Drambuie Recipe

Homemade Drambuie in a reused bottle
Homemade Drambuie

Drambuie Experiment #2 was a blazing success.  The recipe below is very close to Drambuie and is absolutely excellent.  I used my own raw honey in it, and I’m of the opinion it’s every bit as good as the much hyped heather honey in Drambuie!  The beverage, like Drambuie, is 80 proof (40% alcohol).

Recipe:

  • 1.75 liter (L) Chivas Regal Scotch (blended)
  • 1.75 L 151 Everclear (75.5% alcohol)
  • 1.75 L raw honey
  • 5 rounded tablespoons Fennel seed

(One liter is about a quart)

Mix the alcohol.  Crush the fennel seed in a mortar and pestle and add to the alcohol mixture.  Bottle with as little head-space as possible and leave for three days; invert mixture daily.  Then strain out the fennel seed and mix in the honey.  Mix the alcohol in in small amounts until the honey loosens up enough to add to the bulk of the alcohol.  Bottle with as little head-space as possible.  Mine is a little cloudy, and if this is a concern:  (1) siphon the alcohol mix off of the fennel instead of straining it (with straining fine particulates always get through), and (2) use refined honey.

It’s a pretty simple recipe — much easier than Limoncello — and the cost is much less than buying Drambuie.

750 ml of Drambuie costs about $35.

This recipe will cost about $12/750 ml bottle if the honey is free:

  • 1.75 L of blended Chivas Regal Scotch costs about $55.
  • 1.75 L of 151 Everclear costs about $30.
  • With the honey, this recipe will make about 5.25 L:  7 bottles.
  • ($30 + $50)/5.25*0.75 = $12.  If you pay for the honey, every $14 (the cost for the needed amount of Sue Bee honey at Walmart) will add $2 per 750 ml bottle.
  • Total savings:  ($35-$12)*7 = $161

At 80 proof it will keep forever, and will make nice presents for your adult friends!

 

 

 

 

Last of the Green Bean Harvest

Most of the green beans are long gone, but plenty of dried beans are left along with partially dried beans and enough green beans for a superior green-dried bean flavor compared to store-bought dried beans.  The green beans totally got away from me because I over-planted them in the corn and would have needed a machete to get at them, so I waited until cold weather had knocked them back.  In most of the most horrible looking pods lay perfect beans.

I planted three types of beans:  Kentucky Wonder, Greasy Back and French Filet.  The Kentucky Wonder and Greasy Back beans both provide fine dried beans.  The French Filet beans are small and hard to get at due to sticky flesh, but even in late October they had a lot of green beans left.  I saved enough dried seeds from each so I won’t have to buy next year:  this will be the 2nd year for the KW and GB.

Greasy Back beans are an Appalachian heirloom.  They are the black and white striped beans in the picture, below, and aren’t greasy at all — this name comes from their shiny, green bean pods.  The smallest of the beans are fully dried, and the largest ones have not started drying and have a distinctly green-bean flavor.  The gallon sack below was from several baskets full of bean pods, shelled while watching T.V.  They should make four batches of beans, each batch being 2-4 meals.  I like them cooked with ham (including the bone), garlic, onion and hot peppers.  Smoked hog neck gives even better flavor and more bone nutrients in the stock.

dscn1210

Pictures from This Morning’s Dog Walk

This time I took the good camera with me rather than just my phone.  With nasty weather coming, it seemed the time to do it.  I’ve noticed in summer most of the time the eye is drawn to middle space colors:  a bed of flowers, the garden, etc.  But in the fall either it’s the color of the forest, or little things that are the most interesting.

dscn1185  dscn1181 dscn1180 dscn1178 dscn1176  dscn1174  dscn1166 dscn1165 dscn1163 dscn1162 dscn1161 dscn1159 dscn1151 dscn1155

dscn1189 dscn1192 dscn1195 dscn1196

dscn1171

Long Dog Hike

I finally believed the dogs were under enough control to try the long dog-walk planned in my mind.  The weather was cool, the sun was shining.  It was perfect.  I always walk the dogs with my phone and pepper spray, but decided to add a 22 to the emergency gear for this longer walk.  We do have coyotes, stray dogs and perhaps even bears in the area, and my dogs are all between 18 and 24 pounds and so may need to be protected.  In an ideal world, should danger present itself, the dogs should quietly stand behind me while I deal with it.  Ha!!  There will be barking, jumping about and perhaps fighting.  I will never be a good enough shot to aim true into a wiggly mass, hence the pepper spray.  Furthermore, as it turns out, the dogs are terrified of the sound of bullets being shot and will run if shots are fired.

