Culinary Adventures: Making “bloody” Broken Glass Cupcakes for Halloween
I had seen these Broken Glass Cupcakes on Pinterest and really wanted to try them out for our annual pumpkin carving party this year. I wasn’t sure how making the glass would go, as I’ve never made hard candy before. I found Martha Stewart’s recipe for the sugar glass (she calls it caramel, which makes no sense to me) online, and tried it out:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
Bring granulated sugar and water to a boil in a small high-sided saucepan, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until mixture just starts to turn pale gold around edges. Remove from heat, and immediately pour caramel onto a rimmed baking sheet. Working quickly, tilt pan to spread caramel to edges to make a very thin layer. Let cool to harden.
I added the sugar and water to a pot and began bringing it to a boil. I wasn’t sure about the “cook until mixture starts to turn a pale gold around the edges” part of Martha’s instructions, and there were no photos to show what that looked like, or any reference to about how long this would take.
I am familiar with reducing liquids down to thicken, so I figured the consistency would need to be pretty thick for it to make the glass candy.
It took quite a while, about 20 minutes or so. Definitely watch it and stir on occasion. Eventually, it reduced down and very little steam was coming off of the syrup any more, it was mostly just bubbling. I tested it with a spoon, and it was a honey-like consistency. It looked like this just before I took it off the burner and poured it onto the cookie sheet:
I poured it onto the cookie sheet as instructed, quickly tilting it to spread the syrup in a thin sheet. It was really bubbly at first and I was worried that the bubbles would end up in the candy. Once it spread out, the bubbles quickly disappeared and it formed a clear, glossy sheet.
I let it harden while I made the cupcakes. You can use any recipe you want, really–but I would recommend using a white frosting for contrast with the “blood.” I used chocolate cupcakes and cream cheese frosting. Red velvet cupcakes would be a good idea too.
When the sugar glass was hard and my cupcakes were frosted and ready, I used a metal spatula to break the sugar glass apart. To my delight, it worked out perfectly and looked just like broken glass.
I added cherry pie filling to the tops to look like blood. (Tastes good too).
I inserted the sugar glass shards into each cupcake, and ended up having some leftover. The recipe makes a large batch.
I had originally planned on making the sugar glass a day or two before the party, because I figured it would keep fine and I wanted to make sure that I could do it without screwing it up. I’m glad that I ran out of time and waited until the day of–the day after the party the sugar glass turned frosty and began to disintegrate a bit. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.
The sugar glass for the broken glass cupcakes will take about 30-40 minutes, plus at least 1-2 hours of cooling time
The syrup is ready when there is little steam coming off of the syrup anymore, and it is thick like honey, forming glassy frothy bubbles while boiling
Make it the day of your event, do not make ahead of time to keep your glass looking clear and realistic.
Our pumpkin carving party was a success, and everyone seemed to like my broken glass cupcakes. They weren’t as difficult as I thought they’d be, and the effect was delightfully gruesome.
Seattle Cycle Saloon: Two-hour tour of nano and micro breweries in Fremont/Ballard area
I’d seen the Cycle Saloon around the Fremont/Ballard neighborhood a few times, including witnessing a cringe-worthy 5 mph drunken peddle across 4 lanes of evening rush hour traffic on 15th Ave NW. You can also guarantee spotting it in Seattle’s infamous Fremont Solstice parade every June, powered by naked, peddling “saloon” patrons amongst the 400 or so naked bicyclists that kick the parade off every year.
I always thought it looked fun, so when our general manager at my work decided that the Cycle Saloon brewery tour would be a good office “team-building” exercise, I was in.
We opted for a two-hour brewery tour on a Thursday night from 5:30 to 7:30, which was $28 per person. They also offer Friday and Saturday night pub crawl rentals for a flat rate of $185/hour. The Cycle Saloon seats up to 14 people, with 6 seats on each side (10 out of the 12 bike seats have pedals) and a bench seat on the end (no pedals). Our “driver” and guide sits up front and steers the Cycle Saloon while staying sober. Everyone else is allowed to drink while pedaling, as you are essentially just the “motor” of the vehicle. The driver controls the breaks.
