Author Archive

Dashboard Cookies ~ Disasterchef: Netherworld

And on the 26th of June, in Year 2 of the Plague, a minion of the Netherworld thought it a fine idea to open the Gates of Hell.*

* No, it was NOT Sister Madly. She has an alibi.

This resulted in a weekend of record heat, officially topping out at 116*F/46*C on the final day (119*F/48*C in Sister Madly’s neighborhood, but the National Weather Service doesn’t give a hoot about her Neighborhood, the scalawags) which she sweated out like a champ.

A surly, sluggish, salty AF champ.

Because she’s a strong, independent Moppet who don’t need no air conditioning!

When she heard about the impending ‘heat dome,’ Sister Madly went through the customary stages of weather-related grief:

  • doubt
  • awe
  • the wonder if one can really bake cookies on one’s dashboard
  • dread
  • acceptance

Now all the professionals say that grieving is healthy; yet Sister Madly found herself trapped in the ‘wondering if one can really bake cookies on the dashboard’ stage, unable to move onto the dread’ that she so looked forward to. If Sister Madly is to grieve properly, she must bake cookies on her dash.

And being a most famished responsible Moppet, she proceeded to work through her grief via the following:

  • Preheat Neighborhood that the NWS doesn’t give a hoot about to 119*F
  • Relocate the ‘oven’- i.e., the intrepid Itty Bitty, Smart Car Extraordinaire- into direct sunlight once the outdoor temperature is >95* F. This allows the car to reach an internal temp >165* F, which is the minimum the FDA demands threatens recommends certain foods reach for safe* consumption

* Because no one has ever eaten raw cookie dough before. Ever.

  • Prep baking tray; add cookie dough (gently; respect the cookies)
  • Place tray in car, which naturally is 4 blocks away
  • Lock the car behind you (protect the cookies)
  • Wait- magic is happening

As success was inevitable in her dashboard escapade, Sister Madly began planning a sophisticated menu for her next venture in climate change, including vanilla onion souffle and cactus dauphinoise. No doubt she will win a host of Michelin Stars and retire a wealthy eccentric, wherein she will buy herself an air conditioner- because 119*F is hot AF! affluent individuals have air conditioning. It’s a status thing.

And should she somehow fail… at least her car will smell divine.

After 30ish minutes and a change into a tank top stashed in the freezer (which resulted in the “Son of a Biscuit!” heard ‘round the world) the dough baking in the intrepid Itty Bitty, Smart Car Extraordinaire, was looking more like cowpies than anything edible; perhaps double chocolate cookies were a poor choice.

Poorer still was choosing store-brand cookie dough, as the car smelled anything but divine.

And so Sister Madly was officially able to move onto the dread’ stage of grief that she so looked forward to as she slowly melted into a puddle.

A surly, sluggish, salty AF puddle.

Because she’s a strong, independent Moppet who don’t need no air conditioning!

DASHBOARD COOKIES

  • Cookie Dough of Choice, homemade or ready-made

Preheat Neighborhood to 96*F – 119*F
Move Baking Vessel into direct sunlight
Hydrate: you were just out in 119*F weather
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Drop dough onto baking sheet (approx 2-3 TBSP per cookie)
Allow Baking Vessel to reach 165*F (this may happen faster than you think)
Weep uncontrollably: you’re about to go back out in 119*F weather
Hydrate: you’re about to go out into 119*F weather (and you just wept uncontrollably)
Place baking sheet on Dashboard
Re-Hydrate: your Baking Vessel was parked 4 blocks away
Bake cookies for 30 min – 4 hours, or until cooked to a minimum of 165*F

* Cookies may not caramelize on top even when fully cooked. You’re baking in a car, after all.


Polynesian Pasta Salad ~ Justice for the Fortress

Contrary to popular belief, Sister Madly is not one for revenge- that is, not right away. She is more than willing to wait a month for the full impact of her unholy retribution to be unleashed upon the deserving individual- in this case, her elder sibling, Tallulah.

Many a Madly Moon ago, a wee Sister Madly constructed a Fortress out of Legos- and a mighty fine structure it was, with its turrets and its multiple moat-thingies. Indeed, it was the envy of her 8-year-old contemporaries… until Tallulah’s foot came out of absolutely nowhere and punted the Fortress clear across the room.

Twice.

Well, son of a biscuit, Tallulah- did you run out of crutches to kick? Must Sister Madly suffer for her art?

To this, Tallulah insisted- in a manner that did not seem heartfelt- that it was an accident.

But any armchair psychologist worth his salt will tell you that there are no accidents.

That means Tallulah kicked her Fortress on purpose. Twice.

Now everybody knows that when it comes to Childhood Justice, ‘on purposes’ cannot go unpunished; thus, Sister Madly implemented the most calculated, the most devastating means of retribution: she planted an acorn outside Tallulah’s window.

For those questioning the logic behind the Acorn, understand that by planting said Acorn, it would grow into a mighty tree that would one day block Tallulah’s view of the beloved* swing set. If one can have faith as small as a mustard seed, then one can sow retribution as small as an Acorn.

* A rusted, toxic heap of metal and sadness though it may be, the swing set was still beloved.

Unfortunately, that ‘one day’ wasn’t happening fast enough for the wee little Moppet; so, to promote the development of the Acorn Tree- thus furthering her masterplan- Sister Madly would routinely spit on the Acorn every time she passed by the window.

Sometimes her genius is frightening!

Several decades have passed since the Punting of the Lego Fortress, and Sister Madly has come to terms with the failed vengeance of the Acorn Tree. Thus, she is here to announce that she has accepted* Tallulah’s less-than-heartfelt apology, and as a testament to her newfound maturity as an adult, she will graciously allow Tallulah to make her cookies.

* For now, that is…

POLYNESIAN PASTA SALAD

  • 1lb Pasta
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar

DRESSING

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Carrots, julienned
  • Frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 cups mayo
  • ¼-½ cup heavy cream, to taste
  • 1-2 TBSP Worcestershire, to taste
  • ¼ cup crushed pineapple
  • Salt/pepper, to taste

Mix together dressing ingredients; refrigerate until needed
Cook pasta; drain and return to pan
Add cider vinegar to pasta; mix well
Cover; rest for 20 minutes
Mix in half the dressing; rest 10-20 minutes
Stir in remaining dressing
Cover; refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving

Sister Madly is aware that this is not a traditional Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. The aforementioned recipe was made during the pandemic, and her pasta selection was limited to manicotti, lasagna, and some rainbow twisties. As her Sicilian brother-in-law was no help whatsoever,* Sister Madly went with the rainbow twisties.

* Admittedly, he was no help because Sister Madly did not ask his opinion.

