Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes

November 1, 2017

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So what in the world?!! I’m posting again so soon! Usually months go by between my posts. It must be some sort of Halloween miracle! It is just that I couldn’t wait to share these adorable Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider cupcakes with you. I made them for our Halloween festivities last night, but then ran out of time to actually post the blog about them. So even though Halloween is over, I’m sharing this recipe anyway. You’ll be all set for next year.

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These cupcakes not only look fantastic, if I must say so myself, but they also taste amazing. The cake portion is a moist Guinness chocolatey, coffee cake. And then it is frosted with a smooth and velvety Baileys Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Oh be still my heart…I am in Cupcake Heaven! No wait….I mean to say the torturous depths of Hell (it is Halloween right?).

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Halloween is my favorite holiday! I mean, think about it…You get to dress weird, drink booze and eat candy for dinner. In fact all of that fun stuff is encouraged. How could you go wrong on such a day! Halloween actually has Irish origins. Our modern Halloween celebrations are derived from the Celtic holiday of Samhain. Samhain was Celtic New Year. It was a harvest festival which marked the dying of the sun-god and a turning to the colder, dormant half of the year. On this night, the Celts believed the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its lowest point. The dead could more easily travel back over to our side, and if we weren’t careful, we could accidentally wander over in to their world and be trapped-a good reason to stay close to home and bonfires, no doubt! This belief likely gave rise to our Halloween legends of ghosts, ghouls and witches wandering about on this night in particular. I’ve posted some great Halloween recipes in past years ranging from the historically based traditional recipes such as:

Soul Cakes (Traditional Halloween/ Samhain)

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Yeasted Irish Barmbrack Bread (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

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Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Glaze (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

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To the more whimsical offerings such as:

White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels

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Halloween Cookies & Cream Owl Cupcakes

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Mini Mummy Brownie Bite Cupcakes

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As well as some wonderful boozy libations to kick your celebrations into high gear:

Fireball Cider Cocktail

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Roasty Toasty Cocktail

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This year’s Itsy Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes combine the whimsical and boozy together in one perfect Halloween treat! The little spider darlings (I mean horrible, terrible scary spiders) are fairly easy to make. I used two malted milk balls for the body and head (turns out Maltesers -the body- are slightly larger than Whoppers – the head), but you could also use a malted milk ball and a chocolate covered peanut. You get the idea. The legs are made with black candy melts. I piped them out onto parchment paper, let them harden and then attached them to the body with more candy melt. Then I used Wilton mini Candy eyes for their googly eyes. You could also probably use mini M&M’s here. And There you have it…. Itsy Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes!

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Truth be told I am terrified of spiders, so it is a bit weird that I decided to make these cupcakes. And  I’m not one of those girly girls that is scared of all bugs and mice and snakes. Nope, I pretty much like most bugs – mosquitos excepted – but it’s more hate where they are involved rather than fear. Snakes are pretty cool and I love mice. But spiders….no way!  I keep trying to make a treaty with them in which I will leave them alone as long as they are outside, but they are not allowed to come into my house. Rather than squish spiders that do venture inside despite the treaty, I show them mercy by capturing them and escorting them outside- all the while telling them that they must spread the word of our treaty to their friends. Those jerks agree at the time (spiders are full of deceit..), however once they get outside unscathed, I think they tell their little spider friends that I’m a softie and they shouldn’t worry about going into my house. Sigh….spiders are the worst! I’m just saying!

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Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes

  • Servings: 20 - 24 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Cake portion of the recipe from: Wife in Progress

Frosting recipe from: Handle the Heat

Ingredients:

For the Cakes:

  • 3/4 cups Guinness
  • 1/4 cup strong black coffee (or King Arthur Espresso Powder works well here)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

For the Frosting:

  • 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream (or you could substitute Kahlua or your favorite)
  • green gel food coloring

For the Spiders: 

  • 24 Maltesers or Whoppers (Malted Milk Balls)
  • 24 chocolate covered peanuts or raisins (or just use another malted milk ball as I did)
  • 6 ounces Black or Dark Cocoa Candy Melts, melted
  • 48 (or more if you prefer – spiders sometimes have lots of eyes!) Candy eyes (small size)

Directions:

For the Cakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)

Line 2 cupcake tins with liners.

