Sammy the Seal

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Pumpkin pie (slimy, wormy variation)

In delicious on Monday, 31 October, 2011 at 9:59

Aside from the heart-shaped, chocolate-covered, painstakingly crafted coconut macaroons with tassled toothpick “arrows” through them, I haven’t done much themed baking. But, the time seemed right to be Hallowe’en-y, especially since I have people to impress. I decided on pumpkin pie with dyed filling, with gum eyeballs sticking out. However, I couldn’t find eyeballs, sadly, so I went with the old gummi-worms-crawling-out-of-dirt routine., i.e., chocolate wafer cookie crumbs.

Normally I’d try to make it from scratch, however two second-hand sources (one of whom is pretty organic and natural foods-y) have informed me that from-scratch (i.e. fresh pumpkin carved and hollowed out on site) isn’t all that different or better, not for the extra effort, anyway. The only real benefit I can see is maybe smugness or a superiority complex. Besides, you can get canned pure pumpkin with nothing added. I grabbed this one from the label of the can, because why not, but altered the amount of sugar (as usual) and upped the spices a little.

Two uncooked pie shells

Filling (this makes two 9″ pies, the filling is also sold at 15 oz. size, everything is halved):
1/2 c granulated or superfine sugar
1/2 c + 1 generous pinch brown sugar
cinnamon, ginger, cloves (in descending order of precedence)
4 eggs
29 oz. puréed pumpkin (plain, NOT the mix)
2 12-oz. cans evaporated milk
green food coloring (or whatever odd color you like)

one 2-3-cup bowl, one 3-5-quart bowl

Mix/whisk together sugar, salt, and spices the small bowl. In the large, beat the eggs well, then stir in pumpkin and sugar/spice/salt mix. Then, stir in evaporated milk, one can at a time. Since it’s so thin, I whisk rather than stir, but then, I always like to whisk. I doubt it makes a different when it’s added. I added about 30-40 drops of green coloring, a few yellow and blue here and there, the result being:

pumpkin pie ooze

I poured four cups into one shell, then refrigerated the other four. It wasn’t as dark as I would have liked, but don’t overdo the color, as baking at 425º for 15 minutes, then at 350º for 40-45 minute will congeal and concentrate the filling, and consequently the color. To wit:

pumpkin pie twins

green pumpkin pie

After giving the pies two hours to cool, the dirt and worms were added. For the dirt, I bought a whole package of chocolate sandwich cookies (brand irrelevant), split them, scraped off the filling, and crushed the cookies. Fortunately for me, I noticed the “crumb” setting on my blender, and did it like that instead of crushing them with blunt force, as I initially did. I saved myself a bit of physical effort and mental anguish, no doubt. Then designed as desired.

worm pie 1

worm pie 2

I probably shouldn’t have omitted so much sugar, it could’ve been sweeter. I took out about 1/3 c or more, I probably should have been only 1/4 c. Rats. I forgot to snap these before digging the fork in. But then, it shouldn’t look pristine and clean-cut, it should be a mess.

green pumpkin mangled slice 1

green pumpkin mangled slice 2

Yikes, what a mess. All the better….

green pumpkin full slice

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“It’s not like we were married”

In vinyl on Sunday, 30 October, 2011 at 19:06


Song: The Face Of The Earth
Artist: The Dismemberment Plan
Album: Change

What is it about these guys that they go so well with declining weather? This sounds so appropriate, natural, even, under overcast skies and <50º F air. It’s moody and mysterious, yet far from mopey and gloomy, though. There are numerous flashes of life– I quite like the cymbals here, and the guitars have a strange, angular, almost atonal (though not really, I just can’t find the word) sound at times that fits well the paranormal, metaphysical storyline. The way they churn at the chorus would fit nicely with sudden gusts of wind. I think you could do this with 90% clouds.

Somnambulation?

In words, words, words on Friday, 28 October, 2011 at 11:38

Completely trivial, yet very confounding. First, for the second night in a row, I remember what I dreamed, no lucidity though. I recall being in college again (I’m not sure how, but maybe it was Utah) and being ten minutes late for pre-calculus (if there was ever a giveaway on a dream). The professor had an unconventional teaching style, then my cat appeared, but with all white fur. It didn’t look pretty, the professor agreed.

