Friday, September 12, 2014

Bacon Beer Bread

Time for another delicious, perfect for fall recipe! Although I will admit that I did not conceive of this during the fall. I made it for the first time in July and have since been making and eating it so fast that I haven't had time to post about it. 

I have dear friend who attends Catholic Seminary, and when he was home this summer he mentioned that they have delicious bacon bread there. He had me at bacon bread. I immediately decided I had to figure out how to make bacon bread of my own, and my first stroke of genius was what if there were actual pieces of bacon in the bread!  I decided that a good basis for starting this recipe would be a basic beer bread. First of all, if you have not ever made beer bread, you must. It is special and delicious all on its own; great with soup or for breakfast or just snacking. And it's incredibly easy, even for a quick bread! 

So. I began with this recipe for beer bread. It calls for 3 cups sifted flour, 3 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 12oz beer, and 1/2 cup butter. However, I used self-rising flour (King Arthur brand), so I did not need to add baking powder or salt. Just so you know. 
But first, it's vitally important that you cook some bacon. I dice 8-9 slices of thick-cut bacon and cook it in a skillet until it's fairly crispy. 
Use a slotted spoon to drain all the pieces and set them aside to cool. I mean, I don't know if they really have to be cool, but they do need to be set aside until the end. 
Do not get rid of the bacon grease! Leave all that deliciousness in the pan! Keep it on the stove (with the stove turned off) until it's needed. It needs to stay liquid. This is very important. 
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. As mentioned before, all I am using is the self-rising flour and sugar. But if you are using all purpose flour then you need to add the salt and baking powder. 
It was here that I had another stroke of genius. What goes great with bacon? MAPLE SYRUP! So throw in 1/4 cup. It doesn't make the bread overly sweet, just adds a tiny bit of mapley flavor and a more moist texture. I like my bread moist. If you don't, or if you don't like maple syrup, just leave it out! (This is another case where, if you are going to use it, it must be the real deal! No pancake syrup, please!) 
Time to add the beer! This is what makes it beer bread. In this case, I used Boulevard Wheat. You can use whatever. I have used darker beers, i.e. Sam Adam's Winter Ale, and I prefer to go as dark as possible. But then again, I prefer to drink darker beers too. So just use whatever beer makes you feel good. Pour the whole bottle in there and panic a little at the way it foams up. Then calm back down. This is totally normal. 
Stir everything together! The dough will be very, very thick, and quite wet. And it will. Smell. Incredible. 
Then stir in the bacon pieces! Make sure they are well incorporated. You want them all inside the dough so they don't scorch in the oven. It will be hard to stir, but you must persevere! It's worth it. (And frankly, a little arm workout might be in order given the main ingredients we are using here.)
Spread it all out in a bread pan. You will have to use your spoonula to make sure it reaches the corners. This is normal. Just make it look like you want it to look. You are the master of the dough!
Now, remember that bacon grease you were saving? Well, now is the time to use it. This is not for the faint of heart. You are going to use a full 1/2 cup of bacon grease. If this is already giving you palpitations, I'd advise you to cover your eyes for the rest of the post. 
Now pour that 1/2 cup of bacon grease over the top of the dough and just let it sit there! No stirring! Now, I always get pretty much exactly 1/2 cup grease from the amount of bacon I used. But if you don't have enough, or if you want to skip the grease altogether, you can supplement with melted butter (salted butter. come on.). 

Put this in a 375 degree oven and bake for 1 hour. The bacon grease will keep the bread nice and moist and will create a kind of nice, salty crust on the top of the relatively sweeter bread. It's a phenomenal thing. You'll see. 
Remove it from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before taking it out of the pan. Then take it out and let it cool all the way, or immediately slice it up and begin eating it! 

I am not sure if it is required or not, but I store it in the fridge. Please, please give it a try! It's so good. But share it. One person should not be eating that much bacon grease. No matter how much she may want to. 

