Morbid Meals – Genie in a Bottle

EXAMINATION

Cursed objects come in all shapes, sizes, and purpose. The first cursed object I could think of, that wasn’t related to the TV show Friday the 13th, was the lamp or bottle that trapped a genie inside.

While we have Aladdin and the cursed lamp from One Thousand and One Nights to thank for being the source of this legend, the idea of a “genie in a bottle” hails primarily from Barbara Eden’s TV sitcom I Dream of Jeannie... which in turn was inspired by a 1964 movie starring Barbara Eden called The Brass Bottle.

As for bottles with spirits trapped inside, I naturally decided a cocktail was in order. I’ll admit that a certain cartoon genie inspired the color.

ANALYSIS

Yield: 1 drink

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 oz blue curaçao
  • 1 oz spiced gold rum (or light/silver, not dark)
  • 1/2 oz Arak (or absinthe or ouzo)
  • 1 oz sweet and sour mix
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • ice

Apparatus

  • Cocktail shaker and jigger
  • Hurricane glass

Procedure

  1. Into a drink shaker, add all ingredients including ice, cover and shake.
  2. Pour into a hurricane glass, or a bottle for fun.

DISSECTION

Arak is an Arabian alcohol produced in the Levant region, which does not adhere to the Muslim avoidance of liquor. It is made with aniseed and it louches becoming cloudy when mixed with water, hence my suggestion to substitute ouzo or absinthe if you cannot acquire the Arak. Plus absinthe adds to the color, especially if you can find a blue absinthe.

POST-MORTEM

After a few of these, you too will believe there is infinite cosmic power in an itty-bitty living space. Just be careful what you wish for.

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Morbid Meals – Three Witches’ Stew

EXAMINATION

There are many superstitious actors who will tell you about various curses of the theatre. Like how they can’t wish each other good luck, but rather “break a leg”.

The most famous, however, may be to not say the name of The Scottish Play. This is brought most humorously to light on an episode of Blackadder The Third.

To honor the Three Witches, all items in this stew come in threes. We’ll be making this in our magic cauldron (called a pressure cooker).

ANALYSIS

Servings: 9 serving bowls

Ingredients

3 Tbsp of oil

Three meats
1.5 lbs bone-in mutton/lamb shank
1.5 lbs bone-in beef/veal shank
1.5 lbs gammon joint or ham hocks

Three seasonings
1 Tbsp kosher or sea salt
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp smoked paprika

Three aromatics
3 leeks (or 1 onion), chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 Tbsp minced garlic, or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

Three herbs
3 bay leaves, fresh or dried
6 sprigs of oregano  (or 1/2 tsp of ground oregano)
9 sprigs of thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme, or 3/4 tsp of ground thyme)

Three brews for the stew
9 oz Scottish ale (like Kilt Lifter)
6 oz Oat stout
3 oz Triple Malt Scotch whisky

Three leafy greens
1 bunch of kale
2 scallions, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped

Three roots
3 wee neeps (turnips or small rutabagas, or 3 parsnips), chopped
6 carrots, chopped
9 young tatties (waxy or fingerling potatoes)

Three pints of water

Apparatus

  • Pressure cooker, 7-quart

Procedure

  1. Chop all of the veggies first and set aside in the groups listed above.
  2. Pour 3 Tbsp of oil with a high smoke point (like corn or peanut, or even ghee or  clarified butter; canola is the lowest smoke-point oil you should use) into the pressure cooker. Turn heat to high.
  3. Cut the lamb and beef into large chunks (save the bones) and season with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  4. When the oil begins to shimmer, brown the lamb and beef on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  5. Reduce heat to medium. Saute the leeks/onion and garlic for about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir to combine.
  6. Deglaze with the ale. Then add the stout and scotch.
  7. Place the bones into the cooker first, then add the meat back, and then the rest of the ingredients. Top with 3 pints of water, or as much as you need to just fill under the Max Fill line.
  8. Return the heat to high. Close and lock the lid. Cook on high until pressure valve whistles or rattles, then turn heat down to low and cook for about 33 minutes under pressure.
  9. Remove the bones, bay leaves, and herb sprigs. Meat should be tender and the veggies supple. Ladle into bowls and allow to cool before serving.

DISSECTION

We are using about 1.5 pounds of bone-in meat each because we want the bones for the stock. Once cooked, we’ll have about 3 pounds of meat.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use a large crock pot and cook on high for 333 minutes, or about 5 1/2 hours. It is much harder to make what is essentially the stock this way, however.

