Monday, December 02, 2013

Chrissy's Obscene Chocolate Orange Brownies

brownies The basic brownie recipe I use is a million years old, and has no baking powder or soda. The brownies are not cakey, but chewy and dense. To get the original version, just swap the Gran Marnier for a teaspoon of vanilla. In my house, growing up, mom put marshmallow on when they were hot, then cooled them and topped them with chocolate frosting. I sometimes use Andes Candies on top for mint, but the Orange version was a huge hit with Ahmed, so they’ve become a staple. One note: I always use large eggs in heirloom recipes, NOT extra-large, because they most closely approximate the size of egg my grandmother/great-aunts had.

4 oz Unsweetened Chocolate
3/4 cup  butter
2 cups  sugar
3  large eggs
1 ridiculously generous tablespoon of Gran Marnier Orange Licqueur
1 cup  flour
1 cup  coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

preheat HEAT oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour 13x9-inch pan.

Terrys-Chocolate-Orange-007 Melt chocolate and butter in a small pan, OR MICROWAVE in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and liqueur. Add flour and nuts; mix well. Pour into prepared pan.

Beat the living crap out of a Terry's Chocolate Orange, until it's basically crumbs. (Cover with towel, use hammer or the head of a willful child.)

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Top should have a crepe-paper appearance. Dump the chocolate orange bits on while hot. Allow to melt, then spread.

Cool completely (or set in frig) before cutting.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Don’t Be That Guy and Happy Thanksgiving

crazy-things-people-do-51-pics_15 Oh, my, everyone is up in arms about not shopping on the holiday. Boycott! Write your congressman! Sit on your fat backside and repost lame pictures on Facebook! That’ll teach em!

Let’s not forget that shopping isn’t mandatory.  By all means, stay home.

But let’s remember, too, that thousands of people work the holidays and have always done so without your Facebook outrage. Cops, nurses, ER doctors, other medical and emergency staff, gas station and exempt convenience store employees, road service centers, tow truck drivers, toll booth workers, restaurant employees…

crazy So when you are en route to meemaw’s in your POS Chevy, busting the speed limit, stopping at the never-ever-close CVS for the crap you forgot, just take a moment to can your attitude and be a decent person. No snapping at the 17 year old behind the counter. No taking the cop’s head off because you got pulled over for doing 65 in a 35 mile residential area to get the sweet potato casserole with the burnt spots on top to Nanny Snodgropper’s before it gets cold.

It takes no effort to post a photo on Facebook and demand everyone else do the same. Make some effort and maybe your opinions will hold more weight. Try not to be a dick.

Happy Thanksgiving.

*No firefighters were harmed in the taking of this photo... also? Damn!

Friday, November 22, 2013


6733454_sa Last spring one of my good computers failed. I am one of those people who delays buying new to replace for a few reasons. First, it was in the midst of the Windows 8 Hate that lingers. Second, I buy really good computers and milk them, usually becoming very attached and refusing to say goodbye. But it was time, and after taking a risk on a very slightly used Dell that didn’t work out (verifying my opinion that Dell is crap), I needed a new computer. Newegg ran a July 4th sale, and I grabbed a Lenovo G585 for a very good price. Long ago I’d owned two Lenovo computers I’d liked. How bad could it be?

Wow.  One of the things that happens with nerds… we figure we can get the most out of even a piece of crap, and we usually do. I’d seen a few negative reviews that said the computer ran slow. That’s fixable 90% of the time, and usually removing the bloatware and factory settings does the trick. In this case, I found it did.

From July til November I was very happy with the computer. Fast, good battery life, decent size, my only real complaint was that it had Windows 8, which is just a reality we all have to swallow, right?

Five months… that’s how long it lasted before, a few weeks ago, I noticed a few issues that weren’t 8.1 upgrade related. I tested the hard drive thinking I was just being pro-active… no way could it be the hard drive, right? Failed all tests. So I called Lenovo. Dude with an accent that may have been Russian was, I have to say, the rudest customer support I have ever encountered did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING but demand I give him an address and send the computer to Texas.  My own suggestion—that sometimes brand new hard drives fail tests because of a driver issues, and maybe Seagate’s free tool download might help avoid that—got me nowhere… he never offered ANY solution but shipping to Texas.

