Friday, May 31, 2013

Chocolate Curry Buns

Yes, I know it sounds strange, but cocoa powder and curry spices do go well together. It's similar in concept to a Mexican mole sauce.

My son has been watching the Japanese anime show, Black Butler, on Netfix and was so fascinated by the idea of chocolate curry in a fried bun, which was the winning entry in an episode about a curry festival, that he asked if we could make it.

Sebastian, a demonic butler, prepares to fry the curry buns:
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The first of our curry buns, straight out of the hot oil:
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Chocolate Curry

3 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder

1 can (400ml) coconut milk

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces (for a vegetarian version, cubed, firm tofu can be used instead of the chicken)

3 Tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce

1/3 Cup carrots, diced (or sliced baby carrots)

1/2 Cup green peas

1/4 Cup of cilantro, finely chopped

Place the cocoa in a small mixing bowl. Pour the coconut milk into the bowl, stirring all the time, until the cocoa is blended in and there are no lumps. Set aside.

In a deep sauce pan, fry the onions, cloves, cardamon, and salt for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and starting to brown. Add garlic and fry for about 1 minute. Add ginger and chili powder. Stir. Add chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the cocoa mixture, sugar, and Sriracha. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and remove from heat.

For the dough, I used my standard refrigerated roll dough (the dough I use for just about everything).

Refrigerator Roll Dough

1 package ( 1 Tablespoon ) active dry yeast
1 1/2 Cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 Cup unseasoned lukewarm mashed potatoes
2/3 Cup vegetable oil
1/3 Cup honey
1 1/2 salt
5 to 6 cups unbleached white flour

This is a good recipe to make on a night when you are making mashed potatoes for dinner. Before seasoning the potatoes, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the potato water and 1 cup of the plain mashed potatoes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast and water. Then add everything else, first mix with a spoon and then kneed by hand. Add flour as necessary, until it becomes a good pliable dough. Form the dough into a large ball and oil the outside of the ball, so it won't dry out while rising. Cover and place in the refrigerator over night. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The dough does not have to be baked all at once. You can bake just what you need for each meal. Punch down dough before using.

To make the buns, I rolled out the dough into circles about the size of a saucer, put some curry in the middle, dampened the edges of the dough, so the it would stick together as I pinched it into a closed bun shape, and deep-fat fried it. 

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The full episode of Black Butler with the curry festival (subtitled):

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Our Memorial Day Trip to Andersonville, Georgia

We drove about 3 hours North of Tallahassee to Andersonville, Georgia, yesterday. Despite Andersonville's unpleasant historical significance, the little village is cute. There are several antique shops and a recreation of a pioneer village that has a working water-powered grist mill.

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The national park, which includes the National Prisoner of War Museum, the Andersonville Prisoner of War Camp site, and a National Cemetery, is the reason most tourists visit Andersonville. The prisoner of war camp there, known as Camp Sumter, was notorious for terrible sanitation, lack of food, and over crowding. During the last part of the Civil War, 13,000 Union soldiers died there, more than at any other Civil War camp.

A photograph of a starving man from the prison camp:
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Avery friendly park ranger patrols the cemetery, helping people who are looking for the graves of relatives. All of the known soldiers buried there are listed in a computer database, that he is able to access with a handheld devise.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Our First Beach Trip This Year

We had a really good Sunday!

We started out the morning by watching the season finale of Dr. Who while eating our Dr. Who inspired brunch in bed.

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This is fish sticks with curry mayonnaise "custard", real boiled custard with bananas and blueberries, and Jammie Dodgers.

Then, in the afternoon, we headed to St. George Island. This is the beach that everyone in Tallahassee talks about going to, but we had never been.

Dr. Beach ranked St. George Island the 4th best beach in America in 2012:

Hey! This really is a first. I spent several hours at a beach and I'm not burned to a crisp.
That's because DH bought me this awesome little beach tent on Saturday.

