Christmas Fun!

Left to right, top to bottom: Twilight, chubby Princess Leia, Triclops loves you, hungover elf, Van Gogh, Sasquatch, John Hurt (Alien), Hobo with a Shotgun

Left to right, top to bottom: Twilight, chubby Princess Leia, Triclops loves you, hungover elf, Van Gogh, Sasquatch, John Hurt (Alien), Hobo with a Shotgun

Happy holidays, everyone.

20 comments to Christmas Fun!

  • Muzhik

    LUV your gingerbread … ahhh … creations. I think it’s why when my daughter asked just now if she should make gingerbread men or gingerbread “bread”, I told her make the bread. After all, who could compete with your gingerbread Sasquatch?

    A question that’s totally off-topic: I’m about to jump into diabetic hell/sugar heaven (depending on your health history); i.e., I’m about to make fudge, penuche, and a host of other sugary delights. Do you think using unsalted butter in those concoctions would make a big difference? I used evaporated milk in penuche last year and it never did set up right, so I don’t want to take chances this year.

  • Raain

    @Muzhik: Using unsalted butter in baking should make very little difference to how it comes out. If the recipe specifically calls for salted butter, then you may just want to add a tiny bit of salt… However, if the recipe does not specify, then unsalted butter is assumed and many people just use unsalted butter for baking for this reason. The amount of salt in salted butter can vary greatly, so for an art such as baking that needs to be (relatively) precise, it’s nice not to have that uncertainty factor.

    Since you mention diabetes, I will just throw out there my list of sugar substitutes, which require research before using in recipes since the substitutions and the effects on diabetes may vary: fructose (best for baking), stevia, agave. Enjoy your gingerbread and holiday treats!

  • Hmm. Chris is really the sugar expert, I’ll have to field that to him. For my money, I ALWAYS use unsalted butter, in anything that requires butter.

    Thanks for reading!

  • @Muzhik, generally, actually, you use unsalted butter in fudge and then, if it calls for it, add salt. That way you can control the amount of salt that goes in. But it shouldn’t have any chemical effects.

    I hope I’m right. I’ve just looked it up and found a couple links online saying the same thing. :)

  • War Pig

    I agree. Salted butter’s salt concentration varies widely between brands, at least according to a consumer magazine article I read a few years ago.

    Use unsalted (sweet) butter in all things calling for butter, then add salt according to recipe/taste, whichever is called for.

    And use real butter, not whipped butter or butter-flavored shortening sticks or margarine sticks when a recipe calls for butter.

    Salted butter can have a slightly different chemical effect/reaction on other ingredients, depending on what they are and the temperatures/times cooked, than unsalted, as well. In the case of penuche, which is rather fussy as you found out, best to follow the recipe precisely.

    One possible substitute for unsalted butter for those who absolutely cannot use butter because of biochemistry is plain, white yogurt. Take a fine sieve which will just accept one of the Mr Coffee-style coffee filters. Place the filter in the sieve and then the yogurt in the filter. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, over a bowl. The next day you will have a bunch of liquid (whey?) in the bottom of your bowl and a lump of butter substitute in the sieve. Turn the sieve over into a container and peel away the coffee filter and use instead of butter. Doesn’t taste the same, though. Ugh. As Julia Child said, don’t forget to use more butter.

  • War Pig

    Is that a Sasquatch or Chewbacca, and is there really a difference between a Wookie and a Bigfoot? ;-)

  • Muzhik

    @War Pig, There’s a HUGE difference between a Wookie and a Sasquatch. Chewbacca’s hair was always long enough that he was able to keep it pulled back in a vaguely European-artiste-pseudo-hippie style; while Bigfoot’s hair is shorter and has a natural part. It makes it easier for him to stay stylishly groomed even in the most primitive of conditions. Kinda like a young Pierce Brosnan.

    Oh, and the liquid left after draining the yogurt IS whey; don’t throw it out because it’s great in making bread or biscuits.

    And Daniel, I know that one creation is supposed to be “a hobo with a gun”, but honestly, it looks more like a northern woods French Canadian to me. “Mon Dieu! Américains stupides…”

  • @Muzhik, maybe it’s a French Canadian hobo…

  • War Pig

    Mackenzie boy?

    -WP

  • War Pig

    Thanks, @Muzhik, I knew what it was for leftover cheese water, but was unsure about yogurt, as I do not eat yogurt, at least American yogurt. I got the tip from a friend who has some sort of intolerance for butter but has no trouble with even commercial, American yogurts. I have used whey in cooking, mainly biscuits and pancakes.

  • War Pig

    I know Sasquatch/ Big Foots (Big Feet?) stink, I have had a real world experience with one or a reasonable facsimile when I was in the Rangers.

  • Do tell. I love cryptozoology.

  • Muzhik

    Cryptozoology? Isn’t that the stuff that grows in untreated water and either gives you the runs or kills you or both?

    @War Pig, you REALLY need to read (if you haven’t done so already) The Long Walk, by Sławomir Rawicz, a Polish officer captured in the invasion of Poland by the USSR and sent to a Siberian gulag. In 1942, he and 6 others escaped from the gulag during a blizzard and walked over 4000 miles south through the Gobi desert and over the Himalayas to freedom. They were joined by a runaway girl; by the time they reached India only 3 had survived.

    The story was ghost-written by Ronald Downing. Downing, in fact, had first gone to interview Rawicz because he had heard that Rawicz had seen a yeti. It is an amazing story of survival and what people will do to be free. It was made into a movie (”The Way Back”) that was released in 2011 and won an Oscar for Best Makeup; it should be out on DVD now. It was co-produced by National Geographic, so watch it for the photography is nothing else.