We brought our own beers to have in the saloon (tour does not include anything but the Cycle Saloon itself and guide), and there was plenty of storage space in the roof rack for bags and beverages. There was also a keg tap which was unused.
We climbed onto the saloon, and set off down North 36th Street in Fremont and onto Leary Way NW. We only went 5 miles per hour no matter how hard everyone peddled. I’m pretty sure there is something built into the gears to keep the speed controlled at a slow pace. This was to the dismay of several drivers trying to get home, as we blocked an entire lane of traffic on Leary during rush hour. We got a lot of hoots and hollers from pedestrians along the way, as well as a few dirty looks from drivers.
Bad Jimmy’s Brewing has a large selection of brews, including some very unique flavors. We ordered a selection of tasters and tried as many as we could. I tried the Amber, and tasted a sip each of the Habanero Amber, the Cocoa Vanilla Porter, and the Strawberry Mango Hefeweizen. They were all delicious. the Cocoa Vanilla Porter was essentially dessert in a glass, but not too sweet. I’d never had anything like it. The Habanero Amber had a kick to it, but wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy. I was told that they had a habenero cider in the summer, and I was kind of bummed that they didn’t have any left to sample. I’m sure they will again, it sounded awesome. The Strawberry Mango Hefeweizen was very fruity and a little sweet. If you’re not a beer drinker, this might be a good one for you.
Bad Jimmy’s also sells growlers to go, I think I’ll have to go back and get a few for our next party.
After a 30 minute stop at Bad Jimmy’s, we climbed back on the Cycle Saloon, peddled down Leary Ave and turned North on 8th Ave NW.
Our driver raved about Reuben’s Brews, another newer nano brewery on NW 53rd St. Unfortunately, Reuben’s Brews was so popular that we were unable to even fit in the door with the Thursday evening crowd that was there. It must be pretty good, I’ll have to go back and check it out with Paddy someday.
We hopped back on the Cycle Saloon and peddled around the block to The Stoup on NW 52nd St, yet another new nano brewery in the neighborhood.
The Stoup was also pretty busy, but there was room for us to fit in their outside bar area. There was a food truck there as well. Seattle has become quite saturated with food trucks in the last couple years every since the Seattle City Council bill 117225 passed in July 2011, easing regulations on street food vendors. Now you can find just about every kind of food truck you can think of (no longer just hot dogs and tacos). Food trucks and nano breweries have developed a symbiotic relationship–one has a license to sell food anywhere they want, the other has a license to sell beer. Beer drinkers like food, and food eaters like beer. Food trucks can rotate so the food is different on different days of the week, giving beer drinkers more options at their favorite breweries. It’s a win-win for everyone.
We ordered a bunch more tasters, I ended up with the porter which was tasty.
We had about 45 minutes left on our tour, so we hopped back on the Cycle Saloon and peddled back to Leary Way NW and down to Hales Brewery, a large and well-established micro brewery in Fremont.
Hales began in 1983 in Colville, WA, and has since expanded to Spokane and Seattle. The brewing is now done at the Fremont location, and distributed throughout bars in the Pacific Northwest. Their restaurant is huge, with lots of seating and a nice menu. We only had time for tasters, so we ordered a last taster sampler and tasted as much as we could in 25 minutes. My favorites were the Troll Porter and the Red Menace Amber Ale. The brewery part is in full view outside the restaurant door, and it’s kind of cool to watch (and smell) the beer being brewed on site.
At 7:30 we returned the Cycle Saloon back to it’s storage location on North 36th St. in Fremont, thanked our driver and had some delicious food at The Red Door to mop up all the beer.
