In a Pickle

This originally appeared in a slightly different form on the now defunct (RIP) food blog, Root (Underground Food)


During the cruel winter of 1812, at an abandoned medical college in Lithuania, some of Napoleon’s starving soldiers dined on preserved human organs.

The French had lingered in Moscow until November of that year - a critical error. Half a million troops quickly dwindled to less than 40,000 along the frigid 900 kilometer return route. Those who remained were crazed with malnutrition and exhaustion and disease.

By the time they lurched into Vilnius, the alcohol-soaked human offal bobbing in jars must have looked like a banquet. A trick of the protein-deprived mind.

So shut up already about how bad the weather is, because I’m pretty sure you’re not ghoulishly gnawing on people parts while you browse your Netflix queue. (Pretty sure.)

In the cold dark months where soft comfort foods rule the day, it’s good to have something piquant and crunchy to reawaken the winter weary palate. Quick pickles are a fast and easy way to accomplish this.

Spicy Bok Choy Quick Pickles

  • 3 or 4 small bok choy (I used a curly variety, but any will do)

  • Salt

  • Chili flakes or fresh chilis diced fine

  • Rice wine vinegar

~ Wash bok choy and cut into quarters

~ Place a single layer of bok choy into a specimen jar procured from an historic Eastern European medical college, cover it with a fairly generous amount of salt and chili to taste; repeat until you run out of bok choy

~ Put just a tablespoon or so of rice wine vinegar over the top; seal the lid on the jar and shake a bit to ensure everything is well combined

~ Refrigerate, pack into glass jars (preferably not the ones used to house medical specimens)

 

Scandalous Jam

This originally appeared in a slightly different form on the now defunct (RIP) food blog, Root (Underground Food)


"Codeine...bourbon..."
~ Tallulah Bankhead’s last words


Called "an extremely immoral woman", Tallulah Bankhead was actually investigated by MI5 for reported "indecent and unnatural practices" with Eton schoolboys.

She liked cocaine. And gin. And men. And women. She smoked 100 cigarettes a day. She swore like a fucking sailor. Her parties lasted for days on end. Her drink was bourbon and water (without the water), and she could down a bottle by herself in 30 minutes. 

I like to think this delicious Bourbon Bacon Jam is fit for a woman of Ms Bankhead’s caliber. A woman with lust for life. If you choose to consume this, pray do, but do so with abandon. No small nibbles to be polite. No guilt. No apologies.

If you are too uptight - too square to roll with the wild kids, then you might want to look away. You won’t like what you see - this is a sticky, sweet, boozy, piggy perversion. 


Bacon/Bourbon Jam, Dahling

• 1 lb applewood smoked bacon, cut in 1 inch hunks

• 1 medium yellow onion, sliced

• 3 cloves garlic, smashed

• 1 large shallot, grated

• ½ an apple, grated

• 4 T apple cider vinegar

• ¼ C strong brewed coffee or espresso

• ½ C bourbon (I used Woodford Reserve, because it’s yummy)

• 3 T light brown sugar

• ¼ t freshly grated nutmeg

• 1 t smoked paprika

• 1 t black pepper

• 2 t chili flakes

• 3 T Hot Sauce

• 2 T honey

~ Cook the bacon until done - crisp around the edges, but still meaty and moist on the inside. Remove from pan, drain.

~ Caramelize the onion in the bacon fat and brown sugar - wait until it starts to go golden amber, then add in the shallot, apple, and garlic. Continue to slowly caramelize until dark and sticky.

~ Return bacon to pan, then add honey, hot sauce, and dry spices; stir to combine and coat

~ Add liquids to pan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer and thicken until it has reached a deep golden brown. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until it has a consistency you like (I made it fairly fine and spreadable; you may wish to leave it chunkier. Do what you like best - Tallulah would!)


Spread this on good toasty bread and serve with cocktails. Slather it onto a bun for the best hamburger condiment ever - it’s got everything! People at your next BBQ will hail you as a deity. Or you can add a spoonful to some scrambled eggs for a lazy but delicious breakfast fit for a silver screen diva with a wicked hangover and a stranger in her bed.

Merry Christmas

I wrote more than 500 updates for the now defunct Atomic Cosmetics blog, BOOM! - this originally appeared there in a slightly different form.

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Nothing says Christmas like a pretty redhead who HAS CLEARLY USED A STRAIGHT RAZOR TO FLENSE THE FACE FROM SANTA’S SKULL!

Now she keeps it youthful by anointing it with serums and moisturizers. Sometimes, when she feels pretty-pretty, she wears the SantaFace and makes the elven choir sing. Sing, elves! Sing! And put the lotion on your skin or you’ll get the hose again!

(Sorry. That went to kind of a dark place. ANYHOO. It’s winter. You should moisturize. Dr. Jen has something for every skin type.)