  • War Pig

    Okay, here goes. I was on a Ranger training course near Ft Lewis, Washington in the heavy forest. We had night vision goggles (NVG) but they were first-gen back then. Our squad had finished our training and we had set up a fire and a small camp and we were cooking. We still had plenty of blank ammo left for our M4 carbines, and both myself and the other Sgt had live ammo. Technically a naughty, but there are bears and pumas and lots of drug growers in the forests of Washington state. It was after dark.

    As we sat and ate and drank coffee, we became aware of a horrid stink. It was like musk and skunk and roadkill and fresh human turds all combined. About that time there was roaring and thrashing in the bushes. Thinking it was a bear I had the guys all yell and bang things together to scare it off. When that didn’t work, I loaded a 30 round banana clip of blanks and fired them off, to let the bear or the practical joker or drug grower know we were armed with automatic weapons and to therefore get lost.

    Whatever it was, did not like the sounds of gunfire and left in a hurry. But when it did, both me and the other Sgt saw it as it crossed a clearing with our NVG, and the other guys saw it with their bare eyes, and it was pretty darned big. It was not a bear, as bears when they walk on their hind feet sort of waddle and studder-step. This was walking fast on long legs with arms swinging, like a human walks. We decided to find out what it was. Being in good shape we saddled up, I took three with me and left the other Sgt and the other three with him and his live ammo. I loaded up my M4 with live ammo, just in case, and we headed out after the bogeyman. His trail was pretty easy to follow, lots of broken branches and stuff, a mostly full moon and we were all in great shape.

    We followed him until we saw a hill. It was really about a 60-foor sheer cliff, and we figured we had him cornered and he’d have to turn and show fight or surrender. With 56 rounds of 5.56 ball and 14 rounds of .45 ACP I wasn’t real worried about the outcome, Bigfoot or no. But it was not to be as that thing went up that cliff like a squirrel up a tree, turned around and yelled at us one last time and took off. We looked and we couldn’t have climbed that cliff with climbing gear and pitons in less than half a hour. Using mortars and throw anchors (things that toss an X-shaped set of hook up a cliff and grab on top) it would still have take any one of us a minute or two to get up it with a rope. Our approximately 9 foot tall friend had gone up it in a very few seconds. We looked around and eventually found an easier way up about a click (kilometer) off and checked the top of the cliff but there was nothing left like ropes or anything. He’d scaled it bare-handed or bare pawed. For something that tall and that heavy, you’d have needed a winch to get them up quickly. We came back in the daylight but the soggy conditions had wiped out foot pints, which had never been very clear to begin with, and we didn’t find any hair. The cliff was more impossible in the daytime than it had been at night. Not a lot of vegetation clinging to it to use as handholds, even with this sucker’s arm span.

    Never did find out what it was but we suspect it was a Sasquatch or Bigfoot or whatever. Eight of us saw it and 4 of us chased it and saw it go up that cliff like it had wings.

  • I’m curious whether you reported it or made a vow to keep mum.

  • War Pig

    We reported it, got raised eyebrows at battalion and didn’t mention it anymore except over beer. I doubt it went any further than our report to battalion. But we kept a guard with one clip of live ammo overnight until we were extracted two days later, and I slept with my .45 loaded and on my person.

    When you spend a lot of time in the woods/jungles/deserts/mountains and in combat zones you will see some very strange things, and guys with you will see them, too. Trouble is having anyone else who wasn’t there believe you.

    But someone will have to do a lot of explaining to explain away how an 8 to 9 foot tall animals weighing at least 500 pounds can go up a sheer cliff like a lizard up a brick wall.

    -WP

  • Muzhik

    But someone will have to do a lot of explaining to explain away how an 8 to 9 foot tall animals weighing at least 500 pounds can go up a sheer cliff like a lizard up a brick wall.

    Simple. The aliens helped them.

    Reminds me of the stories my Russian father-in-law would tell me about the creatures he saw when he was working in mines in the Caucus Mountains. I’m not sure if the Russian word translated as “gnome” or “troll”, but they were small, thick, bi-pedal, and made it clear they REALLY didn’t like him being down there in their turf.

    I much preferred my wife’s stories about her experiences with domavoy. (Domavoy = “house elf”; very much like Dobby in Harry Potter.)

  • War Pig

    That’s sort of the attitude we got at battalion so we stopped talking about it except over beer. I make no claims on what it was, except that it was not a bear. Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti, Wookie, prankster. If a prankster, it was a large and powerful prankster to break off branches as it did in escaping, and likewise to climb that cliff as it did. Whatever it was, was real, large, and string, and fast, and bipedal and extremely agile.

    I suppose nobody will believe in them until a set of hunters shoots one and brings it in, then they’ll likely be charged with murder if it is a hominid, or else shooting an endangered species or something.

  • I think you’d have to be pretty wary about pranking a bunch of jittery men with automatic weapons.

  • War Pig

    So one would assume. However, MJ growers can be desperate people and MS-13 MJ crops can be guarded with deadly booby traps and gun-toting people in any forested area. Our national forests have become ground zero in the MJ wars with more and more dangerous confrontations.

    Even we, the Rangers, were told that if we saw any MJ plants to back out the way we came, get a GPS fix and to report it to the law enforcement types.

    I doubt legalizing it will solve anything, either.