The Cycle Saloon is a unique, entertaining and safe way to tour the many breweries in the Ballard/Fremont area of Seattle. I’d imagine that it is a popular choice for birthday, bachelor, and bachelorette parties as well. Check them out at http://thecyclesaloon.com.
Our weekend at the Chelan Crush wine harvest festival in Chelan, WA: Apples, cider, wine, wine, and more wine.
We have been to Lake Chelan, WA twice. Both visits were during summer, which is the peak tourist season due to all the activities on the lake in the hot, dry, sunny part of Washington State.
Within the last decade, wineries have been popping up all over the Lake Chelan area alongside the many apple and fruit orchards in the region. Lake Chelan now has 27 wineries and growing, and is becoming quite a wine tasting destination all year round.
I was looking for a fun fall getaway when I stumbled across the Chelan Crush Festival online. I couldn’t find much info about it, but it sounded fun and I heard rumors of possible grape-stomping opportunities. Paddy and I are always up for wine tasting, so we decided to visit during the second weekend of the Chelan Crush, which happens annually during the first two weekends in October.
We left Seattle around 2:00, and traffic wasn’t bad at all. The fall leaves made the drive over a beautiful scenic drive up through Highway 97, finally giving way to the rolling desert hills and sagebrush near Wenatchee and Chelan.
The last two summer trips to Chelan, we’d wanted to stay on the Lake so we had stayed in a one bedroom condo with friends at The Grandview. Lake accommodations are expensive, and we had brought groceries and cooked all our own meals to make up for the cost of the condo.
This time, the lake wasn’t the main attraction, and we wanted to go out to eat. I did some research and decided on The Midtowner Motel on Woodin Ave about a half mile from the lake in town. It was a great deal–nothing fancy, but for $69.00 a night, we got a room with a fridge, microwave, and flat screen TV within walking distance from town. It was very clean and the property was well maintained. They are pretty old-school there–I had to call and make my reservation by phone and they mailed me a confirmation letter via snail mail.
The bathroom was tiny, with a tiny shower stall in lieu of a bathtub, and no hair dryer. Suspecting that this might be the case, we brought our own hair dryer and were glad we did. Other than that, the beds were decent and the room was clean, comfortable, and had everything we needed. There was also a small indoor pool and hot tub on site that we didn’t use. Free coffee is available in the office lobby.
We were starving, so we walked into town for food and drinks. Normally we avoid the biggest tourist spots like the plague, but since it was the off season and the menu looked good, we decided to try Campbell’s Resort Pub and Veranda. We were glad we did, the food and drinks were surprisingly good.
Campbell’s had an extensive seasonal cocktail menu that I couldn’t resist. It was a tough choice, but I decided on the Jalisco Pear, which had lemon, cinnamon tequila, pear puree, hard cider, all-spice, and a cinnamon-sugar rim. It was delicious.
The prices here are high, but the food quality is there to back it up. We went with the more inexpensive burgers–Paddy had the Valhalla Burger, which had a house made beef patty, garlic aioli, arugula, grilled tomato, pancetta jam, and valhalla stilton. I went with the Blackened Chicken Burger, which consisted of a blackened chicken breast, spicy ranch, pepperjack cheese, bacon, and chipotle slaw on a brioche bun. It came with a lentil salad which I would normally have been super stoked about, but I subbed out fries because I’d been craving them all day for some reason.
The burgers were fantastic– sloppy, wet, and delicious. They were worth the $12-$15 tag. We shared a side order of the bacon brussels sprouts, which were also fantastic. They were sauteed with bacon, garlic, and shallots and were cooked to perfection. The fries were okay, probably the only slight disappointment to the meal. They were the pre-fab seasoned battered fries, and next to all the house-made unique flavors of the dishes, left a lot to be desired. Overall, it was a great meal and we’d definitely go back.
We considered stopping in for a drink at the Tin Lilly on the way back to the room, but they were packed. We were pretty beat, so we picked up some wine and headed back to the room to relax.
