General Archive

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pysanky Easter Eggs

For a while now, I'd been wanting to try to make Pysanky eggs for Easter, but every year I'd thought about it too late to get anything delivered in time, and none of the local hobby stores sold the right supplies. Well this year, I finally remembered to order a Traditional Ukrainian Egg Decorating Kit
from Amazon a few weeks before Easter, and my daughter and I decorated a few eggs. I only had enough time to do one, and the result isn't worth showing here. But my daughter does pretty good at these types of things, and she had enough time to decorate three eggs. Here are the results:

Pysanky Easter Eggs

We'd originally figured that our first attempts wouldn't be worth saving, so we started off on hard boiled eggs that we'd turn into the traditional Easter deviled eggs. And while that prediction was true enough for me, it was a bit off for my daughter. Still, she ended up decorating two hard boiled eggs before she went the more traditional route of blowing out the yolk and white of a raw egg to decorate an empty shell.

In case you've ever wanted to try this and wondered about the cheaper more traditional styluses vs. the electric ones, the cheap ones worked just fine for us after a few minutes of figuring out how to get them to work properly. You'll need a candle, but once you melt the wax in the reservoir, you can 'write' for a decent amount of time before having to re-heat the stylus. It wasn't really a pain at all to keep putting the stylus back into the flame.

Anyway, it was fun, and I think the results turned out pretty good (for my daughter at least). I'm pretty sure we'll try the same thing again next year.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy Easter!

I don't normally just post webcomics, but this one fits in perfectly with the normal themes of this website and the upcoming holiday. Click on the comic to go to the source.

Jesus n Mo Comic

Oh well, I guess since I've already started this post, I might as well link to a few Easter-themed pages on this site.

  • No More Easter Bunny - an entry I wrote shortly after my daughter figured out the Easter Bunny wasn't real, pondering why we trick our kids with holiday myths
  • Random Thoughts After a Night at Mass - just some musings I had after one of my first times back in church after becoming an atheist (which just happened to be over Easter weekend)
  • Easter Bread Recipe - nothing skeptical or atheism related about this, just a traditional recipe for Easter bread that my mom always made when I was growing up, and that I now make with my daughter every year

And here's an article in The Guardian, The pagan roots of Easter, which describes just what the title says it does (though I'll be honest and admit I'm not sure of all the claims in that article).

Happy Eostre everyone!

Chick-Fil-A Tastes a Little Less Like Bigotry

Chick-Fil-AIf you've followed this site, you might remember my entry from a few years ago, Chick-Fil-A, Bigotry, and Rights, where I partly described Chick-Fil-A's policy of donating to hate groups and other anti-gay groups (nearly $2 million in 2010). And I also went on to say how I was boycotting the restaurant in response, because I didn't want any of my money going to support such odious causes.

Well, I'm about a year late in describing this, but it looks like Chick-Fil-A has changed their ways. According to an article in Think Progress, Chick-fil-A's Foundations Dramatically Reduce Anti-LGBT Giving (Updated), the company has reduced its donations to anti-LGBT groups by 99.2%.

Now, I'm still not a fan of Dan Cathy, and don't think I would like him if I met him personally, but like I wrote in the original entry, "if we limited our patronage only to those businesses run by people that we agreed with on every issue, there wouldn't be many businesses we could go to," and my boycott of Chick-Fil-A was largely because of their financial contributions to hate groups. Now that those financial contributions have basically ended, I don't feel as bad eating their chicken sandwiches (even if I still think they're lazy for shutting down entirely for a full day every week).

Friday, March 13, 2015

New Blueberry Muffin Recipe

Blueberry MuffinI've just posted a new recipe to the How To & Recipes portion of my site, Blueberry Muffins.

To describe this reciple, I'll just quote what I put on that page, "Usually when making a staple like muffins, I'll just go to the Joy of Cooking (or the 1975 Edition) and follow the recipe there. But for the first time ever, after dozens and dozens of successful recipes, the Joy of Cooking let me down a bit. The muffins were only okay. So, we tweaked the recipe - a bit more leavening agent, a bit more sugar, and some raw sugar sprinkled on the tops, and the modified muffins came out much better. We've also had a head-to-head competition in the kitchen between these muffins and ready made mixes (just add water and fresh blueberries), and these muffins were the winner."

In fact, my wife took a few to work the other day, and one of her co-workers said it was the best blueberry muffin she'd ever had. I suspect she might have just been hungry.

I'll add a special note on the image source here. Usually it's just a small note at the end of the entry, but I stole this image from another site with their own blueberry muffin recipe, Diva Entertains - Best Blueberry Muffins, so I felt like I had to give a little more of a call out here. Her recipe does in fact look very good - a bit more complicated than mine, perhaps, but good. I think I might actually give it a try the next weekend we get a bunch of blueberries.

Image Source: Diva Entertains

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Fastnacht Day 2015

Fastnacht day is tomorrow. I'm sure my daughter and I will be up before dawn to make fresh fastnachts for all of our friends. If you're not quite sure what fastnachts are, or are looking for a recipe to use tomorrow, read on. (Since I don't really have much new to say from previous years, the rest of this post is just slightly reworded from last year.)

Our 2017 Fastnachts - A Double Batch

Depending on where you are in the world, you may call tomorrow something else, like Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. But from where I'm from in Pennsylvania, it's called Fastnacht Day (here's a link to the Wikipedia article). Traditionally, you make potato based donuts, called fastnachts, on the morning of Fastnacht Day, supposedly as a way to empty your larder of all the fatty, sugary foods in preparation for the Lenten fast. My elementary school even used to give out donuts with the lunches on this day. In celebration of Fastnacht Day, and so others can join in, here's my family's recipe for making them:

You're supposed to wake up early to make the fastnachts on Tuesday morning (they're freshest that way), but a few times I've made them the night before, and they're still okay. They keep pretty well in a brown paper lunch bag. I also like to put a little bit of powdered sugar into a ziploc bag, and a mix of granulated sugar and cinnamon into another one, to coat the fastnachts just before eating them.

To see just how popular fastnachts are back up in Pennsylvania, go have a look at this article, Fastnacht reminder -- order yours before Tuesday, with a photo showing some of the 2800 fastnachts that a local church made, or this article, Frying fastnachts for pre-Lenten splurge, about a fire company that made 42,000 of them for a rundraiser. Here's an article from last year, Fastnacht day is here!, with a few more pictures showing different ways of making fastnachts, including a church with a rolling fastnacht cutter to cut dozens at once (we use pint glasses and shot glasses).

I took a few pictures a couple years ago while we were making the fastnachts. The first one below is my daughter rolling out the dough to cut more fastnachts. The second is the first batch frying up in the pan. We've doubled the recipe the past few years, so all the pictures in this entry (including the one up top) are for twice what you'd normally get from my family's recipe. But all of us (my wife, daughter, and I) take them in with us to work/school to share them, so the double batch still goes quickly.

Alex Rolling Out the Fastnacht Dough Frying the Fastnachts

A guy I worked with from Chicago mentioned a similar tradition up there - paczkis, from the Polish immigrants. But instead of a hole in the middle like my family's fastnachts (not all fastnachts have the hole), they have a filling, usually jelly or creme. I guess lots of groups have invented traditions to allow indulgence before a 40 day fast.

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