Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Post 3 - Simple Square

Brand: Simple Squares

Product: Coconut, Nuts, and Honey Organic Snack Bar

Weight: 1.6oz / 45g

Cost: $2.49/per from manufacturer

Stats

Calories: 230

Total Fat: 17g, Sat. Fat 5g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 95mg

Total Carb: 16g

Fiber: 3g

Sugars: 10g

Protein: 6g

Protein per ounce: 3.75g

Protein, Cost per gram: $0.41

Carb to Protein Ratio: 2.6-1

Vit A: 0% DV

Vit C: 0% DV

Calcium: 4% DV

Iron: 10% DV

Organic, gluten free, no refined sugars, soy and dairy free.

Not made in a gluten free facility.

Flavor:

While this is labeled as a “snack” bar not a protein bar like the others I am reviewing, it still packs roughly the same protein per ounce into the bar. I love the simple square for it’s simplicity, only 6 ingredients and they are all things your grandma would recognize. Not only was it simple it was also delicious! It didn’t have any of the chalky powdery feeling that many protein bars do, this tasted and mouth-felt like eating a hand full of granola slicked with honey and vanilla. It didn’t taste like a candy bar the way the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle bar did but it was quite tasty.

I’ve been giving these posts a Burning Man tag because protein bars are a must-have out there on the Playa. That said, it is a very bad idea to bring chocolate out there because it melts. This Simple Square has nothing in it to get melty in the ridiculous heat of the desert sun, making it the best bar I have reviewed so far to bring out to the Burn.

Post 2 - Chocolate Raspberry Truffle

Brand: Raw Revolution

Product: Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Organic Live Food Bar

Weight: 1.8oz / 51g

Cost: $1.89/per from manufacturer

Stats

Calories: 220

Total Fat: 14g, Sat. Fat 2.5g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 0mg

Total Carb: 23g

Fiber: 5g

Sugars: 13g

Protein: 7g

Protein per ounce: 3.89g

Protein, Cost per gram: $0.27

Carb to Protein Ratio: 3.29-1

Vit A: 2% DV

Vit C: 15% DV

Calcium: 6% DV

Iron: 15% DV

Organic, gluten free, non-GMO, Kosher, and vegan.

Made in USA in gluten-free facility.

Flavor:

Delicious, it was like eating a candy bar made of nutrients. It definitely tasted like a chocolate raspberry truffle, the dessert type – not the mushroom. I tried to take my time to really savor the flavor but I ended up scarfing it pretty quickly, despite all best attempts. It didn’t have any of the chalky powdery feeling that many protein bars do, where it feels like you are chewing on gummy dirt that tastes like peanuts and chocolate. I would put this at the top of my list of protein bars I have tried, it’s better than the other organic ones I have eaten. That all being said, this is only the second of these reviews that I have done and my real decision on which organic protein bar is the best will have to wait until the last of these reviews.

While the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle packs less protein into basically the same amount of space, it has a slightly better cost per gram on the protein content compared to the Daily Mocha Mantra I reviewed last time. While I love the coffee flavor of the Daily Mocha Mantra, I have to say, flavor-wise, the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle is a clear winner over anything I have tried by 22 Days so far. Since this bar is one of the few I have come across that is actually made in a gluten free facility this makes it ideal for people who have extreme allergies to gluten and need to be extra certain that something is entirely gluten free.

Hey readers, my apologies for my extended absence. My writing career has begun to take off and I have been doing a lot of cannabis writing for other sites, at the expense of my own blog. I’ve decided to correct that by starting a new series of posts on here profiling the various organic protein bars I have found at my local health food store. I have always been big on physical exercise in various forms: dance, weight lifting, biking, soccer, sword fighting, parkour, running, basketball, martial arts, boxing, volleyball, football, archery, and much more. I have also always been a big fan of proper nutrition, the combination of those two loves has given rise to this current series.