 


Sichuan Wings ~ Sad Satan’s Toolshed

Let’s face it: 2020 is determined to turn Sister Madly into a couch potato.*

* Albeit, an adorable one.

In addition to the Great Sickness and Neighborhood Protests, Sister Madly woke up one morning to find herself on Mars- and clearly she was, as the atmosphere was not only unsuitable for human consumption, but the color of iced tea. Iced Tea Atmosphere, like the Great Sickness, forces one to spend days on end in complete isolation- minus a few rabid dust bunnies.

Didn’t think the whole ‘colonizing Mars’ thing through did we, Elon-Baby?*

* The local news claimed this Iced Tea Atmosphere was a result of nearby wildfires, but Sister Madly knows propaganda when she hears it. She was on Mars.

Facing another week indoors, Sister Madly engaged in what no-doubt will become the Great Martian Pastime: reminiscing about the last time she encountered another human being. In this case, it was Chipper- an enthusiastic Phlebotomist with only a vague concept of personal boundaries- who had been working from home.

And just how does a Phlebotomist work from home, you might ask? And you should ask- Sister Madly should not be the only creature to endure many a Couch Potato Contemplation Session picturing this hippie mosquito setting up practice in his potting shed just for kicks.

Which is why Sister Madly will be moving to another dimension, Elon-Baby.*

* A safer, saner dimension. A Lovecraftian Dimension.

Now, the Ghost-of-Jobs-Yet-to-Come first visited the Madly Siblings upon reaching the tender age of 7, with careers that were also homegrown. Take Tallulah who, on her own initiative, went door-to-door collecting money for the ‘orphans;’ or Sister Madly, who had a lemonade stand at the end of her dead end street. She made a whole quarter that day.*

* Thanks, Me-Ma!

With two-bits to her name, Sister Madly retired from the Lemonade Stand determined to become an astronomer- a misfit who sits and stares at all things outer-space, possibly befriending an alien or two. This lasted until the moment she discovered that astronomy is not just looking at planets and colorful nebulae. Apparently, there’s a whole bunch of science behind it, science that goes beyond staying up past her bedtime just to catch a glimpse of a passing comet. She didn’t sign up for the science.

Abandoning the stars, Sister Madly decided that treasures were more her style, and set out that very afternoon to dig up the driveway with a plastic shovel in search of diamonds- which her parents tolerated for about 15 minutes or so.

As it turns out, archaeologists do more than just dig in the dirt; they have to know things, things that require years of schooling as an older Moppet. And it’s not diamonds they dig up, but bones, bits of pottery, and ancient weaponry- none of which she can keep! What nonsense is that? Finders-Keepers is a universal law, and Sister Madly obeys the law- as evidenced by her luxuriant treasure trove:

~ decorative lamp finial
~ orange golf ball
~ faux diamond ring, squashed by a car
~ petoskey stone, found nowhere near a Great Lake
~ unused Remington cartridge, which the Pater Madly made into a necklace
~ etc

But the one career Sister Madly never pursued as a child was the absolute dream of her 9 year-old self: a Professional Backmasking Decoder.

For those not in the know- she’s looking at you, Elon-Baby- backmasking is the fine art of concealing messages in songs that can only be heard when played in reverse. This conspiracy was often preached about in churches during her childhood, and was but one reason why rock music should be avoided at all costs.* And since Sister Madly was forbidden to listen to rock music at that age, she never received the proper training.

* Churches spoke of the Devil as well, but that job is taken.
As is Death. So unfair.

Now, genuine backmasking is a deliberate process, with a clear message:

Satanic Backmasking, however, is much more deviant- that is, less coherent, and difficult to understand without an imagination and the aid of written lyrics:

Because when you’re told what to listen for, you will hear it.

However, after another Couch Potato Contemplation Session, it became obvious that the Decoders of yesteryear got it all wrong. Clearly, this ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is a metaphor for Elon’s Starship to Mars, and ‘Sad Satan’s Toolshed’ is a reference to the Happy Phlebotomist working from home. Because sadness in reverse is happiness, and Sister Madly obviously is on Mars…

And Heaven in reverse is nothing more than Hell… isn’t it, Elon-Baby?

…it seems Sister Madly has missed her calling…

SICHUAN WINGS

  • 3lbs chicken wings
  • 1/3 cup hoison sauce
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos ~ OR ~ low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1+ tsp Sichuan pepper, toasted and ground, to taste
  • 1+ TBSP honey, to taste
  • sriracha, to taste (opt)

Preheat oven to 400*
Place wings on greased baking rack in tray
Bake wings for 30 min
Add remaining ingredients to a saucepan; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until thickened
Remove wings from oven, brush with sauce
Return to oven; bake 10-15 min, or until cooked through
Brush with remaining sauce straight from oven

THEME SONG: Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin (in reverse, of course)


Arayes ~ Sins of the Father

There was a time when Sister Madly & Co. would swank about town in search of the next great adventure. One such swank landed them at a local Chinese Restaurant, where they were greeted by a King Crab on Ice wearing a Party Hat.

Now Sister Madly has never tasted King Crab, nor does she see herself succumbing to such lunacy anytime soon. Seriously, who was the ruffian that first waltzed into the Alaskan Sea, encountered the giant, spiky, pinchy water-spider and bellowed, “Alas, fellow countrymen- tonight, we feast!” ?

Of course, the evening would not be complete without the Professor’s friend, a former Seminary Student turned Reverend Lump of No Fun, who immediately announced to the good people knee-deep in TGIF Celebrations that he does not eat shellfish.

Well, Sister Madly does not play the bassoon, but she does not turn Town Crier every time she passes by the symphony. She simply goes through life not playing the bassoon.

The Professor, however, assumed that Reverend Lump made such an announcement due to a shellfish allergy.

… is announcing that one has a shellfish allergy typical of a shellfish allergy? Does Benadryl* relieve that particular symptom?

* Due to its spectacular send-a-person-into-a-coma skills, Benadryl very-well might alleviate this symptom.

The aforementioned allergy also compelled Reverend Lump dissect his egg rolls and pull out all the pork.

Now Sister Madly is rumored to be a picky eater, but not to the degree of dissecting an egg roll to remove the offending foodstuff. She prefers to throw a tantrum whenever it finds its way onto her plate.

When asked why he didn’t just order the vegetable egg rolls, Reverend Lump said that while he was ‘forbidden’ from eating pork, he quite liked the flavor, and was willing to spend the extra millennia in extracting it from said egg roll. Sister Madly had to admire the lengths he took to find a loophole in his particular belief system.

Reverend Lump went on to say that pork was considered unclean, and the Old Testament forbade the eating of unclean animals, including storks and bats.

Damn. There goes her dinner plans.

