Saturday, November 24, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Maggots & Rabid Turkeys

This year I refused to make rice krispie turkeys for Thanksgiving.  I'm officially sick of making them and I don't even like to eat them, so I decided to try something different: Pumpkin Spice Maggots. Although if I was going to make turkeys, I saw they have red & green holiday colored rice krispies which I think would make some interesting zombies.

I bought these fantastic silicone molds at Michaels this fall. They were sold as "mini bug" molds, but I think maggot mold is more fitting.  Sorry but I can't find them available online anywhere, so if you didn't snag some you'll have to keep your eyes open next year. Although it probably sounds a bit cliché, when I purchased them I was dreaming of white maggots for Creepmas.

It turns out I couldn't wait that long and decided to make something suitable for Turkey Day. I'm really not big on the pumpkin spice thing. I mean you won't catch me with a pumpkin spice latte, candles or sex lube. I don't even really care for pumpkin pie, but I thought maybe maggot truffles might be the thing to turn me to the dark side. They didn't.  I thought they tasted good, but I guess I'm just never going to be a pumpkin spice kind of girl.  Other people had more favorable opinions, so if pumpkin spice is your thing you might want to try these recipes.

I don't like nutmeg or powdered ginger, so for pumpkin spice I mix 3 parts cinnamon to 1 part allspice and 1 part cloves.

If you were lucky enough to snag some maggot molds then you probably know each cavity holds a half tablespoon.  It took 3oz of white chocolate to coat 4 molds (24 maggots) and another 3oz to top them off after filling with a heaping teaspoon of truffle mixture. Having worked with a mold or two in my time, I really love these maggots. They are just the right size to finger paint with chocolate and fillings can be loosely rolled into a log and then pressed into the mold.  There's no awkward nooks and crannies to fill and they pop out like a dream.

The maggots picture at the top are from this recipe.  I only used half (1/8 tsp) of the pumpkin spice the recipe called for and of course used white chocolate to coat instead of semi-sweet.  I think more people preferred these, I know I did.  I'm glad I used less pumpkin spice, more would have overwhelmed the white chocolate.  The filling is very smooth and melts in your mouth. One recipe was enough to fill 24 maggots. Also I didn't do a great job tempering the chocolate, that's why you can see a white bloom on some of them. It doesn't affect the flavor, just the look.

The maggots to left used this recipe.  I like the way the darker filling contrasts with the while chocolate.  It tasted more like pumpkin pie to me and because of the graham crackers it was a much denser texture. Only half the recipe was need to fill all four molds. Some people preferred these, so I'm glad I tried them both.

I didn't entirely abandon the rice krispie turkeys, instead I passed the torch onto my kids. They used the 2016 recipe.  The one thing I did, was make frosting to glue the eyes and beaks on.  I thought that would be easier for them to work with than the melted chocolate I usually use.  I was wrong.  Maybe I made the frosting too thick, but it didn't stick to the cookie crumb coating very well and really needed to be pushed on.  My son thought they looked like rabid turkeys foaming at the mouth.  Seems it's just fated for us to have deformed turkeys.

I love the cyclops turkey.  I think next year they should all be cyclops.  
Or maybe we should have a zombies verses cyclops, turkey rumble.

Lastly, I don't know if anyone else is wondering what the hell you do with the rest of your pumpkin puree since the truffles only use a few tablespoons so I'm adding a recipe for  Pumpkin Spice Muffins. Despite my lackluster opinion of pumpkin spice, these muffins are fantastic and with the orange flavored frosting absolutely to die for.  I think this is the original recipe, but I've modified it beyond recognition. I've always used purchased orange juice, but if you were to squeeze your own, I would suggest also zesting it and tossing some in both the batter and the frosting.   

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup butter softened
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup orange juice

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil and butter. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and mix well. Sift dry ingredients together and add to the pumpkin mixture alternately with the orange juice. Spoon batter into 24 prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until it tests done. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack; cool completely.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter; softened
8 oz cream cheese; softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp orange extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Beat first 4 ingredients until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until desired consistency.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Squid Ink Label

I've mentioned before the British library being a rich source of vintage images.  I fell in love with this squid and thought the body itself creates a nice border.  I also slightly modified this picture and this one. I haven't actually used this label yet, but maybe you can find a use for it.

I am in no way fluent in Spanish, I can't even lay claim to being able to speak "broken" Español. If my life depended on it, I could ask where the bathroom was, or recite the alphabet. Despite my failings this label wanted to be in Spanish, so hopefully Google Translate didn't lead me astray.

I often hear the phrase "speaking broken English" used in a derogatory manner, but frankly I'm impressed with anyone who can do that. The English language has a complete disregard for following rules, I can't imagine learning it as a second language.  

The label is for Humboldt squid ink, based in part on this article and also these eco certifications.

There are lots of stories of how vicious they are, but maybe that's not true.  It wouldn't be the first time a misunderstood creature was labeled a monster. Other sources paint them as relatively docile inquisitive sea creatures, as long as you're not prey, being hostile or bothering them during feeding time.  I think that's reasonable.

I don't condone annoying the crap out of sea creatures, but this video does give you a nice idea of size, inking and their color changing abilities.  Some of the latter might be due to camera lighting, I'm no expect, but I believe most of it is the squids doing.

Here's a slightly different label for vertically challenged bottles.

This is the squid picture with all the extra bits from the original edited out.

I feel like I went a bit overboard with the fonts. Besides the Old English Text MT and Onyx that came with MS Office, here are the ones used:
Nymphette and Damask Dings1 by Nymphont

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Head Shopping

For years I have enviously read about other thrifty crafters finding wonderful magical items at thrift stores or yard sales and that never happens to me. Not that it's surprising. I feel thrifting is probably akin to winning the lottery or more realistically, close to winning a small local raffle.  It seems logical that frequent thrifting would increase your odds of success and I don't put in the effort. Over the years my shopping in general has diminished (Ok, except for skeletons.), but my thrifting has trickled to almost none because I just wasn't finding anything.

Last week that all changed when a friend invited me to go thrifting with her. It turns out my wonderful magical item is a taxidermied alligator head.  It was just sitting on a shelf surrounded by knick-knacks waiting for me. It wasn't quite that easy, we went to an estate sale and four other thrift stores that were nearby.  So technically I crammed years worth of thrifting into one day to find this head.

This isn't something I would ever buy "new".  But I think it's safe to say that no one killed this little guy so his head could be sold in a thrift store in a little town in the Midwest.  And my money went to support a charity, not anyone involved in his demise.   Not that any of that will give this alligator comfort, but the least I can do is honor and cherish his little decapitated head.

This is a really good article on "ethical" taxidermy that brings up a lot of interesting points.

And while this was the most unique thing I found, it wasn't my only purchase.  I scored some great deals on items that have been on my crafting wish list for awhile.  So all in all it was a pretty successful trip and it made up for all those years of disappointment.