Another perk to the Midtowner Motel is that there is a diner with breakfast right across the street called The Apple Cup Cafe. It has classic diner fare, everything you would expect for breakfast at a diner. The food was pretty good. Paddy had a chicken fried steak, and I had a house-made biscuit with sausage gravy and two scrambled eggs. They serve local Blue Star Coffee, which was watery in the classic diner fashion but good.
After breakfast, we headed out to Orondo to check out their “Cider Fest” happening that day. Orondo is a small town about a 15 minute drive along the Columbia River from Chelan. There isn’t a lot going on in the town, but the drive is beautiful and Orondo Cider Works is worth a stop.
Apples are grown and picked from the orchards on the large property, and pressed on site. There is a viewing window into the pressing room allowing you to watch how it is made while enjoying a cup of cider and a fresh house-made doughnut.
Apples are inspected and bad parts removed, and then loaded onto a conveyor belt tube into a sort of “wood chipper” type machine. They are ground up and dropped onto a cloth on a plastic square, spread out and wrapped up with another square put on top for the next batch. The process is repeated until a stack of squares is achieved, and then they are moved underneath the press, which comes down and presses down on the stack until all the juice has poured out of the apples and down into a vat.
Inside the store, pumpkin doughnuts and cider doughnuts are fried and then sold up at the front counter.
We got a cup of hot spiced cider and a cider doughnut each and sat out at the picnic table watching the festival set up. There wasn’t much up yet, but families with kids kept pouring in. It looked like later there would be BBQ and live music.
We were hoping to taste the hard cider made on site, but they weren’t quite set up yet at the time the program said they would. As more screaming children poured onto the property, we decided just to head on to wine tasting with grown-ups.
Another 15 minute drive north on the 97 past Chelan, is Rio Vista Winery on the Columbia River. The signage isn’t great for Rio Vista, and we missed it at first and had to turn around. It is in between mile post 243 and 244, which is the easiest way to look for it.
We showed up about 15 minutes before the tasting room opened, so I walked up near the road and took some photos while we waited. I’m always in awe of the stark contrast between Eastern and Western Washington. So green on one side and dry, arid desert on the other.
The winery has two very friendly dogs, who were excitedly bringing a ball to all arriving guests in hopes they would play. Paddy indulged them for a few minutes.
The tasting room offered three tastes complimentary, or 6 for $5.00. We tasted three–the Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and the Loony Red. Our favorite was the 2011 Pinot Noir, a very full bodied red that we would have bought a bottle of if it hadn’t been for the $42.00 price tag. It was possibly the best one we tasted all weekend, and now we’re kind of wondering if we should have just splurged on a bottle. Chelan Crush goers began pouring into the tiny tasting room and it was quickly very crowded. We moved on, thanking the winemaker for the complimentary tastes.
We headed back to the lake, through Chelan and up to Manson, WA on the north side of Lake Chelan. Our next stop on our Chelan Crush tour was Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards.
When we arrived, they were in the midst of crushing grapes (no stomping in wooden barrels these days, think stainless vats and machines). The tasting room was busy, and pretty eccentric. They had an 1800’s French brothel decor theme going on, which I thoroughly enjoyed. They had a collection of wines called “Shameless Hussy” that weren’t available for tasting that day, but were prominently displayed for purchase. When we mentioned that we liked their style, the lady pouring our tastings made sure that we didn’t miss the wallpaper, which is quite scandalous up close. She said the owners imported it all the way from Belgium. I would have done the same thing. She told me that there was something more scandalous in the ladies’ room, but unfortunately I acquired a wine tasting buzz and forgot to check it out.