While this may seem rigid, he said, it was nothing compared to the restrictions his Catholic Friend faced, who wasn’t even allowed to eat Chicken in a Biskit during Lent. Catholic Friend used to eat these unholy crackers by the case, until biblical, brotherly love compelled Reverend Lump to point out that the crackers were flavored with real chicken, which violated the whole No-Meat-During-Lent thing.

Sister Madly was beginning to think his refusal to eat King Crab had nothing to do with an allergy.*

* But that doesn’t mean the coma-inducing Benadryl wouldn’t benefit him greatly.

Now the Professor- who acknowledged these dietary practices without batting an eye- is the same creature who once suffered a psychotic break when Sister Madly ordered French fries with her port. Clearly her culinary no-no was as much a theological faux pas as Bat and Stork Bolognese.

This was confirmed when Reverend Lump suffered a similar meltdown over the story of the unholy port and spud combo. He went on to say that the wine at the Last Supper and the Wedding at Cana was most likely unfermented grape juice.

If so, that doesn’t mean wine is forbidden; it meant that they were serving French Fries at the same time- which, when paired with wine, is a gastronomical sin.

And the Son of God cannot sin!

“Which is why he served grape juice.”

Every ideology, philosophy, religion, diet, etc, has its zealots, but Sister Madly had somehow managed to find her way into its Mecca- all the while not playing the bassoon.

ARAYES

  • 1lbs minced lamb
  • 1TBSP ras el hanout
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ sm onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • 4+ pitas, sliced in half
  • Oil
  • Tzatziki, for serving

Preheat oven 375*
Combine lamb, onions, garlic, tomato, and spices; mix well
Stuff halved pita pockets with meat mixture
~ Alternatively, spread mixture on pita slice and fold in half ~
Brush pita with oil (both sides); place on foil-line baking sheet
Bake for 7 min
Flip pitas; bake for additional 6-7 min*
Serve with tzatziki

Federal Guidelines recommend cooking lamb to a minimum temp of 160*, but since the Feds have been doing some very disrespectful and naughty things in her City, Sister Madly cooked hers to medium just to spite them.
She also ripped the tags off her new pillow.

THEME SONG: Summer Wine, Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra


Images:

1.) amazing-places.com
2.) pinterest
3.) pinterest
4.) pinterest
5.) pinterest


Saffron Potato Soup ~ The Feral Inner Child

One would like to think Sister Madly matured as she grew older- much like a fine cheese; but if truth be told, she has only enhanced her vocabulary- again, like a fine cheese.

As of late, Sister Madly has had to find- if not invent- new ways of entertaining herself. Having just spent her birthday in quarantine, Sister Madly found herself waltzing down the back alley of yesteryear, bypassing the Valley of the Dolls only to frolic through the grassy knoll of absolute childhood boredom. Sister Madly will now be incorporating these Adventures of Absolute Childhood Boredom into her daily routine.

T-BONE
This little ditty is about a starry-eyed bull named T-Bone, who entertained dreams of becoming one-half of a World Champion Bullfighting* Team. Mama T-Bone, however, was determined to keep her little Bovine at home to take violin lessons from no maestro in particular. T-Bone, naturally, rebelled against convention and would slip out of the house to meet up with a most flashy Matador in hopes of achieving the All-American Dream.

* In the Madliverse, a ‘bullfight’ was an Olympic-level choreographed dance between Matador, Bull, and a beach towel advertising Carnation Bon Bons. There was no harming of animals- real or imagined- as T-Bone was a sensitive soul and would have no doubt chosen the violin.

OLD PAL & OLIVER
That age-old tale of 2 Horses stampeding into their Owner’s house late at night and insisting on sharing the bed because it was too cold to sleep in the Barn. Sometimes, they would lock Owner said Barn (that is, the Madly Matriarch’s Closet) and snack on Tato Skins in his absence; at others, they would tie Owner’s socks into knots for no reason in particular.

But it was mostly about the Tato Skins.

SHIRT
The odyssey of a Red Shirt who was in love with a pair of Turquoise Pants, who sought the services of a Tailor in the hopes of being dyed a color complimentary to the aforementioned Pants. The Owner of the Shirt- Tallulah- wanted to pair the Shirt with a Mini Skirt from the 70’s, seeking to dye the Shirt a hideous shade of orange. Many a washing, drying, and ironing moment* were had before hanging the Shirt in the closet- after which, in the dead of night, Shirt would disguise itself as a Blinky-Woo-Woo Visor while attempting to make contact with the Tailor.

* Various acrobatics and fanciful pillow fighting upon the Patriarch’s bed.

HAUNTED HOUSE
Not a haunted house but a maze made up of riffraff, chairs, and some rather terrifying dolls such as Baby Alive* through which one crawled by the glow of a Lite-Brite.

To be honest, Sister Madly has no desire to recreate this particular childhood pastime: feeling her way through a booby-trapped obstacle course undercover of darkness is something she does every night between turning off the light and climbing into bed- which is 3 feet away from the light switch.

* Baby Alive didn’t work, by the way. She ate her food, which in turn rotted inside of her; it didn’t take long.
Also, she was called Baby Alive…

As the aforementioned adventures were not designed for social distancing, Sister Madly decided to recruit a particularly toothy live-in companion of whose elegance you are certain to be jealous: Sister Madly’s Inner Child.

However, the only part of these adventures that remotely interested her Inner Child was the bit about the Tato Skins. Upon discovering that all Sister Madly had to snack on was some cans of Spaghetti-O’s from her quake rations, her Inner Child threw an epic tantrum and climbed into the sock drawer to sulk.

Quite the feral soul, her Inner Child…

SAFFRON POTATO SOUP

  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 3-5 Garlic cloves, minced
  • Potatoes, quartered
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • Peas
  • 4-6 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Lg pinch saffron, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt/pepper, to taste
  • Heavy cream (opt)

Sauté onion until translucent: 8-10 min
Add garlic; sauté 2-3 min
Add celery and carrots; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Deglaze with wine
Add potatoes, mushrooms, and broth; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until veggies are tender; 25-30 min
Add peas and cream (if using); simmer 3-5 min
Remove from heat and serve

THEME SONG: Forever Young, Alphaville


Images:

1) Doll Created by Julien Martinez
2) Pinterest
3) Reddit
4) Tumblr
5) Pinterest


Uncertain Times

Too many faded years and I can’t hold Her
Too many strange times have come Our way
Too many teardrops, yeah, I don’t get it
Life moves on if You want it to

Too many times I’ve felt my heart was broken
Wasting time with Someone I don’t get
But I’ve found Someone who makes Me better
Yeah, I found Someone who makes Me go

I wanna ride with Her in Uncertain Times
I wanna go where my thoughts can take a nap
And if the Atom Bomb should end Us both
I’ll be happy to go to the Stars with You

I wanna ride with you in Uncertain Times
I wanna go where my thoughts can take a nap
And if the Atom Bomb should end Us both
I’ll be happy to go to the Stars with You

I wanna ride with you in Uncertain Times
I wanna go where my thoughts can take a rest
And if the Atom Bomb should end Us both
I’ll be happy to go to the Stars with You

~ The Raveonettes


Images:

1) Tumblr
2) Pinterest
3) Pinterest


Soda Bread ~ Plague it Safe

Not to be a tattletale, but Sister Madly’s neighbors were NOT practicing proper social-distancing last night. Nor again at 3AM. Or again, around 6.

