Strange Face Illusion & 3 Fall Recipes

Here’s a spooky illusion that can also be a writing prompt:

You need a room lit only by a dim lamp (25W bulb) that is placed behind you while you gaze into a large mirror placed about one and one half feet in front of you.

Sit still, and without moving your eyes, gaze at your reflected face in the mirror. Usually after less than a minute, you will begin to perceive the Strange Face Illusion.

What you see could be the basis of a poem, or story, or add fuel to your imagination and spill out later. Let it churn and simmer and stew . .

I tried this on Halloween night. Here’s what happened . .

I propped a full-length mirror against a piece of furniture and looked at my reflection. My cat Stubby saw that I had rearranged part of his kingdom, and began the required sniff inspection. He jumped onto the furniture supporting my mirror. I continued to stare into the mirror. Then Stubby leapt onto the top edge of the mirror and immediately sprang off when he realized the edge was less than one paw’s-width wide. The mirror almost crashed down on me and I needed a couple minutes to recover.

It took about a minute before I noticed the bottom of my nose was glowing in the mirror. At that point my face didn’t look overtly strange, just my nose. It was hard to keep from focusing on my nose, and every time I accidentally focused on it, the illusion disappeared. Then I figured out the light behind me was highlighting and shadowing my face in an odd way in the first place, and my mind was simply exaggerating these differences in my relaxed state.

To keep from focusing on my nose, I let my vision blur a bit. Then I had 2 noses. I blinked and I had 3 eyes, 1 nose, and 2 mouths. I blinked again and I had 1 eye and 2 noses and no mouth. Another blink and my mouth appeared along with a couple extra eyes.

I was letting my vision blur too much. So I gazed at my forehead. My face started to change, but each time that happened I couldn’t help but snap back into clear focus, and the illusion would disappear. In those brief instances, my face didn’t exactly look like my own, but it did look anthropoidal. Similar to this guy, but without the fur.

************

Onto the recipes:

Fungal, Vegetal Stew (very spooky)

For this recipe you will need a large cauldron, unless you want to scale the recipe to a more manageable volume. You do the math- I’m more of a word person. If you’re more of a word person too, find a mathematician, or someone who can do fractions. As a last resort, guesstimate- the edibility of this stew is not dependent on precise ratios.

4 starchy Potatoes

Bog Water (may substitute Non-Bog Water)

1 large Yellow Onion

Several bunches of mixed Mushrooms

2 handfuls of chopped Broccoli

2 handfuls of chopped Cauliflower

1 sheet dried, shredded Laver

1 scant, flat palmful of Sage powder

1 scant, flat palmful of Garlic powder

1 scant, flat palmful of cracked Black Peppercorns

1 tablespoon Sea Salt

scant pinch of Zombie Dust (except where illegal)

Olive Oil

1 – 2 black cat sneezes (depending on force of sneeze) [can substitute other colors] {this ingredient is optional}

Catnip (optional)

 Locate cat(s). Bribe with catnip as needed. Set aside.

Dice onion and carmelize in generous oil in a skillet over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.

Dice potatoes, put in cauldron, and add enough water to cover. Add laver, salt, and dust, and simmer on low.

In the meantime, dump the onions into the cauldron. Put the mushrooms into the oiled skillet and add enough water to cover half-way. Carmelize the mushrooms, covered, until uniformly soft, then add them to the cauldron.

 Dump broccoli and cauliflower into the cauldron.

Simmer uncovered at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add sage, garlic, and pepper, and stir thoroughly.

Ladle into bowls.

Float catnip on soup, cats will put face over soup bowl, and steam will induce sneezing (in theory).

I experimented with a couple Pumpkin desserts.

My good clean food-loving friend Liam posted a link to this Pueblo Pumpkin Candy recipe on his blog. Thanks, Liam!

I’ve adapted it here:

Pueblo Pumpkin Candy

(This recipe is from the Native American Pueblo Indians. Traditionally, the strips of pumpkin were soaked in water and wood ashes.)

1 Pumpkin (2 – 3 pounds)
1 ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
2 ½ cups Turbinado Sugar
½ cup Water

Water for soaking and simmering

Ice

Optional Ingredients-

juice and zest of 1 Lemon

3 – 4 sprigs fresh Cilantro

extra Turbinado Sugar

Peel and seed  pumpkin (save the seeds for the next recipe). Cut pumpkin flesh into rough palm-sized pieces. Stir baking soda into water and add pumpkin pieces. Let sit overnight, at least 12 hours.

Drain and rinse pumpkin pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully drop pieces into pot. Simmer until just tender, but not soft, about 4 minutes.

(When I got to this point in my go at the recipe it looked like my pumpkin pieces were going to dissolve into mush. I persisted anyway, and after the simmering, separated the intact chunks from the floaty bits. I strained and saved the bits to make pumpkin pie.)

Remove from heat and drain. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Carefully drop pieces into ice water. When ice has melted, drain.

Combine sugar with ½ cup water, the (optional) lemon juice and zest, and the (optional) cilantro in a saucepan. Heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Slow-boil, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Add pumpkin, cover pot, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Spread candy on the covered sheet and dry overnight, at least 10 hours.

(optional) Roll candy in additional sugar.

 Eat. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Seed “Brittle”

roughly 2 cups oven-dried unshelled Pumpkin Seeds:

Put fresh pumpkin seeds in a bowl, and cover with drinkable cold salty water. Let soak overnight. Drain the seeds, spread them on a baking sheet, and bake at 250°F until they are crisp and slightly golden, about 1 and 1/2 hours. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container to preserve crispness.

 1 cup Turbinado Sugar

1/2 cup Maple Syrup

1/4 cup Water

1 teaspoon Blackstrap Molasses

1 pinch Cayenne powder

1 pinch Cinnamon powder

1 pinch Sea Salt

2 tablespoons Vegan Margarine (such as Earth Balance)

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

candy thermometer

Line a baking sheet with parchment, and place in oven. Heat oven to 300°F.

Put dried pumpkin seeds, cayenne, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl and stir to combine.

In a medium saucepan, mix sugar, syrup, salt, and water. Clip thermometer onto side of saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Stir while boiling until mixture reaches 300-310°F.

(I didn’t bring the mixture all the way to 300 when I tried this recipe. Maybe that’s why my “brittle” was not exactly brittle. I had the burner turned all the way up and the temperature plateaued under 250. It still came out good enough to give to my mother-in-law for her birthday, which happens to be on Halloween. Spooky!)

Stir in seed mixture.

Melt margarine.

Remove from heat, stir in melted margarine and soda, and pour onto heated, lined pan.

Gently tilt pan as needed to spread candy. Cool completely.

Break into pieces. Eat. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

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2 Comments

  1. That pumpkin candy looks GOOD. I need to give it a try. And I *love* the vegetal stew recipe, haha!

    Cheers to getting the blog back up and going =)

    Reply

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