Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Turkish Trousers!

I'm putting together a sooper sekrit steampunk outfit for the Dickens Fair. Why is sooper sekrit? Because I'm vaguely embarrassed to be succumbing to the steampunk bandwagon. But I spend so much time and energy trying to improve the historicalness of the costuming at the renaissance faire where I'm the Costume Mistress that I'm just tired. Pretty much everything I do is historical. I don't really do fantasy. I just don't. But I don't work at the Dickens Faire, and while it can be fun to out-historical their costuming, I really just wanted to do something silly.

So steampunk it is. But really only kind of. Because I refuse to move away from my belief that costuming for these theatrical events should be character driven, even if I'm not working and even if the character is completely absurd. So this character comes out of colonialism, the burgeoning field of archeology, and the Victorian fascination with spiritualism. She's a medium and a treasure hunter--thoroughly English, very very silly, but remarkably matter of fact, obsessed with the latest technology. She'll have the nods to steampunk convention--leather corset, tiny top hat, etc. but she doesn't really fit into the normal steampunk character categories. Oh, and she wears Turkish trousers. Because they are awesome.

More to come.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Christmas Eve Mac and Cheese

I’m doing a blogging challenge—one post a week until Christmas. Maybe it’ll help me get in the posting habit so I don’t go 18 months between posts! Ha!

So I’m starting off easy with a food post. This is Christmas Eve Mac and Cheese, so called because it is a creamy baked mac and cheese based on traditional Welsh rarebit, perfect for Christmas Eve dinner with cider and ghost stories.


4 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus 2 Tbsp

1/2 medium yellow onion, minced (NOT sweet)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 cups milk heated (I used 1%, microwaved for 3 minutes)

3/4 cups dark English style beer (I used Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale; porter or stout would work well too)

2 tsp mustard powder (prepared yellow mustard will work too, but I like Colman’s mustard powder because it’s traditional in Welsh rarebit)

3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

8 oz. pasta (I like the curly kinds!)

3 slices of bread, crusts removed, cubed (I used cracked wheat sourdough. For a more traditional rarebit, a nice hearty rye would be awesome!)

Let’s Cook!

1. Preheat oven to 375 and put water on to boil for pasta

2. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan until foamy

3. Add minced onions to melted butter and cook over medium heat until translucent

4. Stir in flour with a whisk, stirring to keep it from getting lumpy. Cook roux for a few minutes, but don’t let it get brown

5. Add hot milk a little at a time, whisking continuously to make a smooth bechamel sauce

6. Add beer to the bechamel, whisking. It will look gross, like it’s curdling, but it’s not—just keep whisking! Then whisk in your mustard powder.

7. Cook sauce, whisking continuously, until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat.

8. Cook pasta according to package when your water is boiling. I undercook mine just a little to keep it firm after baking in the sauce

9. Melt 2 Tbsp of butter and toss it with your bread cubes

10. After letting your bechamel cool a few minutes to prevent graininess, add your cheese a little at a time, whisking until it’s melted each time. The sauce will get really thick.

11. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. This recipe fit perfectly in my 1.8 L casserole dish

12. Pour cooked pasta into casserole dish and pour bechamel over it. Fold together a couple of times to make sure all the pasta is covered in sauce.

13. Spread buttery bread cubes over the top, and bake for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

14. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting. It will be hard!

This makes 6 good sized servings. Serve it with a green salad with vinaigrette!

Happy Christmas!