As the focus of this series is on the protein part of the protein bar I have included a “protein per ounce” category. Protein bars come in all shapes and sizes and some inferior ones use creative packaging to appear more nutritious than others. I feel that calculating a protein per ounce ratio of weight-protein is a simple and effective way to level the playing field. For the budget conscious I also included a cost per gram of protein. I do recognize that more than the protein content matters, which is why I have included the full nutritional content and a flavor profile.

The first protein bar I am profiling is 22 Days Daily Mocha Mantra.

Post 1 - Daily Mocha Mantra

Brand: 22 Days

Product: Daily Mocha Mantra

Weight: 1.7oz / 50g

Cost: $2.99/per from manufacturer.

Stats

Calories: 220

Total Fat: 12g, Sat. Fat 2.5g, Poly Unsaturated 2.5g, Mono Unsat. 6.5%

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 20mg

Total Carb: 21g

Fiber: 5g

Sugars: 14g

Protein: 10g

Protein per ounce: 5.8g

Protein, Cost per gram: $0.30

Carb to Protein Ratio: 2.1-1

Vit A: 0% DV

Vit C: 0% DV

Calcium: 6% DV

Iron: 10% DV

Fair Trade organic, plant based, dairy free, gluten free, Natural Food Certified, Produced with Solar Energy.

Not made in gluten free facility.

Flavor:

While this review is of the Daily Mocha Mantra flavor I have had various protein bars by 22 Days and they have been my go-to protein bar, up until this protein bar review series. Who knows which one my favorite will be by the end of these posts? The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Nirvana flavor is delicious but also pretty standard chocolate/peanut protein bar. Looking over 22 Days website for this post I see they have stepped their game up and now have 20g protein versions I will need to check out for a future post. As of now, the Daly Mocha Mantra packs in more protein per ounce than any other bar I am reviewing, but not necessarily at the best price or with the best flavor.

The Daily Mocha Mantra protein bar is the only one I have come across that is made with real coffee. This protein bar is caffeinated and flavored with actual coffee, not any BS or fillers. If you want a real “get up and go” protein bar for your morning work out then this is it. You can pass on the Starbucks with this protein bar. I am a huge coffee fan, so I found this to be a selling point; for the same reason other people may not like it. I’m not sure if it is the coffee or the hemp protein powder they use but something gives this bar a slight grittiness. I really don’t mind it, because at least it isn’t that chalky powdery taste that nearly all non-organic protein bars have from cheap protein powder. I will take coffee grittiness over a dry chalked up mouth any day. As this is my first review in the series I can’t give you any comparison. But stay tuned to future posts and the recap I do at the end of the series.

Hey everyone, this post was meant to go up months ago at the beginning of February but feel by the wayside. I can safely say the recipe has held it’s own and it definitely worth trying out. This recipe picks up where my post on cannabis infused coconut oil left off. Hope you like it!

For this recipe I will be discussing more creative types of edibles that cannabis patients can make that are much healthier than your run of the mill pot brownies. As an advocate of cannabis as a medicine I feel medicine should be healthy and not contribute to obesity and diabetes like many sugar/butter loaded edibles do. Some people, like those with a wasting syndrome, need all the calories they can get and high fat/sugar edibles may be advisable, but they’re still better off with nutrient rich food rather than nutrient devoid brownies.

This recipe is a wonderful one for medical cannabis patients like myself because curry sauce is pretty much all fats and oils which can all be infused with cannabinoids. The coconut oil is also healthy saturated fat which may contribute to weight loss and has other benefits. While I have made numerous curries over my past year of branching into this area of cooking this is the first batch I have ever made medicated with cannabis. The curry flavor is also a wonderful way to mask the robust flavor of cannabis. I was splicing together the bits I liked of these recipes and tweaking it to my own tastes.

I’m using the general basic recipe I improvise off (a thai curry with coconut) and adding some optional peanut for more flavor. I make my curries sweet because I have a low tolerance for spicy food but love lots of good rich spiciness in my food. Remember, you can always make a sauce spicier but it is infinitely harder to make it less spicey. If you over spice something your options are add more coconut milk, add more salt, or add more sugar, all of which run the risk of ruining your overall spice balance. I advise to err on the side of sweeter rather than going bold and risking a ruined batch.