In a large saucepan heat Guinness, coffee and butter together until it comes to a gentle simmer.

Add cocoa powder while whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Mix until smooth. Place in refrigerator to cool.

Place flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in bowl. Set aside

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs vanilla and sour cream.

Once the Guinness/cocoa mixture has cooled, add it to the egg/sour cream mixture. Mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, mixing on low speed until just combined.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup scoop, fill the lined cupcake tins.

Bake for 25 minutes

Cool completely on wire rack.

For the Frosting:

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

Add Baileys slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and mix until well combined.

Add green food coloring gel to frosting until it reaches desired hue.

If you would like to make this frosting ahead of time, keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and rewhip in the mixer with the paddle attachment before using.

When you are ready to frost the cupcakes, place frosting in pastry bag fitted with whatever tip you desire and pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

Melt 6 ounces of Candy Melts in the microwave. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pipe “L” shapes onto the parchment to form spider’s legs. Let harden.

Place a Malteser “spider body” on the center of the frosting. Place the chocolate peanut “head” in front of it. Pipe dots of melted chocolate on the side of the spider’s body to hold the legs in place. Gently place 3 – 4 legs on each side of the spider. Use a dot of the melted chocolate to stick the eyes onto the head.

Enjoy!

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Itsy Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes:
Maltesers
Wilton Mini Candy Eyes
Merkens Dark Cocoa Confectionary Melts
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Roasty Toasty Cocktail

October 30, 2017

IMG_6513It’s almost Halloween, which is my favorite holiday! And I have a great recipe to share with you – The Roasty Toasty Cocktail! Full of vodka and toasted marshmallow syrup, one small taste will conjure up autumn thoughts of Halloween bonfires and s’mores. It is just the perfect libation to sip while handing out candy to those adorable little trick or treaters. I must admit, it is a bit on the sweet side, so you’ll feel like you’re indulging in a bit of candy yourself. Why should the kids have all the fun anyway? But let me tell you… this candy cocktail is definitely for adults and has a much better kick to it than your average old Snickers bar! Guaranteed to keep you warm on the most chilly Fall evenings.

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I found this delicious cocktail recipe through a fun company called Cocktail Courier. A good friend got the Husband and I a subscription to it a bit back and we have loved it! The way it works is you select your favorite spirits, you know like Vodka and Gin and then the Cocktail Courier folks send you a box with everything in it that you need to create a fabulous cocktail at home.

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That’s right – you get the recipe, the booze, mixers and garnish all delivered right to your door (3,6 or 12 month subscriptions are available). Each kit makes 4 -12 amazing cocktails. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving! And Christmas isn’t very far away – so it might be a good gift idea for any boozy buddies you have. Or maybe you could just treat yourself! It’s never been easier to be a hip and happening bartender.

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Roasty Toasty

  • Servings: 1 cocktail
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe by: Cocktail Courier/ Laila Grainawi

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces Vodka
  • .75 ounces Marshmallow Syrup
  • .50 ounces Manzanilla Sherry
  • 3 Drops Cherry Bark Bitters
  • Garnish: 3 roasted and toasted mini marshmallows

Directions:

Chill Rocks glass by placing in fridge/freezer or by filling with ice water and setting aside for 5 minutes.

Measure and add all ingredients (except for garnish) to Mixing Beaker

Fill Mixing Beaker with ice, stir contents by placing shaft of Bar spoon or teaspoon between your index and middle finger. Insert spoon into the beaker until spoon touches the bottom.

Stir for 15 seconds.

Remove Rocks Glass from fridge/freezer or if using ice water, empty the glass.

Strain the contents of the mixing beaker using Julep Strainer, into your Rocks Glass. Top with ice.

