NaNo-ing My Compost Pile

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This NaNo will be my most autobiographical NaNo yet. I will write “Meatful Things”* next month, the story of me and my compost pile, and all the things that did could go wrong… So how many ways can a compost pile go wrong? After all, nature makes compost piles every day, all around the world. Business as usual…

 

Unless…

 

You add people.

 

I mean, unless you add the wills and whims of people into the making of a compost pile.

 

So what goes into the compost pile? Apple cores and onions skins?

 

Absolutely!

 

Coffee grounds and tea leaves?

 

Sure!

 

Bacon grease and chicken bones?

 

Well, that’s not recommended.

 

But pigs and chickens decompose in nature just fine.

 

Well… OK.

 

How about litter box crap and offal from the neighbor’s hunting trip?

 

No way! But I see you’ve already taken the liberty… I see the compost pile is steaming and teeming with flies…

 

Yep, back to nature. How about I add-

 

No! Don’t say anything more! The compost pile is out of control. I don’t wanna know what you’re gonna add next…

 

It’s my spookiest NaNo to date, and it’s in the spirit of the season. Speaking of compost piles and Halloween, these creations are gonna end up in my decomposition pile in a few days…

Kitty-o-lanterns!

Kitty-o-lanterns!

 *

Like this guy…

Fall sunflower.

Fall sunflower.

 *

In the meantime, wanna stalk me and my NaNo-ed compost pile? Click here!

 If you can’t wait until “Meatful Things” is fully decomposed finished and available, here are 11 spooky bedtime stories, just in time for Halloween…

And how about treating yourself for Halloween? Check out these short story anthologies (I have a story in each) – a different theme for each collection:

Theme-Thology: Invasion

Theme-Thology: Day I Died

Theme-Thology: New Myths

Theme-Thology: Real World Unreal

 HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

*Loosely based on true events.

 

11-30-14 UPDATE:

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

Winner, winner, compost dinner!

50117 words of compost!

I rule compost!

 

Halloween / Zombie Survival Guide

photo by David Shankbone

If you’re reading this, congratulations, you survived the REAL, FINAL APOCALYPSE as predicted by Harold Camping. (Turns out Camping isn’t much of a math person.) Now you probably think you can enjoy Halloween without the nagging worry of undead, unraptured zombies stalking and infecting you. (As for me- I knew I would survive the non-apocalypse, because I’m already one of the undead.) But before you get too comfortable, I gotta tell you zombies are real . .

For any late-comers to my blog, take a gander at my 3-part story: I got the zombie spores in me.  Then the zombie spores turned me into a zombie. Did you know zombies can re-generate limbs? Yep. Lucky for me, or I wouldn’t be typing this now. And those already familiar with the above trilogy would do well to re-familiarize yourselves, because . .

If you still think my tales are safely in the sci-fi section . .

Think again.

And with all the catastrophic climate change, nuclear radiation, pesticides, and herbicides causing mutations in the already genetically engineered spores accidentally / on purposely released into the open fields, human zombie spores are just around the corner.

STILL don’t believe me? Then believe the USA government’s official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s real. All we can do is prepare ourselves for the inevitable zombie apocalypse and the resulting mob cruelty and mass disrespect.

And console ourselves with candy.

To stock up on good karma, here’s a list of the most cow-kind, most chicken-respectful (vegan)* cookies and candy** on the USA market, alphabetized by brand:

A

Airheads Taffy

Anna’s Almond Cinnamon Thins

Anna’s Ginger Thins

B

Back to Nature California Lemon Cookies

Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Big League Chew Gum

Brach’s Cinnamon Hard Candy

Brach’s Orange Slices

Brach’s Root Beer Barrels

Brach’s Star Brites

Bremner Wafers

C

Charms lollipops

Chew-ets Peanut Chews (Original)

Chick-o-Sticks

Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Raspberry Dark Chocolate bar

Chocolove Dark Chocolate bar

Cracker Jacks

Cry Babies

D

Dem Bones

Dots

Dum Dums

E

Entenmann’s Fudge Delights Fudge & Mint Cookies

Everest Gum

F

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Oatmeal Macaroon)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)

Ferrara Wafer Swirls With Chocolate

Fireballs

Food Lion Animal Cookies

Food Lion Ginger Snaps

Food Lion Oatmeal Cookies

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Assorted)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Creme)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Fudge)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Double Creme-O’s)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Duplex)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Mini Chocolate & Vanilla Cremes)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)

Food Lion Sugar Cookies

Fruit By the Foot

G

Ghirardelli Twilight Delight Intense Dark

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Mix

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (Original)

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Sandwich Cremes

H

Hubba Bubba Bubblegum

Hubba Bubba Gum

Hunt’s Snack Pack Gel Snacks

J

Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)

Jujubees

Jujyfruits

K

Keebler Vienna Fingers

Kool-Aid Gels

Kozy Shack Jammin’ Gels

L

Lance Choc-O Cookies

Lance Peanut Bar

Lance Sugar Wafers (Strawberry Creme)

Lance Sugar Wafers (Vanilla Creme)

Lance Van-O Lunch Cookies

Landgarten Pumpkin Seed Snack – Dark Chocolate

Lemonheads

M

Mamba

Mary Janes (Regular and Peanut Butter Kisses)

Mike and Ike

Mrs. Freshley’s Oatmeal Crème-filled Cookies

Murray Butter Cookies

Murray Cinnamon Grahams

Murray Coconut Bars

Murray Southern Kitchen Iced Oatmeal Cookies

N

Nabisco Double Delight Mint’n Creme Oreos

Nabisco Ginger Snaps

Nabisco Halloween Oreos

Nabisco Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Nabisco Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies

Nabisco Oatmeal Cookies

Nabisco Oreo Chocolate Ice Cream Cones

Nabisco Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Oreo Thin Crisps

Nabisco Spiced Cinnamon Cookies

Nabisco Teddy Grahams (Chocolate and Cinnamon)

Nabisco Uh-oh Oreos, Spring Oreos, Chocolate Creme Oreos

Nature’s Path Deep Chocolate Cookies

Nature’s Path Ginger Spice Cookies

Nature’s Path Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Nestle Double Chocolate Thin Mints

Now and Later

Nutter Butter Bites

P

Panda Licorice

Pure De-Lite Coconut Bars

S

Safeway Fudge Mint Fudge Covered Mint Cookies

Skittles’ Mints

Smarties (U.S. version only)

SunSpire Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds

Sour Patch Kids

Super Bubble

Swedish Fish

SweeTarts (regular)

T

Twizzlers

V

VeganSweets marshmallows

Velamints Mints

W

Whole Foods Organic Chocolate Truffles

Z

Zotz

*List complied from PETA and PETAKIDS.

**May contain trace amount of animal-sourced ingredients.

Hopefully I’ve provided you with the resources and information you need to make it through Halloween alive . . or at least undead, thanks to a sugar OD . .

*

*

*

And here’s a creepy, campy, rockabilly bonus video for those who skimmed through to the bitter . . or rather, sugary end.

Have a Happy Halloween (while you can)!

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.