A Likely Lass

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Cooking with alcohol – Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Crisp

southern comfort apple crisp

Baking has never been my Favorite Thing Ever. I like to cook well enough, but tend to like recipes that take some degree of technical intensity (and that take forever to make and use every dish I own). 

I make an exception, though, for cooking with any type of alcohol.

For instance, Boeuf Bourguinon soup… it takes forever, but tastes divine. It also includes alcohol. Tiramisu? Delicious, and includes alcohol. Beer can chicken… rum cake… dark beer chili… I could go on, but I think you get the point.

And what do you know – Sunday afternoon, I found myself in possession of six apples and a half a (small) bottle of Southern Comfort. I thought about making a simple apple crisp, but really, what isn’t better with alcohol? And I didn’t want a simple, comforting apple crisp. I wanted a crisp that makes you feel like you’re living on the edge. An apple crisp that makes you feel like you’re dating James Dean and George Clooney and neither of them know about each other.

Without further ado, I introduce: Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Crisp. 

This recipe is adapted slightly from a Pastry Queen recipe, Chef Mark’s Southern Comfort Apple Pie. 

Filling ingredients:

  • 5-6 apples (tart ones are good, but you can use what you have on hand)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon (Vietnamese cinnamon if you have it, but use what you have)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup Southern Comfort liquor
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel, core, and cut up your apples, you want them roughly cubed. Melt the butter in a skillet heated to medium-high until foamy. Add the apples. Let them brown up a couple of minutes, then add your spices. When the apples are slightly soft (about 5 minutes), remove and place in a baking dish. Add the Southern Comfort to the liquid left in the pan, and simmer until alcohol is mostly burned off, about five minutes. Add the cream slowly while stirring, and let it simmer another 5-10 minutes, until slightly thicker. Remove from heat, add flour and stir until thickened. Pour over the apples in the dish.

Crust:

  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the melted butter and combine well. It will be a somewhat dry mix. Sprinkle over the apple mixture in your dish until completely covered.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes, then serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Wait for people to become faint with pleasure, then apply smelling salts so they may eat more apple crisp.

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Breaking Dawn/

Very late Saturday night, I am going to go see “Breaking Dawn” part one.

Would that we all could not have any pores at all

I kno, rite? This is my actual reason for going:

Burke-o-licious

Therefore:

Nerd alert!

will be worn. Not to be confused this this much less attractive Charlie:

Good god... eat a sandwich and quit the tiger blood.

Palate cleanser!

And then, there was pie

For Thanksgiving, I set out to make this pie.

It was, I figured, absolutely Southern, and Virginia being my adopted home, I can always use a little more Southern. Even the name hollered iced tea and wrap-around porches and the kind of thing that inspires a hush so absolute you can hear the crickets 15 miles away. Ok, no, it doesn’t really say that, but what it does say is Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Pie. It says honey, put your girdle on because I am bustin’ out.

Obviously, it being about a week AFTER Thanksgiving, I didn’t make it (though not for want of effort), but now I wish I had.

This pie is like the pie of dreams. If Betty White and Chuck Norris had a baby, it would be this pie. This pie will smack you around and still make you want to cuddle after. One look at this pie and your grandmother would faint. Seriously, it’s some good pie.

My husband, who notably is no great fan of apple pie, said “This is not pie, this is crack.” And there I will let it stand. Have some photos:

Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Pie

Pie

Yes, I know. Only two photos? I know, it’s not the most photogenic pie ever, but it’s my first, and it took me two hours to make and by GOD I was starving for a piece of this pie by then and you know? In that instance, photos come second. But you’ll have to trust me that one piece of this pie will make you beg the Holy Father’s forgiveness because that is some DAMN good pie.

And because ‘rumpus’ is an awesome word

Even though Valentine’s Day is over, it can live on in our hearts. For instance, take this sage wisdom from The Oatmeal: less complaining, more sexy rumpus.

