Krupnikas: Elixir of the Lithuanian Gods and/or Goddesses

Wending my way through Ancestry.com has lead to some very interesting findings, such as the fact that my dad’s family was not English, like we’d always thought, but part of the Palatine emigration. I also discovered that Lithuanian genealogy is not for the faint of heart. At the time the Lithuanian branch of my family came over to the US, Lithuania was part of Czarist Russia, they ended up on ships leaving Germany, and many of them knew almost no English. Their Lithuanian names had been converted to Russian Cyrillic spellings, translated back into Latin spelling via German, and then translated into English once they hit Ellis Island. Needless to say, this didn’t do much for the encouragement of correct spelling of their names.

I joined a couple Lithuanian groups on Facebook to find more information. In addition to the marvelous help, I learned a lot about Lithuanian heritage, including, but not limited to, holiday celebrations, food and boozy stuff. Apparently, Lithuania is insanely cold in the winter, and like most countries where it gets insanely cold in the winter (basically, any place that gets below freezing in December and/or January), they drink a lot of booze. The one made famous by Lithuanians is a honey spice liqueur called Krupnikas. My guess is that it helped them forget how awful it is outside when it’s 37 below 0.

Bottles of Krupnikas ready to age.

Bottles of Krupnikas ready to age.

 

Since it was around Christmas time, and it was insanely cold out, I thought I’d try out some Krupnikas. It was not available for sale in the state-controlled package store, mostly because the Pennsylvania Dutch are known for being German. I looked around for recipes, and quickly discovered there are as many varieties of this as there are people on the planet. Possibly more.

After much reading, researching, and some 151 rum, here’s the recipe I tried out.

 

Zest of 1 lemon

Zest of 2 oranges

6 cinnamon sticks (broken lightly)

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric (should use 2-inch piece sliced red or yellow ginger/turmeric root. I guessed on the powdered amount. I’m not a huge turmeric fan.)

1 3-inch piece ginger root, peeled and sliced (a potato peeler works pretty well on the root)

1 teaspoon nutmeg (should use one nutmeg seed, cracked. I guessed on the powdered amount)

10 pods cardamom, lightly crushed (I had the seeds themselves instead of pods. This might not be enough cardamom as a result. But with this much Everclear, who cares?)

15 whole cloves (could use 10-20)

2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed

15 whole allspice (could use 10-20), cracked

4 teaspoons grains of paradise (or 2 teaspoons black peppercorns and 2 teaspoons white peppercorns) cracked

2 teaspoons caraway seed, cracked

4 vanilla bean sticks, cut up. I love vanilla, so a few extra beans snuck into my mix.

4 pounds clover honey (go for organic if you can). Use less if you want it less sweet, although even 2 pounds of honey is still pretty darned sweet.

3 quarts water

1.5 liters 190 proof Everclear (1 large or 2 regular size (750ml) bottles. I only found 151 proof this year. Pennsylvania apparently thinks 190 proof is too dangerous for us hoi polloi). Other grain alcohols are fine as long as they are very high alcohol content.

7 or 8 12-ounce bottles and stoppers, sterilized (I did mine in the dishwasher. You can get bigger or smaller bottles as you desire.)

Sterilized bottles ready for the delightful concoction.

Sterilized bottles ready for the delightful concoction.

Put 1.5 quarts of water into the pot. Mark where that spot is in the pot on a clean ruler or a wooden spoon. This is so when the spice water boils down by half, you can see it easily. Add the rest of the water and the spices.

You can use a mortar and pestle to crack the spices. A food processor works even better.

You can use a mortar and pestle to crack the spices. A food processor works even better.

You can slice up vanilla beans, but cutting them with kitchen scissors is even faster.

You can slice up vanilla beans, but cutting them with kitchen scissors is even faster.

I wrapped mine up in a spice bag that I made from two layers of cheesecloth. Bring to a boil and simmer until it reaches your halfway mark, about an hour. If you are making a half batch, it may take less time.

The spice water with the spice bag steeping. It smelled fantastic.

The spice water with the spice bag steeping. It smelled fantastic.

Pour only the honey into another large pot (you’ll need one large enough for the honey, 1.5 quarts of spiced water, and the 1.5 liters of Everclear). Heat the honey until it boils, skimming off the foam.

Boiling honey for Krupnikas

Honey boiling in a large pot.

 

I used a jelly foam skimmer to remove the foam. This handy device is available on Amazon and in lots of places that sell supplies for canning.

Using a jelly foam skimmer to remove the foam.

Using a jelly foam skimmer to remove the foam.

 

When the spiced water is done boiling down halfway, add it to the honey.

WARNING!