Like most individuals, Sister Madly has been prohibited from engaging in non-essential activities away from home- including the very specific “going out to browse an open hardware store”- with violations in her state carrying a potential Class C Misdemeanor charge.

And now Sister Madly wants nothing more than to browse an open* hardware store.

* Browsing a closed hardware store, however, is a felony. Sister Madly is spoilt for choice on criminal charges when it comes to hardware stores.

But even Quarantine is not without its risks; one can easily tolerate the minor side-effects associated with prolonged bouts of self-isolation, such as making pinatas filled with cutlery or torching one’s eyebrows off. Still, there is one side-effect so devastating that even Sister Madly is sent into fits at the very thought: the overwhelming desire to bake bread.

Why aren’t there more people talking about this? By the lack of flour at the market, it’s clear that Sister Madly isn’t the only one suffering from this condition, but she is the only one abstaining from it due to the lack of supplies and is, as of yet, asymptomatic. But shelves will one day be restocked, and Sister Madly will be left with no other recourse than to Von Trapp it over the mountains to Tallulah’s, despite being personally* banned from the town.

* The actual phrase was ‘all non-residents,’ but Sister Madly has decided to take this personally.

In the meantime, Sister Madly became a most productive Moppet in hopes of warding off the Bread-Baking Plague:

DAY 3: Sister Madly sifted her Sichuan peppercorns.
DAY 4: She gave the Desert-Wandering Horse a Name.
DAY 5: She forgot what she named the Desert-Wandering Horse.
DAY 8,314,699: Made a Plan for World Domination, but ran into a snag figuring out how to fulfill said Plan while observing proper Social-Distancing Guidelines.
DAY 11: Oiled her olive wood bowls
DAY 12: An owl has moved into the neighborhood. Loves to hoot around the midnight hour.
DAY 13: A sack of flour is silently watching her from the kitchen counter.

Clearly Quarantine Productivity is an old wives’ tale- everybody knows that Sacks of Flour is but the first symptom of the Bread-Baking Plague. As desperate times call for desperate measures, Sister Madly resorted to channeling an Old Acquaintance She’d Sooner Forget in the form of a Totem, lest she be rendered terminally domestic, bereft of all social graces and refusing to travel Southeast Asia because she absolutely must stay home and bake a brioche.

She’s made 3 so far.
She’s also made bread.
It’s a lawless time here in the Madliverse…

To all the writers and poets at whose depiction of life during a post-modern pandemic Sister Madly had often scoffed:
Her sincerest apologies.
But you should have mentioned the bit about the Bread.

SODA BREAD

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375*
Grease cast iron skillet or baking sheet
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
Add butter, buttermilk, and egg to flour; mix
Knead dough briefly on floured surface
Shape dough into a ball
Place dough in skillet
Cut an X across top of the loaf
Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean
Transfer to cooling rack; let rest for 15 min before slicing

THEME SONG: A Horse with No Name, America


Pulled Chicken Provencal ~ Kiss Me Deadly

Since she was a wee little Moppet, Sister Madly never questioned her existence. In fact, she never even considered how she arrived on this planet until one afternoon at the Museum, when she encountered the Exhibit that depicted fetal development from fertilization to full-term.

What the Exhibit (or her parents, for that matter) didn’t explain was how the baby got there- and Sister Madly didn’t wonder. She cheerfully assumed it spontaneously* happened now and then after one got married… marriage being the catalyst, of course.

* Like hair loss, or human combustion- you know, the usual pickles one encounters in adulthood.

In fact, Sister Madly continued to not wonder until the day she watched a TV movie down in the basement with her childhood friend, Serafina.

With the innate knowledge that Hollywood was most accurate in its depiction of reality, Sister Madly was more than willing to accept that it wasn’t marriage that caused pregnancy. Apparently, it was the result of a boy and a girl sharing a bed, which leads to some uncontrollable yet creative gymnastics, which was clearly the process of a baby spontaneously being made- and quite frankly, Sister Madly thought it looked most unpleasant.*

* Although not as unpleasant as, say, a salad.

This confidence lasted until the day Serafina turned up with a book found in her sister’s room, which explained the Science behind creating children- that is to say, the steps that lead up to fertilization, which the Museum Exhibit had omitted. This newfound knowledge, however, was not accompanied by the expected horror that her own parents suffered* through this ordeal when creating Sister Madly; instead, she and Serafina went next door next to pester the neighbor for some jellybeans.

* The wee little Moppet did not read as far as the pleasure aspect of the activity, as she bored quickly in those days.

Since sharing a bed leads to the uncontrollable urge to engage in the Science of Making a Baby, Sister Madly wasn’t too worried about being saddled with a baby at the tender age of 8ish, as she likes the bed to herself and tends to shove out anyone who tries to share it- usually with ice-cold feet. Wearing socks to bed is just weird.

But even this was short-lived, as Sister Madly & Co. happened to overhear Serafina’s mother talking to Serafina’s older sister, who was about to go on her first date. The Mother was giving the Serafina Sibling a pep talk on how to resist engaging in the Science of Making a Baby,* which the Serafina Sibling seemed to “already knooooooooow, Mom…” and please, give her some credit.

* Apparently, it was not sharing a bed that caused this uncontrollable urge, but when a boy and a girl came within close proximity to each other, which undoubtedly would cause many problems during the local Hide-and-Seek Marathon the neighborhood kids play on Saturday afternoons.

But as they listened in on the motherly lecture, it became clear that this impulse would only arise during a date, which was a such a relief; as long as no one called the Hide-and-Seek Marathon a ‘date,’ there would be no sudden urge to create babies. Sister Madly made a note to address this topic ahead of next Saturday afternoon.

It’s frightening, really, the depths of her genius…

PULLED CHICKEN PROVENCAL

  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
  • 1½ – 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp herbs de Provence
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp salt, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp chipotle pepper
  • Butter/oil, for sautéing

Heat oil in Dutch oven
Add onions, stirring to coat
Lower heat, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized (30-45 min)
Mix in spices, broth, and chicken; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked (25 min)
With 2 forks, shred chicken in sauce
Simmer to reduce liquid (if needed)

THEME SONG: Kiss Me Deadly, Lita Ford


Harissa Wings ~ The Lab Coats are Coming!