The tasting fee at Hard Row to Hoe is $10.00 per person, which is kind of ridiculous. All the wineries we’ve been to have had a tasting fee of $5.00 per person, often waived if at least one bottle of wine is purchased. The fee is waived here if a bottle is purchased, but it has to be one bottle per taster. We enjoyed their Cabernet Franc and their Sangiovese. We also enjoyed their Gewurztraminer, which was a bit sweet but had a nice fruity finish. The lady helping us mentioned that the Gewurztraminer goes well with Thanksgiving dinner, and I can definitely see it pairing well with turkey and cranberry sauce. We purchased a bottle of the 2012 Sangiovese and paid one tasting fee, as their bottle prices were also a little steep. This winery is worth visiting for the high fun factor and good wines, but bring your wallet and be prepared to put a dent in it.
We moved onto Cairdeas Winery at the recommendation of our friendly wine server at Hard Row. Cairdeas (pronounced Car-Dess) is Gaelic for friendship or alliance. They have several very unique wine blends and a small, rustic tasting room with very friendly servers.
We enjoyed the MV Tri-3 and the Counoise the most, and Paddy purchased a bottle of the 2012 Counoise, which was our favorite.
The winds picked up outside considerably, and the sun went away for a little bit. It was pretty blustery. We walked next door to Lake Chelan Winery, which we had visited on our last trip to Chelan. They advertised Chelan Crush festivities including grape stomping and BBQ. We were hungry, and decided that eating something would be best before continuing any wine tasting as we were driving.
The BBQ menu at Lake Chelan Winery looked good, but at $16-$23 a plate, it was more than we wanted to spend. Near the BBQ area were two wooden grape stomping barrels being cleaned out by a young girl, after a couple of women had recently done the grape stomp and were washing their feet in a nearby bucket. Stomping grapes was one of my priorities on this trip, but as we watched the poor girl clean out grape guts for the next person, with no celebratory flair to the event in the gray, windy weather, it just felt kind of pointless. They don’t use the juice from stomping, it’s more symbolic than anything else. Perhaps it was more festive earlier in the day. We opted to skip it and save the girl the trouble of cleaning up another mess for now.
Food was our main priority, so we headed back to town for lunch. Since the Tin Lilly had been so busy the night before, we decided to pop in and see what the fuss was about. The decor was unique, and they had a very nice back patio which I’m sure is great in the summer. I had the Roadrunner chicken burger with avocado, chicken breast, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and bacon. Paddy had the Buffalo Bleu Bill chicken burger with buffalo sauce and blue cheese. They were reasonably priced and came with hand cut fries, which were delicious.
Neither of us felt like we could continue wine tasting and safely operate a vehicle, so we headed back to the room to relax for awhile. I think if we were do do this again, we would try to arrange a winery tour shuttle. We saw a couple of them at the wineries–Kokopelli’s Run and Chelan Tours. I’m not sure if you can jump on a shuttle with another group or if you have to rent the whole thing as a group, but they are worth checking out if you don’t have a designated driver who hates wine. Also an option for a larger group is Chelan Limo.
For dinner we had made a reservation at Vin Du Lac Winery, which was a short drive away. We arranged a taxi with the surly woman at Chelan Cab, which was $10.00 each way. We wanted to be able to have more wine with dinner and not have to worry about driving. Chelan Cab can be reached at (509) 682-8294. Our driver said that during the summer and on busy weekends they bring in Yellow Cab from Wenatchee, but this weekend and in the off season it is just her. She had been pretty busy that evening. She told us she could offer a private winery tour for $40.00 an hour. Too expensive for us that weekend, but it is another transportation option.
We had been to Vin Du Lac Winery for wine tasting on our last trip to Chelan. They had Chelan Crush festivities that day as well, we saw the remains of a pumpkin painting table for children and two grape stomping barrels on their patio. Their patio is really nice in the summer, surrounded by the vineyard with bistro string lights and a lovely view of the lake from their hillside location.
It was too windy and chilly to eat on the patio that night, so we ate indoors. The indoor dining area is cozy and they had a man playing guitar. The lighting was kind of bad–overhead lighting that was way too bright. There was a nice little mason jar candle at our table which was a nice touch, but it was burnt out.
