27 December 2013

Sugarplums V2

Sugarplums V2

We made Alton Brown's recipe last year, this time I made my own adjustments and they came out awesome. This is a spicy treat, not overly sweet and definitely leans toward the adult palette, especially folks who skew toward granola stuff.

  • 3 oz pistachio nuts, toasted and chopped
  • 3 oz walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 4 oz dried cherries
  • 4 oz candied dates
  • 4 oz dried plums
  • 4 oz dried figs
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp anise seed, toasted
  • 1/4 tsp caraway seed, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 c honey
  • raw, coarse sugar to coat
Toast the seeds and nuts and set aside.

Place nuts and fruit in a food processor and pulse a few times so ingredients are finely chopped and mixed but don't overdo it and get mush.

Mix up the seeds, salt and sugar in a large bowl, add the fruit and honey and then mix thoroughly with your hands. A glove would be a good idea here...but whatever. If the mixture isn't quite holding together, add honey by the tablespoon until you have a mix that is stable without being gooey.

Pinch off balls no larger than a melon-ball and roll in coarse sugar.

Gives between 50-75 sugarplums depending on the size of the ball.

Sweet Chili con Carne

Sweet Chili con Carne

Image scraped from doerlefoods.com
I made this for a potluck. I started here and made my own adjustments.

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 cup pre-soaked pinto beans
  • 1 cup pre-soaked navy beans
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp dill
  • 3/4 c molasses
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
Brown and drain the ground beef, cook and crumble the bacon. Throw everything in a big ol kettle and simmer for about 3 hours.
You could do this in a slow cooker too and set it on low for about 6 hours.

Topher Toffee

I've been making toffee for years, tinkering with various recipes, and I'm feeling like it's time I contribute a few of my own to the web. No intention of this becoming my cooking blog but you can see whatever I'm thinking about here: http://www.pinterest.com/cryptopur/food/

Butterscotch Topping
Topher Toffee

  1. 2 cups (4 sticks) of butter cut into cubes
  2. 2 cups of sugar
  3. 1/4 tsp salt
  4. 1/2 tsp cardamom
  5. 2 cups chocolate or butterscotch chips - butterscotch used here. (mini chips melt easier but not a big deal)
  6. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/4 tsp caraway seed or anise seed
  8. 1/4 c slivered or sliced almonds

Melt butter, sugar and spices together in a heavy bottom kettle. Stir continuously in one direction to prevent the butter from separating.

Once everything is melted clip a candy thermometer to the side and heat to 285 degrees. Stir occasionally and be ready to wait 20-30 minutes...it takes a while. 285 is, in my more experienced opinion, just a tad high so I will often remove the heat just south of that.

While it’s cooking, line a 13X9 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. 

Toast the almonds and caraway seeds together in a dry skillet over med-high heat and set aside.

Once removed from the burner add the baking soda and still in quickly. Pour the toffee into the pan when it reaches temperature and allow it to flatten out on a level surface.

After 5 minutes, sprinkle chips over hot toffee and allow about 5 minutes to melt. Then spread the melted chips over the toffee to create an even layer.

Now sprinkle the almond/seed mixture over the soft chocolate and press down gently to set them and let it all cool to room temperature – about an hour.

Lift the toffee out of the pan by the paper/foil and break the hardened toffee into bite sized chucks.

All done!

20 June 2013

The Message Of The Keys

I’ve heard it said that circumstance is the language of the Holy Spirit. Basically, that there are times when the specific events and conditions in the world around us are a kind of subtle message from heaven. Over the centuries folks call this kind of thing “signs” or “omens”...that kind of thing. The trick of course is a sensitivity of spirit that can discern a genuine ‘sign’ from everyday details or coincidence and I think there is simply no substitute for that beside the gut feeling you can get when an event or detail somehow ‘rings.’

About two months ago, over the course of about a week, I’ve had this strange thing happen and it’s having that kind of ring to it. Three different keys have gone lost or, in one case, was broken. My office key, my house key and the key to my car. I’ve never lost a key before or since and my key holding gadget is in perfect working order...so it’s just strange. In each case the keys were easily replaced so the events were only trivial inconveniences...but to have three in such a short period got my attention.