POST-MORTEM

Definitely serve with whisky or ale or stout. Can’t decide? How about a whisky barrel-aged ale?  Or a Half and a half?

Morbid Meals – Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya-Ya

EXAMINATION

A wise man named Penn Jillette once said, “Everybody got a gris-gris.Gris-gris (pronounced gree-gree) is a French term from voodoo for the medicine pouch that vodouisants wear around their neck. What Penn was saying, however, is that we all have something that we cling to, whether it be something tangible to bring us good luck (or ward off bad luck), a belief, a superstition, even a firmly and long-held conviction that centers us or even defines us. That something, according to Penn, is the one thing we should scrutinize first and foremost in our lives and try to change about ourselves, hard as it may be.

For me I think it is fair to say that my gris-gris is food. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Dan,” I hear you say, ”we all need food.” Yes, which is why we should scrutinize it. I fear that so many folks walk through life just throwing anything bite-sized (or super-sized) down their gullet without thinking about it.

It is one of the reasons why I started Morbid Meals. We must eat to live, which means something else must die. We don’t like to think about that, though. We’ve pre-packaged, homogenized, and mass marketed products so that we don’t have to think about where our food came from. That nicely fits a model of consumption not sustenance.

Now I’m not saying we should all jump on the latest food fad of dietary detritus. That too is a gris-gris; putting your faith in what somebody else says is good for you, bad for you, will help you lose weight, etc. The corollary to my mantra is that we are all going to die no matter what we eat. Some food will kill us faster than others, but an acceptance of moderation is really what I’m advocating here. Everything in moderation including moderation.

You’ve likely noticed this at play in my recipes here before. Many of them offer alternatives for those with dietary restrictions, suggestions for alterations, never requiring you follow these recipes to the letter. I’ve also presented my share of crazy creations that would be fun to try at least once, and then you can go back to eating healthy or whatever. Live a little while you can. Food is life, food is love.

So, I’ll step off my soapbox and say that if you need a gris-gris, why not try a little bit ah Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya-Ya, hey now. Doctor’s orders. Dr. John, the Night Tripper, that is.

Now before y’all freak out, this recipe makes a lot of gumbo. It is meant to be shared with a large family. (The loas might like a bowl, too.) We also love having leftovers. Gumbo gets even better when you put it up and eat it the next day. Feel free to divide in half if you prefer. It also takes a long time to cook, like almost 3 hours. Gumbo is not fast food. It is completely worth the effort.

ANALYSIS

Servings: 12 to 16

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. whole chicken, or 4 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped, divided
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped, divided
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 whole okra, sliced (about 1/2 cup) (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp creole seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 to 4 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 Tbsp minced garlic, or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 lb andouille sausage, chopped
  • 1/2 lb tasso ham (cajun ham), chopped
  • Cooked rice (1/2 cup per serving)
  • Louisiana hot sauce, to taste when serving

Apparatus

  • Pressure cooker, 7 quart
  • Large, heavy stock pot or Dutch oven
  • whisk

Procedure

Mise en place (everything in its place)

  1. Chop all of the veggies. Do this first. You’ll thank me later. Divide the onions into half portions (one for the stock and one for the gumbo). Divide the celery in half as well. Set aside.

Make the chicken stock

  1. Into your pressure cooker, add the carrots and the first portions of onions and celery, along with the salt, seasoning, and bay leaves.
  2. Cut up your chicken and arrange all of it, including the bones, fat and skin, giblets, gizzards, etc., into the pressure cooker on top of the veggies.
  3. Pour in the water, but make sure NOT to go above the “maximum fill” line.
  4. Cover with the lid and lock it down. On the stove top, turn the heat to high and bring up to pressure. When you hear the pressure release whistle, reduce the heat to low, for a steady low hiss. Cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Release the pressure and open the cooker carefully.
  6. Strain the stock into a container to cool. Reserve 3 quarts of stock for the gumbo. (If you have more, save it to cook the rice.) Separate the chicken meat from the bones and set aside.

Make the roux

  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat until it begins to shimmer before it reaches its smoke point.
  2. Reduce your heat to medium and carefully whisk in your flour in small batches, which should immediately begin to sizzle. Whisk constantly for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the roux turns a deep brown color, like milk chocolate.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir in the remaining onions, celery, and bell peppers. Stir occasionally for another 10 minutes, or until the roux thickens and turns a glossy dark brown color, like dark chocolate.