Our waitress was very young and inexperienced, but very nice. She brought us some tasting pours of a few wines for us to try before we ordered a bottle. A nice advantage to eating at a winery. You can also order a wine flight of three different wines in small pours, but larger than tasting pours for the price of a single glass of wine. This is a nice way to get to know the wines.
We tried the Syrah, the Cabernet, and the Pinot Noir. The 2009 Barrel Select Syrah won us over hands down. It was very nice and Paddy said that it went perfectly with the steak that he ordered.
As an appetizer, we shared the duck and pheasant pate with foie gras mousse and cranberry sauce. It was very tasty and came with toast, greens coated in a vinaigrette dressing, sweet gherkins, and grapes. The chef came out into the dining room to check on the diners, and gave us some pointers on how he likes to eat the pate appetizer–on toast with a little smear of cranberry and a pickle on top. We tried it, and can vouch for his recommendation.
For dinner I had the scallops with risotto in a creamy vermouth sauce, and Paddy had the rib eye seasoned with their house rub, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. He said his steak was cooked perfectly as ordered, and was very tasty. My scallops were also cooked perfectly, although the risotto tasted more cheesy than creamy and I didn’t get much vermouth flavor from the scallop sauce or the risotto. The flavor was great though and I’m not a huge vermouth fan so this was fine with me.
Dessert was an apple cobbler but we were too full to try it. The owner stopped by and came around to check on the diners as well. He was pleased that we like the 2009 Syrah, it is also one of his favorites. He said that the 2008 one was even better.
Overall the food prices here were pretty reasonable for what you get. We would recommend it. I think it might be best in the summer on the patio though if you are looking for atmosphere.
The next morning we got an early start, checked out and decided to try the Riverwalk Cafe for breakfast before heading out of town. Service is order at the counter, and they bring the food out to you when it’s ready. Their menu consisted of organic, locally sourced ingredients and healthy options such as fruit cups and nitrate-free bacon.
I had the So-Em Scramble, which had eggs, chicken sausage, bell pepper, rosemary red potatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, and fresh tomatoes. Paddy had the Stormy Scramble, which had chicken sausage, onion, mushroom, spinach, parmesan cheese and sour cream on top. Both came with toast, homemade jam, and a fruit cup.
The local Blue Star Coffee was excellent and there was complimentary lemon-cucumber water in addition to regular water on a self-serve counter. Paddy’s orange juice was fresh squeezed.
After breakfast we bid goodbye to Chelan and headed home. We decided to take Highway 2 back instead of the 97 and I-90, and we were glad we did. The fall color was gorgeous on Highway 2.
So far we’ve been to 6 out of 27 wineries in Chelan, and would love to come back and do the Chelan Crush again, possibly arranging a shuttle so that we can visit more than just a couple wineries at a time. The restaurant options in Chelan are a lot better than in Leavenworth and the Zillah/Toppenish areas in Washington where we have been wine tasting in before. If wine is your thing, head to Chelan in the off-season when the prices are low and the crowds are gone. There is plenty of wine and good food to try.
Crafty Adventures: Rediscovering the art of the Halloween costume–crafting great costumes for grown ups with minimal sewing skills and a lot of enthusiasm
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Paddy’s favorite too. As a kid I used to count down the days until Halloween, and lay my Halloween costume and all its accessories out on my bedroom floor the night before, so excited to be that character at school the next day. Figuring out what I wanted to be and carefully gathering all the necessary components to my Halloween costume was half the fun.
When I got to high school, I went through a goth phase and Halloween usually involved slapping on a pair of vampire fangs and calling it good. In college I got back into costume planning, but “cute” and “sexy” were often factors in my costume decision, and the vampire fangs came out with every costume (because I had them, and well, they were kind of cool). During my early to mid twenties, Halloween usually involved slapping on a wig or a pair of devil horns with a cute outfit and heading out to a bar (cute and sexy still being major factors, of course).
