Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why the existence of God, god or gods is irrelevant to me

SO as I'm lying there tonight  I was pondering all sorts of things. Like a story line for a childrens' book about how there came to be people of so many different colors. And how I have yet to actually write out that last idea for a childrens' book about monsters under the bed. I should get on that. But I need an artist. Because my drawing looks like that of a toddler. And for kids' books, art really is a major piece of the story. I digress...

Mostly what I ponder when I should be sleeping is hypotheticals and philosophical ideas. Because that's the sort of big thinking that can get the brain to cry "uncle" and go to sleep. Most of the ...ok, not nearly as often as I'd like, but it SOMETIMES works. Tonight was not one of those sometimes. Tonight is also one of those sometimes where spell check is an absolute must. Or yous gyus would neevr eb able to read thsi. There's one uncorrected line for you. You see how bad it is when all these thoughts are racing in my head?! Where's my friggin interobang?

But tonight's thoughts center on why I think it is irrelevant whether or not there really is a god. I do, in fact, think there is ... SOMETHING. I just don't believe enough in coincidence to look at the patterns in cells and atoms and discount the idea of a guiding nudge at the very least when those same patterns are written across the universe on a scale so large it makes the top of my skull feel squeezey.  (No, spell check, queasy is not the word I'm looking for there. )  I think it is irrelevant because good is not something that can or even SHOULD be forced. And how many people do we all know that "do good" publicly because they profess to believe in Jesus  and Heaven and don't want to burn in Hell but are really nasty, hateful shites whenever they let the mask slip?  I can force a kid to share and not hit, but they will be baleful and angry about it. The kid that shares because they have learned that it increases the fun they have to share the fun with someone else...well, on the surface, both the meanie and the nicer one are sharing, but who is getting the most out of their day? The one afraid of getting in trouble, or the one living their own fun and experiencing the fun of a friend too?

I don't need or want a Heaven. I have enough right here. And I intend to live as best as I can, and share as much light as I can manage while I'm here. And I will screw up. And I won't beat myself up over it. And I won't say "it's ok". I'll say "I want to do better next time". Not because God, god, Flying Spaghetti Monster or Batman or Santa is watching over me, waiting for me to screw up, but because Heaven is really a state of mind, and one that can only be found when you share it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Woven Pearls Design

Here's the latest creation: woven pearls design- "Cheer-y Red" 7-71/2" bracelet and 15" choker

Down-home Kentucky recipes


Cheddar Butter: 

This is my mom’s recipe, and there is no appetizer on this earth that is easier to make or that I like better. 

Soften two sticks of unsalted butter by letting them sit at room temperature for a few minutes (please don’t use your microwave-- it will make them too soft, and it will be horribly gross to work with, and I think it traumatizes the butter). Add two cups of sharp shredded cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and 1 cup of chopped pecans. Use your hands to mix all of that together and shape it into a ball. Roll the ball in a few more chopped pecans (I like to use much bigger pieces of pecan and a few whole pecans on the outside-- your cheese ball should look fabulous). Wrap your cheddar butter ball in plastic and keep it chilled until 30 minutes before your guests arrive. Let it hang out at room temperature for those 30 minutes so that it’s soft enough to cut into. Serve it with any kind of cracker or bread. 

Bourbon Caramel Corn

I basically added some bourbon to my favorite recipe for caramel corn and was pretty excited about the result. 

Make two to three bags of microwave popcorn according to the instructions (you want to use natural popcorn, not buttered or movie or kettle or whatever-- just popcorn, you’re going to add the magic). Set your popcorn aside in a large pot, and preheat your oven to 200 degrees. In a saucepan, melt 1 cup (two sticks-- I know!) of unsalted butter with 2 cups of packed brown sugar (I know!), 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup of corn syrup (I know! I know!). I also add a tablespoon of Kosher salt. Bring your caramel concoction to a boil, and let it boil for 5 minutes (and give it some love-- stir it frequently). After it comes to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda. 

Let me say that again: ADD 1 TEASPOON OF BAKING SODA. Don’t forget to do this, or your popcorn is going to be a sticky mess that will probably require years of dental work to deal with. Your teeth will never forgive you. Put in the baking soda. 

After you stir in the baking soda and get a foamy mixture happening, add 1 cup of Maker’s Mark and stir it in. Pour this deliciousness over the popcorn and stir. Put it in the oven for 1 hour, but (and PLEASE don’t skip this step, either-- your popcorn needs your attention) stir it every fifteen minutes. Spread it out on wax paper to dry, and then enjoy it. (Caution: I don’t make this to just have around our house because I will eat every single crumb of it.)