Create your garnish by sliding three mini marshmallows onto each skewer. Carefully toast your marshmallows using a lighter or kitchen torch. Place atop each drink.

Enjoy!

Roasty Toasty Cocktail brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Roasty Toasty:

Torani Toasted Marshmallow Syrup

Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters

Oxo Streel Double Jigger

Libbey Glass Studded Mixing Glass with Julep Strainer & pourer

Hiware 12 Inches Stainless Steel Mixing Spoon

 


Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes

February 14, 2017

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February 14th….yup, you guessed it…It is Valentine’s Day. Does everyone know what amazing dish they’re making for their sweeties to celebrate the day? I tell you, I think I’ve got a real winner here with these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes. The husband loves a good G&T. The two places which he ranks as making the best G&T’s out there are the Slippbarinn in the Marina Hotel in Reykjavik Iceland (kind of difficult to get there for us…) and Saison in good old Richmond Virginia (Dangerously close to us if you know what I mean!). Although each version of this classic cocktail has very different flavor profiles, they both share the use of grapefruit juice and garnish in their mix rather than the traditional lime. So that is what I did here. Bring on the grapefruit I say. Wow! These boozy little cupcakes are just perfect.

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So refreshing with bold citrus flavors and floral gin notes. And I should also mention that I frosted them with a pink grapefruit/gin swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Yeah, swiss meringue frosting rules. So fluffy, so light. It is everything you could ever want in a frosting.

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It is actually strange for me to say that recently I am really into grapefruit. I absolutely hated it as a kid and was at a loss as to why anyone would eat one. Can’t get enough of it now. I’m even sipping on a grapefruit flavored fizzy water as I write this. And G&T’s are also something I never cared for in the past. To me drinking any kind of gin was like licking a Christmas tree. But my opinion has definitely changed since I took a taste of the husband’s G&T at Saison. I couldn’t wait to order my own! Saison is our favorite restaurant in Richmond, which says a lot because Richmond is just chock full of fantastic eateries. A real foodie destination I tell you, but it is actually pretty difficult to tempt us away from Saison when we are in town. Not only has every morsel of food we have ever gotten there been delicious, but their cocktails are also simply superb – especially their G & T’s. One of the things that makes Saison’s G&T so remarkable is that it is a hopped G&T. They actually make their own hopped tonic. Now they used to sell little bottles of this magical tonic, but their G&T is such a popular cocktail for them, that they had trouble making enough tonic for both the bar and take out market. Here is where we totally lucked out. We happened to be there last week and the bartender had just made up a brand new batch of tonic. Not only were we able to enjoy it in a Hopped Gin and Tonic or two…we were also actually able to buy a little bit of the hopped tonic to take home with us. I used it in these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes. That’s right…the ones we are scarfing down here are actually Pink Grapefruit Hopped Gin & Tonic cupcakes! OMG! So delicious! The hopped tonic is slightly bitter but also citrusy which pairs so well with the sweet grapefruit notes. Now I know not everyone can get ahold of that amazing elixir. Like I said, we really lucked out. But you can use regular tonic water and the results will still be stellar!

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So I don’t know if your Valentine is anything like mine….he is not so much into chocolate, but loves fruit desserts. And he loves G&T’s, so these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes are a Valentine’s Day dessert match made in heaven for him. I’d wager you’d love them too. And don’t forget, if you are ever in Richmond, you must grab a bite to eat as well as a Hopped G&T at Saison! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes

  • Servings: 15 -18 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe inspired by: Globe Scoffers

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 180 grams unsalted butter
  • 180 grams caster (superfine) sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 large pink grapefruit
  • 180 grams self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 4 Tablespoons tonic water
  • 2 Tablespoons Gin (plus more for brushing over cupcakes)

For the Frosting:

  • 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 – 4 Tablespoons Gin
  • grapefruit zest for garnish

Directions:

For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line muffin tins with cupcakes papers.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and grapefruit zest until light and fluffy.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.

Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Add the flour/baking powder and mix until it is just incorporated. Take care not to over mix.

