Monday, October 26, 2015

Want To Get Out Of Carving Pumpkins And Cleaning Up? I Can Help! Whatever You Have In Your House, Plus Pumpkin Seeds, A Non-Recipe, by Allison

So, get this?
I am still in a state of autumnal bliss or something.

Lack of oppressive heat, leaves turning all pretty?

My reverse seasonal affective disorder has kicked in.
I am like, getting things done and stuff.

Things such as:
Acquiring and displaying pumpkins festively,
Using my wily tricks to get out of carving said pumpkins,
via pumpkin seed roasting job.

This is a job I assign myself,
so that I don't have to carve pumpkins.

(Shh! Secret! Don't tell anyone,
 but I am quite skilled at assigning myself jobs that I invent,
 so that I can avoid stuff I cannot,
 or really do not  want to do.)

I am terrible at carving pumpkins.
It's a known fact I cannot craft,
at all.

I can't draw a straight line, or cut with scissors effectively.
I totally use the fact that I am left-handed as an excuse,
and maybe I am right.

I mean, I am totally right.

So pumpkin-carving is completely outside of my skill set.

Growing up?
At some point I gave up even trying,
and drew an attempted glamorous face on my designated pumpkin with a Sharpie.

(By the way, I was not just inept.
I was like,
ahead of the curve on pumpkin art,
because I think drawing on pumpkins with Sharpies is a thing now.)

It wasn't pretty.
But whatever.
I was not going to magically develop pumpkin carving skills,
and if I could choose skills to magically develop,
that would not be my first,
or tenth, or one millionth choice anyway.

So I kind of assigned myself pumpkin seed roasting job instead.
Because it is autumn!
I am way nicer, and more willing to cook and stuff.

I have escaped pumpkin carving for years,
with this clever diversion.

Or, nobody wants to see my sad, badly carved pumpkin.
Or listen to me complain about how much I do not want to be carving pumpkins.

But I do make up for my pumpkin carving ineptitude,
by making very excellent roasted pumpkin seeds.

I have confirmation on their excellence from totally unbiased sources,
such as Matt and my daughters.
Matt might be kind to spare my feelings,
but the girls totally would not.

And so?
Since I am all autumnal bliss and all?

I am sharing my mostly whatever is in my house at the time,
non-recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds.

In case you want to get out of gourd gutting,
or be an overachiever,
and both carve and cook?

Plus, look how festive they are!

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

Whatever You Have In Your House, Plus Pumpkin Seeds, Non-Recipe, by Allison:

1. Get pumpkins.

You can be very photo-op wholesome and go on a hayride and pick out pumpkins,
if that is your thing.

Or, you can have horrible morning with squabbling children,
and then decide to buy pumpkins you see on your way to the gym after school drop-off,
in the vague hope that aforementioned squabbling children will be chastened by festive pumpkins when they get home from school,
and behave like civilized, non-squabblers.

Guilt pumpkins?

That's how I rolled this year.
But this is a non-recipe. Get your pumpkins however you want.

2. Get other people to carve pumpkins.

This is helpful if you are terrible at carving pumpkins,
or just don't want to.
It seems like most people -
(for example, everyone in my house but me)
actually like carving pumpkins, so you should be able to find somebody.

3. Get those people to scoop out the pumpkin guts.
They should do that, they are carving them, it's part of the job.

4. Get them to also separate the seeds from the rest of the gourd goop.
Bribe them with delicious roasted pumpkin seeds for their labor,
or whatever works.
This is a non-recipe, and I haven't even gotten to the part with ingredients yet.

5. Run into your house with the de-gooped pumpkin seeds,
 so you don't have to clean up the rest of the pumpkin carving stuff,
because that is gross,
 and to be avoided if you time it right.

6. Get a cookie sheet or baking tray or something, and mist it with olive oil,
or somehow make it nonsticky with spray stuff or whatnot.
This is a non-recipe, I do not judge.

7. Go look in your spice drawer.
If you don't have a spice drawer,
go look on the shelf where you keep random spices.

8. Sprinkle whatever you have onto the pumpkin seeds.
Seriously, this is a non-recipe.
And I use different stuff each year,
because I never remember what I used the previous year,
 and who knows what is in my spice drawer at any given time?

Not me, that's for sure.
This year, it was nutmeg, garlic powder, dark chili powder, sea salt.

I added cayenne pepper to the ones I ate,
because I was in the mood and also happened to have cayenne pepper in my spice drawer.

9. Put the tray of seasoned with whatever seeds in your oven.
Set your oven at 425, or something like that.
I can never remember what temperature for what,
so mostly things I cook are at 425.
If you know a better way, do that.

10. Cook them until they are done.
Before they burn, but make sure they are crunchy.
You can tell by poking at them.
(That pretty much works for anything, honestly.)

11. Put more stuff on them if you want.
Or not.
This is a non-recipe, you do whatever you like.

12. Take photos of your delightfully roasted seeds,
feed them to the people that have carved and cleaned up the pumpkins,
and yourself, of course.

Remember to feel smug and pleased with yourself.
They taste better that way.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cotton Candy Should Not Exist, It Is Neither Cotton Nor Candy, And Probably Made Out Of Clowns Or Unicorn Fur: A Diatribe, by Allison

So,  I am in a state of autumnal bliss.

1.It's not hot outside.
Like, at all.

2. Therefore, I am probably,
at least sometimes,
way nicer than when I am in chronic "It's too sunny,
I don't like popsicles or outdoor sports" mood,
otherwise known as May Through Whenever It Ends,
 Please Don't Ruin Back To School Outfits,
I Am Tired Of Summer mood.

