Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

October is synonymous with many things: Sweaters, Halloween, National Sarcastic Awareness Month...  But possibly the thing I most look forward to when October 1 comes around is the beginning of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Season.

It's not that I can't make these cookies at other times of the year.  I can absolutely do that.  I can also listen to Christmas music in April and eat snow cones in January, but some things just don't seem right.

So, dear friends, in lieu of a pie recipe this month, I'm posting my version of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They are the perfect blend of sweet and spice and everything nice, and make it nearly impossible to have a bad holiday season.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 can pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
12 oz bag semi sweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment or tin foil.  Using a mixer, beat butter until creamy, then add sugars a little at a time.  Follow that by beating in eggs one at a time, and then the extract and pumpkin.  In another bowl, whisk together flour, soda, salt, and spices.  (**I always use "heaping" amounts of each spice.  It makes a difference!)  Slowly add the dry mixture to wet, beating with mixer until it forms a sticky, creamy dough.  Then, fold in the chocolate chips.  (**I believe Ghiradelli semi sweet chips are unsurpassed.)

Scoop big tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  The peaks should be brown, but the cookie still soft.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Things I'm Gonna Do This Week- October 2012

Twas on an ordinary evening last month that I realized I'd officially had it.  Despite my best efforts to be both a well informed voter and media obsessed American, I had reached my quota of antagonizing status updates, propaganda filled trips to my mailbox, and snarky news networks trying to convince me they're the "most respected" on television.  What had tipped the scale, however, was all the fighting.

Why did the country seem so angry?  I didn't want to be angry.  I don't like angry.  Angry doesn't feel good to me.  Sometimes I need to get angry, if only to realize that I don't want to be, but this was different.  It was like we had become content in an anger that wasn't just a general frustration with life or ourselves.  It was with an opponent.  We had become angry with "them."

For some reason, whether it be for entertainment, or capitalism, or simple validation, we had decided to get really mad at people that didn't agree with us.  It's nothing new.  History is only been made with a little resistance from someone or something.  But why, after Civil War, and Civil Rights, and 9/11 are we still under the belief that polarizing those that doesn't agree with us makes for a stronger society?  News flash: It doesn't!  The only thing that works time after time after time is coming together.

Which is why for this month's "Things I'm Gonna Do This Week," I teamed up with to help moderate their first ever Roundtable event.

The Roundtable was organized to provide a safe atmosphere for people of all beliefs, backgrounds, and cultures to come together and talk constructively about their hopes for the world and how we might work together to make them happen.

It was an amazing experience.  I made lasting bonds with some great people.  I learned a lot.  I got to share a lot.  It was edifying for everyone who participated.  And I'm not going to do it justice by typing about it here, so please visit this link to the website's official page about the 2012 Roundtable:

Now if this month you're looking for you own "Things I'm Gonna Do This Week," might I highly suggest you try hosting your own Roundtable event-- especially as we approach the holiday season where there are (hopefully) many opportunities to see those we care about most.  Take a moment to really see them.  Use your voice.  Don't settle for an old summary of what you've done and what you're doing, but speak in a way that allows them to see you just as you see them.

I believe these connections are what make us strong.  It's what builds a nation.  It's what makes history.  And it's also what makes for a really great time.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ultimate Halloween Movie Guide

When my parents built our house in the late 70s, they decided to go for a "classic" looking kitchen to ensure that it would never go out of style. Unfortunately, their definition of "classic" at the time was yellow and orange. That being said, I loved our kitchen.  Its color palette, complete with yellow formica and orange vinyl flooring, made Halloween one of our family's most harmoniously decorated holidays.

We were often serenaded at breakfast during the month of October by a "spooky" Disney CD compilation that included "Heffalumps and Woozles" and the lesser known Mickey Mouse quandary, "Which Witch is Which?"  And every arrival or departure through the kitchen door was met by the motion sensitive cackle of "Haaappy Haloweeeeeen!"  In short, All Hallows Eve was a big deal at my house.