20161010_130557When I shot the practice target to the left, neither yelling nor enticement with Pupperoni succeeded to move either Pepper or Ava from the stoop of the house.  Grizzy was successfully bribed, but only when the shooting was over and there was a lot of nervous barking between Pupperoni chomping.

These shots were from 20 feet away, one eye shut (which is not correct form), me and the board (obviously) not moving, and the dogs fleeing.  Except for the dogs fleeing, in any kind of real situation none of this would be the same.  I just hope shots fired have the same affect on whatever is threatening us as it does on my dogs!  I’ll have to continue to practice and work on that eye.

The phone-camera pictures below are from the walk, with the building in the background being our garage.  The dogs were very well behaved.  Each had her own vibration collar on, but didn’t need to be reminded once.  They mostly stayed in sight, and when they didn’t a single verbal reminder brought them closer.  Since I’ve retired the dogs are better behaved in all ways and I think it’s simply because we’re around each other almost all of the time.

20161010_132636    20161010_133018    20161010_133005

 

 

Growing and Cooking Parsnips

two-fat-ladiesI loved watching the Two Fat Ladies, and if you like cooking and have not watched their shows, give them a go.  The show ended when Jennifer Paterson died of lung cancer (she smokes quite a lot on the show), but while she lived, hers was a colorful and joyous existence.  One of the things they cooked on their show was parsnips.  I had heard the word, but had never taken a bite of one.  I bought some, tried Jennifer’s recipe, and it was good.  I have tried cooking them other ways, and not so much.

The recipe from Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies, snapped from my book, is at the bottom of this post.  Yes, there is a lot of cream and butter (they are fat, duh).

This is the second year I grew parsnips, and they seem to be easy to grow.  Make a groove in the dirt, put the seeds in it, cover it up and up they sprout.  Thin them after a few weeks to about six inches per plant, and then just wait for fall to pull them up.  I had a single ten-foot row of parsnips and harvested 5.5 pounds of parsnips.  Parsnips cost $2.68/pound at Wallmart so I saved $15.  Whooo hooo!  But the flavor is better out of the garden, and they are very easy to grow so I’ll keep planting them.  If you want to grow them, the soil should be loose, and well draining.  The rotted wood chips I use in my raised bed garden held too much water (especially problematic this year) and some roots had started to rot a little.  Also, to improve their flavor, they’re supposed to be harvested after a frost or two.  I harvested early this year because I saw new and vigorous mole activity in the garden, and they tasted great anyway.

Whether bought in the store or pulled from the ground, they will have to be washed, skinned and cooked so the effort isn’t very different.  I did these chores for all of my parsnips at once, and then froze them in chunks in freezer bags:  2.5 cups per bag.  The parsnips coming out of the garden certainly had more interesting shapes than those out of the store, which are usually shaped like fat, poorly proportioned carrots.  Sometimes out of the store they are woody — this has never happened out of my garden.  When I buy parsnips I avoid the very fattest ones since they’re the ones most likely to be woody.

dscn1104 dscn1106 dscn1108

The recipe I use is very similar to the Jennifer Paterson’s:

  • Toast a slice of bread (doing this first allows the toast to dry out).
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  • Put 2 tablespoons of butter into an oven-proof cup and add 3-5 garlic cloves or ramp bulbs (to taste) and microwave until soft.  Coarsely chop the vegetables first.
  • Put the following into a food processor and blend until uniform:
    • Butter and vegetable mix
    • 2.5 cups cooked, cubed parsnips
    • 1/3 cup cream and 1/3 cup milk
    • pinch fresh nutmeg
    • salt & season to taste
  • Taste blended mixture and season as needed.  Add 2 oz chopped ham (small pieces).  Put in a small casserole dish and spread out flat.
  • Break toast up into pieces and turn to crumbs using a small food processor or blender.  I sometimes add pecans and blend them with the toast.  Add salt and seasoning as desired and a drizzle of olive oil.  Blend briefly and spread the crumbs evenly over the top of parsnip puree and gently press down.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes; check in 1/2 hour.  Pull out when nicely browned.

dscn1110

Below is Jennifer Paterson’s recipe:

dscn1111

 

 

Sam’s Scan and Go App — UPDATED

scan-and-goUPDATE#2:  On 11/17/16 it worked perfectly.  What an Excellent App!!

