Food

Sweet Potato Lamb Samosas ~ Book Club Phlebotomy

It was another Saturday night, and another encounter with the Happy Phlebotomist, a human mosquito known for his fanatical devotion to the job and a happiness borders upon sinister. That night he was feeling particularly highbrow, lamenting about the one time he attended a Book Club, the evening ended in a conga line.

Now that’s an affair Sister Madly would consider! Book Clubs these days are bogged down by the most ridiculous of frills- such as cucumber sandwiches and, you know, books- that they have forgotten their humble roots in Cuban dance.

The Happy Phlebotomist (HP) however, was so devastated by the incident that he made an unusually bold declaration: yes, somewhere between depleting people of their life source and pushing natural supplements, he was going to start a book club of his own- a respectable book club, a proper book club. You see, he just loves the smell of books!

You’re not suppose to smell books, Sunshine, you’re suppose to read them; that’s what books are for! No doubt you know there are books which have been banned due to their content- suppose you should happen to huff one of those?

Sure, it’s just a snort here and there, but soon you’ll be wearing thick-rimmed glasses and tying your hair up in a bun, and in no time flat you’re insisting that Oreos are vegan while listening to music on ‘vinyl…’ it’s the gateway drug to hardcore hipsterdom!

It was of no use; soon they will all be card-carrying members of Book Club Phlebotomy, extracting blood and smelling books by candlelight. But even worse than this was that HP was determined to take Sister Madly along with them, handing over the book list and asking her to choose which should be their first:

  • Dianetics
  • Interview with an Exorcist
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales
  • Beowulf
  • The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants
  • Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World
  • Atlas Shrugged

What Frankenstein stitched together this literary goulash? It’s enough to reduce anyone to a fetal position in a padded cell- even her spirit animal* is undergoing therapy for the trauma! And though Sister Madly admits that The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants would come in handy when landscaping the backyard, it’s hardly a book she would curl up with at the local coffee shop (mostly because she doesn’t like coffee.)

* Cookie Monster.

HP didn’t understand the fuss. After all, Sister Madly has been known to eat cod now and then- has she ever wondered about its heartbreaking journey from dreamy-eyed minnow to delicious fish ‘n chips? As for the Encyclopedia- why, it’s shorter than War and Peace by a few hundred pages! And just think of all the pointers she’d pick up from the Exorcist…

Exactly what pointers would those be, Sunshine? How to make your own holy water? A DIY crucifix out of dust bunnies and lemon peels? And what makes you think that Sister Madly needs pointers in the first place? Maybe she’s happy with her demons, ever think of that?!?

HP, however, was most accommodating. If Sister Madly didn’t find the list suitable, she- and her demons- were free to add to it.

And that’s just what they did:

  • The Doubtful Debutante
  • All of Them Witches
  • Higgins’ Universal Language
  • Blood on Their Hands: The Crime of It All, A Study of Some Selected Abuses in Sixteenth Century Europe
  • The Isle of Naboombu
  • To Serve Man*
  • Necronomicon

* In the original Kanamit, of course.

HP was absolutely delighted; finally, Sister Madly was showing some enthusiasm for the project! He even went so far as to buy her a pint- that is, until one of the Professors put that PhD- and smart phone thingy- to good use.

“None of these books exist!”

What can she say, Professor? Her devils made her do it.

SWEET POTATO LAMB SAMOSAS

PASTRY

  • 2 sheets Puff Pastry, thawed
  • Egg, beaten

SWEET POTATO

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled, cooked, and cubed
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1-2 chili peppers, chopped (or cayenne to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas

LAMB

  • 1 LB minced lamb
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • Oil/ghee

* ~ *  FILLING PREPARATION * ~ *

~ SWEET POTATO ~
Heat oil/ghee in pan
Add mustard seeds; roast until seeds start popping all over the kitchen
Add sliced onion; saute until translucent; 5 min
Add turmeric and chilies/cayenne; saute
Add potatoes and peas; stir to coat; approx 2 min
Remove from heat and set aside

~ LAMB ~
Saute chopped onions in oil; 5 min
Add garlic and ginger; saute 2 min
Add cumin, sumac, garam masala, salt/pepper; mix 30 secs
Add lamb; saute until cooked through
Add sweet potato preparation; mix thoroughly
Add stock; simmer until evaporated
Stir in mint; remove from heat

PREPARING SAMOSAS
Preheat the oven to 400*
Roll out pastry sheets and cut into 9 squares (approx 4”x4”ea)
Place a tablespoon of mixture at the center of each square
Fold the pastry over filling to form a triangle
Brush egg wash the top of each samosa
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden

Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen w/Philip Glass


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.

MADEIRA LAMB STEW

  • 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


Curried Sumac Pulled Chicken ~ The Perks of Being Invisible

When she was young, Sister Madly thought her looks were ordinary; she couldn’t understand how people even recognized her. There was nothing special about her hair or her eyes, she was short, and her nose was simply there- in other words, she was that typical, run-of-the-mill moppet that couldn’t be distinguished from any other.

In fact, her looks so ordinary, it practically made her invisible.*

* She could, however, throw a tantrum of epic proportions, which would render her invisibility temporarily null and void.

Now invisibility had its perks: she could make faces at passing strangers, not eat her vegetables, even get away with murder (once she figured out what murder was and why she would want to get away with it) all without consequence. Of course, Sister Madly would grow up being overlooked and trampled underfoot, a plight for which her mother must have some secret sympathy, enough at least to compel her to buy her daughter the mercury she’d been begging for the past week.

At is turned out, her mother hadn’t much sympathy at all, which left Sister Madly sulking in the basement with a coloring book and not an ounce of mercury to her name (nor a hammer- one simply cannot play with mercury without a hammer!) She wasn’t completely heartless, though, as she invited Serafina over in hopes of cheering Sister Madly out of her no-mercury funk.

After getting the Hula Hoop stuck in a tree yet again (a favorite pastime in the Madliverse*) the girls wandered down to the corner party store for candy cigarettes, which naturally resulted in the two deciding to cut their own hair. Serafina’s decimated lock ended up being easily tucked behind her ear, but Sister Madly’s- well, her lock stuck straight up in the back, much like the fuse on a cartoon bomb.