On her way to Tallulah’s Olde Peculiar- a Marketplace where she is a Vendor– a rather chipper Sister Madly passed by Pompous Name Laboratory, which proudly displayed a banner that not only announced their Grand Opening, but invited the public to ‘Come in and say Hi!’

Do tell, Pompous Name Laboratory: why does Sister Madly have to make the first move? Why don’t you come out and say ‘Hi’ to her? Friends just don’t make themselves, you know.

Now you may think that Sister Madly is being tiresome, but rest assured, her skepticism is warranted. Businesses that invite her in to say ‘Hi’ always seem to have ulterior motives: Car Dealerships hopes the ever-so-seductive dance of the inflatable man-thing will convince her to buy a Pinto, while Credit Unions tempt her with promises of coffee mugs and folding camping chairs in the hopes of opening an account.

So naturally Sister Madly was curious as to why a Laboratory would want her to drop in for a little new-to-the-neighborhood tête-à-tête. Is there a shortage of Lab Rats? Do they need someone to ‘drink this solution’ or ‘press this button?’ Is it National Adopt-a- Pathogen Month? Or do they simply wish to showcase a happy and healthy strain of Free-Range E.coli?

Nevertheless, there is the possibility- however remote- that the Science-y People of Pompous Name Laboratory are simply lonely, as is the norm for those who choose to work in Labs. And while Science-y People are making terrific discoveries for which they should be applauded- such as finding cures for disease and creating new dyes to make red M&M’s edible again- being around smoking beakers and big Latin words all day is bound to render one more and more out of touch with reality.*

* At least with Sister Madly’s reality.

The fact that Sister Madly was even contemplating speaking to a Science-y Stranger- and of her own volition, no less- shows how much she’s progressed in venturing beyond her most excellent anti-social skills. True, she doesn’t speak science,* but this language barrier can be balanced with a good first impression, which includes poise, a toothy smile, and covered in someone else’s blood.

* She also doesn’t speak accounting, Trekkie, or bird.

Unfortunately, Sister Madly’s Travel Companion did not want to pop into the Laboratory and say ‘Hi,’ and most certainly did NOT want to represent ‘someone else’s blood’- which is totally unfair, because why else would Sister Madly have a Travel Companion? Without a good first impression, Sister Madly will have to resort to sign language and smoke signals, which will be misinterpreted as a biological warfare, cause widespread panic, burn down the Lab, and send her fleeing into the streets, shouting, “The lab coats are coming, the lab coats are coming!” before ultimately finding herself strumming her lips in a padded cell.

Perhaps she’ll send them fruit basket instead.

HARISSA CHICKEN WINGS

  • 2-3lbs wings

MARINADE

  • 1 TBSP harissa sauce
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • oil, as needed

SAUCE

  • ½ cup harissa sauce
  • ¼ cup honey, or to taste
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • salt/pepper, to taste

MARINADE
Mix together marinade ingredients
Add chicken; mix to coat
Cover; refrigerate for 30min-24hrs

SAUCE
Add sauce ingredients to pan; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until thickened

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Bake 30 min
Remove from oven, brush chicken with sauce
Return to oven; bake 10-15 min, or until cooked through
Brush with remaining sauce straight from oven

THEME SONG: The Lunatics, The Specials and Fun Boy Three


My Solitary Valentine

You say you’re going to be Alone
On Valentine’s ~

But you forget about the Insects, Ghosts
And Surveillance Devices in your Home.

• ~   * Happy Valentine’s Day * ≈ ☼ ~ •


 ~ Welcome to Night Vale


Gnocchi Vegetable Soup ~ Black Market Merchants

A few months ago, Sister Madly became a Vendor at a fabulous Marketplace- she says fabulous, because it does not require her to deal with people directly. Truth be told, if Sister Madly was any good at socializing, she would crash many parties and pretend to know many things…

Like many children in America, Sister Madly discovered capitalism at an early age. While most of her contemporaries embarked upon their entrepreneurial journeys by selling Girl Scout Cookies, a wee Sister Madly forged her way into the Business World through the ultimate black market transaction: the Tooth Fairy.

Now some may say the Tooth Fairy is, like Santa, a myth; but common sense says otherwise. After all, which is more logical: a fat man crawling down the chimney once a year just to leave you some coal in an argyle sock, or a tiny woman approaching you in the dead of night to purchase used body parts for a quarter a piece?

As a most logical Moppet, the answer was obvious.

Of course, she was a bit skeptical at first; but after selling about 75¢ worth of teeth to Tinkerbell, Sister Madly was convinced there was a market for discarded body parts. Clearly there was a corporation dealing exclusively in baby teeth, something Sister Madly had in abundance; perhaps she could sell the Corporation her teeth- as well as those of her classmates- in bulk, and get a lump sum. It should be relatively easy to convince her classmates to eat a handful of rocks- at least the first time…

Besides, it’s not like Sister Madly needed all her teeth at that moment. Sure, she was about to be in her cousin’s wedding, but Sister Madly was practically invisible thus no one would notice that the flower girl was missing all of her pearly whites.

But before she got the chance to discuss this business proposition with Tinkerbell, Sister Madly had a thought: what if there wasn’t an agent between her and the Corporation? Just imagine how much more money she could make if she peddled her own teeth directly- at least 65¢ apiece. That’s more than the price of a candy bar!* And if the teeth were sold in bulk, that would save the Corporation money in the long run- Sister Madly didn’t understand how, but her Father once assured her that one could save money by buying in bulk. Yes, perhaps it was time for Sister Madly to dispose of this Tinkerbell and take her rightful place as the Tooth Fairy.

* Foolish are ye who thought this most angelic Sister Madly was eating kale back in the 80’s. Kale hadn’t been invented yet.

Now, since there was market for baby teeth, what other discarded body parts were in demand? What is the going rate for an inch of Moppet hair? How about fingernails? Sister Madly was aware that she and her classmates would only be a source of baby teeth for so long, thus she had to plan for her future lest she end up on the streets at the ancient age of 8 in a potato sack with a tin cup full of coins.

Not to mention her classmates were an endless source of hair…

Due to parental disapproval, Sister Madly was unable to take her rightful place as the Tooth Fairy, which no doubt would have improved the social skills that would allow her to crash many parties and pretend to know many things.

GNOCCHI VEGETABLE SOUP

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • celery, diced
  • carrots, chopped
  • baby potatoes, cubed
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • 1lb prepared gnocchi
  • 4-6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, or to taste
  • Salt, to taste

Sauté onion in hot oil until translucent; 5 minutes
Add garlic, carrots, and celery; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices and bay leaves; saute until fragrant 1 min
Deglaze with wine; reduce 2-3 min
Add potatoes and mushrooms; stir to coat
Add stock and coconut milk; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer 25- 30 min
Add gnocchi; simmer until cooked through
Remove bay leaves; adjust salt and pepper to taste


A Claymation Christmas Carol

“I lost mine…”


Chana Matar Paneer ~ Possessd by the Holiday Spirit

The Holiday Spirit is an impish, little brat.