Good advice for every-day use.

Top 10 Most Awkward First Dates

In the interest of Valentine’s Day, I am going to share the most awkward first dates I’ve had. And also in the interest of truthiness, I will say that these were first dates… only, and I’ve done my best to keep it G-rated. And yes, they are all, fortunately and unfortunately, true.

#10: Cowboy Class: *sees the cowboy hat, cowboy boots, dinner-belt-sized belt buckle with the likeness of the Confederate Flag stamped on it walking over, everyone in the uptown cafe staring* “Hey, are you Mel?” “Yes?” “Well hells bells woman, I’m your date!” (internally – “Did he just say… hells bells?“)

#9: The Billiards Player: “I play pool for a living,” he said. “Wanna watch?” “Sure.” He whipped out a pool cue, screwed it together. Looked professional. Then, as he leaned down to take the first break, he went “HA!” in a… forceful voice, while kicking his leg back. Okay, thought I, it might just be a break thing. It wasn’t. Every shot was accompanied by a “HA!” or a “HO!”, and the leg-kick that threatened to take out pedestrians and nearby bar stools. Then in a moment of frenzied excitement, he brought his cue up sharply and smashed the light over the table to pieces. Cue his ensuing argument with the bartender that the table was “interfering with play”.

#8: Damn Catholics: Him: “C’mon, come in and say hello to my Mom.” Me: “Well… okay.” *walks into the house, sees crone-like Mother coming towards towards the front of the house* Mother: “You’re not Catholic, are you? I can smell a Catholic from twenty feet away!”

#7: The Count: “You’re the count of what? Comino? The visiting dignitary gave you the Countship because you saved his life? Oh, and you’re a fireman and a local politician as well? And you want me as your slave-girl in your ‘harem’? Uhm….. I’ll call you.” (author’s note: sitting in a crowded cafe trying not to split into peals of slightly hysterical laughter after hearing all this is insanely difficult, and will result in stiff face muscles for days to come)

#6: The World’s Most Awesome Magician: Me: *recieves explanation about how the guy can control the weather and make lightning appear in his hands but by doing so conjured up a demon that haunts him* “Uh huh.

#5: The Other Most Awesome Magician: Me: *receives explanation from completely unrelated guy about how he *seriously* controls the weather, can make lightning appear in a clear blue sky, how he is one of the greatest sorcerers the world has ever known and the evil sorcerer is trying to get him but he locked him away into a prison and the only requirement to keep the awful evil sorcerer from escaping into the world is to stay chaste and never lay his hands on a woman which is why he hasn’t dated in five years and OMG he has just violated that with me so now the evil awful sorcerer is going to try to kill him because he held my hand* “Uhm… sorry about that, then.”

#4: Anne Rice Devotee: Him: “I’m a vampire. Doesn’t it make you nervous to go on a date with a vampire?” Me: “Yes, yes it does.” He proceeded to stare at my neck all night and then by way of a “goodbye”, bit my hand instead of kissing it. I went to the doctor the next day for a tetanus shot, just to be sure.

#3: Abducted: Him: “I was kidnapped by aliens, I think. But I can’t remember. Will you record me if I start making weird noises and look like I’m spacing out? Here’s a tape recorder.” Me: “Check, please!”

#2: Severe arachnophobia: I invited him over to my apartment before we went out to meet friends. When he went in the bathroom, a spider was sitting next to the toilet. I heard his extremely loud and high-pitched scream, followed by the ripping sound of my shower curtain as he climbed into my bathtub, then slipped, grabbing the curtain as he went, screaming the whole way. The problem? It was a plastic spider-ring.

#1: The Scotsman: Him: *complicated explanation about how he proudly inherited his Scottish Sean-Connery-ish accent from his Scottish grandfather once-removed because he stayed with them a couple of times in the summer of 1993* Meanwhile, I spy a huge collection of Sean Connery’s work in closet, autographed Sean Connery photo, large “James Bond” framed poster, Sean Connery action figure with pump-fist motion. “Ah. It all makes sense now.”