* Not so much for the Pater Madly, who had to retrieve said Hula Hoop.

The impromptu makeover was not a particular blow to her vanity, as Sister Madly lacked a certain awareness at that age. Surely the Mater Madly would agree that this ‘new do’ was an improvement, as Sister Madly was sporting a rather unflattering pixie cut* at the time.

* Aka, a ‘Dorothy Hamill,’ named after the only individual on the planet who could pull off such a style.

As it turned out, the ‘new do’ was as subtle as a brick through the window. There was a lengthy lecture that evening, during which the Parental Madlys explained exactly why they didn’t want their daughter personally modifying her pint-sized physique: she could harm herself, it wasn’t a necessity in order to survive, and heaven knows she wasn’t doing it for a worthy cause. It would grow back, sure, it was only hair- but it was only hair this time. They didn’t want to know what would happen next time, and sought to discourage further experimentation before Sister Madly emerged from the basement one Sunday afternoon with various piercings and badly executed tattoos.

The Mater Madly was particularly frustrated: not only were Sister Madly’s class pictures upcoming, she was also to be in her cousin’s wedding the following weekend.

Still, Sister Madly didn’t see why they made such a fuss; she was invisible, after all. Had her mother been in a slightly less end-of-the-world frame of mind, Sister Madly would have pointed out the likelihood of her pictures turning out blank- it is impossible to photograph the invisible, that’s just common sense. She also would’ve suggested that Tallulah take her place in the wedding- Sister Madly wasn’t exactly sure what a wedding was or its purpose, but her mother made it sound important, and her cousin would probably want a flower girl who could be photographed.

About a week after the wedding, the pictures revealed something rather shocking: Sister Madly was clearly visible in the photos, right down to the wispy, fuse-of-the-bomb hairdo. While initially perplexed by this development, the answer was suddenly so obvious that she felt silly for not recognizing it: Sister Madly, you see, was invisible to the world, not to herself. Therefore, just as she could see herself in a mirror, she would be able to see herself in a photo. No doubt her class picture would reflect the same.

This is the rationale that has sustained her into adulthood. Logic is a dying art.

CURRIED SUMAC PULLED CHICKEN

  • Ghee/Oil for sauteing
  • 1 1/2- 2 cups chicken stock
  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp curry powder (used Japanese Curry)
  • 1½ – 2 tsp Harissa
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt to taste

Saute onions until caramelized; 45-50 minutes
Add garlic; saute 3 minutes
Add spices; saute 30 secs
Add chicken; stir to coat
Add stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes
Shredded chicken w/2 forks in sauce
Simmer to reduce/thicken (if needed)
Let stand 2 minutes; serve

THEME SONG: Invisible, U2


Image 4.) Anna Spencer Photography


Tunisian Vegetable Soup ~ Stilton Dreams

Now Sister Madly knows better than to believe every rumor that crosses her path; otherwise, she would be locked in the pantry, wailing in sackcloth over the fact that the world did not end in 2012. However, when the Professor cited an article that claimed Stilton Cheese has been known to induce dreams, she was most intrigued.

The idea of vivid dreams was like catnip to the starry-eyed moppet, as her sleep has been rather dreary as of late: even Rambunctious Shadow Kitty has been tame these last few weeks. A dream of epic proportions would be a welcome change to the recent nights of intermittent insomnia: dreams of travel, of sparkly things, of encounters with legendary creatures- anything that deviated from the current ritual of staring up at the ceiling fan at 3 AM would be greatly appreciated.

There was, of course, the possibility that she would end up with equally vivid nightmares, in which case Sister Madly would spend the rest of the night with her eyes propped open with toothpicks.

But that is the risk one assumes when dabbling with Stilton Cheese.*

* Along with the most atrocious morning breath. Indeed, it is not a Cheese of Romance.

So to ensure a night of unparalleled adventures in slumberland, Sister Madly decided to hit up the local Stilton-Dealing demimonde: the neighborhood grocer.

It’s quite sci-fi, really, the way the supermarket doors slide apart before her. She has long-since perfected her majestic stride, parading in and out of the market like a demented Grand Vizier- until that afternoon, that is, when the doors slid apart with all the speed and enthusiasm of continental drift.

Which Sister Madly failed to notice until it was all too late.

After the usual bout of stars and bluebirds circling about her head, the first thing she saw was a pair of bacon socks and bear claw slippers standing before her. Further on up, the celestial vision gave way to the wool skirt and orange poncho of the jolly transient who collects bottles from bins and feeds granola to the pigeons. He was particularly chipper that day, having just heard of a possible 5¢ bottle deposit increase, and was eager to tell Sister Madly all about it.

He then mentioned that the doors were defective as of late, and she should take care when challenging their position.

Once inside, she made her way over to the cheese counter, where she effectively avoided all staff due to the glossy ‘don’t even try talking to me’ veneer inherent in all feral Sister Madly’s. Unfortunately, the market was rather limited on their selection of Stilton; but then, certain American proprietors are rather skittish when it comes to unconventional cheeses.*

* Especially in regards to that cheese infested with maggots– seriously, Italy, that is so uncool.

While the cutesy little sign recommended a cheeky wine pairing for foodies and romantics alike, there was no advice on protocol for inducing dreams (how unthoughtful!) Apparently, dream-seekers were completely on their own when pursuing a round of nocturnal adventures.

And yet, this revelation was nothing compared to the terror Sister Madly endured when confronted by the mother of all social horrors:

The self-checkout was gone.

There is a reason that the gods created self-checkout, just as they created texting, single-passenger cars, and carrier pigeons: to pass their divine blessing upon lovely, antisocial behavior.

You know what this means, don’t you? Sister Madly has to talk to people!

And she has to talk to them about a wedge of stinky cheese.

Now this was a high-risk scenario: would the cashier deny Sister Madly this cheese knowing she was using it for recreational purposes? Were there guidelines on how to consume this delicacy for maximum dream lucidity? Is she allowed crackers? Cured meats? Some people put Stilton in a port wine sauce; however, Sister Madly wasn’t too keen on the idea of drinking her cheese- that all but guaranteed unforgivable nightmares. And what about the rind? Was there a certain magic contained within that outer layer?