Remove the pot of honey spice water from the heat, far away from any flames to avoid starting a fire with the alcohol. Apparently, this is an area of Great Concern for many other Krupnikas creators, since this warning is repeated in large bold letters in every post. I felt it necessary to repeat it here out of wisdom and a sense of kinship with other Krupnikas makers. Don’t make the fire department come out on an insanely cold night to put out a fire caused by your inattention to this warning.

Here's the Everclear for the Krupnikas.

Here’s the Everclear for the Krupnikas.

Pour in the Everclear and mix well into the honey water. Pour this mix into sterilized bottles. Let it age at least two weeks. Any sediment can be strained out or filtered out through a coffee filter—wet the filter first so that the filter doesn’t absorb any more alcohol than it has to. The sediment that’s left behind can be added to a nice Krupnikas spice cake.

Here is a nice sample of newly-minted Krupnikas.

Here is a nice sample of newly-minted Krupnikas.

Makes about 6 to 8 of the 12-ounce bottles, depending on how much you ‘sample’ while cooking.

Having heard that Krupnikas is good for all sorts of ills, including cold viruses, I decided to test it out after aging for four months. It might need a little more time to age to an even greater smoothness, but after a few sips, I’m pretty sure it’s just fine right now. My cold is substantially less noticeable!

 

Frank and The Texas Chili Cook-off

Awhile back, a Texan friend of mine, who knows how to make REAL Texas Chili, sent this to me as well. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt the rest of the night, and I had those residual laugh spasms periodically whenever I thought about it, which was rather often.
Spew warning: put down the drink. You’ve been warned. Enjoy!

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden


What follows is one of the funniest things I have ever read, sent to me in an email last year from a friend in Boston. A warning to those with delicate sensibilities and who are easily offended – Otherwise, take 2-3 minutes and give this your full attention. If laughter is the best medicine, you should be glowingly healthy for the rest of the week.

A TEXAS CHILI COOK-OFF

“My name is Frank, and recently I was honored to be selected as a judge at a Texas chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table asking directions to the Budweiser truck when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (native Texans) that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy and besides, they told me I could have free beer…

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Chocolate Dice!

While monkeying around with my new Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and Razer Naga 2014 Left Handed MMO Gaming Mouse, I found this wonderful post over at Our Geek Home about chocolate dice. I thought it might make a fun project for a geeky family or a cool DIY gift for the geek in your life.

Thanks to Razer for making the Naga MMO gaming mouse in a left-handed version!

Thanks to Razer for making the Naga MMO gaming mouse in a left-handed version!

Clearly, the “one” is the number you should leave off the dice! The biggest question is whether the dice would ever make it to the gaming table. 😀

Enjoy!

MSNBC Laughs At An Adopted Child

Clearly, Chris Hayes isn’t the only one making an idiot of himself at MSNBC. Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel of alleged comedians decided that making fun of the race of the adopted grandchild of former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was fair game. I am appalled and disgusted by this.

My sister-in-law is a saint. She helped raise over 100 foster children, and she adopted two of them. They happen to be black. My step-sister had 3 children. They’re biracial. Her daughter has a biracial daughter, too. I love them all dearly, and I am proud to be their aunt. When I look at my family, I don’t look at their skin color. I could care less what level of melanin happens to be in their skin. I don’t even see adopted nephews as having different blood relatives generally. The mothers of the two children did the right thing allowing my sister to adopt my nephews, as hard as that decision may have been. I occasionally notice the furtive looks my step-sister and sister-in-law get having children of a different race. Fortunately, I never saw any adult make fun of my nieces and nephews for being black or biracial. I never saw any adult make fun of my sister-in-law or step-sister (both of whom I gladly call sisters) for raising children of a different race.

Not until the MSNBC show last Sunday, that is.

Both my sisters happen to be fairly conservative. They did not choose to bear or adopt children of other races in order to add diversity to the Republican party or whatever conservative cause that MSNBC decides is OK to mock this minute. My sisters love children. They wanted a lot of children in their lives. My sister who fostered all those kids and then adopted two of them has made a monumental sacrifice in her life. She helps children who have lived in such dire circumstances that the state was forced to take the children away before their mothers killed them through violence or neglect. These are children who have been through so many horrors in their brief lives that when we hear their stories, you and I are forced to squeeze our eyes closed to shut out the images and hope not to vomit. The children are often traumatized both inside and out, and they require extraordinary amounts of treatment and time to recover. My sister showers them with love, and the children, fostered or adopted, have thrived in her care.