The mysterious part is how I woke up. All the lights and appliances were off, and I was in the living room. I have a hard time believing that I extinguished everything before passing out. And it wasn’t a nap, it was bedtime. It was a full night’s sleep. The remote controls were not close, so I must have switched them all off by hand. All the lights were off, t.v. screen dark, no DVD menu on repeat– that’s what’s the hardest to believe. I don’t remember lying down in total darkness. Why wouldn’t I go to my bed? I thought perhaps the power had gone out, but the clocks were fine and all switches were in off position. Perhaps I was conscious and don’t remember, or perhaps I was half-asleep. I can, after all, turn off alarms without waking, which is why I put them across the room. I checked the locks on my doors to see if someone had come in during the night to do it for me, but they were locked. Maybe I was just that tired, it’s a possibility. Now, if my teeth had been brushed and the dishes done, I’d really be losing it.

Maybe my cat did it.

Keys to semi-lucid dreaming

In experience, words, words, words on Thursday, 27 October, 2011 at 3:52

How can you verify that you are dreaming? Current events, or, more specifically, current sporting events. It is rare that I am up past 3am due not to having stayed up, but having slept. I fell asleep shortly after dinner (thank goodness I remembered to put the food away!), and here I am eight hours later, though it was actually a struggle to rouse myself, being still exhausted. The call of the shower and the prospect of cleanliness vs. stink got me through.

So anyway, lots of dreaming last night, involving co-workers and family, details which I remember well but can’t describe, but as usual, a storyline and context I didn’t have much of a grip on. One definite detail of my dreaming misadventures was the death of my brother and oldest sister. One dream was bleeding into the next, adjacent locations that don’t match, people that don’t belong in certain places (like south Texas), and suddenly I found myself at the church I went to when I lived at home, which is when I found out about the deaths. It was like a normal church day, then I suddenly stumbled upon a line/procession of people in black, against a wall. Of course I was shocked and saddened, but shortly afterwards figured something was not right. (At one brief period of my life, I was good at recognizing dreams, but not so much anymore.)

In retrospect, there was something fishy about driving to the graves, which I’ll explain later, but, and here’s the key to semi-lucid dreaming, I used as my litmus test sports. (It was weird, like in a film or show containing time travel where someone asks what year it is and everyone else humors them but thinks they’re crazy.) Upon expressing my skepticism of this reality to my dad, I asked my dad what major sporting event was going on, the correct answer being, of course, The World Series. I want to say he almost mentioned something about basketball, but instead asked me something like, “well, which one is it where you’re from?” I think the dream ended shortly thereafter, as I don’t remember much else. I didn’t get to solve it, but at least my dad didn’t treat me like a complete loon.

Other details that aroused suspicion, or should have:
1) This one is the weaker of the two, but when I learned what was going on was at the wake (though it could have just been the services, I’m not too sure), which happened before my dad and I drove out to the cemetery. However, it could have just been the services, I’m not too sure.
2) This one I feel dumb for not catching, but when you’re shocked and stricken by grief, you’re not always aware of things. I mentioned earlier how I found a line of people in black and church, of whom my family was a part? That’s when I found about my brother and sister. It would seem no one had mentioned it to me until then, and I’m pretty sure my family likes me.

I remember growing up loving baseball, even though neither Texas team had ever amounted to much then. Even when I was grown, I remember Texas getting stomped by New York during their occasional playoff years. (Admittedly, I was more an Astros fan as a kid. I was a bit incredulous in 2005, though I should have been more happy for them then. Maybe it’s because they got stomped so quickly, I didn’t really have a chance to be.) From decades of being nobodies, to two pennants in a row. One game from finally winning it all. The Rangers, really? Good luck tonight, guys.

“This loss isn’t good enough for sorrow or inspiration”

In vinyl on Wednesday, 26 October, 2011 at 11:25


Song: It Just Is
Artist: Rilo Kiley
Album: More Adventurous

I thought about titling it “everybody dies” but went against my morbid inclinations. It’s probably the prettiest utterance of “everybody dies” you’ll ever hear though, that’s sweet Jenny Lewis. I love perspective songs. Life is so much more manageable when you accept the things that are inevitable. Surely it’s no accident that this closes out the album with the equally lovely “A Man/Me/Then Jim” and its “the slow fade of love”  and “a gradual descent into a life you never meant” refrains preceding it. Both a tad somber and plaintive, yet graceful.