Stir in the tonic water and gin, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide the mixture between the cupcake wells. I use an ice cream scoop.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool cupcakes on a metal rack. While they are still warm, poke several holes in each cake with a skewer. Brush liberally with gin and let cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

Add the grapefruit juice and gin slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and mix until well combined.

If you would like to make this frosting ahead of time, keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and rewhip in the mixer with the paddle attachment before using.

When you are ready to frost the cupcakes, place frosting in pastry bag fitted with whatever tip you desire and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Garnish with grapefruit zest and wedges as you prefer.

Enjoy!

Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools and Ingredients for Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips Ice Cream Scoop

King Arthur Self Rising Flour – You can also find this on Amazon, but have to purchase several bags of it.

India Tree Superfine Caster Baking Sugar

Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic Trio – I have never actually tried these, but if you are into the idea of artisan tonics these might be fun to experiment with. Just add soda water to these syrups for a unique flavor profile.

 

 

 


Cranberry Bannocks

January 24, 2017

img_5401I’mmmmmm back! Just like last year, and I think every year before that, I have great intentions of keeping up with this blog. Then…wham! The holidays run me right over and don’t post one word. You’d think I’d figure it out and just sign off to everyone right around Thanksgiving. I’m always back at it by January 25th, which is tomorrow, so I’m right on time. And what is the significance on January 25th? It is the birthday of Robert Burns. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. On January 25th folks throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, will be remembering him with a Burns Night Supper. And I’ve got a great traditional Scottish recipe to share with you, just perfect for the day…Cranberrry Bannocks!img_5389Bannocks, sometimes called griddle scones, are a quick bread which are cooked on top of the stove rather than baked in the oven. They are very similar to scones otherwise. Indeed in Scotland the words “bannock” and “scone” are often used interchangeably. Before the 19th Century bannocks were cooked on a “bannock stane” which was a slab of sandstone which was placed on top of a fire. Traditionally they were made with an oatmeal or barley flour and they could be either savory or sweet. One of the most famous types of bannocks is the Selkirk Bannock with is very similar to a fruitcake, chock full of raisins. They can be found in most supermarkets in the UK. Last year I shared a delicious recipe for Scottish Pancakes, or Drop Scones:IMG_3583

The year before was Steak Auld Reekie over Crispy Tatties & Neeps:

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The one prior to that was Dundee Cake with Hot Whiskey Marmalade:

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Then there was that fabulous Scotch Egg Pie:

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And I can’t forget that  Cock-a-leekie Soup:

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Which I always serve up with fresh toasted Struan:

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And I don’t want to forget those mouth-wateringly delicious Scotch Eggs:

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which I have also done Deviled.

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So there you have it! That is quite a few Scottish recipes which would be very welcome at any Burn’s Night festivities. This years darling little Cranberry Bannocks would perhaps be best suited for a Burn’s Breakfast. They are soft and tender and delicious warm off the griddle, especially slathered with butter!

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Now I will say, these Bannocks are not sweet on their own and derive all their sweetness from the cranberries or whatever jam you might spread on top. If you prefer a sweeter bread, you might want to add a Tablespoon or two of sugar to the mix. I thought they were just perfect as they were. And I’m sure The Bard himself would approve. He actually mentioned Bannocks in his Epistle to James Tennant of Glenconner.

An’ Lord, remember singing Sannock,

Wi’ hale breeks, saxpence, an’ a bannock!

So tomorrow you should get busy, griddle some bannocks and don’t forget to raise a glass and drink a wee dram or two to Rabbie Burns!

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Cranberry Bannocks

  • Servings: 8 bannocks
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Vagabond Baker

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams dried cranberries, chopped
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour, plus a bit more for rolling out
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons oil (vegetable or coconut oil)
  • 150 grams buttermilk

Directions:

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the chopped cranberries.

Add the oil to the buttermilk and stir.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture  and pour 2/3 of the buttermilk mixture into it. Gently begin to mix together with your hands, adding more buttermilk as needed until you have a soft dough.