I am making this batch to jar and save so I am not adding any fresh cilantro or basil to it, as I would when serving it fresh. I will just be adding dried spices for now, but normally there would be some fresh spices going on. This batch turned out amazing and I would highly recommend this recipe to anyone who enjoys cannabis edibles but cannot stand the taste.

01

Step One – Spices: Curry sauce is an assortment of the right curry spices in the proper proportions. While there is a curry tree whose leaves are commonly used in South Indian and Sri Lankan curries, curry does not need to include it and most do not. I make my curries sweeter with coconut milk, soy sauce, and less cayenne pepper, more like a Thai curry than an Indian curry. I advise premixing your spices, making a curry powder, then you can add it all at once to your coconut milk, medicated coconut oil, and for the curry I am making tomato sauce.

02

Step 2 – Prepare Your Fresh Veggies: For me this is just garlic, as I am not adding any cilantro or basil until later. To mince garlic first you must get it out of its shell and the easiest way to do that is to crush it under a large chef’s knife, as depicted. This will crack it open and often smash it down beginning the work of mincing. If it has sprouted a green leafy core just remove that and use the rest, this doesn’t mean the garlic has gone bad but it does mean you can plant it and grow a garlic plant.

0607

Do Any Final Prep Work…
My last prep work consists of crushing peanuts to throw into the mix. I don’t have a mortar and pestle, instead I used the freshly washed bottom of a glass spice jar and a pyrex dish. It worked like a charm.

08

 

This is more or less what your finished curry should look like. Color and consistency depend largely on what ingredients you use. Let me stress again that there are few wrong choices with curry as it tends to vary dramatically from region to region. If something doesn’t work for you try a new blend of spices or start from a store-bought curry powder and add more spices to the mix to make it yours.

Back from a brief hiatus from blogging to focus on other projects I’m back to fill your inboxes and thought-boxes with new blog updates. Today will just be a brief guide for my fellow Californians on how to conserve water. While this will be a short post it may be one of the most important things I post given that California is in its worse drought in 500 years. If it wasn’t bad enough it not appears to be getting worse. Things are so bad that the Governor and many cities are calling for voluntary rationing. The life or death question is – why the bloody hell hasn’t anyone made rationing mandatory? Hellooooo guys, worst drought ever, what about that isn’t scaring you into imposing mandatory rationing? My current city and hometown of San Francisco leads the state, using 49 gallons per person per day on average  versus 100.

1. If it is yellow leave it mellow, if it is brown flush it down. We probably all heard this as kids from environmentally conscious parents, I know I heard it enough were it became rote. I would imagine that is a result of growing up in California and dealing with near constant droughts all my life. We Californians should be used to drought conditions by now. This is a major one since your average toilet flush uses over 2.5 gallons of water and is flushed over 5 times a day. That’s over 12 gallons a day for most toilets.

2. Shower less. No really, shower less. If you currently shower daily, shower ever other day, if you already shower less often than daily cut back to less. I’m showering twice a week now and no one has said a peep, it’s amazing what deodorant and changing your shirt daily can do. At Burning Man I went a solid ten days without a shower, that is pretty close to my maximum limit in the dusty context of the Playa. No shower for ten days does not mean not bathing, you can do wonders wiping yourself down with baby wipes (even your hair). Showers account for 17% of residential water use. Most showers average 7-10 gallons a minute, but there are ways to reduce that. Think about that next time you extend that morning shower just because it ‘feels nice.’ BTW, despite that ten days of dusty no-showers I still consider myself a clean freak, just less OCD than I used to be.

3. Develop a system for washing dishes. I’m working on implementing a system in my house with a soaking tub to reuse water for soaking and minimize the use of new water for rinsing. Using cast iron is also immensely helpful since you hardly ever use water to clean cast iron.