I’m sorry that I’m sorry

I grew up in Minnesota. I’m sure you may have heard the saying “Minnesota Nice”. In general, it’s not a misnomer. Maybe it’s something about living on what seems to be an arctic tundra six months out of the year, or the organized community effort we put in to combating mosquitoes the other six months, but people are generally pretty nice. The movie “Fargo”, though people INSIDE the state may find it comically untrue, is not far off when you’re looking at it from the Outside.

For instance: as a child, everyone said “I’m sorry.” It was one of those Things, like snow. People would apologize for everything, and there was little that couldn’t be met with a litany of “I’m sorry”s.

– If you bump in to someone: “I’m so sorry!” Why we say that: bumping in to someone, regardless of age, gender or race, could have caused the possibility of them falling over and cursing at us. We’re very sorry that it’s a possibility.

– If you and a stranger do that weird dance on the sidewalk when someone is going the opposite way and you’re both trying to get out of each other’s way but keep going in the same direction as you are trying to do so: “I’m sorry!” Why we say that: we have inconvenienced someone by taking up their time doing awkward sidewalk dances! The horror!

– If you have to hand in a bunch of work to someone, regardless of the contents of their inbox: “Sorry about that.” Why we do that: I don’t know. Generally people like to be employed, and “sorry, here’s some more stuff for you to do” isn’t all that awful. BUT, it allows the receiver to say the not-as-common “That’s all right!” in a cheerful and productive tone.

– If you stand too close to someone in the supermarket: “Excuse me, I’m sorry.” Why we say that: There is a multitude of reasons. First, the sayer is impinging on the social space of the other person. What if they are made uncomfortable? What if we actually BREATHED UPON THEM? Maybe they’re allergic to dogs or exceedingly frightened by people looming suddenly upon them and could have a heart attack at any possible second-

Sorry was employed in every possible social engagement: Sorry I wobbled a bit there, I didn’t mean to cause you a moment’s worth of worry that I may actually fall over and crush you beneath me. Sorry, this parking space just jumped out at me and now you can’t park here, really, I’m sorry about that. Sorry about drinking too much and asking for my keys! I’m REALLY sorry you’re angry, even though I don’t know why! Oh god, you’re crying, I’m sorry!! Your husband left you and I’m SO SORRY even though it’s obvious he met a special someone down at the Nineties and has probably been fooling himself all these years! Gosh, I am REALLY SORRY I got in the way of your fist, I’m quite sure you didn’t mean to actually PUNCH me, I am habitually clumsy, as you may know.

Can you imagine the confusion that happens when people raised with an infinite amount of apology actually get unleashed upon the rest of the country? I remember my first job in Virginia, when I thought I was standing too close to my boss when we were talking out in the parking lot.

“Sorry,” I said, moving back a step, even though HE had actually come in to MY bubble.

“For what?” he asked, stepping forward, back INTO my bubble.

“Um. Standing too close?” I edged back a nervous step.

“Oh, that’s okay,” he said with a chuckle, “You have to get used to us Southerners,” he stepped a very LARGE step forward.

In Minnesota, this is practically assault. I had to steel myself and remind myself that though he was within THREE FEET, this was PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE in other parts of the country where maybe they didn’t grow up with as much flat, empty space as I did.

Indeed, now that I’ve had several years to observe people in this general area, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you DON’T stand uncomfortably close, people view you with suspicion. As such, you can spot other Minnesotans a mile away because they’ll be the only ones holding a conversation with ten feet between them.

“I’m sorry” is also cause for suspicion. I’ve had people interrogate me for the reflex.

“Why are you saying I’m sorry?”

“Um.” This is always a terrible question to ask someone from that region. It’s such a reflex that often we’re not entirely certain. The only thing we’re certain of is that IF there exists even a REMOTE POSSIBILITY we have caused you a MILLISECOND of some emotion that is not exploding with happiness and baby unicorns, we’re sorry about it. “Because… um.”

