there are a couple, two of them are in Munich). 
  • I want to go to London, and maybe look for the TARDIS and the Doctor. 
  • I want to go to San Diego to see my best friend, go to Comic Con, wear a costume, take lots of photos, find an awesome looking Spider-Man so I can give him a hug for just being Spidey, and then walk a beach on the Pacific Ocean, looking for shells. 
  • I'd like to go to a taping of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" if we ever go to California.  I had to cross this one off: On April 28, 2014, Ferguson announced that he will leave the show on December 19, 2014.
  • I want to have at least one great, wildly creative crochet pattern published in a real book somewhere. 
  • I'd like to have our yard be featured for our Halloween decorations with a local tv station, so people might understand you don't have to spend big bucks on decorations and still put together a great display (I say this because we don't go as crazy for Christmas decorations). 
  • I'd like to win a challenge on Craftster. 
  • I'd like to compete on Craft Wars on TLC. I had to cross this one off too, because I'm pretty sure it's no longer on the air. I can't find any updated information on it. 
  • I will finish the Jedi costume finally and I will join the Rebel Legion I was accepted in December 2014!
  • I want to ride a mechanical bull. --I did this in April 2015.
  • I will finish the doll house I started several years ago. 
  • I want to go to Ohio and see Ralphie Harper's house from The Christmas Story. 
  • I want to see Weird Al Yankovic in concert, and maybe even the Bangles if I ever get to California. 
  • I want to see the Barenaked Ladies again, the next time they come to Hampton Roads.
  • I want to take my friends to the Virginia Safari drive through park in Stanton, VA. Did this in July 2014.
  • Thursday, November 19, 2015

    Casserole Tote Pattern

    I stumbled across this pattern a few weeks ago. Because of all the crazy cooking that Nicole the Knitter has been doing for a friend of her's, I wondered if she needed one. The answer was yes, and she actually sent me off with her entire yarn bag. She wanted a 8"x8", a 7"x11" and a 9"x13", which is actually the size of the pattern.

    I'm not going to copy the whole pattern here, but this is a super easy pattern to adjust for various sized dishes. When you start the pattern, you're crocheting the bottom part first, so you just need to make sure the width and length are right for whatever size dish you've got. From there, you just continue to work the pattern pretty much the same way, ignoring the stitch counts, of course, because a smaller dish won't have the same counts as a larger dish.

    This is also a super quick pattern to work up. I did one each night while watching a single episode of a webseries I'm getting caught up on.

    My only real change was the hook size. The pattern calls for a P sized hook. I used my N hook instead, which really isn't all that different from the pattern. Instead, my stitches are a little tighter than the ones in the original pattern.

    If I didn't have a casserole carrying case already, I would make a couple for myself because they are just too handy.

    Monday, November 16, 2015

    Had a Revelation

    Unfortunately, I didn't place as even a finalist in the Virginia Screenwriting Competition.

    I was starting to go through the recommendations I got in the professional evaluation though (I thought it would be good to really do this serious edit on it, just in case I could do something with it later on), until I started to see some comments that were just a little judge-y, against me. I thought to myself, why am I even doing this? It's pointless. This woman didn't even know me and she's gets a little snarky with me.

    So that, combined with the realization that I can't even work as a freelance writer or give away either of the 2 scripts I wrote for 2 different webseries...well, I'm not a writer. It's not something I'll ever get to be, despite all the time and effort I've put into trying to be one.

    It's like you've got to start out as someone, right off the bat, as opposed to starting as a nobody and trying to work your way up in the world, where writing for entertainment is concerned. I feel like I've learned my lesson from the universe.

    Monday, November 9, 2015

    This is Not My Pattern

    So, just to get this taken care of right off the bat...this is not my pattern. I was told about this pattern by Nicole the Knitter. She wanted a couple of these towels made and offered to buy me the pattern but she was looking at losing her job due to a company sale. I told her to keep her money (all $2.99 of it) and I set out to figure out this pattern.

    Here is my towel, laid out on the recliner, instead of hanging on the stove.
    Normally, I wouldn't share someone else's pattern that I reverse engineered, because that does just seem shitty. However, in this case, I did work on this one quite a bit, so I'm throwing decency to the wind.

