Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Cannibal Pumpkin...How's that for a FATAL Foodie?

Pretty scary...if you happen to be a mini pumpkin! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Two Words For Fall: Apple and Crisp

Put them together and whaddya got?

Apple Crisp
photo from
  • 4 C. sliced, pared tart apples
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. oatmeal
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 T. margarine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8x8x2 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place apple slices in the pan and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients together until the mixture is completely moistened. Sprinkle evenly over apples and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the apples are tender and top is golden brown. Serve warm.

And, oh, man, is it good! Especially with vanilla or caramel ice cream. Mmmmm!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, October 28, 2013

Apples and Halloween! by Joyce Lavene

Apples and Halloween
By Joyce Lavene 

Apples and Halloween are forever linked. Part of the reason for this is that apples are harvested in the fall. Of course the more plentiful the fruit, the more games, and dishes we’d find to make with it.

But what about bobbing for apples?

It was cold during our recent Halloween party and we opted for ‘bobbing’ for apples hung on strings from the doorway. No one wanted to go out in the cold with a wet head!

Most people believe apple bobbing goes back to Irish and Scottish rituals around the time of Samhain, the old religion. It wasn't just a game, but also a form of divination.

The apples were thrown into the water, and after catching one (hands free), you were supposed to peel it and circle your head with it before throwing it over your shoulder. Doing this was supposed to reveal the initial of your true love’s name.

For some reason, apples have been at the core of superstition and myth. The apple in the Garden of Eden – the witch making poison apples in the fairy tale There were golden apples in Greek and Norse mythology.

Maybe it was the common aspect of apples. Everyone knew what apples were. 

When I was a child, people frequently gave apples in your trick or treat bag. That doesn't happen much anymore after the 'razor' scare of the 1970s. I admit it wasn't my favorite treat. Who wants something that we all know is good for you?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Falling Back in Love with Sam

My youngest began preschool this fall. This has allowed me to begin seeing Sam again. I have loved Sam ever since he moved to my area. For many years, we enjoyed lengthy and regular visits.
After having kids, my visits with Sam began decreasing. It just was not as much fun once I had kids tagging along.
I am refering to SAMs Club. It is NOT a fun place to take small children! Navigating the enormous warehouse with a little one is overwhelming and over stimulating.
Skylar beginning preschool has given me a few hours a week to run errands by myself. While I miss my little sidekick, it sure is nice to resume my visits with Sam!
I forgot what a tremendous selection of food is offered at SAMS Club; and do not get me started on the food samples they hand out!
Oh, how I missed this place. Sam, I might have stayed away for too long; but my love for you burns strong ad ever!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Upcook, Downcook

Back in the day, I loved to watch Upstairs, Downstairs (the original show, especially the first few seasons), just to watch Mrs. Bridges cook or talk about cooking. So I was excited to stumble upon Mrs. Bridges' Upstairs, Downstairs Cookery Book.

Alas, it has mixed reviews. The worst of it is that the reviews reveal it's only an Edwardian cookery book, not one that follows the show.

Still, I'm happier, just knowing this book exists. I can hear Mrs. Bridges now, telling Mr. Hudson how irritating Sarah is, and how Rose talked back in a most shocking way.

I'm putting the book on my wish list, just for fun, and might even buy it for myself one of these fine days.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, October 21, 2013

Marshmallows anyone can roast! By Joyce Lavene

Marshmallows anyone can roast
By Joyce Lavene

For many years, having our Friday night bonfire has been difficult for the vegan and vegetarian members
of my family. I don't feel as sorry for the adult members of our family as for the kids. What is a bonfire without roasting marshmallows?

Making S'more,s and watching the marshmallows get all brown and puffy is a delight. And I'm pleased to say that now vegans and vegetarians can also enjoy this time-honored tradition.

These marshmallows are awesome! They taste really good. They're gooey and crispy when you eat them. They roast just fine on a stick over a fire.

Wondering why vegans and vegetarians can't eat regular marshmallows? It's the gelatin, just like in Jello.

"Gelatin is a mixture of peptides and proteins produced by partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattlechickenpigs, and fish. Food-grade gelatin is produced mainly from two raw materials, beef skin and pig hide. Photographic and pharma grades of gelatin are generally made from beef bones, although some beef bone gelatin is used by the food industry. Gelatin is an animal protein unlike many other gelling agents used by the food industry."