Paddy told me that he had a few good costumes in his 20’s before we met, but sadly he has no photos to share. He remembers being Jack the Ripper and Uncle Sam. (I think the rest of the Halloweens are a blur…)
In 2008, we decided we wanted to have good Halloween costumes. Batman Dark Knight had just come out, and Paddy really wanted to be the Joker (Heath Ledger style). I decided to be Marie Antoinette, but wanted to do in in a more authentic way, not the pre-fab “sexy Marie Antoinette” Halloween costume way. We bought Paddy a pre-fab Joker costume and scar patches for his face, and swapped out the cheesy polyester tie for a real tie and shirt. His hair was the right length and style, and it looked great.
I found the world’s most hideous bridesmaid dress at Red Light Vintage in Seattle. It was a monstrosity of pink lace and ruffles, with poofy sleeves and a bow on the butt. I feel terrible for the poor woman whose bride friend subjected her to wear such an ensemble.
With the help of my good friend Gretchen, seamstress/crafter extraordinaire, she helped me cut a mountain of lace off the dress and de-poof the sleeves. I got a white corset at Frederick’s of Hollywood for the bodice, and used an old crinoline to poof out the skirt. I sewed pink and white lace along the edges of the corset for extra pizazz and added a cameo pin to the center.
Paddy and I both went through an atrocious amount of colored hairspray. I put a ball of yarn on my head and pinned my hair up around it to create a wig-like pouf. In retrospect, a wig would have probably been the way to go, seeing as how Marie Antoinette actually wore a wig as well. I think we also should have gotten Paddy a real jacket and vest, but funds were tight. Overall, we were pretty happy with it.
We went out to a bar that night with friends, and got lots of compliments. There were two other “sexy Marie Antoinette” costumes out that night, but they weren’t nearly as cool. I had forgotten how much fun it was to plan a costume and get really into it. It was fun to be The Couple With The Cool Halloween Costumes. There’s also a certain amount of respect you get–from others who have also put some decent planning and effort into their costumes, and from those who wish they had. From then on, we have stepped up our Halloween Game.
The next year in 2009, we were newly engaged. I had always loved Lydia’s red wedding dress from Beetlejuice, and Paddy had the right haircut that year. I sewed rows of tulle onto a old red strapless dress with the help of my friend Christine (also a sewing master). My costume didn’t come out super authentic, and Paddy made a much better Beetlejuice than I made a Lydia. But we were a hit at the party we went to, and Paddy had fun being in character.
Unfortunately, some years didn’t work out. If I remember correctly, in 2010 we didn’t have any parties to go to (our friends Ian and Jaz took a year off), and we had just gotten married and back from our honeymoon in Tahiti in September, so we didn’t have as much gusto to get into it with the Halloween costumes that year.
We came back in 2011 full force as Jem and an 80’s glam rocker. I had my Halloween costume custom made for me by a woman in Canada on Etsy.com. It was made to my measurements and very authentic. I am a huge Jem fan and was super excited.
In 2012, the company I work for had a software transition in October that went horribly awry, causing lots of overtime and stress for months. Unfortunately, my gumption to create an awesome Halloween costume was gone, and our friends who throw their annual Halloween party had just had a baby and lost their gumption for that year as well.
Still wanting to have a great Halloween, I slapped together a vampire costume and went out with some friends to Carnevolar, the Emerald City Aerialists annual Halloween party and show. It was an awesome show, and a lot of fun. My Halloween costume was so last-minute that I ended up braving horrendous Northgate Mall traffic on the Friday of Halloween weekend and a line wrapping around half the store of Party Display and Costume. Planning ahead is definitely the way to go. My old vampire fangs had disintegrated, and I needed some new ones. I must say, the fangs they have out now are much better than the ones in the 90’s.
Paddy had other plans, so he didn’t end up having a Halloween costume that year.
Last year, we went full force back into Halloween costume creation. I started planning in September, and created an Anne Boleyn (post-mortem) costume. Paddy was the executioner.