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For most of the afternoon we were the only people on the beach for as far as the eye could see. There were more people along other stretches of beach (near the public restrooms), but we had purposely looked for a parking area with very few cars. I'm glad we did, because I think we saw more wildlife this way. We watched a large sting ray swimming through the water and saw several crabs that were about the size of my hand.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Maclay Gardens State Park

This afternoon, Blaze and I visited Maclay Gardens State Park for the first time.

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The house was closed. It's only open Jan. through April. March and April are also the peek flower viewing times in the gardens.
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There is also a little swimming beach, which is included in the entrance fee, so we make go back and take advantage of that during the summer.

The Second Steampunk Scrapbook

I recently filled my first steampunk scrapbook up with so many pages that it wouldn't hold any more. So, I began collecting new paper and accessories to start a new scrapbook.

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Last night, I finished the new book cover.

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This is the inside of the cover, using paper from Graphic 45.

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The assembled cover:

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Dream Wedding/ If I Had a Billion Dollars

I've been watching a lot of wedding planning shows on Netflix recently. Partly, this is because I like seeing how other people plan parties, but the biggest reason I watch them, is so I can complain at the television about how I would do things differently. So, while I was laying around in bed, feeling sick, about a week ago, I started coming up with ideas for my perfect steampunk wedding. My premise goes like this:

Since DH and I had only the smallest of courthouse weddings, we deserve a spectacular vow renewal ceremony and (because this is my imagination) we have magically acquired a billion dollars, so that Nothing is out of our price range.

These were our only guests at our real wedding:
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so for our imaginary wedding, I figure we'll have about 300, not including the performers, who would all be welcome to bring their families and participate in everything, whenever they weren't on stage.

I have no claim to the majority of pictures in this post. I found most of them through Google searches for specific items. Sometimes I remembered to post links to the product being offered, but not always.

These would be the invitations:

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This would be the venue:

The West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana
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I would have a couple RC airships for people to play with in this big, domed area.

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These are samples of the rooms the guests would be staying in:
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This is a picture I did take myself when my mom took us there back in 2008:

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On the grounds of the resort, there would be a mini-carnival with a tea cup ride,

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a carousel,

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a test your strength game,

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a sideshow style stage that would look something like this structure, but with a stage extending out where the stairs are,

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and tethered hot air balloon rides.

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There already are horse-drawn carriage rides available at the resort.

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For refreshments outside, there would be a lemonade stand, making the kind of fresh lemonade that they sell at fairs, and a cotton candy booth, making cotton candy like this:

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Inside, there would be a playroom for children, a movie room set up like a small theater with steampunk movies and popcorn, a game room with tables and a variety of board games available, and a fortune teller with steampunk tarot cards.

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The children's play room would include the following:

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a variety of building toys, such as Gears! Gears! Gears!

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a large trunk full of dress-up clothes, a regular mirror and a couple silly mirrors, and a small stage,

a child size table and chairs with a tea party set,

along with a reading corner full of books and pillows.

There would also be a table full of colored pencils, coloring pages and blank paper.

This would be my dress:

In real life, I've been married twice, but never had a real wedding dress.
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I don't want to wear a hat or veil. A fascinator would be alright, though. I can't find the perfect one online, but maybe something like this one, except replace the blue feathers with black (or get rid of them completely) and replace the white with dark brown.

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These would be my footwear:

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I would carry a simple bouquet of cream colored roses, like this one, except with brown, black, and cream ribbons.
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My oldest daughter would be maid of honor:

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Bridesmaid skirt:

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Bridesmaid corset (with the center panel being black):

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The bridesmaids would also have the blouse shown with the corset.

Bridesmaid shoes:

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Instead of flowers for the bridesmaids:

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Mother of the bride's dress:

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Flower girl outfit:

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The flower girl's shoes would be something like this, except the lace would match the color of the lace on the dress:

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The flower girl's basket:

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Blaze would be the ring bearer.

The ring bearer's jacket:

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Blaze's hat (but with a brown band, instead of red):
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The ring bearer's boots:

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The ring bearer would have this pocket watch:

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The pillow for the ring bearer to carry  (a ribbon would be added to the middle of the pillow to hold the rings in place):

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Groomsmen vest:

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Groomsmen's hats, but with a black hatband:

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The groom does not want to wear a hat.