But these questions answered themselves when Sister Madly woke the next morning, all tangled in bed sheets and with the world’s most terrifying bed-head.

There had been a dream, all right, one of a plucky Sister Madly sticking pins in ginger root as though it was a voodoo doll, all the while singing ‘All I Have to Do is Dream’ to her pet pinecone (affectionately named, ‘Pinecone.’) There was a vague awareness that the constellation Sagittarius was being held hostage by a man named Doug, but this was of no consequence as Sister Madly was a Gemini.

In other words, your run-of-the-mill dream. So disappointing.

TUNISIAN VEGETABLE SOUP

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
  • Sweet potato, cubed
  • Rainbow carrots, chopped
  • Celery, sliced
  • 1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked (opt)
  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbsp Harissa, to taste
  • 1 tbsp Ras el Hanout
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 cinnamon powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil, for sauteing

Saute onion and garlic until translucent; 5-8 min
Add carrots and celery; saute 3-5 min
Add spices, tomato paste, and harissa; mix
Add potatoes and mushrooms; stir to coat
Add stock and bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25-30 min, stirring occasionally
Add couscous (if using)
Cover and simmer until couscous is cooked; 8-10 min

THEME SONG: All I Have to Do is Dream, Everly Brothers


‘City’ Chicken Skewers ~ The Order of the Cougar and Dutch Baby

When the Professor announced that she was invited to a ‘Cougar and Dutch Baby’ party, Sister Madly concluded that she was being considered for membership to a secret society, and was suitably intrigued.

There was another outsider invited to this gathering of PhD elite: no doubt Josephine was recruited to join the ranks of Cougar which, despite her affinity for leopard print, seemed far-fetched as her boyfriend was only a few months younger than herself. Sister Madly, naturally, was chosen for the Dutch Baby not just for her age, but for the way she cheerfully embraces all the joys of infantile behavior at the expense of others.

However, there was just one flaw: Sister Madly is not Dutch.

Now this should have been fairly obvious, as Sister Madly lacks characteristics common of those who proudly claim a Dutch heritage, such as a passion for Gouda (she is fond of Gouda, but not passionately so) the ability to pronounce Eekhoorntjesbrood without bursting into tears, or deciding to be tall.*

* As Holland is such a small country, the only choice is to be tall- otherwise they would crowd themselves into Belgium.

Still, it’s nice to be included.

But a shadow soon fell over that festive gathering when Josephine produced a package of peculiar purple meat.

“It’s cougar, Sister Madly. It’s the main course.”

Wait- does this mean that Sister Madly was suppose to supply the Dutch Baby? Where was she suppose to dig up one of those without suspicion? It’s not like one finds curly-haired tots growing wild on the side of the road, and she can’t just pop over to Holland on a whim. And since Sister Madly failed on this mission- no doubt, the initiation- does that mean she is to substitute?

Now before you do anything foolish, Sister Madly, let’s think this over: as this society’s name ends with ‘Dutch Baby,’ your sacrifice will most likely be later in the evening, which leaves you with a few hours to plan a spectacular escape…

But this was interrupted when she found herself subjected to that diabolical apparatus known as the ‘Smart Phone’ (a misnomer, no doubt) when the Professor requested that she find the nutritional info on cougar.

Instead, she ended up with the info for Twinkies, which irritated the Professor despite it being well-known that Sister Madly is terribly inept in using Smart Phones. Cougar can’t be much worse than Twinkies, after all.

But since you are so concerned with nutrition, Professor, she must warn you that Sister Madlys are not FDA approved, and come with a Surgeon General’s Warning stating that they are bio-hazardous, processed in a plant that contains gluten, and highly-venomous.

Despite the nutritional uncertainty of cougar meat, the Professors decided to risk it all by preparing a delicacy worthy of any red-blooded, PhD barbarian: Schnitzel.

Throughout the meal Sister Madly should have been planning her escape; rather, she spent the time wondering if the Cougar would have thought twice about eating the alpaca had he known he would end up a Schnitzel. That’s got to be a severe blow to one’s pride…

..and you missed your chance, Sister Madly. Everyone is finished with the cougar, and seem to be eyeing you with famished glee.

Is this the part where you sacrifice the baby, Professor? Do remember that Sister Madly is not Dutch.

The incredulous silence was soon broken by an explanation on how Josephine, who raises alpacas and flocks of terrifying little children, had a few days prior found the fence behind her farm destroyed and one of the alpacas missing.

Well, most of the alpaca…

Typically, when cougar is spotted in a populated district, it is trapped and moved to a wilderness area- unless it proves to be aggressive or has harmed a person or domesticated/farm animal, in which case it is put down. Finding the beast responsible for this attack was relatively simple as it returned to the farm for second breakfast, became most displeased to find it unavailable, and attempted to take out this displeasure on Animal Control.

How convenient for Josephine. But what about the Dutch Baby? It’s not like infants are conveniently breaking into Sister Madly’s apartment and killing her dust bunnies; she simply does not have that luxury.

“It’s a pancake, Sister Madly. It’s baked in an oven in a cast-iron skillet.”

…with babies?

“No, with cinnamon.”

Well, that’s alright then.

CITY CHICKEN SKEWERS

  • 1 cup Panko or pork rinds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground veal
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water for min. 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 350*
Combine pork, veal, Worcestershire, garlic, sage, marjoram, salt & pepper
Mix Panko/pork rinds with smoked paprika
Form meat into kebabs
Coat kebab in egg, then crumbs
Skewer kebabs
Place on tray and bake for 25-30 min, or until cooked through*

* Try not to overcook kebabs. It will only make you depressed.

THEME SONG: Nobody’s Baby Now, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


Moroccan Pulled Chicken ~ To Catch a Truant

THE DAY: Tuesday
THE TIME: Morning
THE PLACE: The Boiler Room of Adolescent Purgatory (aka, ‘High School.’)

Sister Madly had been sleeping her way through another Biology lecture when she and her classmates were summoned to the gym- immediately.

Typically these meetings were called to impress upon students the importance of the dress code, to find out who vandalized what, or simply to remind them that card games* were taboo. But this assembly deviated from the usual lectures of teenage impurity: a classmate of Sister Madly’s had walked out of class, and left the building.