4. Cook things that use less water. I love making soup, but soup is half water. Now is not the best time to be making soup if you can opt for cooking things that use less water. Rice and pasta are also pretty water intense. You can always use cooked in pasta water as grey-water for watering plants once it has cooled!

5. Use your grey water. Whenever possible find ways to reuse your water. One thing I often do is use the same water to rinse out multiple bottles to put in the recycling. Oh yea, did you know you’re supposed to wash out your recycling and not leave it filled with food remains? Common courtesy folks and it makes the somewhat inefficient recycling process slightly more cost effective. You can use any water without chemicals in it to water plants; I would not recommend using dish water unless you are using a totally biodegradable/organic/all natural soap. The food waste could be an issue, or compost?

6. Set up a rain capture system. There are various ways to do this but most are variants on a barrel design. You can even pull water out of thin air using a fog capture system, something I am considering for my home in San Francisco.

7. Let your lawn die. Just stop watering it, let it go fallow, then plough that crap under and make a garden. If you are going to use water to maintain plants at least make sure they are drought resistant plants or useful things like food-baring plants/herbs.

8. Stop washing your car. I don’t even have a car anymore so I stopped this years ago. Thankfully cleaning a bike is much more water efficient than washing a car too. At the least create a more efficient system to wash your car, efficiency is the name of the game.

9. Gamify saving water, especially with kids. I like to use gamification to turn mundane things into fun games I can play with myself and the world. One game I am big on right now is “how little water can I use today?” For children you can try rewarding them for positive behavior, such as praise for taking a shorter shower or remembering to leave yellow mellow. I leave the games up to the individual as only the individual will know what properly motivates them to right action.

10. Group showers? What happens in San Francisco stays in San Francisco…

[EDIT]11. Transform sewer water into drinking water. Yep, it’s possible and here is the DIY guide on how to make what you need to do it. I’m ready for the apocalypse.

Hey everyone, had a busy week here picking up a couple new jobs, but I will try to get some more regular postings. Without further to do, here is a recipe for some homemade triple sec/citrus liquor. Honestly, calling this triple sec is a bit insulting to it, it’s more similar to an orangecello, though even that isn’t quite right. For this batch I used the peels of organic murcott tangerines that I got from a local farmers market. I usually use dried peels as they have an indefinite shelf life; these peels were from last summer/fall. I finished this batch off with some of the ginger simple syrup I cooked the previous week to create a tangerine-ginger triple sec. Read on and try it yourself!

This is a FLAME HAZARD. If you are not careful watching this and you are cooking on a stove top like me, without a real still, there is a very real chance of it catching on fire. Vodka is definitely flammable, and orange essential oil is extremely  flammable. Combine the two and it is a recipe for a giant 2 foot tall pretty blue flame, like I saw when mine caught on fire the other day. This is my fourth or fifth time doing this now and first fire. The fire is VERY  easy to put out, even easier than it is to start, just put a lid on it and turn the heat off. It is seriously that easy and you don’t ruin your triple sec. This was honestly the best batch I have ever made.

01

You will need: An empty jar, vodka or another neutral spirit, sugar, and orange peels (fresh or dried). If you plan to dry your peels to use them make sure they are TOTALLY dried out, or they will mold. I’ve lost peels to that before.

03

 

Step 1: Fill your empty jar with orange peels, don’t cram it full but put as many a you can comfortably fit. Fill the empty space with vodka and leave it for 1-2 weeks. One week is enough to infuse the orange essential oils into the vodka, but an extra week doesn’t hurt.

06

Step 3: Pour out your orange peels and vodka into the pot that you will use to cook in. Squeeze residual vodka out of the peels into the mix and add some more vodka to cut down the strength of the flavor.

07

Step 4: Bring to a boil covered, then uncover and stir quickly. BE CAREFUL NOT TO SPILL ANY! Alcohol and orange essential oil are  both super flammable, spilling any while cooking is almost a guaranteed cooking fire and no one wants that. As an aside, the giant blue flame I made was very pretty.