Bring it all together

  1. Into the pot with your roux, still at medium low, add your okra (if using), garlic, and chopped andouille sausage. Stir occasionally and cook until all of the vegetables are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add your reserved 3 quarts of stock and stir until the roux is well combined with the stock. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally to keep everything well combined.
  3. Now you can add the cooked chicken and the chopped tasso ham to the gumbo and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Turn off your heat and let your gumbo cool down for at least 5 minutes. This stuff is very hot.
  5. Serve with steamed rice. If you like, add hot sauce to your taste.

DISSECTION

Let’s address the okra first. I love okra, especially fried, but most folks I know can’t stand how gummy it is. That’s what makes it gumbo, though, in my humble opinion. In fact”gumbo” means okra. It does tend to be optional in a chicken and sausage gumbo. It is more common in a seafood gumbo. Okra adds an earthy flavor and extra thickness, for even though we are adding a lot of roux, a dark roux doesn’t thicken gumbo very much. (A light roux will thicken more but has less flavor.) Don’t use “okra season” as a reason to skip it either. You can probably find frozen okra out of season.

If you can’t find tasso ham, you can substitute with smoked ham or regular smoked sausage.

Can you make the stock without a pressure cooker? Sure, but it will need to simmer for at least two hours.

POST-MORTEM

Save your hot sauce until the end. Again, trust me on this. I know cajun and creole foods can be spicy but not everyone can handle it. Also, we’re using andouille sausage and creole seasoning, where various brands have different levels of heat. This is why I suggest adding the hot sauce at the end to your own personal taste in your own bowl. Once you make it often enough and you use brands you are familiar with, feel free to spice things up.

One of my favorite stories about Marie Laveau was that she often made large batches of gumbo and would give bowls of it to condemned prisoners in New Orleans, as well as feeding it to the sick and poor. I don’t know how true this story is, or the tales that mention a few other medicinal herbs which might have made their way into the gumbo, but I do know the power of a good bowl of gumbo and rice to make everything all right with the world.

Morbid Meals – Curse of the Black Pearl Rum Balls

EXAMINATION

Why is the rum gone? I’ll tell ya why, Jack. We be makin’ rum balls this here fine day. I tell ya true, I found this recipe while rummagin’ around ol’ Davy Jones’s locker. He’s a big fan o’rum, so if you’re hittin’ the high seas, bring a batch o’ these rum balls wi’ ya and he might let ya sail on.

ANALYSIS

Servings: about 30

Ingredients

  • 24 Oreo cookies (whole cookies with filling)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup black or dark spiced rum
  • 2 Tbsp Tia Maria, Kahlua, or other coffee liqueur
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • Wilton Black Pearl Dust (optional)

Apparatus

  • Food processor with chopping blade
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Plastic wrap
  • Small ice cream scoop, melon baller, or a spoon

Procedure

  1. Into your food processor add cookies, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. Pulse on high until well combined.
  2. Add molasses, rum, and coffee liqueur, then pulse again to mix well.
  3. Add chopped nuts and pulse on low until combined. If you want large chunks of nuts, just do a quick pulse. If you want the nuts ground fine, then pulse until you no longer see the nuts.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl with a lid or cover with plastic wrap. Chill in your refrigerator for about 30 minutes so that it can firm up.
  5. Scoop the chilled mixture into balls and roll between your palms to form a smooth, round ball about an inch wide.
  6. Coat each rum ball with black pearl dust. A little bit goes a long way.
  7. Chill the rum balls in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

DISSECTION

If you don’t have Tia Maria or Kahlua, or don’t like coffee liqueur, you can just use more rum instead. I like Tia Maria because the coffee flavor compliments the chocolate. Sometimes when I make these I use only Tia Maria as it has rum as the base, but the coffee flavor can be too much for some folks.

POST-MORTEM

You can absolutely make these without the Black Pearl Dust. It can be hard to find in stores. Furthermore, the dust… gets… everywhere. You will look like a coal miner when you are finished making these with the pearl dust, and your lips and teeth will get a bit yucky, too. On a positive note, they sure are shiny. And tasty!

Why are the Rum Balls gone? I eats them all, that’s why.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: O Diabo Mora Aquil (The Devil Lives Here)

 

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

The Website

The Fanpage

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

13 Questions with the Masters 2012

Are you ready Horror Addicts?! It’s time for the second ever Masters of Macabre Challenge! We have 5 horrifyingly devilish authors this season and they are ready to scare you back into your momma’s arms. This season’s theme is surrounded by dark rumors and terrifying ends. That’s right…CURSES! But that’s enough chit-chat; let’s get to the meat and bones of this contest, the authors!

