Where does Santa go on holiday?

Santa is very busy at this time of year and any time he gets a spare minute, which wouldn’t be very often, he probably looks forward to going on holiday. You might think Santa goes to a warm tropical climate for his holiday. I reckon he’s tried that and it didn’t work out. A place like Tahiti would be too much of a drastic change to the cold Arctic climate. I used to go to O’Shea’s in Clonskeagh fairly regularly and I always used to see a guy there who looked just like Santa Claus. This being Ireland, maybe it was. And that’s when it hit me. Santa comes to Ireland for his holidays.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It’s not to hot and not too cold here. It’s not too much of a drastic change from the North Pole, even in summer (sometimes, OK maybe most of the time). Santa wouldn’t mind the lack of clear skies, the North Pole goes 6 months without any sunshine. After all that running around and flying around this time of year, all he wants to do is sit down and relax. Santa travels the world knows and knows all the best places to take it easy and everyone knows there isn’t a comfier place than a seat in an Irish pub. Saint Nick also knows that Ireland’s a place where people don’t make too much of a big deal when they see a celebrity. When he’s here, he knows he can enjoy a pint without being disturbed. After staring at snow for most of the year, a pint of stout would be his obvious drink of choice. And where do you get the best stout in the world? Answers on a Christmas card.

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Holy Trinity Buffalo Wings

In the name of the Brine, and of the Slow Cook, and of the Buffalo Hot Sauce. Amen.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
(This is a grammatically correct sentence.)

I love buffalo wings. When I first moved to Ireland, I found they weren’t very widely available so I decided to make my own. I have experimented with many different ways of making buffalo wings over the years. Bringing together all of my knowledge and experience, I have now distilled it all into one simple recipe. I decided to base it on the magical number 3. As suggested above, the 3 heavenly parts to this recipe are: the brine, the slow cook and the buffalo hot sauce. I believe this sacred triumvirate will not only make them “ultimate” wings, it will make them taste…divine.

Brine
-500ml lager (you don’t need anything fancy, a cheap can of lager will do)
-1 tablespoon brown sugar
-1 teaspoon sea salt

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Mix these 3 ingredients together in a plastic container and brine the wings for at least 1/2 hour but ideally for 24-48 hours.

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Slow Cook
-1 bottle Franks Hot Sauce
-½ cup of unsalted butter
Take the wings out of the brine (discard the brine). Pat the wings dry. Put them into a pot with the above ingredients, put a lid on the pot and stick it in an oven for 90 minutes at 160°C.

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Buffalo Sauce
1 bottle Franks Hot Sauce
½ cup of unsalted butter
1 packet of ranch dressing

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Shortly before the slow cook is done, combine all the above ingredients into a sauce pan and put it on a low heat until the butter is fully melted and the ranch mix is dissolved.

When the slow cook is done, take the wings out of the pot and place them on a tray with a sheet baking paper on it. Take a brush and coat the top side of each wing with the buffalo hot sauce.

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Put the wings in the oven for 12 minutes at 200°C. Take the wings out, turn them over and coat the other side with the buffalo hot sauce. Put the wings back in the oven for 12 minutes at 200°C. If you like your wings extra messy, you can put another coating of sauce on them. Serve with blue cheese salad dressing and celery.

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Brine Baby, Brine!

I am here to preach the gospel of brining. I get the impression it’s not too widely practiced here in Ireland at Christmas time and I’d like to change that. Turkey needs to spend an enormous amount of time in the oven and there’s nothing worse than a dry turkey, especially when following the stereotypical Irish mammy method of “cooking the shite out of it.” You can baste like crazy but the best way to ensure a good, moist turkey is to start brining it the day before.

I’ve tried one or two other brines but I reckon this recipe is the best. First, here is the list of ingredients:

• About 8 litres of water
• 2 cups of sea salt
• 1 cup dark brown sugar
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 stalk of celery, diced
• 1 leek, diced
• 1 carrot, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 apple cut in four or eight
• 1 orange cut in half
• 1 lemon cut in half
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 small handful of black peppercorns
• 1 sprig each of thyme, tarragon, rosemary, parsley, sage and basil
• 12 oz apple cider
• 1 small handful of fresh cranberries

To start, break out your biggest pot, feck all the seasonings, fruit, veg and herbs into it with about 4 litres of water or as much water as it can handle after you’ve added the other ingredients.

Bring it almost to a boil while stirring frequently. It should look something like this:

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Next, pour all the contents of the pot into a big bucket:

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Add a small bag, a few trays of ice or as much as you can:

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Then add the rest of the water or enough to cover the turkey and the turkey itself:

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All you need to do now is just cover it up and pop it in the fridge or keep it topped up with ice as much as possible. Keep the turkey in the brine anywhere between 6 and 24 hours. Enjoy!

“God” songs that atheists might like

Last night I was trying to think up a top 5 list or least 5 decent songs that mention God but don’t sound preachy. Being a Unitarian, I’m try to be respectful of everyone’s beliefs and I know that most songs with the words God and/or Jesus have people running for the hills. I think I found the perfect 5 songs that do that perfect balancing act of mentioning God but may not make your average non-God-fearing person cringe.

Bell X1 are probably the one band I’ve seen the most times and I remember the first song I heard them play was this one. This song imagines a dinner party where the after dinner speaker is none other than…God. The people at the dinner party first ask him about love and, just to balance things out, hate. God’s response is possibly blunt but also ambiguous. Overall, it’s one big swirling, contemplative song on religion, morality and meaning.