* Card games = gambling, which was most ungodly. Even solitaire.

No doubt you are imagining a lovely day in May, an Alpine meadow, and a free-spirited blonde frolicking through the flowers as though she were in an ad for honey butter. But this was not the case; it was early February, and the weather was pure Michigan.

Upon learning of the truancy, the Principal did what any sane, responsible administrator would do: send out a search party consisting of the most responsible and trustworthy individuals…

Freshmen.

The Principal went on to inform Team Truancy that the search was not to extend beyond the sidewalk to the south, the Beltline a block to the east, the Highway a block to the west, and the orchard that bordered the school property to the north. They were Freshmen, after all, and it was important to set boundaries.

Clearly the Principal had never been a teenager, not if he believed the Truant would play hooky so close to school; that’s like running away from home by hiding in the garden. No doubt he expected to find the girl under the bleachers, abusing a pair of prescription sunglasses.

However, being the dutiful, sometimes dress-code abiding Freshman that she was, Sister Madly braved the Michigan tundra in a Search for the Wayward Truant- as far as the Diner next door, that is.

It was a dismal greasy spoon, and it was here that Sister Madly spent the next 2 hours, drinking a cup of what could only be described as “I-Can’t-Believe-This-Is-Cocoa.” It was also here where she watched her fellow classmates scatter willy-nilly, each one not so much slipping along the icy sidewalks as display a general unwillingness to fall on their bums. Sister Madly wanted to believe that she rubbed shoulders with the intellectually elite, but her classmates behaved as though they, too, believed that the Truant would be found somewhere on the property, making angels in the snow.

Face it, Sister Madly- your reality is a bad teen novel written in a spiral-bound notebook, which fell into a puddle and was promptly run over by a bus; no doubt you will find a fabulous disco inside your locker first thing tomorrow morning. The day was fast approaching a level of absurdity normally reserved for fairytales, and would have achieved said status had it contained the trademark moral for which such tales are renown.*

* Such as ‘Don’t eat the old lady’s house;’ or ‘Never trust a spinning wheel.’

But what if this was more than a simple case of truancy? What if the school was behind this? Recently, the psychology class took it upon themselves to convince a boy that he had the flu, making certain suggestions about his appearance and behavior until the boy said he felt sick and went home.* Perhaps this was another such experiment, which is why the science should never be taught by an English teacher… and is that a cop over there?

* The boy later admitted that he took advantage of the situation and spent the day at the movies.

Of course he’s a cop, Sister Madly- what did you think he was? The Maytag Repairman? He isn’t going to believe that you are skipping school because the Principle ordered you to do so… unless you show him The Library Card.

Indeed, here is proof that Sister Madly is the victim of a faulty educational system! She would show her Library Card, which she’s had since kindergarten; she would show him her signature, and how she took certain liberties with the letter ‘E’, averaging 5 or 6 horizontal lines instead of the standard 3. Perhaps if some gentle disciplinarian had told Sister Madly back in the day that she did not have the authority to slaughter the alphabet simply because she wanted to, she would’ve turned out to be an oboe-playing, cheerleading, non-truant poster-child of academia instead of an anti-social little moppet playing hooky from a group sent out to find a girl who was playing hooky.

Her ‘E’ was better than your ‘E’ because hers had more lines.

But before she could execute this most excellent tale of tragic woe, Officer Maytag drew his own conclusions on his way out the door:

“You’ve got to be mental to be out there on a day like this, Luv.”

MOROCCAN PULLED CHICKEN

  •  butter/oil/ghee
  •  2 sweet onions, sliced
  •  6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chicken broth
  •  3 garlic cloves, minced
  •  2 bay leaves
  •  2 tsp ground coriander
  •  1 tsp ground ginger
  •  1 tsp ground cumin
  •  1 tsp ground cinnamon
  •  1 lg pinch saffron, ground
  •  1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  •  1/4 tsp black pepper
  • tortillas/naan/lettuce, to serve

Melt butter/oil in dutch oven
Add onions, stirring to coat
Lower heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally
Continue until onions are caramelized (30-45 min)
Mix in spices, garlic, broth and chicken; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked (25 min)
With 2 forks, shred chicken in the sauce
Simmer to reduce and thicken (if needed)
Remove bay leaves before serving

THEME SONG: School’s Out, Alice Cooper


Lighthouse Photo by Thomas Zakowski


Maltese Rabbit Stew ~ The Slaughterhouse Jive

Last night, our PTA meeting ended in bloodshed ~ Welcome to Night Vale

rabbit

Once upon a time, fellow WordPress wayfarer, Locksley, embarked upon a sweet little escapade around the Archipelago of Malta– albeit without the saintly Sister Madly. Not that he should feel the least bit guilty about this, mind you, with Sister Madly being something of a stranger;* however, it should be noted that any misfortune that befell Locksley during this Madly-free holiday- such as a plague of flying ants falling from the sky- was simply a coincidence.

* Yes, yes- rumors persist about how Sister Madly’s traveling companions are never seen nor heard from again, but these are the risks one takes when traveling. Besides, no one has ever proven a thing.

So after rambling around this exotic locale (without her) the valiant Locksley passed along to Sister Madly a recipe for a local delicacy- seriously, it uses an entire bottle of wine; what’s not to love? A most gracious gesture indeed, my friend.

valletta_malta-wallpaperweb

However, finding rabbit meat in her hometown was not as easy as it should have been. The local butcher scene remains rabbit-free to this day, no doubt from the appalling lack of such creatures in the immediate area. Apparently, her town is nothing like the lush, fertile landscape of Malta (where she as never been) which is essential to the cottontail diet.

This search eventually led Sister Madly into the dark recesses of a farmer’s market, where she found a freezer simply labeled ‘game meat.’ Not wishing to look like a vegetarian to the crusty ol’ rancher, Sister Madly approached the situation as carnivorously as possible:

What sound did this beast make when it was alive?

quail

While she didn’t find rabbit that day, she now knows what a quail sounds like.

So just as Sister Madly was threatening to eat a chicken nugget for every minute she went without a rabbit, the universe came through with an unexpected source: the seaside-residing, yet ever resourceful, Tallulah.