First up we have Philip “Norvaljoe” Carroll who was plagued with “The Curse of Winning the Lottery.” This is Philip’s first time to be featured on HA and he is excited to be here. “There are a lot of great authors who present their work here. Horror isn’t my normal genre, so it’s fun to try out something new. Besides, Emerian Rich is one of my BayCon friends and it’s fun to wander the dark halls with her.” For this challenge Carroll stepped out of his urban fantasy style and has joined us on the dark side. Though Philip was hesitant to share part of his story for fear of giving something away he kindly shared with me a little background about the story. “I’d hate to give anything away. I did want to place the setting in California, so it begins in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California, though, I don’t think that ever really comes out. One of my all-time favorite authors is James P. Blaylock. He has set some of his stories on the coast of California. Specifically, ‘The Digging Leviathan’ is set on the northern coast. Reminiscing about that story I thought the foggy, wet, forest above Mendocino could provide an eerie atmosphere.”

For those of you new to the Carroll fan club, Philip is not just an author. “I’m an Army trained Certified Orthotist in the Central Valley of California. I’m a husband of 30 years. I have three children, two still at home who joined our family by adoption. I’ve been actively learning to write for the last four years and have focused on prompt-based short fiction to hone my skills. As of this week I’ve submitted 192 consecutive entries in the 100 Word Weekly Challenge at www.podcasting.isfullofcrap.com. I submitted almost 75 stories to The Great Hites Podcast and have had short stories in several benefit anthologies. I’m a staff editor at www.FlyingIslandPress.com where I slush read, edit and record stories for our, ‘kind-of’, monthly science fiction and fantasy short story magazine. I have one YA, urban fantasy, novel at www.podiobooks.com, The Price of Friendship, and hope to have my second up and running by the end of July.”

Next up is a man known to all Horror Addicts as Knightmist. That’s right addicts our very own KM is participating in this year’s MMM Challenge! I asked Knightmist (aka Shawn Micallef ) how it felt to be on the other side of HA, “Well I cannot said it’s a new feeling as I did share my writing back when Horror Addicts was using an actual forum site.  It was in the day of our Ning days.  This story is different however as it’s been put to voice and people are actually going to be voting for it.  I have to say that as I try to get some short stories published this is a huge step as I hope what I get back on the story will help me go further with the writing.”

The theme of Shawn’s story is the Otzi’s Curse, for those of you unfamiliar with the curse “it is a modern day Mummy Curse.  Otzi is a mummy that was found in the Alps near Austria and Italy.  They are saying that some people have died who have come in contact with the mummy. We’ll leave the how they died to [KM’s] story.” Speaking of Micallef’s curse he explained to me the roots of his inspiration for the story. “Often it seems that the press will get a hold of a story and give it wings. They’ll have the story go on and on and gain worldwide fame if it’s at all possible.  So I felt in the case of the Otzi’s Curse I wondered what it would be like to have a member of the press come in touch with a “supposed” curse.”

Knightmist is an “eclectic person as [he] has a multitude of likes from everything and this shows in [his] movie and book collections.  The movies cover the classics of the 1930’s to modern day and have so many genres. There is War, History, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Comedy, Drama, Animation and Anime.  [His] reading is much the same as it covers much of the same genres.” Shawn then added, “I’m married with no kids, well I take that back. There are two cats of which are as unique as one can see.  One cat will play fetch with his cat toys and the other is the weight of a good bowling ball.  🙂  If anything I’d just say in a way I may sound very open but I’m a bit guarded and like to use my writing as a way to escape the struggles that life can bring and to just keep my mind active.”

This next name is one you will remember from last year’s MMM Challenge, Rish Outfield, and his story on Entomophobia (the fear of insects). “It’s good to be back,” were the first words from Rish. “I consider myself a writer, but I don’t do enough of it.  I need pushes like your writing contest to make me do the work instead of shirk it, and last year’s experience was a good one, so I thought I’d try it again.  This year was harder, though, as I somehow confused the deadline and found myself needing to finish the story, get it to a reader to record, edit the audio file, and send it [out], all in the same week.  That made for a lot more work this year than last, but it was pleasant work, like planting a garden or having a rival killed, where you know it will be worth it after a while.”