Body Building

I won a gold medal in the Olympics.

In 2012, I took home the gold for Best Quick Costume Repair in the Seattle Burlesque Olympics. Each year, the always delightful Miss Kitty Baby produces this event as a fundraiser for The Burlesque Hall of Fame. It's a wacky night, and I was proud to be a part of it. It's also the first time I met Ernie Von Schmaltz in person (he was the MC).

Love at first sight.

Ernie is a disco lothario, van enthusiast, mustache icon, and ladies man. He is currently an instructor at Miss Indigo Blue's Academy of Burlesque in Seattle. From his biography on their site:

Ernie is known for his powerfully absurd portrayal of stereotyped masculinity, truly embodying “male burlesque”.

Ernie recently performed as part of the “Movers Shakers and Innovators” show at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in 2014. S/he is a founding member of The Von Foxies, best burlesque troupe 2007 at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Pageant and Reunion.

The character (caricature?) of Ernie is over-the-top, for sure. The tone is similar to Danny McBride's Kenny Powers, or maybe Ron Burgundy: horrifying, utterly reprehensible, yet so charismatic and hilarious that they are impossible to not love. 

I ran into him backstage at a big festival a few years later. His act was a magnificent reverse strip (just what it sounds like) to Chuck Mangione's Feels So Good. His "naked body" was fine - very funny, very hairy. But it had a touch of Muppet about it, and was sort of immobile. No one notices, of course, because Ernie's scorching retro sex appeal is super distracting. But I felt like we could do better.

This photo was taken, like, 5 minutes before I approached Anna (the genius behind The Mustache) with a proposal for a new costume. 

 
 

No kidding, I was all sweaty and nervous - I just adore the character, and I didn't know if she'd ever seen any of my work. Much to my relief, she was open to some new ideas.

We discussed body hair at length, which gave rise to The Funniest Pinterest Board Ever Made . We talked about the amount of "jiggle" he should have, nipple size and placement, butt dimples, depth of navel...Everything. 

One of the most interesting things we addressed was where to fall in terms of realism - I had a mental scale ranging from Muppet-y all the way to Uncanny Valley. The sweet spot was somewhere in the middle.

I made a base bodysuit from a high performance sports fabric - incredibly sturdy, 4-way stretch, and breathable. I built his form onto it with a combination of traditional batting/stuffing and interior pouches with weighted, hypoallergenic beads (for a more natural, weighty bounce, rather than feeling like a pillow under a shirt. 

 

 A "skin" of the power mesh went over the top - 

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 I used fabric paints to help give some depth and contour to his body, then pinned temporary felt nipples to it so that I could begin the process of adding hair. That's the part that really sells this piece, I think - the hair. It's integral to the character (a defining trait, even), and that's where we wanted some realism. I robbed tools and techniques from wigmakers, and hand knotted hair directly onto the mesh "skin" (EW!). I used a combination of black and a deep auburn-ish brown, and a combination of tighter curls and straighter pieces. The idea was to achieve a more organic depth and variation. And because everyone asks: YES, it took ages. YES, quite tedious. But I find repetitive projects meditative and calming.

This is when stuff started to get weird. My sewing room was directly across from our bathroom, and had no door. So every time my husband or I had to use the loo, we'd walk by an apparent headless, armless man's body propped up under a bright light. It was...disconcerting. It only got worse when I added the nipples - lifelike, 3 dimensional, totally realistic silicone. 

Of course, because it is a reverse strip, Ernie comes complete with the full package, as it were. You'll have to see him in person to get the full show, of course - we have to keep some things a mystery. But I will tell you that working with his pubic forest and dong was the cause of me sending my first dick pic. To my auntie. She's always been a great supporter of stuff I do, and I tend to send her lots of little sneak peeks and updates on projects. I guess I wasn't thinking, and went ahead and sent the full monty to her. She was totally unfazed, but I felt bad. No one deserves an unsolicited dick pic, especially not my beloved Auntie C. 

I love the production shots that Melendor Photography got of his rockin' new bod. 

 

I'm so grateful to have worked on this! It was a ton of fun, I learned a lot, and both the performer and I are pleased with the result. Ernie performs at burlesque shows and festivals across the country, and you should not miss him if he comes your way. Though you should probably pass if he invites you back to his van.

Can you see it?

I have a pet theory that the costume designer for Bridesmaids is a secret Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, because that goddamn Fritz Bernaise atrocity is totally an homage to Deanna's terrible shore leave frock in the Menage a Troi episode. The one where she and Riker and Luwaxana get sexy-kidnapped by that Ferengi.

The mythical Fritz Bernaise dress, created by costume designer Leesa Evans

The mythical Fritz Bernaise dress, created by costume designer Leesa Evans

Troi's off duty look, from ST:TNG costume designer Robert Blackman

Troi's off duty look, from ST:TNG costume designer Robert Blackman