Along came Melissa Harris-Perry, Pia Glenn, and Dean Obeidallah. Apparently, they found it hilarious to mock the Romney family for welcoming a child who isn’t white into their family. Instead of rejoicing with the Romneys that they have another child, or taking some time to talk about the challenges of interracial adoptions, or discussing how desperately these children need help, or exploring how badly we need more foster parents, they laughed. How convenient that they forgot President Obama was raised by a white mom and taken in and loved by his white grandparents. Did they laugh at that? No, they wouldn’t have the temerity to so much as smirk. Making fun of children of Republicans, however, is perfectly acceptable.

That fact that they think mocking any child is revolting. I won’t support any MSNBC sponsors, and I certainly won’t be supporting anything that Harris-Perry, Glenn, or Obeidallah do. Any person or organization willing to support that kind of behavior doesn’t deserve my hard-earned dollars.

We can do something positive about this, however. I encourage each of you to look into foster parenting and adopting. Consider fostering or adopting a child yourself and check out the Child Welfare Information Gateway. If you don’t have the resources to do that, then help out the many great organizations like AdoptUSKids.org, your local child welfare agency, or the many religious organization that help foster kids and families that foster or adopt. They’ll welcome your time, money, and talents, and your help will make the difference in the life of a child.

Six Degrees of Star Wars Canon

Do you have the burning desire to argue whether Darth Vader, Revan, or Emperor Palpatine is the most powerful? Have you ever wondered if Revan would pwn Darth Maul’s butt?  (Yes) If you have, you’re a geek. If you’ve ever debated these life-altering issues on a Star Wars forum and brought up ‘canon’ (or ‘cannon‘, for those who prefer the artillery version), you are a complete and utter geek. If you’ve moderated a motley bunch of geeks, well, you’re so geeky, your geekiness has reached a level of nerd nirvana normally reserved for people like Bill Gates, except with a whole lot less money.

If you chuckle at this, you just might be a geek. (1)

If you chuckle at this, you just might be a geek. (1)

As a super-moderator on LucasForums, I’ve done two things. First, I’ve escaped being made an administrator, because the Geek Factor just might make the universe explode. Second, I’ve moderated people who are fighting about Star Wars canon. Yes, I said fighting. I’m not sure why discussion of Star Wars canon can inflame the level of hatred normally reserved for baby killers and tax collectors, but it happens. If you ever see a “Revan vs. X” thread on any forum, I guarantee you that the “it’s not canon!!!11!!11!eleventy-one!!11!!” argument will appear even faster than a mention of Hitler in a political/religious thread.

After moderating a number of these threads, and surely not influenced by the level of 151 rum in my cup that night, I decided to chime in on the canon argument. This is my updated version.

This cannon is not canon. (2)

This cannon is not canon. (2)

Statement on the New Six degrees of Star Wars Canon

We, at WookieWikiWarrickWicketpedia, wish to clear up the confusion of ‘Canon’ in Star Wars by instituting a new classification system on how to rank the different Star Wars and Star Wars EU (Extended Universe, aka ‘Extremis Uniflammitorio’) materials. This will replace the Canon-a, b, c & g system, along with other associated letters and symbols, up to and including the ampersand. This was becoming just too confusing, resulting in many emails and tweets from forum administrators and moderators who were ‘having to deal with too damn many threads on arguments over Canon’.

As a result, we now establish forthwith the Six Degrees of Star Wars Canon. This shall supersede, override, and otherwise be totally more awesome than any previous versions of Canon, which are now no longer Canon, because We Said So. Not even Leland Chee can change this.

First Degree Canon shall be The Movies. Radio adaptations, so long as they include voices from the Original Actors (and Actresses) shall also be First Degree Canon. The Screenplays are also First Degree Canon, but only if George Lucas put a ‘GL’ on every page. The official soundtracks are First Degree Canon, because John Williams has included the use of both the bassoon and the triangle in his music, and quite possibly the krummhorn. Anything spoken by George Lucas is First Degree Canon, including those more mundane statements like ‘I want to order a pizza’ and ‘I need to take a dump.’

Second Degree Canon shall include those radio adaptations that deviate from the script slightly but still maintain the ‘True Spirit’ of the movies. ‘True Spirit’ shall be determined by us, unless George Lucas says otherwise. Those radio adaptations that include the voices of Harrison Ford or Liam Neeson shall automatically be changed to First Degree Canon, because their voices are really sexy. Those adaptations that include excess amounts of Jar-Jar Binks or Ewok cuteness shall automatically be reduced to Sixth Degree Canon or less.