A little too short (2+ minutes) and sweet, yet fitting, and even a little light-hearted, from the sound of the intro. That’s xylophone for you.

“Will I ever get better?”

In music videos, vinyl on Monday, 24 October, 2011 at 21:45


Song: The One I Want
Artist: Green Day
Album: 1,000 Hours EP (later compiled on 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours)

Ah, another laugh at my expense. This is the opposite of that neutral Thermals-related memory, this being from a general period but with a specific significance. Back when I was a barely legal young pup, at the end of the century, I was into some Lookout Records stuff, Green Day’s pre-Reprise stuff included. After having heard this a few times, I dedicated this song to my future wife. I imagined it would be somehow connected to the marriage, like I’d play it at the wedding, or I would have it in the background when I proposed to her. Ridiculous sentimentalism, eh? I think I can be forgiven for my silliness, though, as I was as yet untempered by life experience or by independence. The song’s not bad, but it is rather schmaltzy, hence my then-embrace of it as a future romantic signpost. I shouldn’t knock it, it’s still a decent song, especially having been written by high school kids. I like it, though not as much as back then, of course; the solo is nice, but I can’t help but feel a little bit embarrassed when I hear this. Which is actually why I won’t type the lyrics, ha ha. They’re easily decipherable, anyway.

(I wonder what Billie Joe was mumbling at the end….)

Bless the people who still have their age-old concert recordings around. Twenty-two years this was. Crazy. They were 16 or 17 at the time. I was still wetting my bed and crying for my mommy when I was that age.
“Shut up and play the fucking song!” I’m pretty sure that’s their drummer.

Wannabe DIY pizza

In delicious on Sunday, 23 October, 2011 at 23:59

No photos, as I made it last Thursday, but I was at a friend’s and we had pizza and salad. I obtained a double pepperoni pizza from a grocery store deli, then added a layer of salami, followed by tomato, green, yellow and orange peppers, more cheese, and garlic. Three days later: still completely delicious. Oven reheat turned out best, but even with microwave reheat, it was rather enjoyable.

It took me a while to go from pre-made pie crusts to homemade, but I’m on the way to making the switch from pre-fab pizza to homemade dough soon, now that I’ve ordered some kitchen literature. One is an all-purpose cookbook, baking of all kinds (including pizza dough), as in techniques and recipes, the other is more of a science textbook, all knowledge and stuff. It’s titled How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science.

I’m excited…..

How to salvage lime mousse

In delicious on Saturday, 22 October, 2011 at 22:26

If it comes out too thin, pour it into a baked pie crust, then freeze it. Provided you have a lump of dough sitting around.

lime mousse pie

lime mousse pie slice

And to think it may well have been tossed out. Tart, icy, delicious.

“My headphones, they saved my life”

In vinyl on Friday, 21 October, 2011 at 14:06


Song: Headphones
Artist: Björk
Album: Post

Or they could have, if I hadn’t put them in the pocket of a jacket, then changed into another jacket and left home, without retrieving them. A co-worker tried to put an optimistic spin on it, like maybe I forgot them for a reason. The only things I can come up with are “don’t be so stupid ever again” or “keep your earphones in your pants”: lesson learned. Meanwhile, though, the day continues to drag…………..

Look out, lest I get some of my sullen on you.

“A giant fist is out to crush us”

In vinyl on Thursday, 20 October, 2011 at 16:16

Song: A Pillar of Salt
Artist: The Thermals
Album: The Body, The Blood, The Machine

Ha, great imagery. So, memory lane. Most of the time, as far as memories go, music evokes more an indefinite period in time than a pinpoint. A broad feeling rather than an event. This is a rare exception for me, though. Back in 2006, I moved from the west coast to the east, crashing with family along the way, the final destination being New York. My sister in North Carolina drove me up to D.C./Alexandria, where she pawned me off on my sister from Connecticut, who took me back up. On the first leg of the trip, we listened to Sirius radio, as my sister had bought her husband some device for the car that came with a trial subscription. I specifically remember when this song came on. That’s all. Nothing eventful, however, I don’t recall any other songs I heard on the way there.

Not an exciting anecdote, but it occurred to me as interestingly uncommon that music evoked a rather insignificant, non-emotional memory. No wistfulness, just a neutral, historical response. A matter of fact. A soulless memory, in a way.

That being said, it’s a good song. It’s why I bought the record.