Now one would think that a small, coastal town would be known for its fresh seafood, not for its exotic meats- but then, who is she to decide what tickles the fancy of a seaside hamlet? Even if the carcass looked suspiciously like Tallulah’s intrepid little feline, Caviar…*

* Sans fur. And head. And feet. And everything else that makes amateur forensic identification impossible.

Until that moment, Sister Madly had been rather ambivalent on the subject of small game butchery, and would have remained so had the rabbit already been jointed. Sure, she’s cut up a chicken before, but it takes a great deal of imagination to tie this:

chicken2

… to this:

polish chicken

Really, Mr. Butcher, if you took such care to remove the head and the feet, could you not also joint the creature? No doubt the savage finesse with which you wield a cleaver is nothing short of a culinary ballet, but stopping short of jointing is much like flossing your teeth halfway through a pirouette.

And by the way, it was most considerate of you, Mr. Butcher, to leave the kidneys in tact. It’s like finding a pearl in an oyster- a delightful, disgusting, little pearl.

At least, she assumes those were the kidneys…

After watching a video of a posh British lady jointing a rabbit on the internet- and indulging in a cider or two- Sister Madly found herself uttering those fatal words: how hard can it be?

hand-grenade

But what started as an evening full of Let’s Make Rabbit Stew! optimism quickly became a nightmare of hacking, sawing, and a few choice words for Posh British Lady on the Internet. It’s no wonder the butcher didn’t joint the creature- it’s virtually impossible. The state penitentiary should consider reinforcing their cells with rabbit bones- nothing short of the Holy Hand Gernade was going to cut through those suckers. It would have been easier to slaughter and joint her brother-in-law.*

* Not really. Well… no, not really.

Needless to say, Sister Madly’s stew appears to be less than traditional in its presentation- that is, not served on the bone. She says ‘appears’ because she has never been to Malta, thus cannot say for certain. No doubt this was merely an oversight on the part of the valiant Locksley, much like the way one forgets to pack a toothbrush.

* A special ‘Thank You’ to Locksley– even if you did forget to take her along. She’ll overlook it- this time.

rcp-rabbit-stew

MALTESE RABBIT STEW

  • 1 Rabbit, jointed
  • 1 bottle full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6-8 sprigs of thyme
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp sumac
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 16-18 cipollini or pearl onions, peeled
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 10-12 baby potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 tbsp capers, rinsed
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • oil, for sauteing

Marinate rabbit in garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and 1 cup wine 1 hour to overnight
In dutch oven, brown rabbit on all sides; set aside (reserve marinade)
Saute chopped onion in oil; 5 min
Deglaze with 1 cup wine; 3-5 min
Add sumac and tomato paste, mix
Add carrots, potatoes, cippolini/pearl onions, mix
Add rabbit and marinade (including bay leaves, thyme and garlic)
Mix in stock and remaining wine; bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1½ – 2 hours, or until meat is tender
Add peas and capers 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking
Remove bay leaves before serving

THEME SONG: White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane


Thai Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry ~ Valley of the Dolls

Mothers are strange creatures. They can be very contradictory in nature.

crayola

Take the Mater Madly: one Christmas, she gave a young Sister Madly a lovely box of crayons, then became most displeased when Sister Madly used those crayons to create a masterpiece worthy of Michelangelo* on the living room wall. Her mother displayed the same mystifying irrationality when Sister Madly, after receiving a stamp with her name on it, used said stamp all over her face.

* The Ninja Turtle, not the Artist.

Clearly Sister Madly didn’t know how to utilize the toys to her mother’s satisfaction. Hula Hoops routinely found themselves stuck up in trees, Frisbees spent weeks upon the roof, while the her dad’s cologne – which, apparently, wasn’t a toy at all – was often spotted consorting with the condiments in the refrigerator. The complexities of these toys bewildered Sister Madly so much that she would give up and wander into the woods, where she would be found playing with her growing collection of odd-looking rocks.*

* This shouldn’t have surprised her mother in the least, as ‘rock’ was Sister Madly’s first word- or so the story goes.

doll-julien-martinez

The final straw, no doubt, was the day Sister Madly was found living out an especially whimsical South Seas voyage in the toy box rather than with the toys kept inside of it. Her parents thought it best to procure some toys that would require Sister Madly to associate with other living beings- in this case, people- lest her isolated world became so extraordinary that she decided to dwell in it permanently.

That is when the dolls started appearing.

Now Sister Madly had nothing against dolls per se, other than the fact that all of her sweet, demented adventures would now be played out through the dolls when it should be through Sister Madly herself. They would be the ones uncovering sacred artifacts, they would be traveling in gypsy caravans, and they would be the ones exploring haunted houses on nonexistent planets accessed through secret panels located inside the bread box, while Sister Madly gets to sit there and watch. So unfair.

But that isn’t to say Sister Madly didn’t enjoy playing with the dolls; after all, she and Tallulah were typical little girls who did typical sibling things.

Take this storyline, for example (a popular one in the Madliverse) :

doll-creepypastacouk

Aleister, who worked as an elevator attendant at a swanky resort, had one task and one task only: to retrieve the elevator whenever it went awry, as it habitually shot through the roof and landed somewhere down the beach. He was also hunted by the resort’s Head Chef, who used the Jacuzzi to make his culinary masterpieces and found the soupe du jour to be especially tasty after Aleister fell into said Jacuzzi (when one is returning an elevator to its proper place, one tends to walk blindly.)

Meanwhile, the entire town is haunted by a serial killer whose chosen M.O. includes a butcher’s knife. However, said Killer finds himself plagued with that pesky misfortune of being assigned a theme song at birth (‘The Pink Panther’ in this case) which starts to play whenever he raises his hand, thus alerting his potential victims to his presence. Due to his symphonic affliction, he is known as The Most Incompetent Serial Killer in History, with a victim count currently in the negative.

doll

These two worlds finally converged the day Aleister retrieved the elevator from the Waffle House (where it was found working as a line cook) when he encountered The Most Incompetent Serial Killer in History. This startled Aleister so much that his legs broke off and ran away, which resulted in his arrest for indecency as his legs ran off with his pants.