Happy Fall, again! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Fall and Apple Pie Waffles

This morning I awakened to bright, golden sunlight and crisp, sweet smelling air. It just felt like fall outside. So it seemed like the perfect time to make a hot, delicious fall breakfast, which was a welcome respite from the cold yogurt and chia pudding that we have been consuming all summer. So what could be more reminiscent of fall that waffles with apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar? Nothing, that's what. So here are my easy-peasy Apple Pie Waffles:

First, core and slice two medium apples. Or one big one. Whatever you happen to have in your fridge. I can't even tell you what kind of apples I am using here because I just have a big miscellaneous apple pile in my crisper drawer. I use one of those corer/slicer tools to cut up the apple, and then peel and dice like this:
 Use a paring knife to cut the skin from each slice.
Put the slice core side down on the cutting board and cut it in half lengthwise.
Turn the now two slices on their flat side and slice in half lengthwise again.
Then cut the double-halved slices into little cubes. This is important. You want small, mostly uniform pieces because they will evenly distribute throughout the batter, and also because they will cook through better when they are in the waffle iron. If you like your apples crunchier, feel free to make bigger chunks. My taste testers just happen to prefer their apple pieces fully cooked, or, mushy.
Then make the batter! Start with the basic Bisquik waffle recipe. I have often thought about creating my own waffle recipe, but when this one is so simple and so adaptable, why would I bother? So I'm not going to make you bother either. Step 1: 2 cups of Bisquik and 1 1/3 cup milk. We are a whole milk house. But use whatever (lesser) kind of milk you like.
Then add 1 egg! Also, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. I didn't add a picture of that because it didn't show up very well, and also, I figured you probably know what vegetable oil looks like. So that's the basic Bisquik recipe. Now we are going to get a little crazy!
Add in a tablespoon of pure vanilla. NOT imitation. You shouldn't even have imitation vanilla in your house. They shouldn't even sell it in stores. Just, don't. Also, you can add less vanilla if you don't like it as much (or more, if you are even more wild for vanilla that I am).

Then add some ground cinnamon! Like, quite a bit of ground cinnamon actually. I don't measure, I just sprinkle it until it has made a thing filmy layer covering the entire bowl. It's probably like 1-2 tablespoons. Use your judgement. You can also add other spices like nutmeg, or clove, or just a pinch of salt if you like. But this is all I use.
Then I add 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar. You could use light brown, if that's what you're into. But I must strongly suggest that you do not use white sugar. Use the brown stuff. It's good for you.
Then mix it all together! I use my spoonula from Williams Sonoma, but you might prefer a whisk, or a wooden spoon, or whatever floats your boat. I'm just super in love with the spoonula.
Mix until it is nice and smooth. You will be able to smell it all now, and it will smell like apple pie. And you will debate whether it would be weird to lick waffle batter off a spoon. And decide it probably wouldn't be. Anyway.
Time to add the apples! Just dump 'em on in there!
Stir them in so they are well incorporated. It will be very chunky, but that's okay.
Time to cook the waffles! Get a waffle iron nice and hot. I just put mine to maximum heat and let it heat up for about ten minutes while I'm making the waffle batter. I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter, and I usually end up putting somewhere between 1-3 scoops per waffle. I don't know why I do things this way, but it has just always seemed to work better using the smaller scoop. So, dump some waffle batter on your waffle iron.

And cook until it is brown! Then rinse and repeat until all the batter is used.
 While I am cooking the waffles, I also like to make bacon, because, well, what goes better with waffles than bacon? I use the thick cut, regular smoked bacon. I like the thicker pieces better. My friend Kalyn taught me to make bacon like this: lay pieces out on a cooling rack placed on top of a foil-covered baking sheet. Then cook in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes. All the fat collects on the foil, and you can just let it solidify and then throw the foil away! No draining needed. And the bacon turns out perfectly crispy and delicious.

And here is the finished product! Delicious waffles and bacon! It may seem like a lot of steps, but it is actually very fast and easy. What I normally do is cook the first few waffles all the way to well done and those are the ones we eat. And then all the ones after that, I cook just a little under done. Then I tear them in half, wrap them in foil, put them in baggies, and freeze them! Then whenever we want a waffle, we can just take them out and pop them in the toaster! The halves fit perfectly in my toaster, and by the time they are finished they are crispy and cooked to perfection. Definitely a great make-ahead breakfast.

Also, these are sweet enough to eat without syrup. We usually just fold them up in a paper towel and eat them like a piece of toast. No butter or maple syrup necessary! Great for a breakfast on the go.

Go make waffles!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Okie Poutine

Quite a while ago I wrote a review of a local restaurant called The Mule. You will notice that I did not love everything about my dining experience there, but there are several things that this restaurant does really well. One of those things is an appetizer they called "Okie Poutine."