Groom's vest and tie:

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Groom's suit:

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Ring bearer's and Groomsmen's trousers:

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groom's and groomsmen's boots:

These in black
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The bridesmaids, groom, and groomsmen would all carry authentic Elgin pocket watches:

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Instead of a regular photo booth, I'd have these people set up in one of the rooms:
They were at the Battle of Olustee reenactment this year and we were going to have a family portrait taken, but we showed up too late.

There would also be a regular photographer (or two) wandering about, and a videographer.

Reception entertainment:

The League of Steam

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The Cog is Dead

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Abney Park

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and a DJ

What I was actually working on, while I was laying around in bed feeling sick, scratching away at a blank book, and waiting for the Aleve to start take affect, was a schedule for a weekend-long wedding and celebration. This is what I came up with:


3:00 p.m. Guests begin to arrive (airfare and limos would be provided for everyone).

5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Tapas and Open bar

These to set the drinks on:
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9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. Playroom and game room open

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. brunch buffet and baristas serving coffee, tea, and smoothies

10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Fortune teller available

11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. movies and popcorn in a "theater" room

12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tour of the resort available

1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Bridal party spa time

11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. Tethered ballon rides, carnival rides, and carriage rides.

3:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. Tea service, piano player near the fireplace

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4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. League of Steam

5:00 p.m. begin seating for the wedding service

5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Service and pictures

6:30 p.m. dinner seating begins

I think the compasses used as place cards would fit in nicely with the theme:

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The tables would be covered in black tablecloths with runners made from this fabric from Spoonflower:

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The centerpieces would be flower arrangements in tall brass vases

7:00 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. Dinner

This is what the cake looked like at our real wedding:
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It's a Raspberry Elegance cake from Publix supermarket. I would actually like our new cake to taste just like that, but be bigger and fancier.

I think I'm leaning towards this one from Charm City Cakes, but have a larger cake underneath it.
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8:30 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. Open bar

8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. The Cog is Dead performance

9:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. League of Steam entertains during band change.

10:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m. Abney Park performance with dancers and aerialists 

11:30 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. DJ and dancing


9:00 a.m.- 11:00 p.m. playroom and game room open

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. brunch buffet and baristas serving coffee, tea, and smoothies

11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. movies and popcorn in a "theater" room

12:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Entertainment on the outdoor stage, carnival rides, carriage rides, and tethered balloon rides.

 Entertainment on the outdoor stage would include tribal belly dancers, fire poi dancers, jugglers, and The Jolly Rogers.
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DH and I went to the Kansas City Renaissance Faire on our first true "date" and the Jolly Rogers were our favorite act there. 

There would also be a calliope, but not playing where it would interfere with other musical performers:

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Extra activities in the area:

Tours of French Lick Resort.
We went there with my mom a few years ago. This was also where my grandparents went on their honeymoon.

There is a railway museum that was just preparing to open in 2008, when we were there.

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There is also a horseback riding stable close to the West Baden Springs hotel:

3:00 - 5:00 Tea service and tea dueling

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7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Jules Verne/ International themed buffet dinner: Around the World in 80 Dishes

This would look awesome on the ceiling for the Jules Verne dinner. It's a rented parachute, but I think it looks very balloon-like.

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7:00 p.m. -1:00 a.m. Open bar

9:00 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. fireworks

9:30 p.m. Lantern launch

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9:30 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. illuminated garden

10:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. Fire dancers outside


8:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. breakfast buffet

8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Candy buffet (for goodies to take on the road):

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Chocolate and white chocolate airships (I have the mold for these)

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The candy buffet would also include mini Reese's, salt water taffy, licorice all-sorts, colorful rock candy, Jelly Bellies in assorted flavors, sour cherry balls, caramels, root beer barrels (for Ula), a variety of colorful stick candy, maple nut goodies, Pocky, and custom printed M&Ms.

12:00 p.m. check out time

I'm sure I'm forgetting some aspect of a wedding, and I have no idea who would officiate, but there you have it, my dream wedding.

Crafty Crow