OK. First, I use a PO Box because my parents use the physical address, and I am very often not home during the day. I was told this was impossible, I had to ship to a physical address… which is funny, because the ONLY time I have absolutely no problems with shipping? My little post office here in Green Harbor—where the computer was shipped to start with. But ok… I’ll send it. Vlad the Impudent sent me a postal shipping label that was just a print out. End of. I shipped USPS. Tracking ID showed it arrived RIGHT ON TIME!  The Lenovo Customer Care ID I was given disagreed… it showed no such case existed.

This drama started TWO WEEKS ago. Have you ever installed a hard drive? Takes about five minutes. Installing Windows again takes longer, but we’re talking about an hour or two. I’m going into WEEK THREE. Several days of phone calls. Every customer service rep refused to get me a supervisor. Mid-week of week two I  called:

  1. My state attorney general, and the attorney general in Texas.
  2. The Better Business Bureau of Fort Worth, Texas (they are in Grapevine).
  3. The FTC.
  4. My credit card company.
  5. Consumer Protection.
  6. Ahmed, who also called his lawyer.

I had also informed my employer at Jackson Thackery Investigations and Securities, to let them know I would be “off rotation” for IRC Security until I got the computer back. 

ONLY after Lenovo was contacted by the BBB and god-only-knows-whom-else this week did they resolve a truly simple issue. My tracking ID showed that they’d received the computer over a week ago. They refused to acknowledge even that until they were threatened with fines. Upon threat, I got an email within 24 hours, a new Customer Care ID, and work began on the computer that was supposed to not exist anywhere in Texas.

It took them two days to replace a hard drive and re-install Windows. I could have pointed them to a Youtube video that instructs for a quicker finish.

It will, apparently, according to the Fedex tracking, nearly another week to arrive here. If I am home to sign for it. Which is unlikely.

Moral of the story? Buy Fujitsu. Skeptical?

I am typing this on a 10 year old Fujitsu that runs XP.  Over a year ago Max tripped me in the kitchen, and the tablet/pc hybrid, which was the first of its kind way back when, flew seven feet, smashed, and cracked. It is held together with duct tape, which has leopard fur wrist rests on it because the duct tape heats up and itches. It runs LIKE A TOP.  Still. Don’t believe me? I took a picture with this post open in Windows Live Writer.


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Cheeseburger and Fries Soup

cheesebrgrs1 My bestie Roxanne has a 6 hour crock pot cheeseburger soup recipe I love. Today I wanted some but didn’t have 6 hours. Then, wandering through Target, saw their Julienne Potatoes with Cheddar Cheese (basically just string shaped potatoes au gratin) and had an evil idea.

Here it is. 45 minutes prep time.

julienne 1 stick of butter, diced
5 tablespoons canola oil (ballpark it)
1/2 a small sweet onion, chopped small
few tablespoons of flour, dusted over top

brown the above ingredients... add

2 pounds ground beef
salt and pepper to taste

add and brown all of the beef and onions-- leave a bit of pink in the meat, add

2 cups of beef broth

heat through, add

2 boxes Market Pantry Julienne Potatoes with Cheddar --including the cheese packets

mix in well, add

4 cups of milk
2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash or similar

Cook til potatoes are tender-- about 30 minutes. Add parsley or shredded cheddar if desired.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Michael Moorcock’s Genius & NaNoWriMo


Michael Moorcock is a genius, and several years ago I came across an amazing article in which he outlined how to complete a novel in three days.

I shit you not.

Since this is NaNoWriMo (for the non-author folks, National Novel Writers Month) I am sharing, as I do occasionally, a link to a condensed version of the article.

Moorcock is not just prolific—his books are actually really wonderful. If you have not delved into the Elric of Melnibon√© books, what is wrong with you?

In any event… go read the article. It’s not JUST for those who want to blow through a book. The tips and formula are very pluginable for all genres and deadlines.

One day I really AM going to do a retreat weekend using this as a guide.