So it’s now about two months later and I’ve been thinking about this on and off, I’ve been praying for any additional info, but really I’ve got nothing. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that somehow there was a meaning or purpose in there and I just cant see it. So for today, all I wanted to do is write it down so I can remember it later.

Full stop.

31 May 2013

Chili Omlete thing

I’m only posting this here so I can Pin it, and then never loose the stupid recipe again...

Chili Omelet

  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pint cottage cheese
  • 1 lb shredded cheese – probably Jack or pepper jack
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 4oz can of diced chilies (don’t drain)

Toss it all together, then into a greased 9X13
Bake at 375 for 25min

Awesome to prepare night before and easy breakfast for company

31 March 2013

When he turned away, twenty years today

When he turned away, twenty years today
He was coming down from a fence
That they'd built together through the story weather
Just to get above the rain.

And when it came today that he turned away
From the eyes and the cries and the cheers
That a woman in back, dressed in green and black
Seemed to bring back all the years.

Found this stuffed in an old journal. As far as I can make out I wrote it back in hi school..and I kinda like it...though I really have no idea what I was writing about. Anyway, saved for posterity.

The Actor's Dilemma

When I used to be a drama geek, especially in high school but still in college, there was this common cry of distress from the thespians. It was a sense that we saw ourselves as artists of a sort but we were doomed to only execute the art of another person, the playwrite. We loved our art, we studied it, we nestled there and we truly worked in a way that was creative - but still was the awareness that what we did was derivative and that was somehow distressing.

For my own part, it wasn't so much a big deal, as I had other artistic outlets, specifically writing but a dabble here and there in just about anything called 'art' at one time or another. Nevertheless, I very much understand and feel the dilemma.

For much of the last six months I've been working hard on an effort to secure the licenses to a piece of intellectual property. For the sake of avoiding Google's prying eyes, we'll say it's the story of a wall that's Red. As of last week. It appears that effort has been successful - w00t! Now this last week I spent some time at GDC and in the course of several conversations I came to realize that what I may have latched onto was something far bigger than I realized just in terms of size. I knew, thou never really thought about, the fact that this was a series of over 20 books and conceivably we could spend the next 20 years, Lord willing, exploring, visualizing and working with this property (I'm just theorizing here - no plans to that effect). Along with that was an even broader realization that if I play my cards right I might, juuuuuust maybe, be in a position to work with several different IPs and make a career out of that. Other books, other series, other stories come to mind that I'd have a lot of fun as I...made derivative works from somebody else's art.

I should point out that it probably isn't a genuine either/or question in any legal sense. But realistically, these projects are likely to be a year or more in the making...each. So each time I might pick one up it represents a significant commitment. Saying "yes" to a project about the wall is realistically saying "no" to everything else...maybe.*

But that's perhaps beside the point. At least at some point it's a question of pride. Would I be willing to submit my best effort to supporting somebody else's work at the expense of realizing my own? If so, under what circumstances? If not, then why not? I'm pretty darn comfortable saying that Brian's books are better than my writing so at the very least I have an opportunity to learn in to craft of Epic storytelling.

Anyway, I don't have any real answer to the question, it's just something I'm thinking about and wanted to write down.


* There may be a way to do these things in parallel. For example, the creative part of a project could be mostly managed. Play more of a "producer" role and find the right folks to be creative. So long as they're the right people and I manage it all with attention, it need not be all consuming...perhaps leaving enough bandwidth to pursue my own stories. But that's iffy and not something I'd take lightly especially when we're working on something with any degree of delicacy.

23 February 2013

Rest in peace my beloved father

As the bagpipe builds
And the drone begins
The fireman's son remembers.

The language of life saving.
The schoolyard pride in parentage.
The sorrow, half sensed, for the life lost nonetheless...

The family, extended,
To Christmas and camping.
Co-workers connected, their kids more like cousins.

The sage smells like heaven as
The sun
Goes down
On Joshua Tree.