3. I get to initiate the ceremonial Changing Of  The Closets!
My favorite closet-related ceremony ever!

4. And last but not least?
No more Cotton Candy grapes!

I wish I didn't know Cotton Candy grapes were a thing.
Because they totally should not be a thing.

I would not have even known they were a thing,
except last year I accidentally bought some at the grocery.

The girls were all "Yay!
You bought the Cotton Candy grapes!"
And I was all, "What are you talking about?"
Because, honestly.
 I bought green grapes because there was a display,
and I was buying produce,
because I am saintly, fruits and vegetables procuring mother,
give me a gold star.

I didn't know I had to scrutinize the fruits and vegetables for corrupted,
Willy Wonka infected flavors.

The girls were all, "Didn't you notice the big pink label saying Cotton Candy?"
And I was all, "Obviously not!
What did they do to those poor grapes?
You know my stance on Cotton Candy,
do you think I would ever,
ever on purpose buy anything with Cotton Candy in the name?"

The girls are like, "Please give us the grapes,
 please do not start talking about Cotton Candy being sugary fur."

And I was like, "Have you met me?'

Because Cotton Candy is just one of my mortal enemies.
And I have my reasons.

What reasons, you may ask?
(You know you want to know my reasons.
They are totally real, valid, and true.)

And I may answer, "Short version or long version?
(Trick question! There is no short version, ever.)

Cotton Candy Should Not Exist, It Is Neither Cotton Nor Candy,
And Probably Made Out Of Clowns Or Unicorns: A Diatribe, by Allison

So, it is a known fact that circuses are bad and wrong,
there are sad elephants,
and bad outfits,
and clowns,
and bad people roaming around,
 trying to make you buy Cotton Candy.

Encased in plastic,
where it has lingered,
for at least ten years.
Most likely in some weird circus person's mom's basement.

There is nothing good that can come of that.

But it's a high pressure sale,
this fuzzy, pastel stuff on a cone.
Good luck avoiding the giant,
Dickensian orphan eyes of a child wanting Cotton Candy from the bad circus man.
This description applies to fairs, carnivals,
and other places featured in the opening scenes of horror movies.)

So, for two seconds,
there is a happy, totally non-Dickensian orphan child,
holding a cone of furry mystery.

If you are lucky,
and I am not there,
you might avoid an immediate,
pastel color commentary litany against the wretched mess.

For the unlucky?

"That is not Cotton.
That is not Candy.
You can't chew it.
It dissolves, inadequately.
It will ruin your outfit, your hair,
and anything within arm's reach.
It smells like tacky fake perfume.
And I am pretty sure it's made of either a clown's wig,
or unicorn fur."

I have always felt this way.

As a kid, I was thinking,
"This isn't candy.
I am kind of afraid it is unicorn fur. 
Should I say that out loud, or will that be weird?
Maybe it's not unicorn fur.
Maybe it's a clown wig.
Either way, I am not eating it.
You can't eat it anyway.
I am not dissolving it,
and have it ruin my specially chosen to avoid attention from clowns outfit."

I don't look good in pastels anyway.

I have only acquired more reasons to loathe,
and less of a taste for Cotton Candy, as time goes by.

Time goes by really slowly, FYI, when Cotton Candy is involved.

Whether you are trying to not have to buy it at creepy carnivals or sad circuses?

Or trying to find some way to unstick your belongings,
 after your child has abandoned the wig-fur cone,
 two seconds after begging and pleading for one from the bad circus hawker?

Or getting stuck running the Cotton Candy machine,
 at your kids' preschool Spring Carnival?
That is one of my Worst Volunteering Jobs Ever.
And that is saying a lot.
I wreck stuff all the time.

That Cotton Candy machine debacle is memorable.
First of all, I hate Cotton Candy.
I can't remember how I got stuck being in charge of that terrible carnival machine.
I am sure I did not sign up for it.
I actively avoid signing up for carnival machine volunteering,
it is one of my lifelong what-not-to-do's.

Second, have you ever tried to work one of those things?
There aren't like, instructions.
There are stacks of paper cones,
large cartons of pastel sticky crystals,
and large lines of children waiting for the magic to happen.

(Spoiler!!!! Not much magic was happening.)

I kind of figured it out, I had no choice.
Those kids were not messing around,
I had to produce something Cotton Candy-ish,
and there weren't any clown wigs nearby.

In fact, for maybe one minute,
I was Best Cotton Candy Carnival Machine Unwilling Volunteer Ever.

The sticky stuff swirls around,
and you have to really lean in to make the Totally Not Cotton Or Candy adhere to the cone.

The first few kids got what could be considered Cotton Candy on a cone.
After that, it's a blur.
Mostly because I was covered in blue sticky crystals,
even my eyelashes.
They stuck together.
I couldn't see, and again,
I did not sign up for this.

By the end,
I was kind of handing out globs of blue fuzz,
and actively telling myself not to refer to it as Cookie Monster's fur.

So, clearly,
I would never on purpose buy grapes infected with weird Cotton Candy flavoring.

It is bogus that I have to now check the produce section,
so I don't accidentally buy something horrifying,
resulting in PTSD carnival flashbacks.

Which is yet another reason I am in autumnal bliss.
Cotton Candy grapes only exist in the hazy, sticky, end-of-days late Summer.

Like expired sunscreen, I am throwing it out and moving on.

Red grapes match my fall outfits better, anyway.