Madeira Lamb Stew ~ Monastic Skullduggery

They say nirvana is a state of perfect serenity; the highest happiness. Some believe it is impossible to achieve, but the truth is quite the contrary.

It began some years ago at Utopia, bazaar of sorts once described as ‘a bunch of weird people doing weird things.’ Sister Madly was in the middle of one of those weird things* when Management announced that Utopia would be hosting Tibetan Monks from an unpronounceable Buddhist monastery, who would be making a Sand Mandala at the store.

* Washing soap (don’t ask…)

Naturally this announcement came with a lot of unnecessary protocol, which ranged from limiting the music to Tibetan Chants, to locking the store’s mascot- a fat cat named Sinner- in the basement lest he turn the Mandala into his personal litter box; and while they did not forbid the employees from eating meat, Management strongly encouraged them to not eat it in the presence of the Monks as they were strictly vegan.

They wanted the week-long event to be a completely ‘spiritual’ experience.

Now Sister Madly has a confession to make: she does not like leafy green things. At all. She likes them on the trees, sure, and feeding them to the garbage disposal delights her to no end, but personally consuming them guarantees a night chock-full of healthy nightmares. She might be able to maintain this strongly-suggested vegan facade for a few hours a day, if not hallucinate while trying- which could be fun, now that she thinks about it…

And so the day came when the Monks from the Unpronounceable Buddhist Monastery arrived on their doorstep in saffron robes and buckets of sand, signifying the start of Sister Madly’s 8 Hours-a-Day Vegan Charade- the thought of just pretending to like leafy green things was enough to send her into fits. Indeed, the Road to Enlightenment is a twisted one.

It was on Thursday that nirvana was finally realized. Management had run off to another mysterious business meeting, leaving behind a long list weird to-do’s (wash candles, inventory all defective sparkle beads, etc) and a note stating that there was a snack plate* in the fridge in case the Monks felt ‘peckish.’

*…if one can call grass-clippings and spongy white things on toothpicks ‘snacks’…

However, the Monks from the Unpronounceable Buddhist Monastery were not the slightest bit interested in the Snack Plate; no, they wanted Chinese food from the restaurant across the street. With considerable effort, Sister Madly broke through that language barrier to find that they wanted 8 orders of Steamed Dumplings and 8 orders of Kung Pao Pork, which is slightly incompatible with a ‘strict vegan lifestyle.’

But then, who is she to judge?

There was some hesitation on the part of Victor, who felt that by calling in this order he would be contributing to the corruption of their humble souls. So Sister Madly made the call, and merrily launched the Monks down the path of sin.

It turned out that the Monks were no strangers to transgression: not only were they avid fans of meat -pork, no less- they also had email, a cell phone each, played a wicked game of ping pong,* and would routinely break from Sand Mandala-ing to challenge the kids on the street to skateboard races (albeit through an interpreter.)

*And billiards. And badminton. And volleyball. It was quite unfair, really.

Yes, when Management’s away, the Monks will play. They released Sinner from the basement, fed him massive amounts of pork, and took an immediate- if not unfortunate- liking the Miami Vice soundtrack. But the highlight of this monastic skullduggery was the moment Sister Madly broke out the ultimate forbidden fruit:

Pop Rocks.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said that music is the universal language of mankind; yet there is another phenomenon that transcends all cultures and dialects: the wide-eyed, giddy wonder of experiencing Pop Rocks for the very first time, and the numbing bliss that immediately follows.

The highest happiness.

A state of perfect serenity.

Pop Rocks.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • baby carrots
  • baby potatoes, cubed
  • cipollini or pearl onions, peeled
  • mushrooms
  • 1 lb lamb, cubed
  • 1 cup Madeira wine, divided (1/4 cup + remaining)
  • 4 cups beef or lamb stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp Dijon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil/ghee

In Dutch oven, brown lamb on all sides; set aside
Saute chopped onion until translucent, adding oil if needed; 5 min
Add garlic and carrots; saute 3-5 min
Add bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme; saute until fragrant; 30 secs
Deglaze with 1/4 cup Madeira wine; bring to a simmer
Add lamb, potatoes, cipollinis, and mushrooms; stir until coated
Add stock, Worcestershire, and remaining wine; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; cover
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat and veggies are tender; 1-1.5 hours
Uncover; simmer to reduce and thicken (if desired)
Add Dijon; mix thoroughly
Remove bay leaves before serving

THEME SONG: Happy Together, the Turtles


29 responses

  1. This makes me want to sing out…love it and the recipe too. 🌺

    Liked by 2 people

    June 25, 2017 at 7:40 AM

  2. Such luck to have the guides the Angels tutor visit your humble space. My visitors, alas none of Tibet and a few of Nepal. My visitors suggest your visitors may have been imposters based on their dietary choice.