The Main Events

Bourbon and Coke Ham

If you’ve eaten at my house, you’ve probably had my Mom’s coca-cola ham. It’s just delicious and too easy not to roll out at every opportunity. You’ve got to have some low maintenance dishes on your menu, and this one never disappoints. 

So, here’s the deal. You need to go to the grocery store and buy yourself a ham. Any kind of ham that is already cooked. You can get it sliced or not. It can have a bone in it or not (but if it does, I’d take all of the meat off the bone). You’ve got your ham? Good. Now go get your crockpot off the shelf and drop your ham in there. Pour coca-cola on it (If you are, like me, from a place where every soda or soft drink or carbonated beverage of any type is called “coke,” then I need to tell you that you should be using coke that comes in a red can or bottle, and you should not under any circumstances no matter what is going on your life or mind use diet or zero or whatever. Loaded Coke only). Now, how much do you want to taste bourbon? For me, the answer is, “not much.” So I added 1/2 cup of bourbon. You add however much you want. 

Set your crockpot on low. Let your ham and coke and bourbon simmer for 4 to 6 hours. That’s it. Serve it. You’re done. How easy was that? 

Chicken that Whispers “Bourbon”

Not everyone likes ham, right? So I bought some chicken drumsticks-- 18 of them, but I suggest that you not buy that many unless you have a lot of people coming over. I generously put salt and pepper on both sides of them, spread them on a cookie sheet, and put them in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes (just watch them-- they need to cook all the way through, that’s all). 

I tossed them in a mixture of the following: 1 whole big cup of bourbon, 1 cup of ketchup, 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon of ground mustard, 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon paprika. I liked the flavor, but I should have doubled the recipe for the massive amount of chicken I was making. Hopefully you aren’t cooking for a small country and will enjoy some big bold flavor on your 4 to 6 drumsticks. 

Maple-bourbon Carrots

Place a bag of baby carrots in a saucepan with: 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup bourbon, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, some dots of butter (I used probably 3 tablespoons). Simmer for about an hour, or until the carrots are as soft as you like them. 

I know that you want to add brown sugar, and if you need to do that, you go right ahead. Brown sugar is going to give you more of a glaze. I like to leave it out so that the carrots have sweetness without the thickness of a glaze. Do whatever you like. It’s your kitchen. No one is the boss of you. 

Baked mac-and-cheese

Are you tired of bourbon yet? Me, too. So let’s do another easy, but non-bourboned side. 

Cook a box of elbow noodles in salty boiling water. Mix them with 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 2 beaten eggs, and 2 cups of sharp shredded cheddar cheese. Mix all of that together, dot it with a little tiny bit of butter, and bake it at 350 for 40 minutes. 

I also made a sweet potato casserole and corn muffins. I’m sorry, but those recipes are just between me and my Mom. My friend who hosted the party made a spinach salad that was delicious and lightened up all of this richness. We had an option for dessert-- chocolate cake, or amaretto peaches with vanilla ice cream (if you want to make these peaches, peel and slice 6 peaches, and put them in a bowl with about two tablespoons of sugar. Let them get married to the sugar while you eat dinner. Then place them in a saucepan with a pinch of nutmeg and a splash of amaretto. Simmer them until they are warm and soft, then pour them over ice cream). 


1 lb. lean pork
1 lb. lean beef
1 medium-sized hen (cut up for boiling)
1 gallon salted water
2 lg. potatoes
2 lg. carrots
2 med. onions
1 c. peas (fresh or canned)
1 c. green beans, cut in small pieces (fresh or canned)
2 c. canned tomatoes
1/4 c. diced okra
1 c. chopped cabbage
1 med. green pepper, diced
1/8 tsp. diced red pepper pod
1/3 c. tomato paste
1 1/3 c. V-8 juice
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Boil pork, beef & chicken in salted water until done. Drain, cool and remove chicken bones & skin. Run meats through a food grinder. Put the meat and the one gallon water into a large cooking pot. Set aside. Peel and dice the potatoes, onions, & carrots. Combine these with the okra, cabbage, peas, beans, tomatoes, green & red peppers and the parsley. Add to the meat & water. Put in the tomato paste and V-8 juice. Season with the salt, pepper & Worcestershire sauce. Cook at a slow boil over moderate heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir often.