    Crocheted Dalek Hanging Kitchen Towel

    You need 1 large button, a yarn needle and two colors of yarn. I used regular old Red Heart acrylic yarns in white and pink. I used a G sized hook. The finished size is about 13 3/4" at the bottom and 15" tall, but not including the tab for hanging. The original pattern makes a towel that is 11" x 18".

    This particular version is worked from the bottom up.

    Crochet Stitches Used:
    • Ch = Chain
    • SC = Single Crochet
    • HDC = Half Double Crochet
    • sl st = Slip Stitch
    • dec/2 hdc tog = 2 previous stitches worked together in current row
    Row 1: With your main color (in this case, the white), chain 51 and turn.

    Row 2: In the second chain from the hook, work 1 HDC in each chain across.
    Rows 3 & 4: Turn and change to your accent color (in this case, the pink), chain 2 and work 1 HDC in each stitch across.

    Rows 5-6: At the end of row 4, turn and change back to the main color and chain 2 and work 1 HDC in each stitch across.
    Row 7: Turn and chain 2, work 4 HDC's (1 HDC in as many stitches) and add in the accent color. With the accent color, work a 6-cluster bobble stitch. Repeat this pattern (4 white HDC's and 1 pink bobble) across the width of the towel, ending with the pink. Secure the pink at the end of the row. There will be six rows of bobbles once the towel is done.
    Rows 8-10: Repeat row 5.
    Row 11: Repeat row 7 (you'll know you've got the right side of the towel facing you if you have all the bobble fronts on the same side of the towel).
    Rows 12-14: Repeat row 5.
    Row 15: Repeat row 7.
    Rows 16-18: Repeat row 5.
    Row 19: Repeat row 7.
    Rows 20-22: Repeat row 5.
    Row 23: Repeat row 7.
    Rows 24-26: Repeat row 5.
    Row 27: Repeat row 7.
    Rows 28-30: Repeat row 5.
    Row 31: Turn and change to your accent color, chain 2, and work the first two  and the last two stitches together (2 HDC tog), and work 1 HDC in each stitch in between. This decreases the row by two stitches.
    Rows 32-33: Turn and change to your main color, chain 2, and repeat row 31.
    Row 34: Repeat row 31.
    Rows 35-36: Turn and change to your main color, chain 2, and repeat row 31.
    Row 37: Repeat row 31.
    Rows 38-40: Turn and change to your main color, chain 2, and repeat row 31.
    Row 41: To make the hanging tab: Work 8-10 slip stitches across (your choice on how wide you want the tab to be), chain 2, and work 8-10 HDC across. You'll want to make sure you leave 8-10 empty stitches on the other side of the tab.
    Rows 42-50: Turn and chain 2, and work as many HDC across as you did to begin the tab.
    Row 51: Turn and chain 2. Work 3 HDC, chain 4 and skip 4 HDC, then finish off the row with 3 more HDC. That open space is your button hole.
    Row 52: Repeat row 42.
    Rows 53-54: Repeat rows 31. At the end of row 54, secure the yarn with a slip stitch and trim off the loose ends.

    On the front of the towel at the bottom of the tab, sew the button on. Then hang the towel on your stove or refrigerator, giving it two little vertical folds to make it hang more narrowly than it really appears.

    Thursday, November 5, 2015

    Made a New Christmas Wreath

    I figure this is our third wreath since we moved into this house. I wasn't planning to make a new one, but I never really liked the second one I made a couple of years ago. I saw it laying in the attic a week or so ago, and I just knew I wasn't going to hang it on our front door. And plus, I've always liked making wreaths for all different kinds of occasions. So, last night, I hit both Michael's and AC Moore for supplies. I figure I spent about $40-$45 on supplies (ouch!), and that was even with coupons at both stores!

    The more I saw of those peacock colored poinsettia's at Michael's, the more I knew I had discovered my color scheme.

    • 3 of those poinsettia's from Michael's
    • 3 peacock feather picks from Michael's (with 3 feathers on each one)
    • 1 package of 12 mini glass ornaments from Michael's
    • 1 assorted greenery pick (with sticks and the deer antlers) from Michael'--The only thing I didn't use from this was the red berries and the pine cone.
    • 2 frosted holly picks from AC Moore
    • 2 evergreen-type picks from AC Moore
    • 1 wreath from AC Moore