Tagged: DIY

Smalerie Attempts Nail Art

If you follow any of the Ladies on social media, you’ll notice that we are having our second View and Chew event coming up in a couple of weeks.  This event is going to be even more crazy than our last as we prepare to celebrate all things Supernatural.  As part of our preparations, we have been making prizes, choosing the perfect plaid clothing items to wear, and having extremely detailed conversations about the best way to paint demon traps on everything from our toilets to our own finger nails.  As someone who really likes to theme her nails in line with various Comicazi and Ladies’ events, it seems only natural that I am not only prepping special nails for our event, but have been experimenting with the best way to create theme-appropriate nails for future events as well. And as I suffer from all this trial and error (and acetone fumes), I am going to share with you what I have learned.  PS –  If you are dying to see the finished product, you should really get your tickets to our event, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram (Krebstar5) if you are not local.

The Goods – Believe it or not, I don’t feel like I have enough nail supplies.  As soon as I hit a stride with something, I discover something else that I REALLY want.  Also, I never seem to have enough colors and random things to glue to my nails.  My last practice session looked like this:

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And I still want more!!!!

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Cocktails and Comics

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Are you ready to open the door to adventure?

 

A few weeks ago, a local restaurant held a ComicCon-themed industry night, closing dinner service down early to serve comics-themed drinks and snacks. The staff were in full costume (but I neglected to get a photo of the guy with the Bat-symbol goatee), and there were entertainments that included a Batman ice luge and vintage video games (yes, we’re at a point in time at which video games can be vintage). The restaurant in question, Alden and Harlow, is a current area hotspot with an innovative menu and cocktail list, so Tiny Doom and I, together with The Goog, decided to check it out.

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Skinny Logan serves drinks to a Ninja Turtle

 

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Behold, the Bat-Luge!

The evening was fun, and very crowded, and it got me thinking about other comic-book themed cocktails. Too often, the ones you’ll find online are sticky sweet, lazy, or both, putting garish color before mixology. Alden and Harlow’s did not fall into this trap, but they did make use of some Hawaiian Punch and Mountain Dew. Is it possible to make a tasty, well-crafted cocktail that evokes your favorite heroes but avoids sticky-sweet additives? I decided to give it a whirl, and I press-ganged Tiny Doom and The Goog into helping! So here for your imbibing pleasure are three superhero cocktails that do not involve fruit punch, Pucker, or anything else with atomic food coloring. They do include somewhat obscure cocktail-nerd ingredients, so you might need to make a trip to the store before you make them.

In keeping with most of my posts, I stuck to a DC theme for this first attempt. If people like this concept though, we can do it again with Marvel and other properties. To be fair, I also picked heroes I felt I could do justice to with the ingredients I did have to hand.

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Clark, you look so classy. He’s 2 oz rye, 1 oz cider syrup, .25 oz cinnamon syrup, and tiki bitters to taste.

First up is Superman!
For him, I wanted something strong, all-American, and with a bit of something unexpected, something alien, if you will. I started with a rye whiskey base, rye being the quintessential American liquor (yes, even more so than its cousin bourbon!). In my travels, I’d picked up some boiled cider syrup, so I thought that would be a good addition – what’s more American than apples? For the “alien” note I toyed with the idea of throwing in Cardamaro, a digestif from Italy that’s made with cardoons and blessed thistle, but at the last minute I spied my tiki gear and thought that might be a more suitable direction, so in went some cinnamon syrup and the ‘Elemakule Tiki bitters from Bittermens.

The result was tasty and would actually make a great Thanksgiving cocktail – it tasted like apple pie in a glass, but without the cloying sweetness and with a bit of heat from the rye. If it didn’t go against my “strong” mandate, I’d say it would be good with some seltzer, as well.

 

 

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The dark heart of Bruce. 1 oz concentrated cold brew coffee, 1 oz Root, 1 oz Gosling’s Rum, .5 oz Kahlua

I couldn’t do Superman, of course, without Batman. The cocktail would need to be both dark and bitter. Tiny Doom pointed out that something that evoked childhood innocence lost would not be remiss, and suggested that I add some Root, a lovely concoction from Art in the Age that tastes like the very best root beer. I heeded her advice and added that to some cold brew coffee concentrate and Gosling’s rum. The first sip was okay, but weirdly flat. We decided to add a touch of Kahlua for sweetness, and it was vastly improved. This ended up being dark and complex, like its namesake, and it looks fantastic in the glass.

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The Flash! 1 part Cherry Heering, 2 parts seltzer, a dash of Snap. Lemon twist mandatory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, how could I not do an homage to my beloved Flash? This one I did base on its looks to a significant degree, but it’s also basically a highball and thus, pretty fast. (And yes, I know a shot is faster, but not to prepare if it’s a mixed shot, and since I just don’t shoot things on principle, you get this.)