Naturally, Other People will then view us with suspicion. “No, really, why are you saying sorry?”

“I don’t… um… Sorry, about the sorry… I…”

“WHY are you sorry?”

“Because … um.”

“THAT IS NOT AN ANSWER!”

“I’M SORRY!” [insert wailing here]

Obviously, the conclusion would be to stop saying “I’m sorry” to every offense, actual and possible, but it’s not so easy. It’s ingrained from childhood, just like the desire to don goofy rabbit-fur hats at the first frost or the primal urge to acquire anti-mosquito spray when the temperature goes above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two days in a row or the rush out the door when the snow quits falling to quickly shovel your sidewalk and then shovel your neighbors before he’s noticed it’s stopped snowing. It’s just how I am, I can’t seem to change it no matter what I do because I feel the urge to apologize for being so rude.

I’m sorry!

Army of Lovers – Crucified

If I had a billion dollars, this is what would happen when I wake up in the morning: tiny pianos, Italian women, spontaneous bathtubs, dancing and singing. The only change would be substantially less patent leather codpieces. Yes.

Muppets – Bohemian Rhapsody

This wins everything I have.

I highly recommend checking out the other videos by Muppets Studio.  Hilarious!

The First Kiss

Someone asked me about my First Kiss the other day, and if I remembered it. Of course I remember it. I also remember thinking about animal crackers…

There we were: on the parents’ couch, darkened room, watching a movie. I don’t remember what one, I was thinking about animal crackers. He was holding my hand. Then he leaned over and… I coughed.

Yes, I coughed. Loudly. A hack almost.

Was my throat overexcited? Did I inhale wrong, causing my lungs to fallop about like twin belugas?

Not sure. But, both to his credit and my sudden anxiety, my gusty exhalation of air and probably spit did not deter him.

I still remember it vividly: his lips, which I had the sudden and inexplicably crazy thought that they looked like moist slivers of liver hovering before his face, eyes almost shut in a dreamy silence as he leaned in and I tried hard not to lean away.

And then there it was: wet. So very wet. But gentle, kind of like a Saint Bernard. Tongue. TONGUE! Okay… okay… I’ll just.. Holy crap this is a LOT of SPIT! I pulled away, panic pinging around my brain. Was there supposed to be that much spit? Was it me? I swallowed hastily (let it never be said that I am a spitter, for I am not).

But he came after me. “It’s okay,” he said, as if he were talking to an exceptionally frightened fawn, “Just let go.”

He didn’t see the weird look I gave him because he was coming after me with his lips again and there they were, bigger and plumper, more moist, somehow, then they had just been. Okay, girl, I told myself, Get it together. You don’t want it getting around school about how you freaked the hell out and dove through a two-story window. The other side of my brain rationalized, If only they knew about the… sheer quantity of fluid!

He attacked my face with force, as if he sensed my inner alarm and sought to override it with his tide of masculinity and stun me with his eau de Brut. His lips kind of mashed mine and I, in a frozen state of oh-my-god-what-do-I-do just tried to mimic what he was doing, less fluid. I mean, it was kind-of enjoyable. I guess. If you enjoy being gently mauled by a bathroom plunger.

I am unkind.

It went on for an eternity. I did my best to reciprocate because I didn’t want to hurt the chap’s feelings, and it was semi-pleasant at the time. But when he leaned away (for air, I presume, or perhaps he’d tired of trying to find my tonsils), I ducked my head down and dabbed at my lips frantically with the edge of my shirt.

“I’m going to the restroom,” he said, getting to his feet with a smile I supposed he meant to be sexy, and a flip of his hair. “Do you need anything?”

“Can you grab me some animal crackers?” I asked.

Let it never be said I am a girl who forgets her purpose.

Canadian Brass does “Carmen”

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