Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Time For a Newer, Better Michael Meyers

Last year after Halloween, I dismantled my old PVC-frame Michael Meyers. I made him in 2005 after watching some decorating shows on TV and becoming inspired. Someone had made their own Michael for a balcony. He was leaning over the railing and there was lighting on him that made him look like he was moving.

I remember turning to my father-in-law and saying, "Wouldn't it be cool to make an actual moving Michael?" I started researching it the next day.

He was extremely thin and a little awkward, but he was popular in the neighborhood. Inside his mask was actually a small oscillating fan. Set to the low speed, it looked like he was looking back and forth across the yard.

His coveralls were an old pair from my husband. The zipper broke so they were useless to him. I just stitched them shut. The work boots came from someone on Freecycle.

But as time goes on, even being dragged out of the attic once a  year for Halloween, poor Michael was looking pretty beat up. The fan didn't turn so well with the mask anymore. He fell over easily. Last year, I retired Michael after Halloween.

But he is coming back to life for this year!


Introducing my new Michael. He is a headless male mannequin body from Ebay, so this Michael won't look so wonky and thin. The overalls, boots and knife are the original ones, but I'm thinking a smaller handle on a new knife would be a good idea. There's a new fan on the way too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring...

No, I realize that nothing bad has happened to William Shatner. That's not the point of this poem in this post. :) It's just that William Shatner was my first Star Trek Captain, the Enterprise was my first Federation ship. I wanted to grow up to be Lt. Uhura, a female officer that served on the bridge of the Enterprise, the flagship of Star Fleet.

This was a coloring book image of Captain Kirk I found on Yahoo. It's a variety of embroidery stitches (and I realize now it's a little blurry). I took some creative liberties with the color of his command seat. Just in eyeballing it, I'd guess it's about 14" x 10", on a lightweight muslin. I'm not sure anymore. I've had this fabric for so long.

Like the Kit Fisto panel I did, I'm saving this to someday turn it into a blanket of some sort.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

One Pot Brats/36 Recipes Down

This recipe came from Sam's one of Sam's shows. It was another case of watching an episode of his on TV while I was cooking one of his recipes at the same time.
 
I think he came up with the name on the spot: One Pot Brats. This recipe is available on his website.

Makes 6
Dog simple and super delicious - and everything is cooked in the same pot. Beautiful.

Ingredients

  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper de-seeded and sliced thin--I had a green pepper for this in the frig, but as I got it out to use, I realized it had gone bad. No, really, it grabbed my knife from my hand and held me up in my own kitchen. Shane doesn't like green peppers anyway, so he wasn't too upset about it. Instead, I substituted some sliced cucumbers and he liked that.
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 2 bottles of dark beer--Shane picked me out some Guinness for this recipe.
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
  • 6 pack of bratwurst
  • 6 sliced sandwich rolls
  • Mustard, for serving

Directions

  1. In large throw away foil pan (if ur doing this on a grill) add onion, green pepper and butter. Here was my cheat for this recipe. It has been blazing hot outside and I wasn't about to stand over a grill for longer than I needed to. I used my big soup pot and cooked all this stuff on the stove in my air conditioned house. I did follow his show direction of throwing the brats on the grill after they cook in the pan, just long enough to get some char on them.
  2. Cook over medium heat until veggies soften and get lightly brown
  3. Next add beer, sugar, vinegar and pepper to pan and mix well
  4. Let mixture cook until it comes to a simmer
  5. Then add brats to pan and let cook for about 5-10 minutes
  6. When brats are ready, toast buns , top bun with mustard, brat and some of the onions and peppers
What did I learn from this recipe? 
I learned the combination of brown sugar, onion and cucumbers smells DIVINE! 

I also learned that this was kind of a lot of work for brats for just the two of us. I think next time I make brats, I'm going to keep them simple. However, if I were having people over, like during a football game of something, I could start slow simmering the veggies in the house on low heat a couple hours before. Then I'd still cook the brats in the beer/onion mixture, and then grill them, but I'd throw them all into a pan and let them stay warm in the oven for when people wanted to eat, or maybe I'd use some Sterno pots or something.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Carne Asada Fries/35 Recipes Down

I came across this recipe last night. I was making the Honey Garlic Spareribs, from one of Sam's books, and watching a rerun of his show on Cox 11. I might be going into Sam-overload here!

The theme of the show as fair foods that he was remaking at home. One of the recipes was Carne Asada Fries.

Normally, I don't post Sam's recipes here, unless they come from his website. That's the case with this one.

Serves 4-6

A Southern California classic…never had em? You are in for a treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch cilantro (no stems) chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin (I used coriander, because I didn't have, and don't like, cumin.)
  • 1 teaspoon each Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Zest & juice of one lime (You know how I've said I don't like lime? It's so good in this recipe. Sam has converted me!)
  • One flank steak – about 1.5 pounds
  • 1-28 ounce bag frozen French fries
  • About 2 cups shredded colby/jack cheese
  • Guacamole, and sour cream for garnish (I mashed up two avocados instead of making full on guac. I thought the flavors of the guac would override the steak and cheese.)

Steps

  1. Combine cilantro, garlic, cumin, salt & pepper, olive oil, lime juice and zest – mix well
  2. Put flank and marinade into a large Ziploc bag, zip shut and squish around to make sure flank is well covered
  3. Refrigerate 1-4 hours (I let mine marinate for an hour.)
  4. Heat grill to high and grill flank about 5 minutes each side
  5. Meanwhile, cook french fries according to package directions
  6. Slice flank into thins strips then rough chop into smaller pieces
  7. Put on top of cooked fries and top with cheese
  8. Microwave 30-60 seconds or until cheese melts
  9. Garnish with guacamole and sour cream
What did I learn from this recipe? 
The main thing I learned was that I didn't want to microwave the shredded cheese on top of the finished fries. I figured it would just make the fries soggy. Instead, I decided to make a cheese sauce, just because when Sam was filming at his local fair, he got these fries with cheese sauce.

