Category Archives: Podcast Stuff

Podcast stuff.

Christmas Caramels and Other Murder Foods

We read The Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke! It’s kind of a mystery and kind of a cookbook, so we tried out some of the recipes. Our overall summary is: these are…fine recipes. They all created products that were mostly enjoyable to consume. They were all fairly simple, although they often had somewhat strange proportions.

Here’s what we made:

  • Gingerbread Pancakes
  • Red Velvet Whippersnappers
  • Red Raspberry Muffins
  • The titular Christmas Caramels

 

We collected together all of our ingredients and gathered at Renata’s house for our cooking extravaganza.

 

 


Duarte wanted to help cook but played coy about posing for photos.

I mostly wanted to make the gingerbread pancakes because I had recently gotten a Pusheen pancake pan (from the Pusheen Box!) and I wanted to use it.

Pusheen Pan

I’d never used a pancake pan like that before and it took some trial and error before I got the technique down. Unfortunately, the darker color of the gingerbread pancake batter wasn’t especially conducive to cat designs, so they never looked great. They tasted fine, though. I made the batter in advance and let it rest in the fridge the night before, as she suggested in the recipe. (As we mentioned the podcast, she said this very casually as if we were all always doing this with pancake batter? But I never have in my life.)

Pancakes pancakes pancakes

The Red Raspberry Muffins were also…fine. They called for both raspberry jam and frozen raspberries, but then only 1 cup of frozen raspberries which wasn’t really enough to get a good raspberry-to-bite ratio. The batter was also portioned as such that even though, presumably, they were writing this recipe from scratch, there was too much batter for 12 muffins but not enough for 24 and it said right in the recipe to put extra batter into a loaf pan and make a tea cake? So we did that.

The Red Velvet Whippersnappers were, again, fine? They’re basically a chocolate chip cookie but with boxed red velvet cake mix as the base, and then also dipped in powdered sugar and with a maraschino cherry on top.

Plate

 

Then there were the Christmas caramels. TBH, I was very hesitant to attempt making them, because my mom makes them every year at Christmas and she always ruins at least one batch even though she’s done it dozens of times, because it’s just a tricky recipe. Kait was ambitious, though, so we gave it a crack.

They turned out, well, less than fine, I guess? They came out as a hard candy. (According to my mom, this means the candy got too hot while cooking. That candy thermometer is a harsh mistress!)

Hard Candy ChristmasHard candy pieces
And finally, we made hot lemonade, which is not a recipe given by the author, but one of the characters drinks it. We used this recipe from AllRecipes, except I squeezed in a little extra lemon juice and that was a mistake. It turned out….extremely lemony and we added a huge amount of honey to counteract the lemon. And then I accidentally got drunk on it.

hot lemonade :(

If you learn one thing from us, please: don’t drink hot lemonade. But if you must drink it: drink responsibly.

In summary: the recipes included in this cozy mystery are fine, but if you’re really looking for quality recipes you’re probably better served (see what I did there) by an actual cookbook. Check out our readers advisory page for the podcast episode for suggestions of more cookbooks and more mysteries!

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Bed & Breakfast & Borden Murder

One of my favorite pieces of writing is an essay by Sarah Vowell entitled “God Will Give You Blood to Drink in a Souvenir Shot Glass.” (The essay is collected in The Partly Cloudy Patriot but sadly does not seem to be available online on its own anywhere. The book is worth seeking out if you haven’t read it and you’re into nerdy historical tourism.) Anyway, the essay is about tourism in sites of historical tragedies, mainly Salem, Massachusetts, and how odd it is to reconcile having a fun, enjoyable tourist time in a site where horrible atrocities were committed. As a recent transplant to Massachusetts, I’ve also visited Salem and also had a great time enjoying the beautiful town where young women were put to death a long time ago.

The Lizzie Borden B&B has really leaned into that whole vibe. When you walk into the house, you start, of course, with the gift shop, which features Lizzie Borden bobble heads and baby onesies printed with “I love my Mommy TO DEATH” with a little axe. It’s very light-hearted for the site of a gruesome double-murder. But the murders were a long time ago, so now we can have fun.

pals!

We’re here to investigate a murder, but let’s have fun with it!

Lizzie Borden B&B

The house itself was, well…like a B&B. It’s furnished with period-appropriate furniture, but it’s also a working B&B, so everything that’s out is sat upon and slept upon by tourists every day. As we went through on our tour, getting more details about the day-to-day life of the Bordens and the murder itself, I just couldn’t get over the fact that people pay money to sleep in this B&B every day.