This year though Rish is taking on the challenge of the Curse of Macbeth. Outfield’s story titled The Scottish Scene is set in an everyday high school. “[Having] primarily female characters, made for difficulty when I realized I not only needed three female readers, but had only two days to find them.  Ultimately, I had my friend Renee Chambliss record all the female characters, and she’s talented enough that they all sound different.” While researching his curse, [Rish] read that there were several possible origins for the idea that Shakespeare’s play was cursed, and one of them was that he stole the witches’ dialogue from a real coven, and they cursed his play as revenge.  That idea seemed really fascinating to [him], and [he] thought it would be fun to have it be the true origin of the curse.”

Rish claims to be “not much to write home about, unless you’re one of those cruel people who like to write about the creeps they see on the subway or bus stop, making fun of what losers they are. [I’ll try my best ;)] I majored in Film (Screenwriting) at college, and tried my hand at acting for a while there.  One of my dreams was to someday be a radio DJ, and when I had to leave California with my tail between my legs, I managed to get together with a friend with similar interests and we started a fiction podcast together.  At the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, I get to fulfill my writing, acting, and radio DJ aspirations, all for no paycheck!  But it has been a pleasure to perform other peoples’ stories and try and make audiences laugh for the past couple of years.”

Our next two Masters are Horror Addicts regulars, Don Pitsiladis and Dan Shaurette.

Don’s story this year “is titled Friends, Lovers, and Enemies.  It’s a love triangle story of sorts involving a man named Steven, his ex-girlfriend Renee, and his former best friend and Renee’s current boyfriend Jean Phillipe. When her boyfriend, Jean Phillipe, disappears under mysterious circumstances and the police unwilling to help, Renee goes looking for Steven’s help to find him.  She has her ideas on who possibly took him, but things don’t go as planned when it comes to the rescue.  It’s a much darker story compared to last year’s.”

“With a rather large family (wife, 4 boys, 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 4 kittens) and full time work, it isn’t always easiest to get free time.” To make up for this, Don usually works in about ½ an hour to an hour of writing in the mornings before work and a little at the end of the day. He also mentioned to me that he has started a review blog. “I started [the] review blog back in January to help me stick to a schedule, and for the most part it has helped.  Casa de Pitsiladis offers a Podcast Spotlight and Book Review every week with occasional movie reviews.  I hope to have some stories of my own to post starting this autumn.”

And last of our chilling authors but certainly not the least, HA Music Interviewer, Dan Shaurette! Get ready for the Curse of the Pharaohs and Dead Man’s Book. Dan was kind enough to clarify the meaning of his book title, “Dead Man’s Book, which is another name for the scrolls left behind with mummies in their sarcophagi.” His story is set in Egypt of course but “without spoiling too much, the story is about an archaeological dig in 1860 excavated by Abigaëlle Charest (voiced by the wonderful Lucie Le Blanc for the podcast), and the tragic consequences her team faces after taking a cursed scroll from the tomb.”

Writer, goth-geek, and Horror Addict this native Arizonian is a fan of all things Ancient Egypt. “So,” according to Shaurette, “I don’t think I was terribly cursed at all by drawing the “Curse of the Pharaohs” as my story prompt.” Even with his luck of the draw Dan suffers from the same ailment of most authors, staying on schedule and working writing into everyday life. “My fellow writers espouse the virtues of hitting a word count and keeping to a schedule. These things I also do, but I’ll admit let my personal deadlines slip when they must. My day job and my family come first. So, I sneak in writing whenever I can. For example, this very story will also become a prequel short story to the novel I am working on right now and has helped steer a direction with that.”

Well one thing is for sure with the horrors sure to come this MMM Challenge; I’ll be sleeping with the lights on soon. All these dark twisted minds are gunning for the coveted title of “Master of Macabre 2012.” But one thing is for sure, no matter what happens the boys can’t wait until next year’s challenge! Fans, don’t forget to check below for links to your favorite authors profiles and sites! 😉

Philip Carroll:  http://norvalsoutlook.blogspot.com

Knightmist aka Shawn Micallef: https://www.facebook.com/Knightmist

Rish Outfield: http://rishoutfield.blogspot.com/  http://dunesteef.com/category/rish-outfield/

Don Pitsiladis: http://www.myspace.com/dpitsiladis  http://twitter.com/#!/dlpitsiladis

Dan Shaurette: http://dan.shaurette.com/