My version may also be a bit redder than what you would get a home, because the base I used, Cherry Heering, is usually a bit darker – this is a homemade version using sour cherries, which are more vibrant. I threw in a bit of Snap, another Art in the Age gem that tastes of ginger, since Wally West is my favorite Flash, and Tiny Doom came to the rescue once again by pointing out that a lemon twist would be just the right garnish to evoke the lightning bolt symbol. The result was light and refreshing, with a bit of zing from the Snap, and how gorgeous is that red?

If you try any of these cocktails at home, let me know what you think! If you want to suggest other heroes or villains to get this treatment, tell me in the comments! Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone.

 

Dead DC

Is everyone ready for Halloween? Costumes chosen, wigs purchased, ready to begin the revelry? We here at the Ladies have already participated in the best annual celebration around – the Comicazi Halloweeniversary! Since once again it falls to me to write the Halloweek post, I thought I’d share the group costume I was part of this year in case you’re in need of some last-minute comics related ideas. But rather than go into elaborate detail on how the costumes were created, I’m going to give you a quick rundown of who the characters are, since they’re a bit less well-known.  I’ll give a scale of 1-10 on costume-making ease though, 1 being that you could make it with all things you have lying around the house, 10 being that it requires special equipment and a license to operate heavy machinery.

We decided to go the spooky route this Halloween, so our theme was DC comics characters who are either dead or have death-related powers. I’m calling it Dead DC, but really only half the team counts as officially having shuffled off this mortal coil.

 

Dead DC heroes

Spooooooooky

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Halloween 2013 – The Magic Continues

Last year at this very time, Tiny Doom wrote a post that, when I look back at it, marked an historical moment for this little blog: it was the first time the Ladies had ever revealed our faces! Of course, there were only three of us – our mighty quartet only became complete in the new year. And some of the faces (okay, mostly mine) were rather obscured by the costumes we chose. But still, it was a milestone, and here we are a year later, still keeping this blog chugging along, bigger and better than ever!

And yes, we still really love Halloween.

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L-R: Cartoon Sara as Sally, The Red Menace as Starman, Tiny Doom as Speedy, Smalerie as Louise

Our love, perhaps, has different depths and comes from different places, so I won’t speak for all of the ladies in this post. (I’m pretty sure Tiny Doom loves Halloween WAY more than I do.) But however we got there, we’ve all embraced the holiday.

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How to: I made cheese Gromit!

wallace and gromit and cheese

I’m just crackers about cheese!

I love cheese…seriously…I don’t think I have met a cheese I don’t like, and that includes some of the stinkier variety. I also love kitchen experiments. So, armed with Karen Solomon’s book jam it, pickle it, cure it-and other cooking projects (a gift from The Red Menace), I set off on an adventure of making my own queso blanco.  It’s no wendselydale but it’s a pretty nice cheese and pretty easy to make at home (no cheese cave required).

As mentioned, this is probably one of the easiest cheeses to make at home. You don’t really need anything special, except a thermometer (I used a candy thermometer), a fine mesh sieve, and a clean kitchen towel-all things I had on hand. The books discusses a cheese press…but you can work around that.

Recipe:
8 cups whole milk
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1-1.5 teaspoon kosher salt

Tools:
Thermometer
fine mesh Seive
clean kitchen towel
cheese press- I improvised and used a bowl, you can too

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How To: Make Bacon Pancakes

As you might have guessed from my earlier post on how to make Fish Fingers and Custard, The Ladies are quite fond of reproducing foods from books, movies, tv, and all that.  We also like it when other people do it for us.

Since our moms were so good at teaching us how to share, we are going to continue to post our successes (and failures, because that can be fun too) for you to either try on your own or avoid for the sake of your sanity.

This week’s recipe was inspired by Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time.  And so I give you:

Jake’s Bacon Pancakes

It is possible that the only reason I caved and finally made these pancakes is because I hit a point where I thought that I might never get this song out of my head:

What is so nice about this recipe re-creation is that Jake is kind enough to share his recipe in the song itself: make some bacon and you put it in a pancake.  However, for those of us who are a bit more into details, I’ve created this quick recipe and tutorial.

For the eating

Bacon pan-CAAAAAKES!

Ingredients (makes about 8 pancakes):

4-5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 1/4 cups milk

1 large egg

3 tablespoons melted butter

Start by cooking your bacon.  While there are many ways to cook bacon (microwave, oven, frying pan), I chose to cut my  bacon into small pieces before frying it in a pan.  This allowed me to reserve the bacon fat to use later to cook the pancakes in instead of butter.  This infuses some extra bacon flavor into the finished product.

