NOTE FROM RENAE: The accidental theme here at the blog this week has become ghosts! You must know how happy that makes me. In a couple of days I’ll be sharing an updated version of the Courting Creepy Ghost Stories list. In the meantime, enjoy this piece by Pamela Morris.
What with all the hoopla going on about The Conjuring, (which I have yet to see, btw) and the myriad of ghost hunting shows out there, I figured it was time I shared my own ghostly experiences. It truly makes no difference to me whether others believe in this sort of thing or not. My boyfriend is a total non-believer and I still love him regardless.
The earliest true ghost story I was told came to me from my maternal grandmother, Angeline. She was visiting friends for the weekend and had been given the spare room to sleep in. This room was used by anyone who came to visit them, including numerous grandchildren. On her first night there, she was preparing for bed. As was her habit, she always read a bit before turning off the light for the night. She was doing just that when the door opened and…
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Nearly every haunted house movie begins the same way – a middle-class family invests every penny they have in an old fixer-upper. There is a married couple, a child (or children,) a cat and/or a dog. There is often (though not always) something a little dysfunctional or unusual about the family. Communication is these families is usually spotty at best. The husband and wife don’t confide in each other. The parents ignore unusual behavior by the kids or the animals, and don’t give credence to anything odd the kids say. The family is full of hope. It’s a brand-new, high-stakes, fresh-start for everyone.
Then bad things start to happen.
Ogre and I just got back from seeing The Conjuring. It’s a great movie in many ways, destined to become a horror classic.
I could not help but ask myself the same question I always do when I see another haunted house movie:
- When, exactly, would I pack up my shit and get the hell out?
When you’ve see The Conjuring (and I recommend you do if you haven’t) PLEASE come here and tell me when YOU would flee. (Or, at the very least, seek out professional help.)
WARNING: If you click the following (READ THE REST OF THIS PAGE) link, you will see a detailed list of scary events that happen to the Perron family, leading up to the moment when they contact the Warrens.
FOR COFFEE RECIPE SCROLL DOWN.
I’m working furiously on my manuscript these days, and I don’t feel like composing thematically appropriate blog posts. I didn’t even want to take my scheduled Artist Date, (ala Julia Cameron) until I realized the significance of today’s date. I knew I had to start the countdown when it occurred to me to wonder how the pumpkins are coming along.
When I got to the nearest produce farm, the owner wasn’t home. So I went prowling his fields anyway. (Respectfully and carefully, of course.) I discovered the pumpkins aren’t really doing much right now. Well, the vines are looking healthy and sprawly, but what you see up in the collage is a squash. The pumpkins are barely blooming yet.
I was heading back to the truck, with all the pictures I needed, when the farmer came home. Long story short, we made friends, and I’ve been invited back to check on the pumpkins any time. He’s confident they will be ready in time for Halloween.
Meanwhile, IT IS STILL SUMMER DAMMIT, and I’m drinking a lot of iced coffee. Earlier today, I instagram-ed a photograph of it which garnered some interest and requests for the “recipe”. The process is really more of a method, I think, but I’m willing to share.
ICED COFFEE CONCENTRATE:
You will need:
- time (overnight or, better, 12 hours)
- good water (room temp / tepid, not ice-cold or hot; my tap water has been working fine)
- coarse-ground coffee (grind it on the coarsest available setting at the grocery store – that’s as far away from ‘Turkish” or espresso as possible; we’ll talk about amounts in a minute)
- two pitchers (or other glass containers)
- a fine sieve
More about the equipment:
Sieve – If you are a coffee drinker, just save yourself some hassle and buy a fine-mesh sieve (see photo) if you don’t already have one. If this recipe stops you from buying one fancy iced coffee a week, you’ll pay for the sieve in no time. Yes, if you insist, you can do this with coffee filters or cheesecloth. (I did it that way the first time. It works, but you have to be patient. I am not patient.)
Pitchers – The size of your available pitchers will determine the amount of concentrate you can make at one time. (See below.) I prefer to use glass, rather than plastic, which would stain terribly. As you can see, I get by with a mason jar and small, crock-style pitcher.
You will use 1 part coffee to every 4.5 parts water. That means:
- for 8 cups of water use 1 and 1/2 cups of grounds
- for 6 cups of water use 1 and 1/3 cups of grounds
- Step 1: Stir the appropriate amount of coffee grounds into the appropriate amount of water.
- Step 2: Refridgerate overnight or, better, for 12 hours.
- Step 3: Strain the grounds from the water by passing it through the sieve, between the pitchers, 2-3 times.*
- Step 4: Store coffee concentrate in fridge. (I have no idea how long it will keep, because I always drink it all within 3-5 days.)
NOTE: Measure pitcher capacity before you start. I use the 6 cup recipe. I steep the coffee in my pitcher. My mason jar is a little small even for 6 cups, but a lot of the water stays in the grounds, so the mason jar can take what comes from the first straining. If I have a little extra, that’s just my first glass of iced coffee.
*Things to know about the straining process:
- It’s easiest to scoop the floating layer of grounds off the top of the coffee to start. Just try not to get too much liquid.
- You may need to discard grounds out of the sieve several times during the first straining.
- Don’t press on the grounds to get more concentrate, it will get bitter.
- Lots of grounds may stay in the first pitcher after you’ve poured all the water away. Just discard them and rinse pitcher.
- After the first straining there won’t be many grounds in the sieve BUT a little residue of denser solution will have settled at the bottom of the pitcher. Discard these dregs with each straining.
To prepare a glass of iced coffee, using concentrate:
Again with the ratios: use 1 part concentrate to 3 parts fresh, cold water. Adjust ratio to taste.
So, for example, the following illustration was made with:
- 1/3 cup concentrate
- a little splash of heavy cream
- 1 cup water
- ice to fill the glass
I don’t like any sweetener in my coffee, but if you do, be aware that sugar is unlikely to dissolve well in a cold solution. The easy answer is to invest in a bottle of your favorite coffee flavoring. (Or make your own – but that’s for another post.) Of course MY favorite flavoring is this:
Enjoy your summer, folks.
Halloween is coming.
Primary recipe category: Food for Writers / Artists / Other Obsessives