 In case you are unfamiliar, poutine is a Canadian dish that literally translates to "mess," and is comprised of french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy.  At The Mule, they have made it a little more regional, using Watonga cheese curds (Watonga being a town in Oklahoma that is known for its cheese) and cream gravy (because brown gravy just isn't a thing here). It. Is. Delicious. You might balk, thinking that cheese and gravy have no place in the same dish unless the eater is supremely hungover, but don't be so sure! It turns out that cheese and cream gravy are actually best friends.

So I became determined to make this dish at home, and that's exactly what I did, and what I am going to encourage you to do in the comfort of your own home.

Start with french fries. I used Ore-Ida crinkle cut fries, but if those aren't your bag, then use whatever you like. Just make sure you cook them so that they are nice and crispy on the outside, because they are going to have to support quite a bit of other stuff.

While the fries are in the oven, make some cream gravy.

Start by melting about half a stick of butter (1/4c) in a saucepan.

Add about 1/2 cup flour and stir it around. I didn't strictly measure the flour, I just sprinkle it in while stirring until it's combined and absorbed but not so dry it will burn. You'll know when it's the right amount.

Let this mixture brown for a minute, but watch it closely. When it's ready it will smell kind of like baking sugar cookies, but slightly less sweet. You'll know it when you smell it, because it's delicious smelling.

When the roux is browned, pour in the milk. I used about 1-1 1/2 cups, though I don't strictly measure. I just add in some milk until it looks like I will get the amount of gravy I want.

Give everything a good stir and add some black pepper; a pretty good amount.

Then add some salt.

Then some seasoned salt. Feel free to eyeball those amounts because you will want it to taste the way you like it.

From this point on you are going to have to keep an eye on things. You don't necessarily have to stir constantly the entire time, but if you leave it alone to cook too long, it will get lumpy and gross. I recommend using a whisk. You will also want to keep the heat at medium-low. My knob is 1-10, and I keep it at around 4.

So it will thicken as you stir. Cook it long enough to make it good and thick, because you don't want it running all over the place. And remember that it will thicken as it stands.

So when you fries are ready, pull them out of the oven and cover them with these. Cheese curds, fresh from Watonga! Yay!

I am super vigilant about grouping my fries together and making sure each fry has some cheese touching it. I like cheese on my fries.

Put the curd covered fries into the oven with the broiler on low. DO NOT LEAVE THE KITCHEN! I don't know about you, but my broiler is very intense, and food will go from browning to completely burnt in about a millisecond. Keep an eye on things and watch as the cheese curds melt into the fries. YUM.

Now, when you pull them out and the cheese is all melty, feel free to go ahead and just eat delicious cheese fries. Cheese curds make delicious cheese fries because they maintain really great texture. They don't get soupy or crusty. They melt and get all stringy and mostly stay that way, so they cling to the fries and provide maximum cheesiness. Sublime!

But we are going to add gravy to ours.

And this is the finished product! Eat it while it's piping hot and revel in the richness.

This is in no way a healthy dish. But if you share it with friends you will understand why I felt compelled to create it myself so  I don't have to get gussied up and go to a restaurant to have it. Enjoy!  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

National Dog Day and a Look at My Furry Guardians

Good morning! It's National Dog Day today! If you know me even a little bit, you know that I am an avid (to put it mildly) dog lover, and I am so happy to be able to take a whole day to celebrate the canine loves of my life!

First, let me introduce you to my pups:

Keeley, my sweet girl.

She's my pound puppy! Actually, I adopted her from the Pet Adoption League in Tulsa, way back in 2009, when she was approximately four years old. She is (as best we can guess), a cross between a German shepherd, and a basenji. She looks more like a shepherd, but definitely has the personality of a basenji. She is my special girl. So loving and sweet and 100 percent neurotic. Her interests include tearing apart small stuffed animals, avoiding the human baby, and sneaking off to take naps in places she is not supposed to go. She is loyal, cuddly, and protective, and goes nuts is she is separated from her baby brother.

McFly, being skeptical.
Marty McFLy: 
He's our chubby little Pembroke corgi! We got him when he was just a wee pup, from a retiring breeder who lived out in the country. Before he came to our house, McFly ran around with a peacock all day. Now, four years later, he runs around with our two year old. Marty is all corgi, all the time. He is a cuddler, and is the tattle tale and rule enforcer among the pets (and kid). He is definitely the pack leader, or would be, if Norris and I weren't around to outrank him. He has trouble at the dog park, because he likes to herd the other dogs, but nobody likes to listen to him when he tells them how they should play. He is sweet, tolerant, cheerful, and talkative and his interests include napping, bossing everyone around, and eradicating squirrels from the back yard. But mostly napping.