Aleister’s coworker, Elliot, learned of his friend’s predicament when he encountered Aleister’s legs on the treadmill (they were training for an upcoming marathon.) Elliot, disguising himself as a Bean Sprout, broke into the jail and found a pair of diamond-studded swimming trunks (appraised at $4.2 million) in the Sergeant’s locker, which he gave to Aleister so he would not be arrested of indecency once again after escaping from jail. This theft, of course, made the Sergeant very cross…

The retrospect does not do it justice! It sounds so incredibly dull.

The bartender, however- having just overheard Sister Madly relate this story to the Professors- had but one nagging question:

“So, what was the soupe du jour?”

curry-sp-chick

THAI CHICKEN AND SWEET POTATO CURRY

  • 4-6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 chili peppers, chopped and seeded ~ OR ~ cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 14oz. can coconut milk
  • 2-3 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp lime juice, or to taste
  • salt to taste
  • ghee/oil

Saute onion in ghee/oil until translucent, 5 min
Add garlic, saute 1-2 min
Add curry paste, chilies, spices and bay leaf, cook for 30 sec
Add sweet potato, chicken, broth, fish sauce and coconut milk
Mix and bring to a boil
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 min
Uncover and shred chicken (in sauce) with 2 forks
Continue to simmer uncovered to reduce and thicken, 10-15 min
Stir in lime juice and remove from heat

THEME SONG: Your Favourite Toy, Michael Cretu


Images:

1.) Pinterest
2.) Doll Created by Julien Martinez
3.) creepypasta.co.uk
4.) Pinterest


Thai Basil Curry ~ To Plague Fast and Loose

I yearn for the good old days, when you could go about telling people
what you thought of them with a hatchet and a bow and arrow ~ Jerome K Jerome

hugovladdeviant

With this wisdom in mind, Sister Madly faced the Faire with her customary devil-may-care disposition – that is, until an encounter with the Dodo resulted in the threat of arrest due to her fleeing the Battle of the Baked Goods the day before.

The Indictment:
~ Draft Dodging (she refused to throw cupcakes at her enemies)

The charges, of course, were absolutely ridiculous. Why, several inebriated witnesses will testify that multiple Sister Madlys stood at the edge of the battlefield so very briefly- that has to count for something!

Besides, she is but a savant of Fortune Cookie Wisdom:

He who runs from a fight ~
Lives to see another night.

picnic-tablecloth

But in the barbaric world that is Renaissance Faire Justice, no one heeds the wisdom of the cookie. Thus Sister Madly was forced to seek quick and immediate shelter at the Scotch tasting, where she pinched a checkered tablecloth from beneath some very unsuspecting tipplers.

Well, she just couldn’t go to the Highland Fling looking any ol’ how!

The Amended Indictment:
~ Draft Dodging
~ Theft (borrowing a tablecloth without first asking ‘May I?’)

The tablecloth wasn’t particularly stylish, but she wasn’t alone- Clan Picnic Blanket had been making an appearance at the Highland Fling for several years now. Little was known about this group aside from the fact that they imbibed frequently and was comprised entirely of individuals named Scott*, which made them the easiest Clan to infiltrate.

* Later modified to include those who had a ‘Scott’ in the family.

picnic-dress

However, Sister Madly was unable to completely blend in with Clan Picnic Blanket: she was a green checkered cloth amidst the sea of red, not a man, and shamefully sober. That latter part she could work on, but Sister Madly would have to bluff about the green tablecloth, much like the way she bluffed about being a ‘Scott.’*

* Not a lie so much as it was an unsubstantiated truth.

The Revised Amended Indictment:
~ Draft Dodging
~ Theft
~ Fraud (she was not a Scott)

It didn’t take long.

plague oomizuao deviant

The green tablecloth isn’t fooling anybody, Sister Madly.

And bluff she did.

Maybe it was she who was fooled, Herr Dodo, by the green; perhaps Sister Madly is color blind.

Of course this wasn’t true, they both knew that; but it was something the Dodo couldn’t disprove and would look like a poor sport if he tried.

He would also look like a poor sport if he interfered with a race- or so she thought. You see, Sister Madly was under the faulty impression that by participating in the Keg Roll Relay, she would be safe from retribution.

The race, however, was not as easy as she fancied: the keg was imbalanced, being half-loaded- much like the majority of Clan Picnic Blanket. Looping lines were all the rage for this lot, and while most teams headed vaguely towards the finish line, Clan Picnic Blanket veered sharply to the left- which abruptly ended the moment the Keg escaped the humiliation and rolled down the hill towards the Living History Village.

keg-roll

Naturally, Sister Madly was the last of her team to realize the gravity of the situation as the rest of Clan Picnic Blanket abandoned the race and headed for the nearest drinking establishment. Yes, there was a Keg bearing down upon the Vikings, and if Sister Madly didn’t make a move out of sight, she would be left to take the blame.

Which is precisely what happened.

The Modified Revised Amended Indictment:
~ Draft Dodging
~ Theft
~ Fraud
~ Property Damage (the Keg knocked over a bunting)

Well, Miss Smarty-Knickers, what are you going to do now?

Sister Madly was somewhat bewildered by this response. The Keg missed the Dodo’s pavilion by mere inches, so he had no reason to complain; in fact, he wasn’t anywhere near the Village, just lording over it on the hill. If he had been minding his own business over in the swamp, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

medieval-village-2

Then again, perhaps the offense was more indirect. Perhaps he, like Sister Madly, was sensitive to hops; or perhaps he was one of those gluten-free Plague Doctors and saw the Keg as a passive-aggressive attack on his dietary lifestyle. At the very least, a health-conscious ol’ bird such as he should appreciate the fact that it was a free-range Keg that nearly destroyed the Village, and not one of those farm-raised, hormone-injected types.

When you fling an 80-pound keg into a crowd, we eliminate the ‘passive’ part.