08

Here is what the finished product looks like, very dark in color compared to usually bland and colorless triple sec. The flavor is rich and multilayered, perfect for sipping by itself or using in a cocktail. If you are interested in some more awesome  recipes check out Punk Domestics. That “Last Gasp of Summer” sounds awesome.

As I said in a previous post, I took some time off from posting around New Years to do some cooking and you all would be reaping the benefits. Time to show you the best method to make medicated cannabis oil/butter. Supposedly it works better to use a crock pot but I have never used that method, I’ve only done it on stove top.

An important thing to know before making your oil is a good ratio of bud/shake to oil/butter. I prefer using olive or coconut oil as they both have more saturated fat than butter and the THC binds to it much better as a result. THC is lipidic, that means it binds to lipids…fats; THC is also hydrophobic, it cannot bind to water. I used about  three ounces of shake for 2 pounds (32 ounces) of oil, and threw some kief in as well. Most recipes I have found online use a ratio of one ounce shake to one pound of oil/butter, for bud it’s more like 1/2 ounce to the pound. I wanted a very strong batch as I have a high tolerance, and it certainly turned out strong.

What will really help the potency of your medicated oil is if you pre-bake the bud in the oven before cooking it on the stove. This is a process known as decarboxylation, this is a chemical process where carbon is evaporated out of the plant matter. All living things are made of carbon and over time exposure to heat and oxygen will cause decarboxylation. Using the oven accelerates this process. This is crucial for making cannabis oil because when cannabis decarboxylates the non-psychoactive THCa and other trace cannabinoids are converted into THC, which greatly raises the potency of your batch. I put my kief into a pyrex dish to keep it separated and cook it better.

01

Step 1: Decarboxylate the cannabis. You can either use lower heat (240ish degrees) for about an hour, or a flash heat of 5-10 minutes at much higher (about 300). I am skeptical of the flash heating method as the higher heat runs the risk of burning off desirable cannabinoids and terpenoids. I cooked mine at 280 for about 30 minutes and it was a great success.

02

Step 2: While the cannabis is decarboxylating start heating up the coconut oil on the stove in the jars in water. Use a medium to low heat to not crack the jars, it helps to preheat the jars in hot water before turning the stove on. You want the oil/butter to be liquid before you throw it in with the cannabis to cook it all together.

03

Step 3: Begin to boil water on the stove, after a couple minutes add the liquid oil to the water. After about five minutes throw the cannabis in and cook it for the next 2-3 hours. You will want to begin on a medium/high heat to boil it and finish any final decarboxylation, but soon cut it down to a low heat, and you will keep it on low heat for the next 2-3 hours. Low heat is important to not burn off the oil or give it a burned flavor.

04

Step 4: Let the mixture cool off and put it through a metal strainer, letting the water and oil drip into a Tupperware container. After you use the strainer I would recommend squeezing out the additional oil with cheesecloth, or  at least press it through the metal strainer with a spoon. This is crucial as most of the oil will still be in the plant matter and needs to be squeezed out. Put it in the fridge overnight, NOT THE FREEZER!!

05

Step 5: After a night in the fridge the coconut oil will be a solid again, but the water will still be liquid, this is crucial so you can easily separate the oil from the water. Freezing it will also freeze the water making this impossible or at least *really* annoying and  time consuming…so if you like being annoyed and wasting time be my guest…or put in in the fridge and voila!

06

If you put it in the fridge cut out a small corner of the oil and pour out all the nasty waste water. Many people suggest using a double boiler method where the cannabis and oil are in one smaller pot layered inside of a larger one holding the water. Don’t fall for that crap. THC is lipidic and binds into the oils, unlike tannins which go into the water. If you separate the water from the oil those tannins have nowhere to go other than into your oil making it taste awful, by putting it all in one pot the tannins go into the waste water to be discarded.

07

Step 6: Chop up the oil into little pieces and put them back into the jars. I personally like to label my medicated things so people know what it is and don’t mistake it for just plain oil.