So those are my dogs and I love them. And I would be lost without them.

My husband has a job that takes him out of town off and on, and due to my love of crime dramas and thrilling movies, I am completely paranoid about being in the house alone while he is gone. Fortunately, I know without a doubt that my loveable dogs would ferociously protect our house and family if the need ever arose, and that helps me sleep at night.

Where does your dog fall on the spectrum?
For National Dog Day, the security company Dropcam has put together a personality profile of what kind of protectors different dogs are (see image), and I can definitely tell you that both my dogs fall into the Bouncing Buzzer category. I am not even kidding, our neighbor two doors down will get out of his car, and the sound of his car door makes our dogs bark and run to the window to see what shenanigans these people are up to. (Sorry neighbors, I know you're probably not up to any shenanigans.)

Marty is more vigilant at night, and often growls softly at noises I haven't heard, which serves the dual purpose of terrifying and reassuring me, since I am worried he is hearing a serial killer, but reassured that I am getting advanced warning about the killer entering my home.

One more pic of my pups!
Keeley, on the other hand, definitely also displays behavior consistent with The Bouncer. If she hears a noise of any kind outside, she gives a thorough barking and then goes to sit by the front door in case anyone has the audacity to try to enter the house. If someone rings the doorbell, she not only barks hysterically and ensures she is with me when I answer, she shoves in front of me to make sure she greets the person on the porch and checks them out before they come in.

At night, she sleeps at the foot of my bed, facing the doorway to make sure whatever comes into the room has to face her first. Marty is her lieutenant, sleeping in the living room usually, and making the rounds to check the rest of the house. It's really fascinating to see what a well coordinated security team they are. And I love them so much for caring about the family that way. We are really a tight-knit pack.

So what about your dogs? Why do you love them? What kind of security dogs are they?

Happy National Dog Day everyone! Go hug your pets (or adopt one if you don't have one)!

*As a side note, I do want to include a link to my local pet adoption agency, The Central OK Humane Society. They work very hard to provide good, loving homes to as many animals as they can: they are 100% no kill, all pets adopted through them are neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped, and they even have a service that rounds up feral cats and neuters them so that the city doesn't become overrun with homeless animals. If you can't adopt or foster a pet, please consider donating money or time to this organization. I have worked with them, and I can tell you absolutely that every person  I have met through them puts the animals first and cares so much about their welfare. It's truly a worthy cause. Thanks for listening! 

*Also on a side note, I was approached by DropCam and asked to assess my dogs' security prowess. However, I am not being compensated or asked to overtly advertise in any way. And I leaped at the chance to talk about my little furry friends. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

It's Iced Coffee Time!

In case you don't know, coffee is awesome when it is iced. I mean, it's just so good. So much better than when it is hot. It is refreshing, revitalizing, and, apparently, good for your health! And your skin! (Coffee, that is, not just the iced variety.) 

So when the weather starts getting warm, I immediately start drinking my coffee cold.  Normally, I make a huge (like, two gallon) pitcher of cold brew coffee and keep it in the fridge, pre-sweetened. I use the Pioneer Woman method , which involves simply soaking ground coffee overnight in water, then straining it into a pitcher and adding a desired amount of water. I used Espresso Roast coffee, because it is strong, but not too bitter. Then I add Torani Cane Sugar syrup and mix it up good. It keeps in the fridge for a long time. Then I can get up in the morning and just pour it over ice and add a little cream. 

If you don't feel the need to keep gallons of coffee on hand at all times like I do, there are other options. A lot of brands created iced coffee that you can buy in the grocery store. Starbucks has iced coffee that comes in little glass bottles in different flavors, namely Coffee, Coffee Light, Vanilla, and Caramel. I have tried all these flavors, and I can tell you that if you like the taste of coffee at all, definitely go for the plain Coffee flavor. It is the only one that even remotely tastes like coffee. Not that the others are bad, they are just significantly sweeter, and for serious coffee drinkers they probably won't do the trick. 