Cooking Bacon

Crispy!

Resist the temptation to snack on all the little bacon pieces and sift together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, white sugar) into a large bowl.  Add the wet ingredients (milk, egg, melted butter) and whisk together gently.

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Oh little robot, stop making such a mess.

Heat your frying pan to medium high and brush the pan with some of the bacon fat (or you can use butter if you’d prefer).  Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan per pancake and sprinkle with the cooked bacon.  By adding the bacon at this point and not just stirring it into the batter earlier, your bacon stays crispy and more visible.

Makin' Bacon Pancakes

When the tops of the pancakes begin to bubble on the sides, flip them over and cook for a few moments more.  The finished pancake should be golden brown, light and fluffy.

Complete!

I really think that Jake the dog was on to something here.  The salty crunchy bacon not only adds a change in texture, but enhances whatever sweet syrup you might use on your pancakes.  I chose to smother mine in some maple syrup and some extra butter.  I have no regrets.  None at all.  Well except for one thing.  That song is still stuck on my head.

Crafternoon: Snowglobes and Ornaments (or “How not to get glitter-lung”)

It all started with a trip to The Museum of the Modern Snowglobe. Yes this is a real place, with an actual physical location. You visit by appointment and get to take a look at some of the wonderful and weird curated lovelies donated by travelers and displayed on a long shelf circling the display room. Do not miss the Hatfield and McCoy snowglobe (see bottom left) or the Liberace snowglobe (center square!). The snowglobes exhibited rotate, so perhaps you will want to go back more than once! We left with a fever for these tchotchkes and plans to make some globes of our own.

SnowGlobes

Some selections from the Museum of the Modern Snowglobe.

Well that was 2 years ago now. Time flies when you are doing things, and sometimes other things you meant to do get pushed to the wayside. Sometimes you start saving jars and little figures and start to wonder if you are showing weird hoarder tendencies. Sometimes you go ask for glycerin at a pharmacy and are full on shocked by the product you are handed (pro tip: if you want liquid glycerin, just get it online and save yourself a lot of embarrassment). But I digress. A crafternoon was planned and snow globes were finally made.

There are plenty of tutorials for this out on the interwebs, most notably some appropriately seasonal ones from Martha Stewart. Those are nice, but I think ours are better. Here’s what we did:

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How To: Party Like a Time Lord (Fish Fingers and Custard Recipe included)

For those of us who are feeling a little bit of Doctor Who withdrawal as we wait for the upcoming Christmas special, sometimes the best cure is a good old fashioned Doctor Who viewing party, complete with themed food and snacks.  Need some ideas on what to serve?  No problem! Well, we at LOC are happy to share our ideas with you, and maybe even a recipe or two.  Because let’s be honest, we LOVE theme parties.  Really really REALLY love theme parties.
Ideas:
Snacks, appetizers, and drinks:

Mains:

  • Something with squid or baby octopus and call it Time Lord’s Revenge (Get it? Cause Daleks have squid-y faces, and yes, I’m a jerk)
  • Anything typically British: fish and chips, fish or meat pies, Bubble and Squeak
  • Get some inspiration from the Foods and Beverages list on the TARDIS Index File
  • Or as suggested by Cartoon Sara – Cybermanwiches!

Dessert:

  • More Jelly Babies!
  • TARDIS Shaped Cake
  • Mini Dalek Cakes
  • “Fish Fingers” and Custard (instructions for our version below)

The premiere of the current Doctor came a rather infamous dish.  I know that there are a million different versions out there, but I figured that I would share my own.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can make the whole thing yourself or take a lot of short cuts if you are not much of a baker.

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Glamor shot!

Fish fingers and Custard (Ladies of Comicazi Style!)

Ingredients:

Pound cake (store bought or made from scratch)
sweetened shredded coconut
peach or apricot jam
custard (once again, buy it or make your own)

Here we go, quick and dirty.  I made my own pound cake but pretty much any recipe would do.  A dense cake is best for this recipe because you are going to be handling the cake some and you don’t want the whole thing crumbling in your hands.   Once you cake is completely cool, cut the cake into “fish finger” blocks.  Think about an inch or more thick because if you go too tiny, you can once again run the risk of the cake breaking as you try to work with it.

Now, toast about a cup and a half of the shredded coconut (instructions can be found here if you need them).  As you can see from the pics, I let mine get pretty dark.  I wanted the color to be as uniform as possible.  Just be careful not to burn the coconut because once it does start to toast, it goes fast.