The Finely-Tuned Modified Revised Amended Indictment:
~ Draft Dodging
~ Theft
~ Fraud
~ Property Damage
~ Assault (she pushed a Keg towards unsuspecting human beings)

Never had Sister Madly accomplished so much before noon.

thai-basil-curry

THAI BASIL CURRY

  • Ghee/Oil, for sauteing
  • 6 chicken thighs, cubed (opt)
  • Vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, snap peas, etc)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, chopped and seeded to taste (used serrano)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced ~ OR ~ 3/4 tsp, ground
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves,* chopped

* Thai Basil differs from Sweet Basil as it has an anise/licorice taste

Saute onion in ghee/oil until translucent- 5 min
Add garlic, (fresh) ginger and chili- saute for 3-5 min
Add curry, turmeric, coriander, ginger (if using ground) and salt
Stir until fragrant- 30 sec
Add vegetables, chicken and coconut milk- bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer until veggies are tender and chicken is cooked- 30 min
Mix in lime juice and heat to set flavors- about 1 min
Remove from heat and mix in Thai basil

THEME SONG: Runaway, Bon Jovi


Images:

1.) hugovlad.deviantart.com
2.) pinterest
3.) pinterest
4.) oomizuao.deviantart.com
5.) tumblr
6.) pinterest


Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup ~ Dining with the Dead

They say that around the end of October, the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. While the mysterious netherworld intrigues, Sister Madly finds the living to be much more tolerant of her delightful petulance than the dead simply because they have no other choice.

invisible

However, her sister, Tallulah, had some sort of romantic getaway planned for something called an ‘anniversary,’ and in no uncertain terms implied that Sister Madly was not welcome to tag along, despite the fact that there was ample room at that seaside cottage. Seeing as the only other option was to face the holiday alone, Sister Madly figured she might as well consort with the Dead.

And what better way than with a traditional Dumb Supper? *

* A Dumb Supper is a dinner held in honor of those who have passed on, where the living remain silent while at the table in reverence of the dead.

It’s often said that the deceased guests of said Supper are ‘loved ones,’ but is this a requirement? Is she allowed to invite total strangers, even those whose lifestyles some might frown upon? She would love to mingle with the likes of Vincent Price, Somerset Maugham, and Ambrose Bierce. David Bowie. Sidney Bechet. Gene Tierney.  Jack the Ripper- he ought to be dead by now… right?

speaknspell

Apart from the proper Dumb Supper Invite Protocol, Sister Madly found herself baffled by one question in particular: how, exactly, does one invite the deceased to a Dumb Supper? To where does one send the invitation? Is it via carrier pigeon? Smoke-Signals? Or are the means much more mystical, such as through her decrepit old Speak-N-Spell which is definitely haunted?

It was during these ponderings that Sister Madly faced the reality of her accommodations: she doesn’t have enough room at her table to seat all of the Invited Dead- and by that she means she does not have a kitchen table. She would have to make due by seating them on the floor, Moroccan style, which would be no problem as she has an unholy amount of pillows stockpiled on her bed. The seating arrangement may be a bit peculiar as it zigzags through the apartment, with some guests sitting the bathtub and others in the kitchen,* but in the end even the Dead will admit that comfort and convenience is no match for a free meal.

* Jack the Ripper would not be seated near the cutlery. No need to place temptation within his reach.

jack-the-ripper

When all was said and done, the total number of guests came to 13… and you know that THAT means!

But for those who lives are all sunshine and butterflies, it is said that the first person to leave the table of 13 will die within a year. Being the only living creature at this supper, it is practically guaranteed that this someone will be Sister Madly. Sure, she could invite the Professors to safeguard against this nuisance- no doubt they would totally be down for a free supper; but the ‘dumb’ part would almost certainly trip them up. There is always an opinion, observance, or unsolicited advice which deviant genetics forbids them from keeping to themselves, and Sister Madly thought it best not to offend the Ripper while in her apartment

So she decided to remedy this by adding to the guest list… until she reached a total of 37.

poptarts

Well, way to go, Sister Madly! A meal for 37 will certainly be a strain on the weekly budget; the Invited Dead will have nothing to look forward to other than a feast of Ramen Noodles and Pickled Beets- which means you might still wind up with 13 for Dinner because of a poorly executed menu. What if the some of the guests are gluten intolerant? What if they only want Pop-Tarts? And what if the Invited Dead are engaged elsewhere at the appointed time? Sure, you won’t mind if some arrive fashionably late, but some may not show up at all, and you could very-well end up with only 13 for dinner…

bettedavis

Which begs the question: how is Sister Madly to know if the Dead DO attend? What if they have no message to pass along from the great beyond? What if they are painfully shy? What if they take sides on the great Bette Davis/Joan Crawford rivalry, and a otherworldly food fight breaks out right there in the middle of her apartment? She doesn’t own a mop, and her security deposit does not cover poltergiest…

Then there is the possibility that none of the Invited Dead are able to attend, leaving Sister Madly alone in her apartment with 38 bowls of Pickled Beet Ramen- a nightmare guaranteed to send her into hysterics.

Rather than risk years of intense therapy due to a Feast of Pickled Beets, Sister Madly decided to cancel the party entirely and buy some cider instead.*

* Nice & Naughty, to be exact.

WILD RICE AND MUSHROOM SOUP

  • 24 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 rainbow carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3-4 cups veggie ~ or ~ chicken stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup (dry measure) wild rice, cooked
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste (used chipotle)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Oil for sauteing
  • Lg pinch tumeric (opt, for color)

Heat oil in stock pot
Sauté onion until translucent; 5 minutes
Add garlic; sauté
Add mushrooms; sauté for 5 minutes
Mix in spices until fragrant, about 30 seconds
Add stock and coconut milk; mix
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally
Mix in rice
Simmer to set flavors (10 -15 minutes)
Remove bay leaf
Allow to rest for 2+ minutes before serving

THEME SONG: Death is Not the End, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


French Onion Barley ~ One More Thin Gypsy Thief

It is no secret that Sister Madly’s lineage is one of bootleggers, barbarians, gamblers and smugglers- and those are just the ladies.

bathtub gin

By the age of 15, Sister Madly’s great-grandmother was not only married, but making moonshine; yet tales of these exploits paled by comparison to the ones that emerged during Prohibition (1919 -1933), when she began making bathtub gin. While illness to near blindness was common amongst the clientele in the early days, Sister Madly is still disappointed that the family recipe was not passed down to future generations- seriously, what else is she going to do with her bathtub?

