#AWP2018 Tip: Al’s Bar-B-Que

Dear Writer Friends–I’m not going to #AWP2018, but if you are, and if you’re going to Ybor City for an event, make sure to walk a couple blocks toward the train tracks and visit Al’s Bar-B-Que. It’s messy & great, and they serve big-ass beers! I went there with my dad a year or two before he passed away, and it’s such a nice memory. I try to get there when I visit my brother in Tampa. The Ybor neighborhood is worth a stroll, and has an interesting history as a hub of Cuban cigar manufacturing.



The Black Panther Boogie


Image result for black panther movie






This is so cute. I hope it becomes a dance craze. All these kids finding out they get to go see the Black Panther movie for free! Make mine Marvel! The costumes look so good n this that I wonder if they will influence fashion this summer? The textiles and textures really take the comic look to a new level, and the armor and beaded jewelry are great, too. Plus I would watch Angela Bassett, who plays the titular hero’s mom, in just about anything. I always thought she’d make a very regal Storm. Comic cons are gonna be fun this year.  Image result for black panther movie kids singing youtube


Snowy-Day Winter Cider

Snowy-Day Winter Cider Recipe — Insomnia, a snowy forecast, and lemons that needed to be used caused me to experiment with this recipe at 4 am this morning. Let me know if you like it. Portions are estimated rather than precisely calculated. I cook by instinct.

Candied ginger adds a welcome zing to this winter favorite. I used Jerry’s Nuthouse crystallized ginger. If you find you prefer more or less of a particular ingredient, you can adjust the recipe accordingly. (Cinnamon, for instance, can add an additional flavor note.) The recipe’s real magic is in the sweetness of the candied ginger combining with the tartness of the lemon. Makes 4 servings.


  • 750 -100 ml or so of apple cider, which is 3 to 4 cups.
  • lemon, preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons of Craisins (dried cranberries can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg (you could also use pumpkin spice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of powdered cloves*
  • a teaspoon of dried lemon peel if you have it (I like my own or Grassia’s spice shop in Philly’s Italian Market–my favorite local spice store)
  • dash of cinnamon — optional
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of candied ginger. This provides the magic.

In a Pyrex-style saucepan, warm the apple cider on Low on the stove top.
Zest the lemon with a fine zester tool. Shave only the outer layer of the lemon; avoid pieces of white pith, which can add bitterness.

Reserve the juice of the lemon.

In a small food processor or blender, such as a Magic Bullet, add 1/4 cup of the warmed cider. Then add Craisins, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Add the lemon peel and zest (if you don’t have dried lemon peel, add the zest of another lemon. The organic lemons I used were on the small side. One enormous lemon might be enough). Pulverize the ingredients until they appear almost paste-like. You want the fruit to blend into the liquid, so add more liquid if necessary. Fine bits of ginger or Craisins may still appear, but that is okay and adds a bit of pulp. If you don’t like pulpiness in your cider, blend longer. In general we are talking seconds, not minutes. A few good pulses should do. (I found a flat blade did fine in my Magic Bullet; the kind of blade I use for grinding coffee or spices. If your grinder is used for coffee, make sure it is very clean to avoid flavor-mixing!)

Add the ginger paste back to the cider on the stove top. Add the juice of your lemon. Make sure no seeds fall into the mix. Stir until blended well. Warm through. You can let it get to a low boil, but don’t overdo it. I let mine simmer for a half hour or longer. The simmer is what seems to make the ginger combine with the lemony-ness. Stir often enough that no bits of fruit cling to the bottom of the glass pot.

Serve in your favorite mugs. Add a shot of spiced rum or whisky for even more snowy-day cheer.

Tip: You can add other dried fruit if you like. Today I am adding a few chopped organic dates to the mix. You can also try apple slices, orange slices, etc. A cinnamon stick makes a fine garnish. If you like your cider sweeter, you can add a little orange juice or honey. Experiment!

*I know a lot of cider lovers float whole cloves in their brew. I don’t like their scratchy texture. If you only have whole cloves, you can grind a few in your Magic Bullet before creating your ginger paste.

–Kelly McQuain, January 2018

Conference and Reading: Kicking off Poetry Month!

Happy poetry month! I’m doing two events to kick off the celebration. the first is a panel at the Rosemont College LitLife conference. Click here for details. Tim Seibles, a wonderful Philly poet who now teaches in Virginia (where he is the poet laureate for the state!) is just one of the amazing poets at the conference. I met Tim a few years ago when he read for us at the college where I work. What a great guy! I’ll be doing a panel on creating images with the wonderful poet Dawn Manning. Look for us there on April 1st.

And, speaking of my college, Community College of Philadelphia, our Poets & Writers Festival comes to a conclusion this coming Monday with a free event below. Check it out!


Monday, April 3, 2017

6 – 8 p.m.
Klein Cube, Room P2-03

The Community College of Philadelphia Spring Faculty Showcase of Writers

Join College’s distinguished faculty members as they read from their latest poetry and prose in what has become an annual tradition. Refreshments will be served! Click here for more info!


The line-up includes: Jonathan Pappas; Amy Birge; Lauren Genovesi; Julie Odell; Kelly McQuain; Brian Goedde. Hosted by Jeffrey Markovitz.

Bye, Bye, My America Died

An Inaugural Poem, err, Song?
“Bye, Bye, My America Died”
(Sung to the tune of “American Pie”. Don McLean, forgive me.)
A long, long time ago
I can still remember how my country
used to make me smile…
And I know if I had my wish
Bernie Sanders would be the big fish
and maybe we’d be happy for a while…

But November ballots made me shiver
with every return CNN delivered:
A psycho at our doorstep.
Hillary hadn’t cinched it.

And I can’t remember if I cried
when I read about Trump’s third child bride.
But something touched me deep inside
The day America died.

So bye, bye, my America’s died.
Shoved my country to a cliffside
and that cliffside is high.
Trump’s good ole boys are drinking whiskey ‘n rye
Singing “This’ll be the day that they die!
Ground beneath his heels and his pride!”

Now did you write the book of hate
And would you help Putin masturbate
if the Russians told you to?
Now does Trump believe in rock ‘n roll?
The Boss ain’t gonna save his greedy soul.
Still gonna build his wall… just real slow…

Yes, I know we’re not in love with him,
40% approval ain’t a goddam win.
So don’t kick off your shoes.
Man, I got the Obama blues!

I’m just a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With student debt and a beat-up truck
And I know my friends are all real f*cked.
Today, my America dies.

We’ve started singing
bye, bye, our America died.
Shoved our country to a cliffside
and that cliffside is high.
Trump’s good ole boys are drinking whiskey ‘n rye,
singing “This’ll pave the way for our ride!
This’ll be the day the Left dies!”

–Kelly McQuain
#WritersResist #WritersResistPHL #Trump #BernieSanders #Trump


Also, whoever baked the Cthulhu pie, I love you.