On this night, it was lurking around the Christmas Tree Lot, where a particularly witty Sister Madly wandered about with the Professor. Naturally, Sister Madly provided appropriate commentary that added a festive note to the evening, her snark being so on point that she was looking forward to watching the Professor attempt to tie a large tree to the top of a rusty hatchback.

But the Professor had no intention of tying the tree to the top of the car, oh no; a tree of such Yuletide majesty deserved to ride in luxury inside the car.

Sister Madly, too, deserves to ride inside the car, Professor…

Still, the realization that the Tree wouldn’t fit in the back of the hatchback took longer for the Professor to acknowledge than it would for those with fewer letters behind their name. As predicted, Sister Madly’s wit was so on point during this exhibition that it was cheekily suggested that she be tied to the top of the car instead.*

* One might assume that this was the Professor’s attempt at humor, but Sister Madly assures you otherwise.

It was then that Sister Madly was first tempted by the Holiday Spirit, which nearly resulted in her volunteering to take public transportation back to HQ for the sake of the Evergreen. However, the possibility of encountering something far worse than a sentient Pine Tree on a city bus gave her the strength to resist the Holiday Spirit and retain the dignity of her sassy ol’ self.*

* Which is most fortunate- a holly-jolly Sister Madly is an absolute nightmare.

But the witty little Moppet did not escape this magic of this Hallmark Moment. As the Professor acknowledged that that only way that the Tree would fit would be to utilize the passenger’s seat, the Holiday Spirit took possession of Sister Madly and volunteered through her to switch places. As a result, the Tree rode shotgun with the Professor while Sister Madly was packed rather unceremoniously into the back of the hatchback

And that was when the Holiday Spirit made itself at home: not only did it demand to listen to campy Christmas music- something which absolutely delighted the Professor- it suggested they take “back way” of unimproved roads and potholes. Even as Sister Madly watched herself become covered in pine sap, excess needles* and some sort of rash, she could not stop the Holiday Spirit from assuring the PhD that all was just peachy-keen* and to turn up the music- Mele Kalikimaka was simply not going to sing itself!

* The Shake-The-Needles-From-The-Tree contraption at the Lot was no match for Hatchback-Over-Potholes.

But while the Holiday Spirit maintained full-possession of Sister Madly over the river and through several rounds of Feliz Navidad, it was, alas, no match for Do They Know It’s Christmas. This diabolical little ditty not only succeeded in exorcising the Holiday Spirit from our dearest Moppet, it sent said Spirit out into the street, where it was promptly run over by a dairy truck.

As with all Magical Holiday Tales, there is a moral to this story: there is a certain beauty in using artificial trees, which allows the thrifty to reuse said tree again and again without the need of packing thy beloved Moppet into the trunk of your car. Take for instance Sister Madly’s tree, which once belonged to her grandmother- not only has it withstood the years, but remains amazingly lifelike, as you can clearly see:

Well, maybe not a moral so much as a reason to post a picture of the Madly Christmas Tree…

Sister Madly, too, is an impish, little brat.

CHANA MATAR PANEER

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1 chili, seeded and diced
  • 15oz tin chickpeas; drained
  • 15oz tin tomatoes, crushed/diced
  • paneer, cubed
  • peas
  • 2 TBSP garam masala
  • 1 TBSP coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • heavy cream, to taste (opt)
  • ghee/oil, for sautéing

Sauté onion until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic, ginger, and chili; sauté 3-5 min
Add spices; sauté 30 secs
Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes
Add peas; simmer 5-8 minutes
Add paneer; simmer 3-5 minutes
Mix in cream (if using) simmer 2-3 minutes

THEME SONG: Mele Kalikimaka, Bing Crosby


The Goal

I Can’t Leave my House
Or Answer the Phone
I’m Going Down Again
But I’m Not Alone

Settling at Last
Accounts of the Soul
This for the Trash
That Paid in Full

As for the Fall
It Began Long Ago
Can’t Stop the Rain
Can’t Stop the Snow

I Sit in my Chair
I Look at the Street
The Neighbor Returns
My Smile of Defeat

I Move with the Leaves
I Shine with the Chrome
I’m Almost Alive
I’m Almost at Home

No One to Follow
And Nothing to Teach
Except that the Goal
Falls Short of the Reach

~ Leonard Cohen


Images: We Heart It


Marsala Chicken Wings ~ Saucepans and the Single Girl

Once again, it is that magical time of year, when Sister Madly hosts her annual Dumb Supper. The current guest list reads as follows:

  • Leonard Cohen
  • Vincent Price
  • Starfish
  • David Bowie

In the past, Sister Madly had difficulties when it came to her guests- in particular, how to go about inviting them. Tracking down the Dearly-Departed is trickier than one might think, and Sister Madly has been unsuccessful in the past.*

* She assumes she was unsuccessful, but it was a Dumb Supper- her guests might have just been silent the entire time.

However, she hoped to change all that with the help of this handy guide:

“From midnight supper for two, to ‘deadly little dinners’ and smashing soirees for the gang…”

By ‘deadly little dinners,’ one must assume the authors had hosted a Dumb Supper or two during their bachelorette days. Thus it was necessary to follow the recipes verbatim- or as verbatim as possible.

DUMB SUPPER MENU

  • Surly Steak
  • Cheaters Garlic Bread
  • Wild Rice
  • Sculptor’s Salad with Sour Cream
  • Layer Cake

SURLY STEAK

~ “Buy a good piece of meat from your twinkly-eyed butcher and treat it with tender loving care.”

Already, Sister Madly was off to a bad start: the twinkle had gone out of the butcher’s eye a long time ago. He did have a tooth that caught the light rather fetchingly, but the book said nothing about his teeth.*

* Unfortunately, her Dumb Supper was served without the Surly Steak, as she was unable to find a twinkly-eyed butcher in her hometown.

CHEATERS GARLIC BREAD

~ “You’re really missing something if you don’t know how to make garlic bread.”

Now, there may be some truth to this: Sister Madly does not know how to make garlic bread, and her favorite rock has been missing since childhood. There is no denying the correlation here; she must master the art of garlic bread, or be rock-less for life.

~ “Buy a good packaged garlic spread at the market. Follow the directions on the jar. Magnifique!”

Just as her market did not have a twinkly-eyed butcher, they did not have garlic spread. They did, however, have ready-to-bake garlic bread, so Sister Madly scraped off the garlic spread, then spread it back on the bread- which, admittedly, was not very magnifique. Also, she burnt the bread, so… no garlic bread either.