Next take half a cup of your jam of choice and heat it to loosen it up.  I just nuked mine in the microwave for about 30 secs and stirred it.  Hot jam is like hot glue, so be very careful with this stuff.  You don’t want to heat it so that it is like water, think more like a runny glue.  And speaking of glue, that is exactly what you are going to be using the jam for.
Take each “finger” of pound cake and paint it with the jam.  Once covered in jam on one side, roll that side in the toasted coconut.  Repeat this until you have covered all sides of the cake.  The good news, you now have a super yummy fish finger.  The bad news, do this over and over again until you have covered all your cake pieces.  Once finished coating each piece, store the fish fingers in a single layer on a plate in in a container while you make the custard.  If you find yourself out of room and you need to stack them, place a layer of wax paper in-between the rows to avoid a big solid sticky mess.

Now, on to the custard.  I am not a huge fan of custard, so I cheated a bit on this one and used Bird’s Custard Powder.  I’ve been told that this is kinda a staple in some British households, so using it is rather forgivable.  Phew!  Also, since I was making this for a lactose intolerant friend, i replaced the milk with coconut milk.  Might I recommended this even if you are not lactose intolerant?  The double coconut was super tasty.

For serving, I reheated the custard and placed a healthy pool of it on a small plate.  Top with about two fish fingers per person and have at it.  The fruity jam help cut through the buttery and milky sweetness of the cake and custard, while the toasted coconut adds a welcome crunchiness against the soft cake.  Mind you, it is improper manners to lick the plate, but what the others don’t see, won’t hurt them.  Besides, the Doctor isn’t one to stand on ceremony anyway.

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Nom nom nom….

Do you have any food ideas for our next Doctor Who celebratory bash? Let us know below. I enjoy a challenge and would love some ideas on what to tackle next.

Spirits: Fruit infusions-and a Doctor Who themed cocktail

By now you have probably noticed that The Ladies are passionate about many things comics and “geek” culture related.  But they are also passionate about Do-it Yourselfness (and apparently making up their own words).  All 3 ladies love to create, experiment, craft, dismantle and recreate.  This post takes a look at fruit infused spirits.  In a time where there are any number of flavored vodkas or other spirits available for purchase, we would like to encourage you to walk straight past that part of your local liquor store, and make your own…which is seriously, so  much better. I assure you, you’ll never go back to Stoli-Raz.

Okay…I love making infused spirits! Really, it’s a pretty straight forward process…take spirit (vodka, bourbon, etc) add what you want to infuse it with (fruit, spice, nut) and patiently wait, which is probably the hardest part. With infusions, it’s less the process (which is kind of a no brainer) and more the excitement of mixing flavors, watching the base spirit change, and then seeing if your infusion was successful.

I tend to use what’s seasonal…so summer means more fruit infusions, and winter, more spice and nut (but that’s another post).  For my spirit base,  I use a middle shelf vodka, “The Russian Standard”.  I’m not very exact, so I don’t really have measurements, but for my Strawberry Thyme infusion, filled the jar halfway with strawberries, added 3-4 sprigs of thyme (fresh), and then filled the jar the rest of the way with vodka.
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I left the jar in a cool dark place for about 2 and a half weeks, occasionally shaking it gently. And then……

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Ooooo! All the color will leach out of the fruit, leaving you with creepy ghost strawberries, and beautiful bright nectar of strawberry infused goodness.  It will also smell amazingly fresh and fruity.  Seriously, look how gorgeous!  When you are ready to decant, strain it using a fine sieve or some cheesecloth, and the funnel into a bottle.  We either save bottles from other spirits for resuse, or purchase some empties.

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I was very happy with how this came out.  You get a very slight sweetness from the berries, with a touch of savory from the thyme.  It tastes real, and cozy, and begs for further cocktail experimentation.

Another recent infusion was blueberry basil vodka. The blueberries were hand picked in NH by The Goog and me, and the basil was grown in a pot on our balcony.

Blueberry basil infused vodka

Check out the exciting purple color!  The color change aspect of this process is probably my favorite part.  It feels so mad sciencey!  But it also tastes delicious, like actual fresh blueberries, with a slight hint of herbaceousness from the basil.

What I hope to impart here is that making your own fruit infusions is MUCH better than any artificial flavored vodkas you can buy and so super easy that it doesn’t make much sense to drink that other stuff.  I mean whatever, if you like the artificial stuff, follow your bliss, but I  bet your bliss will be more “blissier” (two new words in one post!) if you go the for-real route.

Note: The above mentioned cocktail experimentation lead to…(and yes, this was right before catching the mid-season finale of Doctor Who)

The Thyme Lord
2 oz strawberry thyme vodka (or blueberry infusion)
1/2 oz St. Germaine
1/2 oz Cointreau (if you are going the blue route, maybe substitute Blue Curacao)
1/4 tsp lemon juice
Shake with ice, strain into a glass…and sip while the T.A.R.D.I.S takes you where you need to go.