Breakfast in Bed: Butter

Post by Alison Hein.

There’s an old story about the discovery of butter: a nomad filled his skin bag with goat milk, strapped the bag across his mount, and rode across the desert from dawn to dusk. When setting up camp that evening, he was surprised to see that his forgotten milk had turned into a thick, yellow, tasty substance.

The scientific process of creating butter includes agitating whole cream until the fragile membranes that surround milk fat are broken, allowing fat droplets to form and join. More churning hastens the separation of cream into butter and buttermilk. In other words, if you shake, beat, or whip cream long enough, you will eventually get butter.

Perhaps you think this is time-consuming and unnecessary. All that will change as soon as you taste your first sweet and salty bite of thick, yellow, homemade butter. Have your kids help with the preparation, and watch their eyes widen as white turns to yellow, and cream turns to butter. Slather some on thick, crisped toast, and rediscover the perfect, homemade breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

1 pint heavy cream
1 teaspoon large-grain salt (I used Pink Himalayan)
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Preparation

Pour heavy cream into large, deep bowl to prevent excess splatter. Using an electric mixer, beat cream on high until whipped cream begins to form. Keep beating, until cream begins to flatten and turns slightly yellow. Continue to beat until butter clumps form, and buttermilk separates from solids. Depending on your mixer, this process will take between 7 and 10 minutes.

Pour butter and buttermilk into colander to drain. If you plan to retain buttermilk for cooking or baking, be sure to drain butter into a large clean bowl. After draining, rinse butter well with cold water, then squeeze and knead by hand until all liquid is removed from butter.

 

Place a sheet of waxed paper in a 4-inch by 4-inch square dish. Spread butter on top of waxed paper to form an even layer, and fill the square dish. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. Trim to desired shape. Sprinkle with salt and fresh thyme leaves.

Options

  • Salted butter – add salt to cream before whipping.

  • Sweet butter – make Maple Butter or Honey Butter

  • Herbed butter – for a savory butter, add a variety of fresh herbs and spices to soft butter. Form into a log on a sheet of waxed paper. Slice into rounds and use to top toasted bread, roasted potatoes, or grilled steak

Makes approximately 5 to 6 ounces butter.

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Bedroom Design: Delightfully Creepy Design

Post by Erin Sears.

New rule:  I am no longer allowed to watch scary stuff even during daylight hours.  As a kid, I loved all things creepy and Halloween-ish. By flashlight, I excitedly devoured yellowed, dog-eared copies of The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and Helter Skelter that I found under the attic eaves of my family’s remote cabin. Tales from the Crypt was my favorite T.V. show and I couldn’t get enough of horror flicks. I came by these macabre fascinations honestly. If you ask my mother her favorite horror movie she’ll proudly reply, Rosemary’s Baby and she’ll be quick to tell you that she was so enamored with the film when it came out that she decorated her first kitchen to look like Mia Farrow’s kitchen in the movie.  She’s one of a kind, my mom.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed a reticence toward such material. All it takes is a few seconds of a spooky soundtrack and I’m out. I can’t do it. Yesterday however, in honor of the season, I thought I would attempt to return to my roots and I decided to watch the first episode of the latest season of American Horror Story. It was 4pm on a Sunday and I decided that surely no harm could come to me or my psyche at that early hour.  I was wrong. I had disturbing dreams all night. It doesn’t help that my dear mother bears a passing resemblance to Jessica Lange in real life.  Needless to say, I woke up feeling twisty.

I know that some people have a higher tolerance for horror and that their love of dark subject matter may influence their decorating.  Here are some examples of the creepiest bedrooms I could find- may they help you get thoroughly in the mood for Halloween!

Source: http://twoflychicks.blogspot.com/2010/07/almost-free-headboard-tutorial.html

I like the idea of using chalk for a headboard, but the choice of mimicking a traditional brass bed gives me pause.  It ups the spooky factor quite a bit.  Just imagine waking up to a message from beyond written on that wall! No thanks.

Source: atlantishome.com via the Locals

Uh-Uh….nope, no way.  I like objects like pillows to be where they’re supposed to be- on the bed!  For me, the scariest scene from any movie was in Poltergeist when all of the chairs suddenly ended up on top of the kitchen table.  I shudder thinking about this.  I do really love the tape rug in this room though.

Source: http://www2.registerguard.com/cms/index.php/close-to-home/comments/terror-at-the-sylvia-beach-hotel/

This last photo comes from closer to home. This is the Edgar Allan Poe room at the wonderful Sylvia Beach Hotel in Nye Beach, Oregon. The Sylvia Beach Hotel is legendary for its literary themed rooms. This room was remade into the J.K. Rowling room two years ago, but my mother and I have fond memories of staying here in 2005. The room was full of character with its blood red linens and Psycho-themed shower curtain.  Many characters also slept in this room as evidenced by journal entries found in the dresser.  I’m not gonna lie, staying here was creepy, but in a good way. Between the raven staring at me from across the room and the pendulum teetering overhead, I was a little nervous.  In the end, we made it through the night unscathed and enjoyed telling others about our unique sleeping quarters at this quaint little hotel by the sea.

www.sylviabeachhotel.com

Happy Halloween!

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Bedtime Stories: Ghosts in the House!

Post by Mark T. Locker

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara.

By golly, but this is one adorable book! Sure, it’s full of ghosts, and there’s a witch, but there is nothing less spooky than this clever little ghost story.