Regina lays down the melancholy thick and heavy in this song, which probably mentions God the most out of these 5 songs. The song first takes us through numerous horrific situations where we are highly unlikely to laugh at God before swinging over the comic side of things where, “God can be funny.” This is where the speaker pokes fun at religious “crazies”. You could probably argue this song isn’t even about God but more about people and what situations cause them to look for divine help and when our divine images go beyond the ridiculous.

I think it’s safe to say Dan Bern is a bit like Bob Dylan, a brilliant songwriter but a not too great singing voice. If you don’t mind the voice and just listen to the words, you’ll be treated to one hell of a song. The speaker here who meets God at the “edge of town” where he asks him if he can go back in time to stop the suicide of Kurt Cobain, kill Hitler and stop the crucifixion of Jesus. Each time God refuses, telling the speaker that the outcome would be different than he expected. This song plays on the desire that we’ve probably had every once in a while, where we wish we could change the past. In the end, just like the speaker, we must realise all we have is now.

The first line of this song may sound blasphemous to your typical religious zealot but if you stop after the first line, you’re missing out on a fascinating agnostic contemplation of good, evil, love, hate and miracles (or the lack thereof).

I actually hadn’t heard of this song until the recent Olympics closing ceremony and I think it’s best summed up by the woman herself:

“I was trying to say that, really, a man and a woman, can’t understand each other because we are a man and a woman. And if we could actually swap each other’s roles, if we could actually be in each other’s place for a while, I think we’d both be very surprised! [Laughs] And I think it would lead to a greater understanding. And really the only way I could think it could be done was either… you know, I thought a deal with the devil, you know. And I thought, ‘well, no, why not a deal with God!’ You know, because in a way it’s so much more powerful the whole idea of asking God to make a deal with you. You see, for me it is still called “Deal With God”, that was its title. But we were told that if we kept this title that it would not be played in any of the religious countries, Italy wouldn’t play it, France wouldn’t play it, and Australia wouldn’t play it! Ireland wouldn’t play it, and that generally we might get it blacked purely because it had God in the title.”

Awesome Chicken

6-8 Chicken Cutlets
300g Cranberry Sauce
100g Real Crispy Fried Onion Bits
250ml Thousand Island Salad Dressing

This is an American recipe that I’ve adapted slightly since one or two ingredients weren’t easily available here in Ireland. I also changed the measurements to metric.

Mix the cranberry sauce, salad dressing and onion bits in a bowl. Marinate the chicken in the mixture overnight.

Place the chicken and the mixture, evenly spread out, in a baking tray. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover the baking tray and bake for another 45 minutes.

I had some leftover cranberry sauce that I made myself from our Christmas dinner and this is the recipe for that:

1 cup (200g) sugar
1 cup (250ml) water
340g fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 shot of brandy

Wash cranberries. In a saucepan bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst. Add and stir in spices and brandy.

Remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature and then chill in refrigerator. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

My Top 10 Albums of 2011

I’ve been putting this off for a while and I I might as well get this in before the clock strikes midnight (midnight [see album number 6). Here are my top 10 list of my favourite albums of 2011.

10 Zechs Marquise – Getting Paid

9 Maybeshewill – I Was Here For a Moment, Then I Was Gone

8 Austra – Feel It Break

7 Givers – In Light

6 Le Galaxie – Laserdisc Nights II

5 Fatty Gets A Stylist – Liberty Bell

4 Tieranniesaur – TIERANNIESAUR!

3 ASIWYFA – Gangs

2 tUnE-YaRdS – w h o k i l l

1 Le Butcherettes – Sin Sin Sin

Obfuscated Lyrics

A few months ago, I tried starting a new hashtag on Twitter, #obfuscatedlyrics. It didn’t really catch on but it seemed to amuse one of my followers as I got a retweet. Maybe it works better in blog form so I have for you here all of my obfuscated lyrics. The basic rule of creating an obfuscated lyric is to replace words or phrases with more complicated or complex words or phrases. In some cases, you can leave the simple words like the articles, conjunctions and linking verbs but the rest needs to be changed. I find it to be loads of fun to think up with my odd sense of humour and maybe some of you out there might have fun figuring them out. Post answers below of if you have some of your own, you can post them below too:

  • How is it possible to me to provide adequate security for you in this chaotic environment? It is satisfactory, satisfactory.
  • Can someone tell me the location of the main organ in my nervous system?
  • I belong to the non-victorious side of a head-to-head competition, therefore I offer you the chance to terminate my existence.
  • It is the 5th day of the week, 5th day of the week, I must assume a physically lower position on the 5th day of the week.
  • Please maintain an accelerated pace in the opposite direction of the luminescence of an urban area.
  • It is not possible for you to interpret the facial expression I use when playing a certain, well-known game of cards.
  • Copulate your Japanese manufactured automobile, I have an equine beast immediately adjacent to this premises.
  • An unnamed group has applied asphalt to an idyllic location, in its place is an area in which to store vehicles.
  • Please allow as much light in thru the window as possible by opening up the long cuts of fabric. A 24 hour period similar to this one in every 365 days would greatly improve my overall well being.
  • At the rear of the shelter used for storing buoyant traveling vessels, I will permit you to view something I have concealed from general knowledge that also hasn’t been exposed to sunlight.
  • I would consider you nothing other than a Canis lupus familiaris used for hunting with very active tear ducts.
  • Halt at this very moment! I would like to express much gratitude. I require someone with the caress of a homo sapien. Attention! I perceive that you constantly move swiftly on foot. Please decrease your speed and engage in amusing activities.
  • You must engage in a physical encounter in order obtain the privilege of attending a social gathering.