Yummy, right?

Anyway, for obvious reasons, people who don't eat meat, don't eat gelatin. The only place I've been able to find these is online, but that's okay.

Back to the marshmallows. These are very good and will suit your purpose. Now I'm going to make a fire and roast some!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Something Funny

Since last week's post was kind of a downer (even though it was interesting to know where our fear of Halloween candy originated), today I wanted to give you something to smile about. This is from LOLCATS:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My New Favorite Board on Pinterest

I love Pinterest! All of my pinned projects may never be completed, but I am going to give it a shot. Check out my Halloween board:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Looking at the World Through Cups, Mugs, and Glasses

My kids know me so well. I had a birthday recently, and one of my presents was Tom Standage's A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 6 GLASSES.

Just as food is sometimes more than just food, what we drink can shape our world. Beer was used as currency, as were spirits (Molasses to Rum to Slaves). Wine was exported from ancient Greece, along with Greek culture. Tea brought about the British Raj and was symbolically integral to the American Revolution. Coffee houses have always been centers of creativity, business dealings, and social change. As for the sixth drink, where can one go to escape Coca-Cola?

So let us say, along with Jerome K. Jerome, author of THREE MEN IN A BOAT (TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG),
Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.
 Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, October 14, 2013

Spiced Tea on a deadline! By Joyce Lavene

By Joyce Lavene
A Finder's fee
Book 5
Missing Pieces Mysteries 

Spiced Tea

With a cold and a tight deadline, I frequently don’t feel like eating. I use this recipe for spiced tea because it picks me up right away and it’s easy to do.

2 cups orange breakfast drink mix
1 cup unsweetened instant tea
1/3 cup sweetened lemonade drink mix
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

For one serving: Pour 1 cup boiling water into a mug; stir in 1 tablespoon tea mix until dissolved. Yield: 3 cups mix (48 servings).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ronald WHO Ruined Halloween?

In an October 2011 article from, the magazine did an expose on five people who screwed things up for everybody. In fact, the title of the article is 5 People Who Screwed Things Up For Everybody. I suggest you read it so you'll know who to shake your fist at the next time you encounter a computer virus or see an impossibly beautiful model in a magazine photo.

But in this post, I'm going to focus on Ronald Clark O'Bryan who, according to, ruined Halloween. Prior to Ronald Clark O'Bryan, children could go to neighbors' houses and get homemade candy, cookies, or popcorn balls. After RCO, parents began examining their children's candy.

This fear can be traced back to O'Bryan who laced Pixie Stix with cyanide in order to kill his eight-year-old son to cash in on a $40,000 life insurance policy. He gave the candy to the children his son went trick-or-treating with, but they suffered no harm. O'Bryan was caught and executed. But from then on, the unthinkable became a possibility. O'Bryan took the innocence from a fun rite-of-passage.

Cracked reports that since that incident, there have been a couple of isolated cases of candy poisoning, but none that have been random. Says Robert Evans, the author of the piece, "So, we guess the moral of the story is: If someone is going to poison your child's Halloween candy, chances are it's going to be you."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Couponing for the Rest of Us

I amazed whenever I see "Extreme Couponers" on TLC. It is an astounding feat of mathematical calculations and organization when someone leaves the grocery store with 3 months worth of goods and pays little-to-nothing.
For those of us who do not have the time, organizational skills or degree in mathematics; I have some tips. I manage to save a very reasonable, but helpful $5-$15 per shopping trip:
1) Do not resort to crazy dumpster-diving in order to obtain coupons. Clip from magazines and Sunday circulars.
2) Subscribe to an online coupon site.
3) If you have a customer loyalty card, see if your store has a way to download coupons to your card.
4) Organize coupons in order that you go through the store.
Happy saving!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

#Vegetarian #Food Is So Pretty!

I'm telling you what: I like pretty food. I don't always make pretty food, but I like it when it comes my way.

Meat, you know, is always kind of ... brown. Ish. But vegetables come in so many bright colors, it's a pleasure just to look at them. Here's a plate we had the other night.
As Charlie's Aunt Ora Mae used to say, "Now ain't that pretty?" That's broccoli salad (broccoli, walnuts, raisins, and mayonnaise), roast beets, and butternut squash.