I actually had to look up how to make a Velveeta cheese sauce, because I've never done it before. I added a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese to it.

While we were plating up this evening, I told my husband that if this alone wasn't enough for supper, to let me know and I'd make something more. This was very filling and enough on it's own. But even though it's fair food (and completely awesome), it's kind of heavy and probably not something I'll make on a regular basis.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Honey Garlic Spareribs/34 Recipes Down

As I try to keep myself busy tonight (one week sans-Cujo and a stop by the vet's office to pick up his little tin after work), tonight's supper, that I didn't really even want (because of a lack of appetite), is Honey Garlic Spareribs, and it comes from Just a Bunch of Recipes.

What did I learn from this recipe? 
There were a few things tonight. One is that the ribs I bought (beef, not pork) didn't need the full two hours to cook as this recipe requested. I could have gotten by with half that time. I actually tried cooking these for 1 hour 20 minutes and even that was too long.

Also, I guess I got some cheap, gristly ribs from my Harris Teeter. I hadn't realized that when I bought them, because they looked pretty damn good. But once they cooked up, that fat became more apparent.

The third thing I learned is that these shouldn't be cooked in the oven. Put these suckers on the grill! 

All that being said, the honey and soy combination is just about pure magic. I stuck a spoon in the mixture to taste it once it was all combined...so good!!

BTW, I'd like to remind everyone that if there's a special dog in your life, no matter who it belongs to, give that good boy/girl a rub on the head. I was outside tonight after supper, and a neighborhood couple came walking past.

I figured something was off with them. They have two dogs, and they were walking without them tonight. The wife didn't look happy. They stopped and we talked. She told me about their collie, who was going to be put to sleep tomorrow. She was the first person I told about Cujo that I'm not close to, so it was hard, but it was kind of freeing for me, in a way.

She described her dog as Lassie, and it reminded me of Cujo being my bear.

Love on the dogs you know while you can.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Goodbye, Cujo Bear


Cujo was no ordinary dog. To me, he was my bear. If I weren't such a nerd and had a  name picked out for him before his PARENTS were even born, he would have been named either Teddy or Bear. Instead, he was my Cujo-Bear. The nickname took so well that even my friends called him that.

Being with him at the end, seeing him off on whatever doggie angel adventures he's on now, was gut wrenching. It knocked the breath right out of me. I never wished for my asthma inhaler like I did last night. But I wanted to make sure, that no matter where he was, or whatever might have been left of him, even in that snuggly little body. to know he wasn't alone and that he was loved, even past the end.

It was heartbreaking to see my husband, normally kind of a stoic kind of guy, to continue to hug, kiss and pet Cujo, even after he was gone, and whisper that he loved him. "You'll always be my buddy."

I held his paw, like I did the day we brought him home, and told him to go find Dixie and our Mom's so he wouldn't be alone. Shane rubbed his head and told him to also find Bud, our family's first dog.

Poor Orion seemed confused last night when we came home without him. He'd had an upset tummy while we were at work and had an accident in his bed, so when we came home, it was time to start the laundry. His bed's gone now and an exercise bicycle sits in its place so that we don't have that hole there. Instead, the hole is just emotional. That is just as bad.

Today is the first day without him. I feel like I've been stabbed in the chest. Laying in bed after my husband left for work, I started crying already. It's going to be a rough day.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

One Dank Tomato Pie/33 Recipes Down

This afternoon's recipe comes from Just A Bunch of Recipes, and apparently was named by the friends of Sam's son. FYI: dank here is meant to be good, but it can be overused by people who don't know any better.

I think tomato pie must be a Southern thing, because I' never heard of it before moving down to Virginia. The idea of a tomato pie struck me as kind of gross, but since it's here in the book, I had to make it. Damn, I'm glad I did!!

What did I learn from this recipe? 
Holy hell, this is not an appetizer...this is your main course!

I had store bought tomatoes and homegrown tomatoes from Nicole the Knitter. I told her about making this pie, she said she'd never had it and gave me tomatoes to make one for her. When everything was said and done, I had enough to make 2 regular pies (1 with store bought for me, 1 with homegrown for her) and 1 little pie (with homegrown for me), because the pie crusts I'd bought were just a touch too big for my pie pans, so I put the extra to good use.

Stick with the homegrown tomatoes here. Don't bother with the store bought ones.

Until I started eating these homegrown tomatoes, I couldn't tell the difference between them and store bought by taste. Now, the store bought ones taste so mealy and mushy.

Don't get me wrong, the store bought tomatoes still made a good pie but just not as good as it could have been. And the homegrown tomatoes bake up in the pie shells a lot juicier than the store bought ones. You could easily see the difference between the two. I had to carefully drain some of the juices from those pies before doing anything with them.

Plus, one good thing to point about the homegrown tomatoes and this recipe: it's a good way to put some ugly produce to good use. "They may not be pretty, but they're still perfectly tasty and nutritious. And there are lots of efforts to keep these cosmetically challenged foods (think gnarled carrots, or funky, misshapen apples) from landing in the landfill because they don't meet retailers' beauty standards."

Sam says to slice the tomatoes. I think the next time, I'll just cut them into wedges and then mix the goat cheese throughout it, instead of putting it just on the top.