 

Skull Replicas

Just a curio cabinet with some replica murder skulls, like every B&B has

 

What's A Home Without a Father?

Ironic cross-stitch and significant replica key; apparently Andrew Borden knew that Lizzie had stolen some trolley tickets and money from him and responded by keeping his door locked but the key out in plain sight as some kind of test…

 

Naturally they leave a replica hatchet lying around for you to pose with

Naturally they leave a replica hatchet lying around for you to pose with

 

Naturally we posed with the hatchet

Naturally we posed with the hatchet

 

We have fun

Jokes!

 

The maid's bed

A photo of the maid Bridget, a stuffed cat, and a bed that B&B guests sleep in

 

Wouldn't it be fun to check in on the spirits of the 2 people who were horribly murdered here?

Wouldn’t it be fun to check in on the spirits of the 2 people who were horribly murdered here?

 

OH YIKES

OH YIKES

 

Anyway, it was a fun day trip, and we learned a moderate amount about history. It also did help contextualize the weird book about Lizzie Borden we read–how dysfunctional the family was, how oddly laid out their house was, and how many pears there were. (Listen to the podcast episode for more details.) If you’re ever in the area I’d recommend the Lizzie Borden house as an interesting day trip, if you’re into that kind of thing. If nothing else you can take some really ominous Facebook profile photos there.

 

What kind of a woman doesn't have a hatchet?

Goodbye!

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Podcast-strology

Unusually Specific For a Horoscope

On Worst Bestsellers’ epic crossover episode with Bellwether Friends, we joked about seeing how compatible our podcasts are. Never one to let a joke die, I looked up the dates of our first episodes and got a free star chart for their compatibility from Cafe Astrology. Here’s the deets:

Bellwether Friends was born on August 27, 2014, making them a Virgo.

Worst Bestsellers was born on September 23, 2014, making us a Virgo/Libra cusp.

Star Chart

What does this mean? Is this Illuminati?

Our compatibility report starts out strong:

187 Conjunction Mercury – Venus

Positive aspect: An agreeable relationship overall. They generally like to speak with each other, have a good intellectual understanding, their tastes can be very similar or complementary, and they typically like to share their feelings with one another.

This is totally accurate! We love sharing our feelings with Bellwether Friends.

I Just Have a Lot of Feelings

 

52 Trine Jupiter – Uranus

Positive aspect: This union can be favorable, if the two mutually respect each other. They both like their independence, their freedom of thought and action. The relationship may be marked by distinct philosophical interests and unusual ideas or belief systems, which ideally are encouraged in one another. There can be a nice meeting of minds on the bigger issues.

We do! We do mutually respect each other, and we definitely have unusual ideas and belief systems.

I Respect You Respecting Me

49 Trine Mars – Jupiter

Positive aspect: This is an excellent aspect. They boost each other’s confidence and fill each other with enthusiasm. They make plans together, and these are realistic enough to fulfill.

Could not be more true.

FRIENDSHIP

You can view the whole star chart here. It’s got a lot of astrology terms that I don’t technically understand!

Here’s hoping the stars continue to #bless our podcast friendship for many years to come!

If you understand astrology and can explain this chart, please tweet at us or leave a comment on this post! If you think astrology is fake and stupid, please do not tweet at us or leave a comment on this post!

 

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Hello!

Hello, and welcome to the Worst Blog, where we write stuff sometimes!

If you’re here, there’s a good chance you know us, Kait & Renata, from our podcast, The Worst Bestsellers. Since starting the podcast, we’ve also tweeted from @worstbestseller and occasionally posted some extra essays and thoughts, written by us or friends, on the podcast page under the Extras tag. But we didn’t want to clutter up the podcast page with a lot of blog posts and things that were too far afield from our podcast’s fairly narrow focus (providing commentary on and readers advisory for popular books of questionable quality). And it turns out that no one is using Livejournal anymore, and we’re too old to really understand Tumblr, so we’re launching this blog!

Here are some things that might appear on The Worst Blog:

  • Essays and extended thoughts on books discussed on The Worst Bestsellers, written by Kait & Renata or by guests
  • Book reviews and booktalks on books not discussed on The Worst Bestsellers
  • Write-ups and thoughts about library programs
  • Personal essays about whatever happens to catch Kait & Renata’s fancy
  • Pictures of Renata’s cat Duarte
  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Duarte seeing himself reflected in literature

We hope you enjoy reading our stuff in addition to listening to it!

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