08

That’s what the final product looks like. I’ll be posting up a recipe in the next couple of weeks using this, and it’s not boring pot brownies. Stay tuned to learn how to make a medicated curry sauce.

Hey readers, I’ve recently begun wondering if my blog might be too diverse in focus for my readership and I am debating limiting my focus on this blog and starting another one for other posts or possibly something else. As a person who has many focuses in life and does many things I wanted a blog that reflects that, but I worry people might feel spammed with posts that are not relevant to their interests (you are here for DIY but I just keep posting about politics, or vice versa).

Here is your chance and your place to tell me what you come here for and what you’d like to see more of. You can choose up to 3 options on the poll and even add your own options if I missed something.

The second short story I am posting from my novel and the first of which coming from the Burning Man section of the book.

Branded

It was Sunday, that made it God’s day out there in the Christian world. Here at Burning Man, Sunday means it is time to burn the Temple and bring the formal Burn to a close. Tomorrow will be the last official day of Burning Man, but you can stay longer. Right now, tomorrow feels like it is a lifetime away.

For me, Sunday also meant my facial wound from an amazing and daring swordfight was now healed enough to begin flaking off, and the fight itself legendary enough to earn me my own Playa name, Captain Safety. I was amazed by how quickly I healed out here and suspected it had something to do with the climate or alkaline dust. If I nurtured this facial wound right during healing, in time I could have a real bad boy scar. You know, one of those scars with a story, a scar right over your eye. This Sunday also meant I’d regained enough serotonin to be my normal talkative self again, mostly.

The best way I’d discovered to spend the long, hot hours in the middle of the day was with hookah, friends, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR was a fine beer, with a better flavor and usually a lower price than Budweiser and other cheap beers. Yet one had to cope with the hipster stigma attached to it. A devils bargain, but everything was a trade off.

At Burning Man no one seemed to care what you drank or wore, in fact I don’t recall even hearing the word hipster all Burn. Most burners complained more about tourists than hipsters; tourists were people at the Burn as observers, often considered to be not true burners because they didn’t fully embrace the burner ethos. But tourist, like hipster, was in the eye of the beholder and a pejorative applied to a person by a stranger who knows nothing of who an individual really is, other than the caricature they are presenting at a given moment. And moments are merely snapshots in time. Maybe I looked like a tourist, maybe I looked like a hipster. Neither one was relevant when we were all covered in the same dust.

We were relaxing in the long shade created by the RV by the afternoon sun; the whole crew was assembled. There was the Trio de Chicas Locas, the three gorgeous and fierce girls Foreman had helped out earlier in the week when one of them got a concussion. It was nice having a medic in your camp. There was, of course my camp, Coffee and Cigarettes, our leader Rhyno, Foreman, my friend Chyutknee, and various others. We were based after comedy movie of the same name and gave away the very obvious and appropriate coffee and cigarettes, as well as having nightly open mic comedy. We also had some new faces. The Chicas had managed to find a Trio de Australians and brought them over. Two of them looked like decent blokes, and one of them looked like a fucking butcher. It was something about his eyes, kind of shifty and not trusting, which made him seem out of place at the Burn and not trustworthy to my drug addled brain. His eyes and his Mohawk, which was held together by some combination of Elmer’s glue and safety pins, made him look rather menacing. Matching the mis-matched pins through the glue-ridden unicorn horns of his hair were two larger safety pins through his ear lobes. They looked to be the same thing he pierced the holes with originally, who knows how long ago that was.

Ramona, easily the most loca of the trio, was soberly and then drunkenly telling us how this was her last day out here and she had to leave before the Temple burned. Missing this experience was something she was not okay with, but she had a backup plan. She insisted on having an image of The Man branded on her. She wanted a true hot iron brand, cowboy style, though maybe not hog-tied. This gorgeous young girl wanted us to leave a mark on her physically, as we already had emotionally, and specifically she wanted that mark on her ankle.