    I think I’ve been to that restaurant. No not soon, I won’t be going back anytime soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 25, 2017 at 7:55 AM

    • Not going back?!? You were dissatisfied with your ‘Meat on a Stick’ and ‘Deep Fried Crab and Cream Cheese for Some Reason’?

      Impostors? Perhaps. Or perhaps ‘Tibetan Monk’ was a mistranslation of ‘Tibetan Environmentalist’ seeing as they ate meat and left the vegetables alone. There was something of a language barrier, after all.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 25, 2017 at 10:59 AM

      • It wasn’t so much your sumptuous selections and I aint ate no sinner!

        ~ ~ ~ never going back to the Peking Moon ~ ~ ~ and Luna agrees!

        Liked by 1 person

        June 25, 2017 at 11:09 AM

        • Sinner, no doubt, thanks you.

          Or maybe not. Cats are weird.

          Liked by 1 person

          June 25, 2017 at 11:20 AM

        • Cats are indeed weird. They do have an incredible fashion sense so that’s one point to the good. Hats For Cats….

          Liked by 1 person

          June 25, 2017 at 11:29 AM

        • Appropriate attire for working on the range, even for humankind.

          So what’s trending in feline fashion when it comes to the night scene?

          Liked by 1 person

          June 25, 2017 at 12:13 PM

        • For him and for howl errrrr HER, a new old look. Back to grander more innocent time.

          Cameo optional.

          Liked by 1 person

          June 25, 2017 at 12:34 PM

  3. This is hilariously written SM! Love it! Love it! 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    June 25, 2017 at 6:31 PM

  4. locksley2010

    Moppet! It’s been a while and I’m glad to see your adventures are still carrying on. Those monks sound like they were awesome! It’s a good thing you didn’t break out the Dolly Parton album, that might have made into a club!

    Liked by 2 people

    June 26, 2017 at 3:02 AM

    • Oh, the Dolly Parton album was destroyed months before- accidentally, of course.

      And where you been off to, o’ Wayfaring Stranger?

      Liked by 1 person

      June 26, 2017 at 11:57 AM

      • locksley2010

        I expected nothing less. I wore myself out and needed some resting time. That and I’ve just finished a community Musical based on local history. I shall be blogging about that very soon!

        Liked by 1 person

        June 27, 2017 at 10:35 PM

  5. I love this so much….I need to read something joyful.

    The recipe looks delicious.

    I am back! I posted a new thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 26, 2017 at 12:41 PM

  6. ah I love this story Ms Madly. I can almost feel the energy of the Monks souls mingling with your own corrupted soul flashing together to create a brilliant white light flashing in resonance with the beat of the Miami Vice theme song… : 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    June 27, 2017 at 1:02 PM

    • I do believe that is how the Apocalypse starts (according to ancient texts that have been mysteriously destroyed…)

      Liked by 1 person

      June 27, 2017 at 1:35 PM

  7. I normally try to be clever when commenting here. The threat of anxiety attacks at the thought of not living up to the intellect of your readers is always on my mind. But I can only say that I guffawed so loudly at the memes (I read every line of the menu) that I frightened the dogs.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 1, 2017 at 9:20 PM

    • (I have the same anxiety…. shh…)

      No need to be clever, I just want people to have fun. I will throw chutney on anyone who complains, which will no doubt be incredibly satisfying.

      Quite frankly, I think I would order from that menu- for someone else, perhaps, but I would do it.

      (And now I want to throw chutney on someone…)

      Liked by 1 person

      July 2, 2017 at 10:39 AM

  8. Now I’m hungry.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2017 at 8:26 PM

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