So to continue the tradition, I've created my very own "kitchen."  That is, I've combined my love for Halloween and movies into one, big blog post I'm calling my "Ultimate Halloween Movie Guide."  A warning, this guide will not be considered "ultimate" if you're into extremely gory movies that often include torture.  That, my friends, was NOT allowed in the kitchen.

Best Halloween Movie EVER.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

I think this movie is kind of a no brainer.  Takes place on Halloween?  Check.  Spells and Black Magic?  Check.  Bette Midler leading a choreographed musical number?  Check.  What is there not to love!?  This is a movie that you can enjoy with the whole family and quote randomly throughout the rest of the year, much to the giddy enjoyment of all of your musical theatre friends.  Some of my personal favorites include, "For your information he's a LITTLE LEAGUER," and, "Boo-ooooooook!"

Really Good Films that Just Happen to be Scary

Psycho (1960)

This is not just one of the scariest movies of all time, but actually a really wonderful film.  Without question, it's one of the greats.  It contains one of the best opening sequences ever, one of the best movie scores ever, and that disturbingly charming Anthony Perkins.  I guess what's truly terrifying is he seems like the kind of person you'd take home to meet your mom, until that is, you realize she'd actually be meeting your mother-in-law.

Other good-ens:  The Sixth Sense, Carrie, Silence of the Lambs

Not-So-Scary Greats

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

This 25 minute TV special is basically responsible for teaching me Halloween traditions that had been phased out by the time I came along.  These included such classics as "bobbing for apples," "putting a sheet over your head and calling yourself a ghost," and of course, how to pronounce the word "pumpkin."  (Linus says "pumpkin," not "pumpken" like most people in Northern Utah.)  Thank you, Charles Schultz.

Other greats: The Ghost & Mr Chicken, The Addams Family & Addams Family Values, Casper, The Witches, Death Becomes HerClue

Give You Nightmare Fare

Poltergeist (1982)

This is the scariest movie to ever be rated PG!  I mean, how did that even happen?!?  There are so many iconic moments from this film, I don't even know where to begin, but I do have to say that JoBeth Williams is fantastic in it, and her performance is one of the reasons why the movie still holds up so well.  It also has a really interesting and tragically ironic backstory that's totally worth investigating, so read up, and then watch it again for a truly entertaining evening.

Other bed wetters: The ShiningThe ExorcistThe RingInsidious

Monster Movies

Young Frankenstein (1974)

OK, so maybe this one belongs with the "Not-So-Scary Greats," but it's about Frankenstein, and it's a Frankenstein that performs "Putting on the Ritz."  For guys like me that are more interested in watching Madaline Kahn than a Chainsaw Massacre-er, this is the true Halloween monster movie.

Other Monsters worth watching: Jaws, Arachniphobia, Tremors, and of course, Troll 2

Terrifying Performances

Kathy Bates in Misery (1990)

This performance won Kathy Bates an Oscar, but I'm sure it also made the entire audience present for her acceptance speech worry what she was going to do with the statue.  Poor James Caan...  There's nothing crazier than a lady who just doesn't know how crazy she is.

Other Nutballs: Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate, Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter, Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and Glenn Close in everything she's done

Tim Burton Movies

Frankenweenie (2012)

As far as I'm concerned, no Halloween movie list would be complete without Tim Burton.  He has done more for the good people who shop at Hot Topic than anyone.  Where would the fun of Halloween be without all of his strange worlds that he so masterfully creates?  And this year he has a new one to add to the list.  Frankenweenie.  I'm excited to see it, and I hope that after I see it, I'll still think it belongs on the list.

Other Burton films:  Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks, Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride, and so on...

So there's my list.  Scream isn't on there, neither is Halloween I, II, or XI.  I left off Nightmare on Elm Street, and every version of Friday the 13th.  While I'm sure they'd all be at the top of someone else's list, that's just not how we did things at the Parsons house.  We were a little more "Spooktacular" than "Spooky," and I'm happy for it.  I like when Halloween makes me smile, or at least makes me laugh at myself for being scared.  If not, then what's the point?  There's always got to be a little "treat" to go with every "trick."

Happy Halloween!