I like the Starbucks iced coffee, but then this other thing came along and changed my life. And that is Chameleon Cold Brew. Chameleon comes in myriad flavors: Coffee, Vanilla, and Mocha. I have not tried the Vanilla yet, but I have had both the Coffee, and the Mocha. Now, to be clear, this is not an "iced coffee drink." This is straight up cold brew coffee. The hard stuff. It's clean, and bitter, and refreshing. And that's just the plain coffee. 

But if you like a flavor, I cannot recommend the Mocha flavor enough. The chocolate flavor is subtle but present, making the whole drink taste kind of like a tootsie roll, but not as sweet. This isn't some cheap addition to plain coffee. This is a flavor infusion that is aromatic, emphatic, and altogether delightful. It's great by itself, with just cream, or with full on cream and sugar. The perfect chocolate/coffee flavor comes through no matter what and creates a perfect storm of deliciousness. It is hard to express fully the sublime nature of this iced coffee. This is what cold coffee should be. 

I am officially in love with Chameleon Cold Brew coffee. Not only does it have absolutely glorious flavor, but it comes in these adorable glass bottles with adorable chameleons on their labels. Go forth and drink iced coffee!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guest Post: Steve Knapp's Top 5 Stephen King Must-Reads

This is Stephen King, laughing at your terror.

I have only recently started delving into the works of one Mr. Stephen King, and I am discovering that I wholeheartedly regret all those pretentious years of college when I was immersed in being an English major and considered myself above genre fiction. So when I went looking for the perfect starting place in King’s positively enormous canon, I knew there was only one person who could give me direction: my father. He is an absolute Stephen King expert. He has read all of King’s books, viewed (and critiqued) many film adaptations, and loves horror/sci-fi fiction with fervor. He has always advised me wisely, and has consented to share his top five recommendations for newcomers to the land of King as a special Halloween themed post. So take a gander and take your pick from Steve Knapp’s Stephen King library:

Since Halloween is fast approaching, many readers, avid and otherwise, look to find some good scary stories. Of course, when thinking of scary stories, Stephen King  always enters the discussion. As a diehard fan of King’s, and having read almost all of his books and short stories, Katie considered me to be as close as she could get to an expert (at lease for the price she was willing to pay – cupcakes), and asked me to contribute to her blog by recommending some of my favorite Stephen King books. Let me begin by saying that this is very difficult, somewhat akin to picking your favorite child. King’s books vary. Some are really scary, some have things happen that are more just strange or unusual, some just weird. I’ve liked all kinds, just like I love my daughters equally even though they are quite different. So, I’m going to recommend several of my favorites, sort of in order of preference, leaning more toward the ones that I deem to be more scary and gruesome in honor of Halloween.

1. Pet Semetary – this is one of my all-time favorites. The story of a man, his son and the family cat. After moving to a new house, the father is led to a mysterious graveyard (is there any other kind?) near their property. Weird, terrifying stuff happens, then, when tragedy strikes, the father deals with it as best he can with many horrors along the way and a twist at the end. As with a lot of King's books, it deals as much with the family dynamic and internal struggle of being a husband/father as it does with the actual horror of the events that are unfolding.

Katie here: I want to insert a memory. My dad read this book out loud to me when I was around ten years old. It…changed me. Definitely a scary read.

2. Misery – an author is rescued from an accident by his number one, most ardent fan. Sounds fine, right? Everything should work out perfectly. But, this is Stephen King, after all. The fan is not quite as accommodating as one might imagine. In fact, she's more obsessive, psychotic, crafty, and violent. And soon the writer is not only sedated and trapped, but also forced to write a book he hates on a beat up old typewriter in an attempt to placate his increasingly manic captor.

 This is a terrifying book. It would rank number one on my personal list. Not only suspenseful and full of glorious gore, but a deeply insightful look into the authorial process. It was deeply frightening to me because it seemed to me that the protagonist made no silly mistakes, and yet he still ended up trapped and fighting for his life. There is nothing to point to in this narrative to say, "See, that was the moment where he messed up and got himself into this predicament."

3. Christine – Arnie, a nerdy high schooler, finds the car of his dreams. Although it looks like a piece of beat up junk, Arnie is drawn to the car, despite the reservations of his best friend, Dennis. Arnie buys the car and begins restoring it to like-new condition. As he is doing this, his appearance improves and he becomes more confident, eventually even dating the pretty new, popular, girl at school, Leigh. However, as Arnie spends more time with Christine, his personality begins to change for the worse, and he becomes obsessed with the car to the exclusion of everyone else, including Dennis and Leigh. Eventually, to Arnie it is he and Christine against the world, and since Arnie has taken  care of Christine, she will “take care of” anyone she deems a threat to come between the two of them. In the end Dennis and Leigh are the only ones with a chance to save Arnie from Christine. I’ll let you read the book to find out if they are successful. As in many of King’s books, I really like the way he portrays the young people. To me, he is right on with his descriptions of the thoughts and actions of Arnie, Dennis and Leigh. This is a creepy story with real moments of suspense. One of King’s most popular.