WILD RICE

~ “Open a can, drain off excess juice, and toss with lots of butter.

Clearly this is why Sister Madly is single: she has been cooking her wild rice before consumption. And now she has a random can of corn from which the excess juice has been drained, and she’s not exactly sure what to do with it.

Also, please note the most excellent presentation.

SCULPTOR’S SALAD WITH SOUR CREAM

~ “Tear up whatever greens you have on hand.”

Sister Madly does not keep leafy things on hand as she is not a rabbit. Her neighbors, however, seem to have some greenery, but they are currently smoking it and are disinclined to serve it up for her Dumb Supper.

So she settled on a serrano pepper, a green glow-stick, and some frozen chives… again, note the excellent presentation.

~ “Add sliced tomato, or what you will.”

Like the leafy things, Sister Madly does not have any tomatoes- as she is not a rabbit, neither is she a barbarian. So she added ‘what she willed’- which was old watch parts.

~ “Sprinkle generously with salt and cracked black pepper.”

As you can see, Sister Madly is the soul of generosity; and for a bit of exotic flair, she substituted Sichuan Peppercorn for black.

~ “When ready to serve, toss with sour cream.”

The salad had been tossed; Sister Madly just didn’t capture the moment.

That looks like something David Bowie would eat, doesn’t it?

LAYER CAKE

~ “That towering, toothsome Layer Cake is magically made from a mix- but you get all the credit.”

As there are no instructions on how to bake said mix, Sister Madly must assume one is meant to eat the raw batter.

Truly, this is cookbook that understands the Single Girl.

MARSALA CHICKEN WINGS

  • 3-3½ lbs. chicken wings

MARINADE

  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • Salt/pepper
  • Oil, as needed

GLAZE

  • 2 cups sweet marsala
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos/low sodium soy
  • 2-3 TBSP maple syrup, or to taste
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp chipotle, or to taste

MARINADE
Mix together marinade ingredients
Add chicken; shake/mix to coat
Cover; refrigerate for 30 min – 24hrs

GLAZE
Add glaze ingredients to pan; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until glaze thickens

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Bake 30 min
Remove from oven, brush chicken with glaze
Return to oven; bake 10-15 min, or until cooked through
Brush with remaining glaze straight from oven


French Dip Sandwich ~ Clandestine Family Traditions

It was during Sister Madly’s Utopian Days that Midori- a recent transplant from Japan*- explained how, just before moving to the States, her Grandmother sat her down and lovingly outlined the ritual for something she called ‘jagaimo.’

* A culture of wise and beautiful people who recognize that life is much too short to be eating bread crust on a daily basis.
Also, they have pet otters.

Now Sister Madly hadn’t heard of this ‘jagaimo,’ but if she were to speculate, it is the custom of cutting the crust off all things sandwich- seriously, the Western World needs to adopt this tradition immediately. Many a school luncheon was ruined by her Mother neglecting to remove the crusts from her peanut butter and banana sandwiches. But fret not: having since learned how to properly handle a knife, Sister Madly is now able to remove the crusts on her own like a sensible adult.*

* That and her Mother lives across the country, and Sister Madly doesn’t want to pay the 50¢ postage to ship said sandwich for maternal de-crusting- again, sensible adult.

It turns out, what the Grandmother called ‘jagaimo’ was not the custom of de-crusting a sandwich, but her pet name for a specific method of seppuku, one performed solely by women. Apparently, tradition was very important to the Grandmother, even as she refused to utilize the appropriate term* when speaking with her grandchildren.

* ‘Jagaimo’ is Japanese for ‘potato’, the use of which undoubtedly caused much confusion and anxiety at the dinner table.

Now the Madly Ancestors hadn’t pass down so much as a cookie recipe* let alone one for ritual disembowelment. Why aren’t there any clandestine Family Traditions listed in the Madly Dynasty Archives? The recipe for bathtub gin, for example? The art of bootlegging? Even the secret to changing a tire would have been deeply cherished- if not most useful- in the years to come…

* Correction: they did pass along a Finnish sleigh bell, which included the Family Secret to Smuggling Things of No Value Out of Europe, circa 1900. Techniques are a bit dated.

The Ancestors on her Mother’s side, however, were much more generous, passing to Sister Madly an affinity for Perry Mason reruns and the time-honored tradition of pushing buttons on things that do not belong to her. So in honor of Midori divulging the secrets of ‘jagaimo,’ Sister Madly revealed her own familial tradition with the buttons on Midori’s oven, during which she discovered a setting called SAB.’

No doubt this was in reference to the Saber-Tooth Tiger, and a gentle plea to join the oven in a moment of silence to mourn its evolutionary demise. Naturally, Sister Madly left the oven set to SAB so that Midori, too, might partake in her own a Moment of Silence privately. Appliances are so thoughtful these days.

However, Sister Madly regrets to inform your good selves that SAB has absolutely nothing to do with the sadly-extinct Saber-Tooth Tiger. Midori later reported that, for several days after Sister Madly’s most touching Moment of Silence:

  • the oven’s digital display went dark
  • the lightbulb wouldn’t illuminate
  • the cooktop would not turn on
  • the oven would not turn off

From this, one can only conclude that SAB* means ‘Sabotage’- a clandestine method of mischief and/or glorious revenge authorized by major appliance manufacturers under the guise of innocent button-pushing. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the elder Madly sibling, Tallulah, also has this SAB mode on her oven…

Indeed, appliances are so thoughtful these days!

* It turns out, SAB means ‘Sabbath Mode,’ a setting that allows individuals to comply with Halakhah (Jewish Law) which prohibits certain activities during Sabbath and other holy times.

FRENCH DIP SANDWICH

  • 3lb chuck roast
  • 1 cup stout
  • (2) 10.5oz cans beef consommé
  • 3 TBSP Worcestershire
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne (opt)
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • Rolls, Swiss Cheese, Mushrooms; to serve

PREPARATION
Add onion, bay leaves, consommé, Worcestershire, and stout to slow cooker; mix
Mix spices together; rub over roast
Add roast to slow cooker
Cook on low 8-10 hours, or until meat pulls apart easily

TO SERVE
Preheat oven to 350*
Split rolls; top one side with beef, mushrooms, and cheese
Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted
Serve with au jus


Transition

Some People
Are a Part of Your History ~


But Not a Part
Of Your Destiny.

~ Steve Maraboli


1) Kirsty Mitchell Photography
2) oneeyeland.com
3) Pinterest


Braised Chicken Marsala ~ Ballad of the Last M&M

Sister Madly knows what you’re thinking: is it safe to eat the peppers of a NuMex Twilight ornamental pepper plant?

Allow the aforementioned Moppet to put your mind at ease: Yes, it is!