Third degree Canon shall include any books that George Lucas decides shall be Third Degree, which is pretty much everything else not in the First and Second Degrees. It’s his world—if he wants to say a book is First Degree or Sixth Degree, we shall bow to his greater Star Wars wisdom. The exception are the Vong books, which shall be reduced to the Degree of Hell normally reserved for those who continually talk through movies. All Star Wars games are Third Degree Canon. The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games, along with Star Wars: The Old Republic, are Second Degree Canon because they are Really Righteous. The SWTOR Encyclopedia and all Gree speak shall likewise be Second Degree, because the SWTOR writers are made of win and Hall Hood achieves ultramarine apogee.  We hereby declare all permutations of Revan and Exile to be Canon, because trying to pick just one was really pissing off the fans. The Star Wars Lego games normally would be Fourth Degree Canon because of the ‘cutesy factor’. However, since my kids love them, and I can play a Yoda Lego figure, they may remain at Third Degree.

Fourth Degree Canon includes any comic books. Graphic novels remain at Third Degree because ‘graphic novel’ just sounds more cool than ‘comic book.’ The exception is the Knights of the Old Republic comic book series, which is destined to become a Graphic Novel when bound together, and because they’ve drawn Zayne Carrick really cute. It’s at least Third Degree, and we might even make that series Second Degree if sales continue to be good.

Fifth Degree Canon includes all fan-fiction, unless they are “Really Good,” which, by our definition, is anything with over 1,000 views on LucasForums and/or FanFiction.net. Any stories with 15 thumbs-ups or greater on kotorfanmedia.com shall also achieve this rare distinction. If they’re “Really Good”, then they can, at the option of the administrators, moderators, and/or the author, move to Fourth Degree. The exception is if the spam-per-view ratio approaches 1:82, in which case the fanfic shall be declared ‘spammy’. That fic drops to Sixth Degree. Action figures are Fifth Degree Canon, unless they involve Yoda, Han Solo, or Luke Skywalker. These are First Degree Canon because I like them and because Frank Oz rules.

Sixth Degree Canon includes any speculative posts on any forums. It also includes any non-speculative posts, comments, jokes, pictures, and other written, visual, aural, or tactile media. Anything else not already specified shall be Sixth Degree Canon, unless the author finds something she really likes, in which case the Degree of Canon may be altered accordingly. Forum posts that are written by administrators, moderators, LucasArts, or BioWare employees shall be whatever Degree of Canon they desire, because the author feels the need to suck up, unless George Lucas declares otherwise, because his First Degree is more equal than everyone else’s First Degree.

We hope this clears up any confusion about Canon. If you have any further questions, please send an email to our help center at ‘we won’t answer it anyway.idiot’. We will do our best to make sure that the answer to your questions are answered with as much obfuscation as possible, preferably by someone who does not even speak your language.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.

Image sources: (1) theChive.com (2) HQWallpapers4Free.com

Why Doctors like Gosnell Are Horrible for Women

The stories of this monster are grisly. Kermit Gosnell is accused of murder of babies who were clearly born and were even crying before allegedly being killed. He also is accused of manslaughter of at least one woman. Many more women suffered needless complications from his shoddy practices that could hardly be called ‘medical’.

Karnamaya Mongar died while in Gosnell's 'care'.

Karnamaya Mongar died while in Gosnell’s ‘care’.

Set aside the abortion issue and infanticide for a moment, as horrifying as it is to know that he allegedly killed so many innocents both in and out of the womb.

Focus instead on the women he treated–or actually, failed to treat.

He allegedly lied to pregnant women about how far along in their pregnancies they were. This meant they were not properly informed about their own bodies, their babies, or the risks of late-term abortions.

He allegedly used rusty instruments (which harbor tremendous amounts of bacteria). He didn’t sterilize them properly. He didn’t use even the most basic medical equipment during the surgeries to properly monitor blood oxygen levels and blood pressure. He used teenagers to start IVs and administer sedation. At least one women, Karnamaya Mongar, was over-sedated with so much medication that she died on the table. Numerous other women who had abortions or other procedures at his clinic suffered severe infections and sterility.

Authorities found the body parts of babies stored throughout the clinic. The clinic itself was filthy dirty and had blood all over the place. There were cats roaming freely throughout the clinic–and cat urine and poop littering the place. I love my cats, but I’d never dream of letting them run around my office. Keeping the body parts of babies in jars is just sick and barbaric.

Ask yourself this: “Would I go to a bloody clinic with cat poop all over to have ANY procedure done with rusty, unsterile instruments?” Ask yourself if you’d let a loved family member go to a place like that. Ask yourself if ANY woman should be subjected to a supposed ‘doctor’ treating them with so much disrespect that he couldn’t bother himself to hire licensed professionals or even keep his instruments properly cleaned. How does this somehow become acceptable if it involves abortion? Defenders of women’s rights should be howling at this flagrant abuse of 16,000 women.

