the burnination: after-action report.

We had friends over on Saturday.  Robin made a crepe buffet with about three dozen toppings, and there was much merrymaking and gaiety.

I combined some advice I got from this here Interblog, and purchased a propane torch at Home Despot prior to the event.  I also had six gallons of kerosene, a big plastic tub of bone-dry kindling, and assorted cardboard boxes with dry newspapers and such.  We removed much of the snow from the pile, and got it started with liberal application of packed kindling and that propane torch.  (Now that thing is about as much fun as you can purchase for $39.99, let me tell you.)

Anyway, we got about 1/3 of the pile burned, which isn’t bad considering it had six inches of snow on it, and all the fuel was wet or damp.  I couldn’t find anyone willing to sell me a few pounds of magnesium bar stock, or we would have gotten rid of all of it.  I’ll just cover what’s left and burn it in the spring, when it’s still wet outside.

Saturday was a perfect day, though.  Sunny, not too cold, not a cloud in the sky–postcard-perfect New England winter weather.  One of the couples attending brought their three little girls, and the other couple had their two-year old son in tow.  Between them and our own kids, we had six children between the ages of 2 and 7 running around and having a blast.  Add four excited dogs to the mix, and you can imagine the noise level.  Everyone had a good time, though.

Today?  Isn’t starting too hot.  It’s -25F out there this morning, and our water pipes (which run from the artesian well in the unheated garage into the house) are frozen.  I have a bunch of electric heaters going in there to un-stick the solid H2O, and until it does, I guess I won’t be doing dishes.  Or flushing toilets, for that matter.  Such is winter life in Upper Cryogenica on occasion…

your saturday cocktail recipe.

Ian Fleming’s James Bond is quite the booze connoisseur in the novels.  Fleming had Bond invent a cocktail called the Vesper, after the character of Vesper Lynd.  It’s a mix of gin, vodka, and Kina Lillet, which is a slightly bitter French liqueur that hasn’t been in production since the 1980s.  (They make a Lillet Blanc now, but that one lacks the quinine of the original Kina Lillet and the characteristic bitterness.)

There’s a variant of the Vesper that makes use of currently available ingredients.  I tried one recently, and it immediately rocketed to the top of my “Favorite Cocktails” list.  It’s called a Green Vesper, and is prepared as follows:

  • Three measures gin (preferably 90-proof)
  • One measure vodka (also 90-proof)
  • Half a measure absinthe or Pernod (whichever you can get locally–the flavor and color will be the same.)

Stir with ice in cocktail shaker, strain into cocktail glass, garnish with a strip of lime peel.

Fair warning: if you hate the flavor of gin, licorice, or both, you’ll hate the Green Vesper, because it tastes a lot like washing down a piece of licorice with a swig of gin martini.  I love the flavor combination, and that concoction is my current favorite cocktail, narrowly beating out the martini.

will put hair on chest.

Is cocktail recipe.  You make.

1.) You take lowball glass.

2.) You put in two shots of Bacardi 151.

3.) You add dash of vanilla extract.

4.) You float marshmallow Peep on top of rum.

5.) You light rum on fire, and let flames start caramelize Peep.

6.) You extinguish with vanilla cola, and fill up glass.

7.) You eat warm,  rum-soaked, caramelized Peep.

8.) You wash down Peep with rest of drink, quickly.

9.) You have another.  Or just have one, if you are pussy.

turkey day recap.

We had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving dinner with friends.  Like 81.7% of Americans, we had a turkey with approximately three dozen side dishes, and like 53% of Americans, we had leftover sides and turkey for dinner tonight.

(Like 43.9% of all statistics, these were totally made up on the spot, by the way.)

Hard to believe that 2010 is just about to draw to a close.  Where has the entire year gone, I ask you?  It feels like I got about zip-all accomplished this year.  I’m still putting the finishing touches on the novel I’ve been writing since before January, so this one is going to take a year and a half from start to finish when all is said and done.  On the plus side, I wrote a bunch of decent short stories this year, got some encouraging critiques and rejections, and had a ton of great ideas for subsequent novels.  From a technical standpoint, I’ve improved my writing a great deal this past year, so there’s that at least.

Next up: December, being the last month of the year and all that.  Maybe I’ll even get this 500-page turkey finished by December 31st, at which point I will throw my pen into Mascoma Lake, eat a whole box of Twinkies, and wash the spongy, delicious yellow bastards down with a fifth of Maker’s Mark.

a random chicken-related conversation snippet.

In the car, after stopping by a Chik-Fil-A on Kingston Pike in Knoxville.   The husband is enjoying his first Chik-Fil-A chicken biscuit in three years.  Wife tries her very first one ever.

Husband: So what do you think of the chicken biscuit?  Good, huh?

Wife: It’s just a piece of chicken on a biscuit.  I’m not terribly impressed.

Husband: <after a moment of stunned speechlessness>  Just a piece of chicken on a biscuit?? That’s like saying the Mona Lisa is just a bunch of oil paint on a canvas.

Wife: That’s not an accurate analogy.  The Mona Lisa is a work of art.

Husband: <holding aloft the mostly-eaten chicken biscuit> So’s this!

liquid scotland, with fd&c yellow #6.

Check out what the Scottish Tartan Museum down in Franklin, NC had in stock:

That, my friends, is Irn-Bru.  And not just plain Irn-Bru, but the Diet version, which is exceedingly hard to come by outside of Scotland.  They had a case of the Diet stuff left, and I bought it to haul back north with us.

Irn-Bru is my favorite soda.  I got hooked on it when I visited Scotland in 1996.  It’s hard to describe the flavor to someone who has never tried it.  It’s not a cola, and it doesn’t taste fruity.  There’s a hint of that Red Bull-esque “liquid gummy bears” flavor, but it’s not nearly as cloying or sweet as Red Bull.  For those of you not local to Franklin, NC, there are a few sellers on who offer both the regular and diet versions, although shipping might cost a bit.

Irn-Bru: two thumbs up from the Munchkin Wrangler Test Kitchen.