Her ankles were slender and beautiful. I could wrap a hand around one and touch my finger tips together. In all ways imaginable this was a less than ideal location for a brand. We were in a desert, over 100 miles from the closest hospital. Instead of getting the brand on a nice fleshy area, like her gloriously round ass, she picked her dainty yet boney ankles.

One of the Australians, not Crocodile Dundee or Steve Irwin, but The Butcher, offers to do the deed. “Oy, I’ll burn it on you,” he says with a sly, suspecting, and suspicious grin, “let’s go back to my camp where my tools are.”

When he says tools I see a twinge of something cross his maniacal face and I know what he means.

“My Gods,” I exclaim loudly in my head, still not fully able to articulate speech after the MDMA crash. “This scheming bastard with a rat’s nest for a head wants to take her back to his camp and work her over with his tools. He wants to whisk her away and have his way with her. By the looks of him he’ll rape her, chop her up, and then maybe eat her and only maybe in that order.” You can never tell how depraved these types can be. Retrospectively I am not sure how much of this was the drugs talking to me and how much was legitimate worry for a new friend.

I come back to the present moment, out of my head, to see Ramona beginning to fall into this twisted cannibal’s plot. I grab her by the shoulder, gently but urgently and pull her aside. “Don’t go with that kangaroo fucking madman, you cannot trust people who fuck marsupials. Besides that, did you see the look in his eyes? He sees you as meat, fresh, warm, red meat for the slaughter. The man is a butcher, a kill you first and fuck you later type. Jeffrey Dahmer dressed in a t-shirt and furry boots, every safety pin jammed through his body a former trophy. I count six trophies Mona, do you think this crazed wingnut likes symmetry? I doubt it! Do you see what I am saying?”

She was hesitant to reply, looking torn between perplexed amusement and sage decision making, “I think…”

“What I am saying is we have a propane stove, vice grips, and hell we even have the saran wrap and medical tape we need to doctor it up right. We have you covered, stay here with friends.” She nodded, I had won her over.

“Oy, are we doing this or not?” The Butcher was getting antsy to leave; he knew I was onto him. I could smell his fear.

“Yes, but I’m staying here. Coffee and Cigarettes has everything I need and I would rather not walk a bunch after branding my ankle.”

As a man of many talents who had traveled the world over, Chyutknee offered his services at this crucial juncture. “I’ve branded cows and sheep before how different can this be?”

At this utterance The Butcher dejectedly signaled to Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin that it was time for them to piss off. He scowled at me, a crudely mohawked savage with pins through his ears and murder in his eyes. They walked out of camp into the dust laden winds and were soon nothing but a memory.

***

“Alright, if we’re going to do this we’re doing it by the books, as best as we can.” Foreman settled into his role and drew from years of experience as an EMT to make sure our semi-sober selves did not make a complete mess of things. “Captain Safety, get your medical tape and vicegrips. Rhyno, start wiping off that metal necklace you were gifted with this sanitary towelette, we’ll use that as the brand. Chyutknee, get some gloves on. I’ll turn on the stove and grab the saran wrap!”

This process, while done with the utmost expediency, was being conducted on “Burner time,” meaning time became quite relative. Two beers later we were all assembled and ready to go. Ramona was propped up in the comfiest folding chair in the camp, the one with all four legs and no rips in the fabric. Her intended leg was elevated, bare, and erected for this moment of great anticipation. While the necklace was being transmogrified into a hot brand, Mona cracked open another beer and we toasted to her decision.

I had always hoped to witness a live human branding someday. I just never expected to see one so early in my life, or to be so intimately involved in the experience. I even had my camera there to get photos.

The brand was ready and we readied Ramona with a cloth bit in her mouth. With a big grin, the grin of a proud craftsman birthing a new creation, Chyutknee let the scalding, blistering hot metal kiss the delicate ankle of our dear little Ramona, gently, like a politician kissing a baby. As one would expect, she squirmed from the pain but took it well and ended up with a very decent looking brand of The Man. We wrapped it in saran wrap, taped it down like one does a tattoo, iced it, and she was good to go.