Lightly flour a surface and turn the dough out onto it. Give it a couple more kneads, but take care not to overwork the dough or the bannocks will be tough.

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a ball. Flatten the balls and roll them out into a circle, about 1/2″ tall.

Cut each circle into quarters.

Place an ungreased frying pan over low to medium heat. Once it is hot add one of bannock circles (4 pieces) to the pan. Cook the bannocks for a 5 – 8 minutes on each side. They should rise to double their thickness while cooking.

Cool on a wire rack and serve with lashings of butter, jam and clotted cream if you wish!

Enjoy!

Cranberry Bannocks brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Firewater anyone?

June 17, 2010

Sooo….I’m sure most of our friends would assume that Jay and I are referring to some sort of incredibly strong alcohol filled beverage when I mention “firewater”. Believe me, I wish that were the case. However I am actually going to discuss what could happen, and indeed has happened, to many people’s drinking water. No. This isn’t a good thing, like turning on your tap and having say vodka gush out (or Bombay Sapphire-if you happen to be Jay). No. This is like turning on your tap and having flames shooting out of your faucet! Do I have your attention now? Perhaps you should take a look at this video and if your concerned, then you can read on.

“Wow” huh? You can find many other videos like this from different areas of the country where hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is going on. Hydraulic Fracturing is a technique which was pioneered by none other than Halliburton (is this company like a bad penny or what!!) “Fracking” as it is known in the industry is a method used to access natural-gas reservoirs miles below the earth’s surface. Certain types of rock, like shale, have natural-gas embedded within it. By injecting millions of gallons of water, along with sand or ceramic, and a proprietary mix of chemicals under a tremendous amount of pressure into the rock, tiny fractures are created thereby allowing the gas to escape. Fracking accounts for 15-20% of  U.S. natural-gas production. In light of the recent BP disaster in the Gulf, many people now are expressing a real desire to not only decrease our dependence on foreign oil but to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels all together. (“Drill Baby Drill” not such a good idea after all…) Natural Gas emits less carbon dioxide than oil or coal. So that’s a plus. Furthermore, if the natural-gas industry is allowed to continue with their all out “fracking party”, (currently there are thousands of sites and the industry is hoping to soon have hundreds of thousands of sites), this country could be self-sufficient in natural gas by 2030. Sounds great huh? Not to mention, fracking allows the natural-gas industry to significantly increase production, which keeps the prices low for us. We love that, so what’s the problem?

The problem is that there is increasing evidence that fracking is contaminating our water supplies. The fact that people’s tap water is flaming demonstrates that contrary to the natural-gas industry’s claims,  gas is indeed finding its way out of the drilling sites. Natural-gas laden water is definitely not a desirable thing-just ask the couple in Ohio whose house exploded after their basement filled with gas from their water well. However, it is the proprietary chemicals cocktail which is being used in fracking that is a big concern to environmentalists as well. The industry is not required to disclose what exactly they are injecting into the ground. People around the country near drill sites are reporting various illnesses, skin rashes etc. Sounds like a job for the Environmental Protection Agency to me. Except, rats!…in 2005 the EPA exempted fracking from the Safe Water Drinking Act, so the individual States not the Feds are responsible for regulation. The good news is that the EPA has recently launched an environmental study of drinking water impacts. Hurrah! The bad news is that it is the study will not be done for two years. Boo! Can we really afford to wait? In the meantime, two fracking accidents happened in early June. There was the blow-out of a well in Pennsylvania which spewed 35,000 gallons of water along with the mystery proprietary chemicals into the environment and the explosion of a well in West Virginia which burned seven workers and sent a flare of burning gas 50 feet into the air. As the BP disaster in the Gulf continues to unfold,  many people seem very motivated to change the regulation of our oil industry. Do we need a fracking disaster of that caliber before we act?