No more cashier lines for me!  I’ll just scan what I want, pay via phone app, and show the door-guard my electronic receipt.  At least that’s what I’ve been told — I just loaded up this app and feel like buying something at Sam’s right now just to see if it works.  Alas, it will not work for age-restricted items, so I may stop buying wine at Sam’s.

The app will only become active when you’re in a Sam’s store, and first requires inputs for the numbers and billing address for a credit card, and your Sam’s club password and the e-mail address used for your Sam’s account.  I allowed it to know my location, and this may be required.  Although the app won’t ask (at least the Android one didn’t), all of these things can be input before going to the store by hitting those three bars in the upper left corner and then using the menu.

Works for both Android (4.1 and up) and Apple (iOS 8.0 or later) phones:

Android Sam’s Scan and Go App (4.2 out of 5)

Apple Sam’s Scan and Go App (4.5 out of 5)

Hieronymus Bosch Detective Reviews (mostly the books)

boschPainter 1 out of 5 stars.  1400s Netherlands painter.  The picture to the left is an example.  One messed up person.  The only reason I mention it is that Harry Bosch was named after the painter.  His mother had a rough life.

Harry Bosch detective books, all of them, 5 out of 5 stars.  Great character, great books.

T.V. show based on Books.  Season 1:  3 out of 5 stars.  Bosch in my head from the books carried Season 1.  Season 2, 1st two episodes:  1 star.  Harry is weird in the shows.  By the second season, episode 2, he was a no longer worth watching so that’s as far as I got.

Michael Connelly has written 22 Harry Bosch novels, with another due out in November 2016.  I’ve read them all, and they are all excellent, driven primarily by the character of the protagonist.  He’s dark, he’s good, he’s troubled, he’s effective, he seems complicated but is actually very simple, he loves jazz (from before that was cool, heck, Harry may have made it cool), he loves LA, he’s dangerous.  The one thing the T.V. show got right was that the setting — Los Angeles — is a living, breathing, presence, like an aged and damaged beauty who can still seduce in dark and smokey bars.  Harry can be abrupt, difficult and rude in the books, but since the reader has access to the inside of his head, it usually is justified and always forgivable.

Each book has a murder mystery to solve, and these are well crafted.  The books are often described as being police procedurals, and the authenticity of how police departments function, from the bureaucracy, to methods, to the blue brotherhood, rings true.

This page will show you the order of the books, the first one being written in 1992.

Bosch series order

The only flaw in the series is that Michael Connelly didn’t seem to know how popular Harry would be, and started him too old, so the later books have little bits that lack credibility because by this time Harry is simply too old.  Just let that go.  Every time a Harry Bosch book hits the shelves I buy it, and drop everything else to read it.  I’ll be perfectly happy if Harry is still kicking butt and catching killers when he’s 90.

Below are the covers for the first three books.

bosch-1     bosch-2     bosch-3

If you want to watch the T.V. show, I’m begging you, please read a book or two first so you’re not put off by the show.  Even then, why not just read another book?  But if you must, it’s an Amazon original and free if you have an Amazon Prime membership.  The basic problem is, if there’s a gritty, difficult, very tough character it’s a razor edge to keep the audience on his side.  Succeed, and you’ve hit a home-run.  In the books, being able to see in his head and get context, it works very well.  Video, lacking that, plus some bad writing calls, made Harry increasingly unlikable who degraded over time so by the second episode of Season 2 he was sometimes both mean and ridiculous.  Not a good combination, especially when in competition with great shows (like Ray Donovan).

Orange Cat is a Smelly Cat

dscn1083     dscn1084     dscn1087

These pictures were taken to show what big eyes Orange Cat has.  He’s a very personable cat, and we were getting quite fond of him.  Then he sprayed the living room.  Two days later, including copious batches of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda solutions, some bickering, a lot of smelling carpets, and finally vinegar soaks, and the house is completely cat spray free.  Orange Cat is again born free, roaming the backyard.  He is showing a lot more confidence out there, so some good came from all of this.  I may bring him in again for pets on my lap, but then back out he will go!  Can’t blame the old alpha cat spraying in enemy territory, but we can’t go through that again.