Like a real champ, while many of us were still paralyzed with wonder, Ramona laced up her boot over the newly minted brand. She stood up, chugged the rest of her beer and was ready to go party. I was awestruck by this beautiful, tough as nails desert flower who just bloomed before my eyes. This girl was of a breed too strange to live and too rare to die.

Hey everyone! Hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and that 2014 is treating you well so far. I took a few days off over the holidays to spend time with friends and do some serious cooking and crafting, which will be seeing over the upcoming weeks in some great recipe/DIY blogs.

In this post I’m teaching you a pretty basic recipe to make an infused simple syrup, which just happens to create a delicious bi-product of candied whatever. In this case my whatevers are organic ginger and Buddha’s Hand. Though widely known in Asia it is virtually unknown in the West, Buddha’s Hand is a very unique fragrant citron with no actual meat, it is 100% pith and zest. The flavor and scent are reminiscent of a lemon mixed with roses or some other flower. It can be a little pricey, but it is definitely worth it for this recipe which yields a dual benefit for one single hand.

Note: It is possible to make a cannabis infused simple syrup through this method but I have never tried it and question if it really works. I have found many recipes, including in Culture magazine, but without any fat I question what the cannabinoids bind to. I have tried medicated honey sold at the dispensary I work for and it certainly works, but I am utterly clueless on the science behind it.

01

You Will Need: Water, sugar, and whatever you want to infuse the syrup with (options include: citrus fruit, mint, lavender). Recipes range in a 1-1 to a 1-2 water-sugar ratio, that means that if you use 1 cup of water use at least 1 cup of sugar potentially up to 2 cups.

02 (Buddha Prep)03 (Ginger Prep)

Step 1: Prepare the Buddha’s Hand and ginger by chopping them up. I would recommend chunks no bigger than your pinkie fingernail for best candying of harder things like ginger. I left the ginger in larger disks and it did not cook through and was barely edible due to the residual intense burning. I tend to use as low amount of sugar as possible to make it render into a syrup, if you use too little sugar it won’t get syrupy and will stay runny. I personally don’t mind runner syrup with a lower sugar content.

Note: If using ginger it is crucially important to peel it first, for most other things, like citrus, you want the rind for flavor.

04 (Cooking)Step 2: Combine the water with Buddha’s Hand/ginger/whatever and begin to cook on high heat. Add the sugar once it begins to get hot and stir frequently.

06 (Boil It)

Step 3: Bring to a boil continuing to stir frequently and keeping a close watch on it. It will boil over if you don’t stir it enough. Leave it uncovered so liquid evaporates, helping the thickening process.

07 (Cool Down)

Step 4: Cook until the Buddha’s Hand is translucent, for the ginger cook until it becomes tender. The ginger will take a lot more cooking, especially if you leave it in huge chunks like I did.

08 (Drain)

Step 5: Strain the chunks out of the syrup using a metal strainer; I never use plastic for hot things as a rule because plastic melts and might leach toxins into your food. Strainers with prongs like this one are awesome because they rest on the lip of the container you are draining your syrup into.

09 (Sprinkle Sugar + Seperate Syrup)Step 6: Separate the syrup into its final container and the candied Buddha’s Hand/ginger onto a cookie sheet. Sprinkle sugar all over the still wet and syrupy chunks then let them dry overnight. Place the syrup into the fridge to let it thicken over night.

[EDIT: Consider letting your candy dry longer than one night. Mine just molded the other day and it was pretty much the saddest thing ever.]

Voila, come morning you will have both candy and syrup. Uses for the candy include fruit cake, cookies, and other baking projects (or just eating with your hand). Uses for the simple syrup include cocktails, waffles, and in the case of my flaming strong ginger syrup as a cough syrup. Get creative with these. I’ve used the ginger simple syrup for making homemade ginger/tangerine triple sec (hint hint, might be a future blog post here).