DC Renovation 2 Electric Boogaloo

April 18, 2010

**Disclaimer:Jay solely responsible for this blog title-you’ll have to ask him**

The end of March and most of April has been taken up doing yet another renovation. I assure you we were not very happy to hear this needed to be done. To remind everyone, back in August we had just started a MAJOR renovation on the top floor apartment in our Capitol Hill building when our friend John sold his condo, which was great, but it rendered him homeless. We had been wanting to re-do our basement bedroom and bathroom, which were at the time decorated in a stunning “under a bridge” them, complete with spray paint, only missing a troll. The reality that John needed a place to stay spurred us into action and we took on that renovation project- on an accelerated schedule nonetheless!. It was pretty grueling, not only in the financial sense but as anyone who has ever had their house wrecked in the process of the improvement and had to manage various contractors and vendors, knows how mentally and emotionally draining it can be. Even though we are now six months down the road, I was in NO WAY ready to do another reno project. However, as it often works out, we had no choice. Our wonderful tenant who had lived in the basement apartment for six years was moving out. The basement apartment was the first renovation I had done after I bought the house in 2004. I was able to improve it quite a bit from what it was at the time, but being limited in money and experience, I did not do a great job. Sooo…..off we went… again!

All that being said, this renovation went very smoothly. Our friend Brian Stansberry was kind enough to take a look at the place and advise us on how to proceed with the renovation. Brian owns Capitol Hill Stay and has had LOTS of experience with renovating these units. All of his advice was stellar. We are truly indebted to him. We worked with an awesome contractor, Jhonny Claure. Jhonny was the contractor who did the fabulous work at our friend John’s house on Arkansas Ave.

Jhonny's gorgeous tile work at Arkansas Ave.

I would not hesitate to recommend him whole-heartedly to anyone looking to have work done. He focused on quality and did everything right the first time- never took shortcuts or “cheaped out”. He was really a pleasure to work with. The folks at Panda Kitchens were great as well. They installed that whole kitchen in one day. There were some glitches along the way-if you look under carpet and see 9×9 tiles-YIKES-its asbestos! In came the guys in the space suits and I am happy to report we are 100% asbestos free. The apartment is now complete and we are very pleased with the results. Now we’ve just got to get it rented! Wish us luck. Check out the apartment’s website for more pictures and a virtual tour! Here are a couple before and after pics.

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

Washer/Dryer Pantry Before

Washer/Dryer Pantry After

Kitchen Sink Before

Kitchen Sink After

Living Room Before

Living Room After


Did you say SNOW?!

February 14, 2010

Gimlet is concerned

Poor Gimlet! He is definitely OVER the snow. He hasn’t been for a walk in what seems like one million years to him. When he does get to go outside to do “his business” he is limited to a tiny spot of real estate which has been dug out for especially for this purpose. How disgusting! And now they are saying there might be more snow tomorrow. Really?!  Actually, it doesn’t seem like the forecasters have any real idea what is going to happen tomorrow. (Surprizing huh?)  I’ve heard that the DC area won’t get any appreciable snow and I’ve also heard we could get up to 6 inches. At this point, I’m afraid that one flake could be the flake that broke the camel’s back. Gimlet isn’t the only one who has had it.  On the brighter side, we have had quite a bit of melting. Today was the first time I could actually see the pavement on Kern’s Road. I am a bit concerned with these insane icicles though. They could pull the gutters right off of the house!

Icicles on steroids!

Not much has been happening here since the storm ended. We, along with everyone else, continued to dig out. Jay and John, along with 3 other good samaritans helped push the mail truck out when it got stuck.

The mail must get through!

The outdoor critters continue to visit our feeders.

Nom nom nom!

Yum...seed!

Hungry woodpecker

More snow you say?!

I don’t think anyone here is ready for more snow. I’m headed out for work in an actual dental office tomorrow-that is if the patients don’t all cancel in one big communal snow panic attack. There is a snow charm I’ve heard of where you wear your pajamas inside out the night before you want it to snow. Does anyone know any anti-snow maneuvers? If not, I guess keepin your fingers crossed will have to do…..


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