Proof that King can literally make anything creepy. As is typical of a lot of King’s work, this might really be considered a coming of age tale masquerading as horror. Very effective.

4. Skeleton Crew – this is a collection of short stories. If you want to commit a little less time, this is a good place to start. All are worth reading, but my favorites are The Mist and The Raft. The Mist was actually produced as a novel on its own in conjunction with the release of the movie, but I read it as part of this collection so that’s how I think of it.  Plus, you get other stories as a bonus.  In The Mist, terrible creatures are hidden in, what else, a mist created by a mysterious research center. It turns out, though, that some of the townspeople are about as bad as the creatures. A father and his son are separated from the wife/mother and end up in the grocery store with other townspeople when the mist roles in.  Everyone is scared and many have different ideas about what to do to protect themselves from whatever is in the mist.  They know there is something bad out there, just not what exactly.  So, they end up fighting each other as much as the creatures. 

King does an excellent job of leaving whatever is in the mist to the reader’s imagination.  With only partial descriptions, you know there are lots of them and they’re not friendly, but you are left to conjure up your own scary version.  I also like the way King deals with the interplay between the people, conveying the different ways in which people might actually react in such a situation, with a crazy or two thrown in for good measure.  Without giving it away, I will say that the ending does not answer all questions, but leaves the reader to imagine how things go from then on.  Personally, I don’t mind that one bit. 

The Raft is the story of four teens celebrating the end of summer with one last swim to a stationary raft out in the lake.  Of course, it turns out to be not quite as much fun as they envisioned.  It’s hard to say much about the story without ruining it.  Suffice it to say that an unidentifiable, but beautiful, substance floats to the raft.  Looking at it too long puts a person in a hypnotic trance, which causes them to let down their guard.  When that happens, the results are not pretty.  Again, I really like the way these kids are portrayed.  The thoughts and interactions between the two girls and two boys is always believable, and the gross things that happen make for what I consider to be an entertaining story.

Okay, I haven’t read this one.

5. Duma Key - this story about a man trying to recover from physical injuries and mental instability is more in the psychic/ghost story vein. After a construction accident results in loss of an arm and brain injuries that cause episodes of violent behavior, and the end to his marriage, Edgar Freemantle moves temporarily to Florida (Duma Key) to get himself back together.  As therapy, he begins to paint ocean landscapes (he drew pictures for his daughters when they were little, but he can’t remember doing it).  This helps to calm him and seems to relieve the phantom feelings of his missing arm.  However, as he gains some notoriety for his paintings, he discovers that his works of art have a power of their own.  They either predict the future or cause it, and bad things happen to those who buy one.  Edgar investigates the island and meets his neighbors, finding out that there are many mysteries surrounding the island and its past and present inhabitants. Ultimately, Edgar is thrust into a situation of trying to save his family and friends from the evil that resides in Duma Key.  This story tends to be more psychological and supernatural, but still has plenty of scary moments. 

Or this one. Oh well. I can say though, that there is a sizable faction of people who agree that King's short fiction is superior to his novels. This is definitely a personal preference thing, but if you find reading an entire novel daunting, know that the short stories are likely to be just as satisfying.

If you know anything of Stephen King at all you probably noticed the absence of The Shining and Carrie in the list above.  While they are must reads for the most ardent King fans, they are not at the top of my favorites list.  Plus, everyone knows those stories so I wanted to go with some lesser known stories.  There are, however, many other Stephen King books that are every bit as good as the ones I did list, but got left off for various reasons, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few of them.  Such as; the Dark Tower series (7 books), Thinner, The Stand, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Secret Window.  If you like King’s writing, these are definite reads.

So, I hope I’ve given you some ideas for the Halloween season and beyond. Pick one, turn out as many lights off as you can and still see to read, and enjoy. I wish you good reading and a scary Halloween!

Steve Knapp

Are any of you fans of Stephen King? Which of his books had the biggest impact on you?