Yield: 1 gallon. Serves: 1 Kentucky Colonel

from The New Claudia Sanders Dinner House of Shelbyville, KY Cookbook, 2000 

Kentucky Burgoo
1 lb lean boneless chuck steak
1 ½ tsp vegetable oil
8 c no-salt-added beef broth
1 lb skinned, boned chicken thighs
4 c cubed peeled baking potato (1 ½ lb)
2 ½ c chopped carrot
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped onion
1 ½ tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 c frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1 10 oz pkg frozen lima beans, thawed
Trim fat from steak, and cut steak into 1” cubes. Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven; add the steak cubes, and brown well on all sides. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hr. Trim any fat from chicken thighs, and cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes. Add chicken cubes and next 9 ingredients (chicken through garlic); simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Add corn and lima beans to stew; cook an additional 15 minutes or until the beans are tender. Yield: 10 servings (1 ½ c)
Calories: 257; Protein: 18.2g; Fat: 5.7g; Carb: 32.4g; Chol: 24mg; Iron: 3.2g; Sodium: 308mg; Calc: 54mg

Alternate recipes:

Alisa's (aka Little Ruthie's) Potato Soup

(I'm posting this here so I don't have to go through all our old emails again! Presented in her very own words:)

boil as much potatoes as u want. 4-6 med. will do.
add 1 tablespoon of butter.
salt/pepper as us wish.
one can of cream of chicken soup.
on can of milk.
as much cheese as u want(-velveeta or american slices)
cook it on low for a few minutes. [until heated through is what she means there]
stir so the bottom doesn't burn.
if u want u can stir some garlic in, do that while the potatoes are boiling.
that will feed 1 or 2 people. depending how u eat.
i eat it alone. hahaha!
oh, i also put in basil and nutmeg, just a hint. mmmmmmmmmm.....u can put that stuff in everything!!!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Ohio Hale's Potato Candy Recipe

(just so I don't lose this again!)
Grandma Ruth's Potato Candy

1 medium potato-peeled
2 packages 10x (Confectioners') sugar (2 lbs total) Divided
1 tbsp vanilla extract (don't use imitation!)
A Good Pinch of Salt (approx 1/8 tsp)
Food coloring (optional)
Peanut Butter- approx 1 1/2 cups - 2 cups

Boil potato until fully cooked (can be chopped up for faster cooking).

  Drain and put potato in a medium mixing bowl- not plastic! 
Mash & mix with 1 cup 10x sugar- potato will turn to liquid. 
Add 1 tbsp vanilla and a pinch of salt. 
Add food coloring of choice. There's no NEED to color this, it's just as good plain, but where is the fun in that?
 Mix well. My Dad always uses green, my brother always uses purple, Grandma Ruthie uses Green mostly and red sometimes, but never just red by itself, that would be weird. 

Slowly add 1 1/2  bags of 10x sugar (you may need the rest of that second bag if your potato is larger) until you get a firm pie dough consistency. 

You can dust your counter-top with more 10x sugar, or use wax paper dusted with sugar to contain the mess- bonus- you can use the wax paper to make rolling up easier. Either way, dusting the surface is needful as this stuff can stick like tar on a new car.

 Roll out- cut down as needed to form a rectangle roughly 1/4 inch thick. You don't necessarily NEED to make it a rectangle, that just helps it look nicer when you go to serve it in the end- no oddball bits at the end of the roll. Feel free to skip that part if you're only serving it to family- they won't care as long as it tastes yummy.
Smear peanut butter approx. 1/4" thick across surface (or more if you like lots of pb taste). 

Remember: Do NOT roll the wax paper INTO your roll, just use the wax paper to CONTAIN the roll. Nobody likes the taste of wax paper...

 Roll up, slice your roll in half so you have two shorter, easier to manage rolls, chill for at least 2 hours, then slice to serve. (Best when stored in an airtight container in the fridge, but storage isn't really an issue unless you make this when no one is coming over... and even then storage might not be an issue).

As you might guess, I got this recipe from my Dad, who got it from his mother, and there aren't many actual measurements in Grandma Ruth's cooking. (Grandma Ruth's cooking is UNBELIEVABLY GOOD- mostly because she's had so much practice at it that she no longer needs measurements- Karen, I think you've heard me whining & pitching a hissy when my sister calls to tell me she's eating Grandma's cheesy potatoes- they're so good that it's a crying shame to miss out.) I finally got the real measurements nailed down after consulting and sampling many other recipes, but while this always turns out very well, it just isn't Grandma Ruthie's level of good. I think she secretly adds cocaine or heroin, or maybe some nutmeg to the peanut butter...

Alternate makings:

You can also leave the peanut butter out and just roll it into balls, and eat like that or dip it into melted chocolate, but oh my goodness, I love the peanut butter!
You could also use nutella or a soy butter or some such nonsense if you need to substitute for allergy reasons or if you are some barbarian that doesn't like peanut butter. Savage. Who doesn't like peanut butter?! Even people that are allergic to it love the taste! There's just that whole puffy-gasping-probably-dying part...