But you don’t want to. Trust her on this one.

Now that she’s gotten that out of the way, it’s time to talk about M&M’s.

As a wee little Moppet, this was one amongst many favored 35¢ treats, peaking a few years before Red M&M’s made their triumphant return to society. It was during one of Sister Madly’s weekly pilgrimage down to the party store* that she was confronted with the truth about the candy that ‘melts in your mouth, not in your hand.’

* A Michigan phenomenon jam-packed with all things liquor, tobacco, snacky things, candy, lottery, magazines, Clearly Canadian, and pickled eggs.
Also, pop.

Now Sister Madly simply could not pass by her friend’s house without pounding on the door and demanding that she come out and play (Sister Madly had impeccable social graces in those days.) And being the angelic little Moppet that she was, Sister Madly decided to save last M&M for Serafina- and a yellow* one at that. However, before she could implement her drop-whatever-you’re-doing-and-play-with-me! knock, Sister Madly was horrified to discover that most of the shell had melted off.

* Yes, the yellow ones taste the best. This is not up for debate.

Surely nothing is more devastating than discovering one of the fundamental truths of one’s childhood is nothing but a lie- and if M&M’s had the audacity to fib, how many other pop culture icons were doing the same? Does that mean drugs will not turn her brain into a sunny-side up egg? Is that to say the MASH game is not accurate when foretelling one’s future? Or that Golden Grahams is not part of a complete breakfast? Does that mean girls want to have more than just fun?

But even as Sister Madly faced this tragic, coming-of-age moment, she was determined that Serafina’s innocence should not be lost at such a tender age. Thus, in a most noble gesture, Sister Madly chose to save her best friend from the disillusionment of false advertising by eating the last M&M herself.

Personal Update: Sister Madly did not get the job as Reaper… it would seem that Philip Wardlow some other city slicker applied for the position first.
So unfair.

BRAISED CHICKEN MARSALA

  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • pancetta, diced
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • 1½ cup dry Marsala, divided (¼ cup + remaining)
  • ½ cup chicken stock, or as needed
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • ¼ – ½ cup heavy cream (opt)
  • 2-3 TBSP grated Parmesan, or to taste (opt)
  • Oil, for searing
  • Chives, for garnish

Season chicken w/salt and pepper
In heated skillet, brown chicken on both sides, 3-5 min per side
Remove from skillet; set aside
Sauté pancetta; 1-2 min
Add shallot and garlic; sauté 2-3 min
Add herbs; sauté 30 sec
Deglaze with ¼ cup Marsala; 1-2 min
Return chicken to skillet
Add stock, Worcestershire, and remaining Marsala
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked: 20-25 min
Stir in cream and Parmesan (if using) simmer 2-3 min
Remove from heat, garnish with chives, and serve

THEME SONG: I Melt with You, Modern English


Prohibition

For every Prohibition
You Create,

You also Create
An Underground.

~ Jello Biafra


Images:

1.) Pinterest
2.) Pinterest
3.) Frank Horvat

 


Pulled Chicken Parmesan ~ The Magical, Mystical Repo-Man

Sister Madly was closing down the pub the other night when she overheard a nearby patron speaking about Soul Retrieval.

Now, there’s a fine profession she hadn’t considered when just a wee little Moppet! Which is most unfortunate, as Sister Madly clearly fits the criteria required of a Reaper: she works well independently, has mastered the art of being grim, and can put together a rather fetching uniform at a moment’s notice- her Renaissance Faire days has left Sister Madly with an eclectic array of costumes and bits of weaponry that is often difficult to explain.

Why, just think of all the joy she could bring to commuters simply by strolling along the boulevard in uniform; no doubt the ruffian who just ran that red light will be pleased to find that photo ticket in the mail. Sister Madly would downright giddy to receive a picture of the intrepid Itty Bitty flirting with the speed limit and a Reaper in the foreground- she might even go so far as to make that moment happen. She would hang it on the refrigerator next to the bold You-Didn’t-Vote-Enough! Shame Campaign Card she received in the mail before the last elections.*

* Apparently, Sister Madly is a very naughty citizen because she did not cast a vote for nor against the unopposed, incumbent Drain Commissioner.

For centuries, the Netherworld has employed Reapers as an eco-friendly alternative to leaving Souls littered about the Multiverse like candy wrappers on Halloween- but what does one do with the Souls after tidying up? Does Sister Madly, as a Reaper, decide into which afterlife the Soul is dispensed? Does she decide which ones to recycle, and which to reuse? Zero waste is clearly a concern of the Netherworld and, according to the Ancients, has been recycling Souls through an ecological process known as Reincarnation for centuries.

* Confirmed: Reincarnation is a fact, as evidenced by the bench at her local Marketplace made entirely out of recycled milk jugs.

Yet as with earthly rubbish, not all Souls can be recycled; but that does not mean the surplus is stuffed down the spiritual garbage disposal. As Souls are not compostable, it is most trendy to use the debris for DIY projects around the home- just think of the masterpieces one could make with the leftovers! Surely Sister Madly can find a board on Pinterest addressing this very topic. Hashtag TrendyMoppet.

In fact, a career as a Reaper might even benefit her current engagement as a Vendor.* She could make haunted relics by cramming leftover Souls into certain artifacts willy-nilly, and enlist the most interesting of Psyches (and hopefully, with the most colorful language) to be the spirit behind the Writing Planchette.

* Whose goods are mostly purchased by psychologists, teenage girls, and tourists from Montana. Apparently, Sister Madly has cracked the code on how to cater to this particularly niche market.

As it turns out, the retrieval of Souls is not the same as reaping them. Retrieval, he said, is all about the living

Living… So, does the Soul just wander off? Or is more like retrieving property- such as when one sells one’s Soul to the Devil and the Devil doesn’t deliver on his end of the bargain- like some sort of mystical Repo-Man? If so, Sister Madly may wish to retain these services: having sold her Soul years ago, Sister Madly is certain that the purchaser of said Soul is the Snitch behind her not voting for nor against the unopposed, incumbent Drain Commissioner, which is in direct violation of their nonexistent contract.

The Repo-Man politely declined.

PULLED CHICKEN PARMESAN

  • 2 sweet onions, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup red wine, divided (¼+¼)
  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1½-2 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan, or to taste
  • 1 TBSP basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • salt, to taste

Heat oil in Dutch oven
Add onions, stirring to coat
Lower heat, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized; 30-45 min
Add garlic; sauté 3-5 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Deglaze ¼ cup wine; simmer to reduce; 2 min
Add stock, paste, chicken, and remaining wine; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked (25 min)
Shred chicken in sauce
Simmer to reduce and thicken
Add cheese; stir until melted and remove from heat

THEME SONG: Don’t Fear the Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult


Image 1) Chris Clor