Summer is over, and the farmers' markets are closing. Soon, we'll be eating out of cans and the freezer and the grocery.


No wonder bears hibernate.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, October 7, 2013

Creepy Halloween Food - By Joyce Lavene

Creepy Halloween Food
By Joyce Lavene
From A Finder's Fee
Book 5 in the Missing Pieces Mysteries

Creepy Halloween Food has become an expected part of Halloween holidays. Ever since the first Halloween party where someone made a ice mold hand out of a rubber glove to float in a bowl of punch, it's only been getting worse.

Now, it's not just creepy - we've crossed into gross and disgusting.

Bat cookies? - not good enough unless they're gushing blood or someone has cut their heads off.

Monster hands? Not unless they're made with burnt meatloaf.

Pastry intestines? Okay. Cream cheese head split open with red jello brains inside? Nice!

Who wants to eat cookie lungs that have cancer with black frosting? I thought wormy spaghetti was bad enough!

But to each his, or her, own. My daughter makes delicious witch's fingers with peanut butter cookie dough and uses almond for the nails. We once made a whole body out of lunch meat and cheese and put clothes on it.

What is your favorite scary or gross food that you make for Halloween parties? Let me know and I'll feature it here!

 Joyce Lavene

A Finder's Fee - Seaside, supernatural mystery!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Food Lion Incentive

Do you have a Food Lion in your area? If so, you might want to shop there during the next six weeks. Their latest promotion started October 2 and goes until November 26, 2013. It's called Free Holiday Dinner.

To participate, you must visit the store each week during the time of the promotion; spend $40 or more in each visit; and use your MVP card (if you don't have one, you can sign up on the spot for free). Collect your receipts for each of the six weeks, and then redeem the six different weekly receipts for a $20 coupon.

Sounds like a great deal to me!

If you're unsure whether or not there's a Food Lion in your area, use their store locator to see.

There's no reason for me to promote the Food Lion incentive program--I'm not getting paid or anything. I just think it's a good deal. We all have to buy groceries anyway, and it certainly isn't hard to spend $40. I get excited when I get a dollar coupon. But a $20 coupon? Whoo-hoo! :D

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Foodie with a Smart Phone

I have joined the rest of the modern world! Just about everyone else I know has owned a smart phone for years. Finally, I caved in and got one.
I never realized how much I needed a smart phone! As a foodie, I love how nice it is to use for grocery shopping. The following three things are particularly useful for grocery shopping:
1) I keep my grocery list on my IPhone. Now, my list is always with me. Certain items, like fruit and milk, stay on the list. My list is organized by layout of the store.
2) I can look up recipes while I am in the store. If a particular item is on sale, I can Google it as a recipe ingredient and get a slew of recipes.
3) My regular store allows me to load coupons onto my loyalty card. I can go to the store's site to see what coupons are loaded.
Does anybody else have a favorite use for their smartphone in the grocery store?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Throwing a Con-fit

As I'm posting on my blog today, I made a pork confit to produce some food to take to Context Alternate Realities convention this past weekend. Here are the dishes I made from the finished roast, in addition to sliced meat for sandwiches.

 Some of the roast was too tender to slice, so I took the shreds and bits and mixed in a cube of Knorr brand chipotle which I got cheap because it was discontinued. It's lovely, and just perfectly hot.

I had also taken some corn tortillas, since my roommate at the convention is gluten-intolerant, and she brought some sharp cheddar, so we were very happy campers.

I cooked the roast with onions, garlic, and sweet apples, and the end product, after the meat and fat were removed, were these.
Cooked stuff and what we call, around these parts, pot-likker.

I sautéed a pound of white button mushrooms in a dry pan until they stopped giving off liquid, then added the onions/garlic/apples and a bit of the fat. After that had cooked down a bit, I added the meat juices and heated it all, stirring, until the liquid was almost gone.

The result was an intensely flavored little package of yummy goodness. You can see the deliciousness twinkling off of every morsel.

The convention was a great success, by the way. We had a terrific time, met lots of friends, old and new, and sold books hand over fist. What's not to like?

All that plus a new cooking technique for me, and I declare the whole adventure a 10 on the make-me-happy scale.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes