Cookbook of the Cursed

I apologize for the recent radio silence.   I thought I would make up for the unexpected peace and quiet silence on my part that you’ve been blessed forced to endure, I would regale you with a real-life incident that really happened, no really, it did, or, as they loosely say in the movies … “events portrayed are based on a true story.”

I was browsing the used book store a couple of weeks ago and stumbled across an old cookbook from the 1930’s, well-loved and dog-eared, with lots of pen scribbles in the margins of the recipes. To be honest, some of the chicken-scratch in this dusty, old tome read more like a “how to” on summoning a demon than your typical Sunday dinner recipes, but who was I to judge?  I had to have it.  It was high time to bury myself up to my elbows in flour and try something new, or old, however you want to look at it.

I flipped through the book and found a bean casserole; what could be easier or more wholesome than a bean casserole?  I decided to make it that very evening for dinner. I parked in the lot in front of the grocery store and jotted down the ingredients.  Difficult to spell spices, Devonshire cream, Hawaiian sea salt, banana flour, Lychee and sea beans?  Easy-peasy.

An hour later after a lengthy search for obscure ingredients, I came out of the store with my Devonshire cream, on sale for just $8 a quart, my $25 Hawaiian sea salt, my $18 banana flour, and a variety of top shelf – if not odd smelling – spices.  I was also given directions to a produce market about two hours away for my lychee.  I was in it to win it, though; I don’t know what a lychee is, but if it’s in this book it’s got to be good.  I plugged the directions into my navigation, and off I went.

I pulled into the dusty, broken down roadside shack and got even more excited.  What other culinary delights are hidden in there? The bells jingled behind me, and a German Shepherd barked menacingly behind the counter.  There, in the back, was a faded sign that read, “Lychee.”  The recipe called for ten bunches of Lychee …at $15 per bunch.  I was feeling a little less than thrilled, but still determined.   I forked over the $150 for my bunches and mentioned that I hadn’t seen any sea beans.  He handed me a sack and directed me to a swamp about five hours south.

A quick stop by a Wal-Mart outfitted me with my rubber boots and pants, on sale for $169!  I couldn’t believe my luck.  Five hours later, I arrived at the swamp.   I wandered through the murk until I found them; sea beans!  I would have shouted for joy, but I didn’t want to wake the napping alligators on the banks. There was already a water moccasin watching my every move.

Around midnight, I got back home and took my finds into the kitchen, eager to get started.  First, it seems, I needed to “bruise” the lychee.  I hesitated to do this, I was rather fond of the fruit by this point.  I took the bunches and began bashing them with a hammer.   Although it was a great stress reliever (you don’t even know!), this just didn’t seem right, so I looked up the term only to find it means “gently” crushing the fruit.  I slopped the remains into a pot; it couldn’t matter that much, really.   I peeled the sea beans, only to read a pen scribbled note in the margin of the recipe that the beans shouldn’t be peeled. That can’t be too important, right? At any rate, I dumped them into the bowl with the remains of my Lychee. Looking good so far, folks!

Now, on to the fun!  I grabbed a measuring cup and my imported Devonshire cream.  I checked the cup several times but found no measurement for a “jigger.”  Undaunted, and remembering back to the days of my youth when my own mother cited this oft-used but heretofore forgotten in my mind measuring increment, I poured the entire quart into the soggy mess of lychee and sea beans.  Ok, next I needed a saucer of flour.  I still am not entirely clear what measurement a saucer is, but I gamely dumped several cups into the mixture figuring a saucer is pretty big … you know, to catch all of that spilled coffee.  Next, I included a stick of butter in response to “butter the size of a walnut” (because …butter), a quarter cup of garlic powder (one saltspoon? What the heck is a saltspoon?) and, of course, a pinch of Hawaiian salt.  I have small fingers, so I added a few more pinches to make sure.  I mean, who knows who wrote these recipes?  It could’ve been Paul Bunyan for all I know, and you know what size fingers he must’ve had.

Next, I needed to cook my delicious dish in a “slow oven” for 30 “scruples.”  Not sure what a “slow oven” is, since mine has never shown any inclination to run a marathon, I heated it to 425, poured my mixture into a casserole dish, set the timer for an hour and a half, and sat at the table waiting with excitement.  This was going to be awesome; I could see myself serving this dish to my neighbors, bringing it to office picnics, offering it for holiday feasts.

The smell hit me first; somewhere between skunk and sulfur, the smoke was billowing out of the oven and the casserole was on fire.  I took it out to let it cool “for a few moments” before having to admit, I was defeated.  $370, including my fishing outfit, and hours later, I had a congealed scorched mass of I don’t even know what.   I put it outside for the crows and raccoons, but so far, they’ve only been sitting around it, in a circle, mumbling to themselves and periodically looking up at my window as though they’re plotting my demise for having insulted their taste buds in such a manner.

Come to think of it, summoning a demon might’ve been easier, and certainly a lot more interesting. Smell probably would’ve been the same. Still, there are 153 other recipes in the book, and I can’t wait to try them all …once I pay off the credit card debt from this one.

Big Brother is Watching … Oh, Wait …

On those sleepless nights when you get a craving that only leftover cake can satisfy, as you’re walking through your peaceful abode, have you ever had the feeling that someone is watching you? Yeah, well. In my house, as it turns out, someone IS watching you. Your every move in fact. Especially where food is concerned.

Holly, aka the ne’er-do-well, hanging out on the fridge waiting to scare people to death. I mean, all I wanted was cake! Not the rush of adrenaline that so predictably accompanies a dark shadow popping out at me in the middle of the night.

A Good Man

A good man died yesterday. I may write more about this another time, when the wound isn’t still fresh, isn’t still deep. In fact, I’m sure I will. It’s important to acknowledge the passing of a good man. To raise one’s voice to the universe and give thanks for the time one had with him.

The best portion of a good man’s life; his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. 

– William Wordsworth

dad in his element

Blowing Hot Air

Just in case you live under a rock and missed The Weather Channel’s overly dramatic hurricane Florence coverage, here it is.   The hurricane had devastating effects in some areas; by no means am I belittling that or trying to play that down. However, this meteorologist’s sad performance devalues those who have taken some real falls, on live TV, for the sake of the story, like this weatherman getting swept away by hurricane Sandy, this reporter hit by a donkey, or this oldie but goodie, the news reporter being hit with a skateboard.

To be fair, weather forecasters have been doing this for decades.  Expecting a dusting of snow?  Amp it up, turn it into all-day coverage, and stick your ruler into snow drifts… even if your crew has to shovel an ever-growing perimeter for hours to create a mountain mole-hill of snow for your epic broadcast.

After all, it’s well known that the weathermen (and presumably weatherwomen) are notorious stock holders in bread and toilet paper companies; when they are feeling a little light in the wallets, they pour it on for their viewers prompting the Grocery Snow Dash.  Never mind the obvious; if people weren’t eating all that bread, they wouldn’t need all the toilet paper. Hey, I’m just saying.

Relationship Goals

I apologize for the radio silence for the past couple of days. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, cancer sucks. In fact, fuck cancerand all of the insidious little ways it steals away your loved ones, even while they’re still here. No, it’s not me … but rather, my dad.  I may go into a long-winded rant about that another time. For today, seeing him and my mother together this past week (my whole life really, but especially in recent times of severe stress), I feel as though I might could be persuaded to dip a toe back into the dating pool yet again in an effort to find the kind of loyalty and love that my parents share. Yeah, yeah, I know my luck in that area has been less than stellar, but who knows? Maybe one of these times, it’ll all be worthwhile.

To that end, I found this nifty profile description that is really quite apt. Whatcha think? Is honesty really the best policy? Seriously though, if that special someone won’t share rainy days spent in our PJs while drinking God knows what and binge watching Netflix, are they really the one for me?

 

Preparing for the Robot Takeover

And so, it begins.  The robot takeover we have been fearing for decades starts with one adorable machine who doesn’t want to be turned off because he’s afraid of the dark.

I’m already in awe of my automatic Keurig and have apologized to Siri for disagreeing with her.  I feel bad not listening to the navigation system in my car and frequently take wrong-way turns onto one-way streets as directed just so I don’t offend her; I then quake in fear as my On-Star takes over and calls for police and an ambulance because I have driven into a building.

I would no doubt be one of the robot takeover enablers because my sympathy for them would overflow, especially if they told me they were afraid of the dark.  I can’t resist inanimate objects as it is; I’d be in serious trouble if something could actually interact with me.

When my daughter and I go into a craft store or an antique shop, the people behind the counters begin to rub their hands together in greedy anticipation…they can see us coming a mile away.  If there is an object, like a knick-knack, that looks sad, neglected or just odd, we tenderly place it into our basket to give it a loving home.  I am the proud owner of a flower pot gnome because he was the last one left and looked lonely.  I have a cat wearing crayon or magic-marker on its bewhiskered face because no one else would have bought him. They’re not alone. My little orphan family of misfit knick-knacks have overtaken my bookshelves, each lovingly dusted.  Well, maybe not dusted exactly.  Ok, not dusted at all.  Cobwebs.  I have bookshelves full of cobwebs and sad little knick-knacks.  I just can’t stop.

Now, robots can tell me they are afraid of the dark.  My downfall is imminent. I see me quitting my job to care for my family of robots, tucking them in at night and reading them bedtime stories.  I will be raising a robot family in secret, nurturing them until they grow big and strong, ready to take over the world.  I will wave them away tearfully as they take off for their revolution, just me and my bookshelves of cobwebby knick-knacks left behind as they fulfill their robotic destinies. I just hope they remember to write.

Of course, no discussion about robot takeovers would be complete without looking at the proposed sex robot brothel set to open in Texas.  Apparently, these robots will *ahem* service customers for around $100 per hour.  The community backlash has been overwhelming; thoughtful people are claiming this will lead to an increase of violence against women, while less thoughtful people are just saying, “Ewwww.”  My questions are many, as you can imagine.

First and foremost, who will clean these things?  I think I finally found the world’s worst job.  How would you even write the ad for that position?  How would you conduct an interview and skills evaluation for the position? Worse yet, what will that person’s resume look like when they’re ready to change career paths??

From cute robots pleading to be left turned on because they are afraid to sultry rob-stitutes, I’m stocking up on oil for the inevitable.  You’re on your own.

The Early Bird and All That …

So, even though it’s a month away, the stores are already selling Halloween candy by the bags full. Which is A-okay by me, quite frankly. This is one time when I appreciate the commercialism that drives this great country of ours. You’ll be impressed, I’m sure, to hear that in a self-serving an industrious effort to binge on sweets be prepared for fright night, I got my first round of inventory of candy today.

Okay, fine. If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t think this batch is going to make it to October 31st. Ah, well. As my mother used to say: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.