This was probably the most effort I’ve ever put into a costume. Researching portraits of Anne Boleyn and the fashions of the era, I needed to come up with a dress with a full skirt and a square neckline, a French hood for my head, and a corset that flattened my bust. Only finding very expensive French hoods for sale on Etsy.com and renaissance costume supplier websites, I googled instructions on how to make one, and found this awesome website with a printable pattern and instructions. I found all the supplies at Joann Fabrics and followed the instructions, and somehow managed to pull it off without screwing it up. I was amazed at myself.
For the dress, I found this dress at a discount online, and widened the skirt by removing the gold panel and replacing it with a larger gold panel with the help of my other seamstress whiz friend Christine (thanks Christine!!). I also cut the neckline lower, and sewed the sleeves to be more in line with the Tudor style, adding a white gauze and lace under-sleeve.
I had a really hard time finding a Tudor-style corset (as apposed to Victorian hour-glass style) that would flatten my bust as was fashion in the Tudor era. I finally found one that worked perfectly at DraculaCorsets.com.
The last accessory I needed to make the ensemble complete was a pearl necklace with a gold B, just like the one Anne wore in all of her portraits. Fortunately, you can find this made by talented crafty people on Etsy.com.
I had a giant crinoline that I wore underneath my wedding dress, and it was perfect for filling out the skirt. We found Paddy a medieval executioner costume at a Halloween costume store.
We went out twice over Halloween weekend and turned quite a few heads.
I have already begun my costume for this year, stay tuned…
Our recipe experiment with pickled peppers–result: awesome.
We really wanted to make some yummy pickled peppers to put on sandwiches and use to add extra flavor in other dishes. I looked at several recipes and decided to use this one. I added a smashed clove of garlic to the pickling liquid, which I removed before canning.
3 cups vinegar
3 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp salt
Smashed garlic clove, removed before canning
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large stainless steel pot, stir and boil until sugar and salt are dissolved, then reduce heat.
We did a pretty big batch of peppers, so we doubled the above pickling liquid recipe and just kept re-making it when we ran out until all of our pickled pepperswere canned.
We used tri-colored sweet peppers, anaheim peppers, and jalepenos. The tri-colored sweet peppers were mild, the anaheims are slightly spicy, and the jalepenos had a nice kick, transferring their spice to all the peppers in the canning process. Paddy put his ninja-like kitchen skills to good use, and chopped the three bags of sweet peppers like a boss. I got through one bag of jalepenos in the same amount of time.
Once chopped, we mixed them up in a bowl to create a colorful pepper soiree.
I always forget to wear gloves when chopping jalepenos. And always on days when I wear contacts. No matter how many times I scrubbed my fingers, they still had jalepeno oil infused into them at the end of the day, making the process of removing my contacts a fiery experience.
Jalepenos are literally a “mixed bag” when it comes to spiciness. Some can be mild, and some can be extremely hot. I had a raw jalepeno slice in a Bahn-Mi sandwich one time that brought me to tears. You never know what you’re going to get.
**Note: wear gloves when chopping hot peppers.
For canning instructions, I recommend reading the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. If this is your first time canning, please read all the instructions and be sure you are following a tried-and-true canning recipe. You don’t want to make anyone sick. You can also read our previous post about pickling dill pickles for more details.
I packed the peppers into hot jars and filled with the hot pickling liquid. Aside from all the chopping, it was a pretty easy recipe.
Once peppers are in the canner, bring to a boil and then set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the canner lid and turn off the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes before taking the jars out. Let jars stand in a cool place overnight.
After jars are cool, be sure that all the lids have sealed. You can check by pressing down on the lids. If the lid “pops” back or moves at all when you press on the center, it didn’t seal properly. If this happens, you can still use the peppers but they must be refrigerated and eaten within a few weeks.
The peppers turned out delicious. Sweet, mildly spicy, and flavorful. They are great added to many dishes as a condiment or to sandwiches.