Monday, March 28, 2016

Flower Pics

Guess who forgot Friday again?

Well then, a few more pictures for public domain:

I took Good Friday off and had a long weekend, and must say I have no regrets. Chores crossed off the list, relaxing, Twilight Princess, and Jessica Jones.

How do you spend your long weekends (when you manage to get them)?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Strawberry Banana Crisp (Dairy-free)

Coconut oil substituted for butter verdict: The strawberry-banana crisp was a wild success.

The recipe for this treat:

Exactly Delicious, Approximately Measured Strawberry-Banana Crisp (Dairy-free)

NOTE: all ingredients are approximately measured, as my measuring cup's lowest line is at 1/2 cup, I couldn't find the measuring spoons, the pecans were poured until about 1/2 of 1/2 of 2-cup bag had been used, and the coconut oil was guestimated at about 1/7 the 14-oz jar. It worked out fine, so trust me, don't worry if you're not exact.

1 1/2–2 pints strawberries, depending on depth of pan, sliced
3–4 large bananas, depending on depth of pan, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 of 1/2 a lemon's juice (about 1–1.5 tbsp)
1/2 pinch sea salt (about 1/4 tsp or so)

1/4 cup quick-cook oats
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
a dash of mace (or 3/4 dash nutmeg--is "3/4 dash" a thing?)
1/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature, solid state

+olive oil & flour for greasing & dusting pan

1 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan (or 2 pie dishes, skip "bottom crust" portion of recipe) (I used glass, so if using metal, adjust baking temp & time appropriately: +25°F if using shiny metal, for example)
1 large mixing bowl for fruit
1 medium mixing bowl for topping
1 cookie sheet in case of overflow
cutting board, knife for fruit slicing, forks & spoons for mixing, measuring cup


Preheat oven to 350°F (or 177°C, or something close to that).

Topping first: Mix oats, brown sugar, flour, and a dash of mace in a mixing bowl. Mush in something close to 1/4 cup coconut oil (~2 oz) until it's nice and crumbly. The coconut oil will have the texture fairly similar to that of softened butter, but requires a little more effort to get the crumbly texture; this takes me about 3–5 minutes with a fork. Stir in pecans.

Pans: Grease your pans with a little olive oil and dust lightly with flour. Pour about 1/2–2/3 (depending on how much you want to have left over for the top of your pie) of your crumb mixture into the bottom to make a bottom "crust." Don't worry about the sides, just the bottom. Press with floured fingertips until the bottom looks more or less evenly coated (the coconut oil will melt during baking and redistribute the layer, so it'll still wind up being even in the end if you don't get it perfect). Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, until it starts to resolidify and maybe brown just a tiny bit. Remove from oven and set aside.

Filling: If you haven't sliced your fruit yet, while the crumb mixture is baking is a great time to do so. Make sure all your strawberries and bananas are sliced and stir them together into your big mixing bowl. I estimated volume of my 8×8 baking dish and, since last time it bubbled over, would up using about 1 3/4 pints instead of the full two pints, and only 3 large bananas. Pie pans have lower sides and will probably need to go with a little less than that, while 9×9s may need more.

In any case, put all the sliced fruit into the bowl, add the lemon juice, flour, sugar, and salt, and stir gently until everything is evenly coated. (Also, keep your remaining topping mixture in view, so the cat doesn't jump up on the table she knows she's not supposed to be on and stick her face in it, and make you remake half the mixture. Bad kitty.)

Pour your filling into your baking pan (or 2 pie dishes). Cover with the remaining topping (or use 1/2 topping for each pie dish). Place on cooking sheet (in case it bubbles over, because cookie sheets are easier to clean than the oven) and bake for 40–50 minutes (pies about 35–40 minutes). Filling should be bubbling before you take it out.

Let cool for an hour or so, and then enjoy.

Friday, March 18, 2016

What's your weird food substitution story?

I'm playing around with cooking ingredients after the crunch-time craziness at work (and some resulting stress gut irritation). Which means I'm trawling around the internet looking for and finding substitutes for butter, dairy, and fruits that aren't in the FODMAP list, which has in turn lead to my discovery that coconut oil can be substituted for butter in many cooking situations.

Yup, looks like a strawberry-banana crisp to me.
Yes, I didn't know that. I do now, and have begun my first experiment in using it as part of a strawberry-banana crisp topping. It was a pretty simple recipe, and seems to have the same texture of butter, so I'm hopeful it'll turn out well. Will report the findings after a tasting.

I'm sure everyone's had to substitute things in recipes before, whether due to food allergies, special diets, or just running out. What's the best and/or weirdest substitution you've used that worked?

And more entertainingly, ever tried anything that didn't?

Monday, March 14, 2016


What makes horror scary?

Not a very creepy cabin.
I'm of the intellectual horror school; gore-horror doesn't appeal to me. The uncanny, the supernatural, the something-is-just-not-right, I like those. That sense of anticipation and that growing fear, those are what makes horror scary to me, and leave me enjoying it.
Pacing is a key part of it. Tone, too. If it's a movie or a video game, music and surprise, lighting, timing.

But I'm not the top expert on horror. If you're looking to write horror, here are some links to tips from real horror writers:

Horror Writers Association: Writing Tips (for horror)
Writers Digest: Articles on writing horror
A very creepy cabin.
The Write Life: Writing Scary

 What are your favorite horror movies and video games? Your favorite books?

Monday, March 7, 2016

No post today

Still swamped with work.

Still loving my readers, too, so don't worry, I'll be back when the craziness is over.

You know how it is. Long hours, tired eyes, maximum effort (but not Deadpool style). Don't worry--it will pass.

Friday, March 4, 2016

No post

No post today--another long workweek.

Lost in the woods. Will the author ever find her way out?