I’ve heard the ridiculous argument that ‘if abortion were more available, women wouldn’t have to endure this’. Horse hockey. Don’t make excuses for a man who preyed on vulnerable women to make a few extra bucks for himself–some $1.8 million per year. If this man is found guilty, he deserves to rot in jail the rest of his life for harming so many women in addition to killing babies. If a pediatrician had done this to children, the press would be screaming about the horror. Since this involves abortion, however, it’s been swept under the rug. We don’t want to accept that it’s happened. We don’t want to deal with it since it’s such a thorny moral issue for so many of us. If you believe that abortion should be legal (and I do in cases of rape or incest, or when a woman’s life is in imminent danger, though I would strongly advocate for adoption when possible), you should also believe that women need to be safe during the procedure. Any reasonable person who is strictly pro-life would agree that no woman should suffer at the hands of this alleged butcher.  Gosnell was allowed to mistreat women for YEARS before someone finally did something.

It doesn’t matter if you’re pro-life or pro-abortion. The women who suffered under this man’s ‘care’ deserve to be lifted up and supported by all of us, not ignored.

Rest in peace, Karnamaya Mongar.

Image source: USA Today

Tequila Christmas Cookies

Today, I was reading the scleroderma forums and came across this simply spectacular recipe for Tequila Christmas Cookies. Although Tequila is the featured alcohol, your favorite alcohol may be substituted, as long as it’s at least 80 proof. I may try this with 151 rum. Enjoy!

Some of these tequilas would be ideal for your Christmas cookies!

Some of these tequilas would be ideal for your Christmas cookies!

Tequila Christmas Cookies:

1 cup of water

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup of sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 cup of brown sugar

1 tbsp. lemon juice

4 large eggs

1 cup nuts

2 cups of dried fruit

1 bottle tequila

Sample the tequila in a large glass to check quality.

Take a large bowl, and check the tequila again, to be sure it is of the highest quality. Pour one level cup and drink.

Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.

Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

At this point, it’s best to make sure the tequila is still OK, so try another cup.

Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the frigging fruit and the damn cup off the floor.

Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers, just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the tequila to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Check the tequila.

Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table.

Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don’t forget to beat off the turner.

Put the bowl through the window, finish off the booze and make sure to put the dirty stove in the dishwasher.

CHERRY MISTMAS TO ALL!

 

Image source: tequila.net

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Geeky Kitchen Gadgets

We spent Labor Day weekend laboring in the kitchen. Trusty hubby finally had enough of the light-brown-striped wallpaper, and decided it was time to paint. I had chosen a nice sunny yellow, and told the family I was planning on doing cobalt blue accents. The kids then found a TARDIS cookie jar–cobalt blue, of course! This started a discussion on whether or not the kitchen should have a sci-fi theme, because, after all, we ARE a geeky family, and this could actually be a serious consideration.

The well-dressed sci-fi kitchen goddess begins here! (1)

While I did eventually decide that we’ll have a sort of French-country-kitchen theme with some cobalt blue fleur-de-lys stenciled onto the soffits, having a few sci-fi accessories are Good Things.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Star Wars cookie cutters. Williams-Sonoma has a variety of cookie cutters and pancake molds in the Star Wars theme, perfect for those of us who need something out of the ordinary for Christmas.

Darth Vader has never looked so yummy. (2)

They also offer spatulas that can be used to remove those cookies from the baking sheets.

Helmets come in handy for handling hot cookies. (3)

One of my son’s favorite gadgets, which he originally found at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum gift store, is the Enterprise Pizza Cutter. Since we make a universe of pizzas, this cutter could help us explore new worlds, and new toppings, and boldly go where no cheese has gone before.

The lasers could theoretically cut through even the thickest pizza. If not, a few photon torpedoes can do the trick. (4)

Just in case you need some drinks to go along with your pizza, Star Trek also offers you bottle opens that suit many needs, from Romulan Ale to prune juice.

Use the Bird of Prey to open your blood wine, while the bottle opener can help with that prune juice! (5)

Everyone agrees that the coolest geeky kitchen item is the Tardis cookie jar. This is chiefly because if it really is bigger on the inside, it will naturally hold more cookies. Plus, it would just look cool on the kitchen counter.

Will it be bigger on the inside? (6)

Share your favorite sci-fi kitchen gadgets and anything you’ve made with them! I’d love to see what other folks use! Feel free to follow me @JaeOnasi or on Facebook.

Image sources: (1) TheChive.com, (2), (3) http://www.williams-sonoma.com, (4), (5) startrek.com, (6) thinkgeek.com