A little girl and her cat move into a new home. However, the house if HAUNTED! Positively teeming with ghosts! Luckily, this little girl is a witch and she LOVES ghosts! With the help of her cat (who, inexplicably, is decked out in a cat costume) they gather up the spooks, run them through the wash, and use them to decorate their new home. Turns out ghosts make lovely curtains and tablecloths, and pretty good bed linens too!

If you have a kid who is easily spooked (mine is, but only about the most arbitrary things; Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Wolfman is too scary, but Harry Potter is just fine) not to worry; the ghosts are super happy to be strung up as curtains. They are positively smiling about it! It’s a really cute book that we bust out every Halloween, and it gets a lot of love during those weeks.

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Movies in Bed: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Post by Josh Zinn.

Though the thrill of Halloween and the festivities and decor the season brings with it still resonate deeply inside me, I must confess to feeling at a loss as to how to properly celebrate this ghoulish holiday as an adult. Truth be told, I find little enchantment in the idea of going to parties where drunken Draculas, kissy-face kitty-kats, and naughty nurses mingle and cavort whilst techno-rave renditions of the Monster Mash thump from cotton cobwebbed speakers. Heck, if I had my druthers Halloween would remain the holiday of my childhood, with trick or treating, haunted houses, and pumpkin carving taking precedent over frat guys dressed as popes pounding Pabsts.

Maybe that’s why today much of my Halloween tradition includes watching as many spooky holiday specials as I can. Because I lose most of my ability to be judgmental when confronted with an animated jack-o-lantern, the majority of these programs have little-to-no artistic merit. Oh sure, there’s probably a way someone could construct a found poem from the dialogue spewed forth in the wittily named “Fat Albert’s Halloween Special,” but I merely prefer to sit back and allow America’s second-favorite rotund representative of the inner city (tip of that hat to you, Biggie) to enlighten me through shoddily animated examples of the proper ways to inspect Halloween candy.

Occasionally, however, certain holiday cartoons are able to excel beyond their “sponsored by Pudding Pop” pedigree. With its lovingly neurotic and sincere tone, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is just such a feature. In fact, other than the previously reviewed “The Worst Witch,” it may rank as my favorite Samhain special.

Here’s what you need to know: no one likes Charlie Brown, yet that doesn’t stop him from wishing everyone would. Here’s what you also need to know: No one else believes in the Great Pumpkin, yet that doesn’t stop Linus Van Pelt from wishing that the grand gourd of the night will pay a visit to his most sincere of pumpkin patches.

While I am aware that, on the surface, this may sound like a story about disillusionment and the realties of dementia and class-based ostracism, what makes this Halloween tale so charming, disarming—as well as a boon for urban pumpkin farming—is its lack of pretension and its utter belief in the emotional and social worth of childhood desires. That may sound like a heavy way to describe a bunch of Peanuts, but what separates “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”’s wheat from the rest of the cartoon chaff is the way in which it honors and acknowledges the fears and foibles that plague the minds of the under-10 set. These characters pursue their dreams not to teach viewers the proper way to look over a mini-Snickers bar, but rather to show them that being different doesn’t stop you from still being worthwhile.

Perhaps, then, it’s Ol’ Chuck and Linus who showed me that, even in my old age, it’s okay to want a Halloween free from the noise of one-too-many Long Island Iced Tea-induced Alice Cooper karaoke contests. Me? I’d rather be sittin’ in a pumpkin patch, waiting to hear something go bump in the night.

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Breakfast in Bed: Oktoberfest

Post by Alison Hein

The first Oktoberfest took place in Munich, Germany more than 200 years ago, on October 17, 1810. It served the joint purpose of celebrating the recent marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese, and drinking up the last of the spring beer before the new brewing season. Today, Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival in the world, attended by more than 7 million people, with a staggering 7 million + liters of beer imbibed during the festival’s 2 ½ week run!

My own little personal Oktoberfest involves neither weddings nor beer, but my favorite German breakfast, and the consumption of lots of good, strong coffee. Simple soft boiled eggs, warm, golden dippable yolks, and a hunk of dense, earthy rye bread slathered with butter. Best of all, a few scant slices of rich and salty Bauernschinken – a lightly smoked “Farmers’ Ham” that I can never get enough of.

If you can’t find Bauernschinken, smoked ham or prosciutto make fair substitutes. Although, honestly, in that scenario I skip the ham altogether, and simply make buttered toast points for egg-dipping – a long-time tradition in my father’s family. Be sure to liberally salt your Weiches Ei, for a festive, German breakfast in bed. Prost!

Weiches Ei mit Bauernshinken Brot

Ingredients
2 slices thick, hearty rye bread (toast if you like)
2 teaspoons butter, softened
4 very thin slices of Bauernschinken, or substitute prosciutto or smoked ham
2 eggs
Salt, to taste

Preparation
To make Bauernschinken Brot, use plain rye bread, or toast it, if you like. Spread butter on rye bread or toast slices. Top each slice of buttered rye bread with 2 thin slices of Bauernschinken. Serve open-faced with soft-boiled eggs.

To boil eggs, fill a small, heavy saucepan with enough water to cover eggs. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Place 1 egg on a large spoon, gently lower into the boiling water, and carefully remove the spoon when the egg touches the bottom of the pan. Repeat with second egg. Cook for exactly 5 minutes. Remove from water and place on dish towel or paper towel. Dry, and serve immediately with plenty of salt. Serve with Bauernshinken Brot or buttered toast spears on the side. Delicious with strong, hot coffee.

Makes 2 servings.

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