Despite the nomadic blood in their veins, her grandparents had managed to settle into a more conventional lifestyle. Yes, much like your very own household, the Halls of the Elder Madly estate were slick with an electric organ, a fully-stocked cocktail bar, several antique slot machines and good, old-fashioned melancholy. Sure, it was a bit like the Phantom’s Lair meets Voodoo Magic after a mid-1960’s renovation, but that doesn’t mean it was short on charm. Or polka albums. Or false walls. Mysterious drafts and unexplained noises. The sense of never quite being alone. Spiders. And pin-up playing cards.

vintage pinup vargas 3

Never one to be a gregarious little supernova, Sister Madly often spent family holidays in the comfort of the mysterious drafts and the slot machines. Her grandparents took to this antisocialism as though Sister Madly were some sort of child prodigy instead of a wayward little urchin outlining bodies in chalk at the bottom of dimly-lit stairwells. The laundry chute became the clandestine way Tallulah would pass candy to Sister Madly down in the basement on the days Tallulah chose to socialize with the adults- although sometimes, Sister Madly was forced to retrieve the treats herself when elder sis FORGOT ABOUT HER.

Not that she holds a grudge or anything…

It was during one such solo mission that Sister Madly discovered the sliver sleigh bell that she would one day come to inherit. Actually, the sleigh bell had been on the mantle all along, but that was the day she became curious about it- enough to delay the mission to the candy dish and ask certain questions. Yes, she was that curious.

Sleighbell

The story is that this sleigh bell was smuggled into America by one of Sister Madly’s great-grandmothers when she emigrated from Finland. It is said that the Finnish Government back in the day frowned upon the natives leaving the country in favor of new adventures, so to discourage the wanderlust, those emigrating were allowed to take with them very little money and absolutely nothing of value. Thus Sister Madly‘s great-grandmother departed Finland with nothing more than a wild aspiration and a silver sleigh bell, which she had hidden inside a ball of yarn.

Why a sleigh bell, you ask. Sister Madly would like you to believe that it was Great-Grandma’s way of giving society the ol’ middle finger- or whatever gesture is the Finnish equivalent. And while Sister Madly finds this to be a most delightful theory, it begs the question of whether border patrol was simply inexperienced in detecting sleigh bells hidden inside balls of yarn, or if this was part of a greater plot to infect America with a lunacy that can only be transmitted by a sweet, sleigh bell trafficking, 19 year-old who did not even pretend to know how to knit.

*At this same age, Sister Madly was living her own dream of joyriding scissor lifts through the mall. Never lose those stars in your eyes, Moppet.

knitting

Therein lies the proof that Sister Madly is, without a doubt, of this same bloodline: not because she gets a kick out of transporting knives inside of socks or substituting absinthe for Mountain Dew, but by the way she defiantly buys skeins of yarn without even knowing how to knit.

Blood, you see, is thicker than moonshine.

french onion barley

FRENCH ONION BARLEY

  • 5 onions, sliced (used 2 red, 3 yellow)
  • 2-3 Tbsp butter/oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 8 oz mushrooms (opt)
  • 2/3 cup dry barley, rinsed of riffraff
  • 4 cups beef or mushroom broth
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

PASTRY TOP

  • 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed, rolled-out and cut into squares
  • 1 egg, beaten

FRENCH ONION BARLEY
Melt butter/oil in dutch oven
Add onions, stirring  to coat
Lower heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally (every 5-8 minutes or so)
Continue until onions are caramelized (45-60 minutes)
Add mushrooms and sauté (5 minutes)
Add red wine to deglaze pan
Add broth, spices and bring to a boil
Add barley and stir
Reduce to a simmer and cover
Simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is tender

PASTRY TOP
Divide soup into oven-proof ramekins
Pull pastry square taut over the top of each bowl
Press pastry against rim of bowl to seal the edges
Brush pastry with the beaten egg
Place bowls on baking sheet and bake @ 400* for 20 min (do not open oven before 15- pastry may fall)

THEME SONG: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, Dervish. Or Cher. You choose.


Ham and Banana Hollandaise ~ Of Misplaced Druthers

The Professors were having yet another social get-together, the likes of which can range from tedious to interesting to (admittedly, with a little help) downright bizarre, and one simply attends just to see which it will be. Against their better judgment, the Professors asked Sister Madly if they could borrow a decanter- or something that could pass as such- and oh, could she pick up about half a dozen brown eggs on her way over?

Beaker Decanter

Sister Madly is nothing if not obliging, and went about her tasks with an uncommon cheer. When she arrived at the Professor’s house later that afternoon with decanter in hand, her cheer was bordering upon sinister.

That’s a beaker.

Actually, Professor, it’s an Erlenmeyer flask, in which Sister Madly usually keeps flowers.

You brought us your vase?!

No. She brought you a decanter. Only when it is holding flowers is it a vase.* That should be fairly obvious.

* The flowers that were in the vase were transferred to the teapot. And she did rinse out the beaker beforehand, so all the fuss was quite unnecessary.

But that was nothing compared to the moment she handed over the eggs.

You can’t make Scotch Eggs with Cadbury!

cadbury

How do you know, Professor? Have you ever tried?

Do you really expect us to believe that you didn’t understand what we meant?

Why, she hadn’t even thought of that! This sort of stunt has become so unapologetically routine that Sister Madly merely assumed that the Professors knew she was just being a little horror.

Not that she isn’t proud of the fact.

If I had my druthers…

What happened to them, Professor?

Naturally this question had less to do with what had become of these ‘druthers’ as it did with wanting to hear the Professor try to explain definition of the word. And oh, it was completely horrible for the Professor, but it amused Sister Madly to no end.

scotch egg

Perhaps you accidentally put your druthers out with the recycling. Or maybe they got caught in the lint trap while you were doing the laundry- that’s where Sister Madly tends to find missing socks. They say druthers are drawn to lint traps because of the static cling-

She didn‘t get very far in her conjecture before she was sent outside with a cider and a muffin. Sister Madly didn’t want a muffin. The thing had so many poppy seeds that, if one were to plant it, a row of fully stocked opium dens would bloom in its place.

So she impaled it on the nearest car antenna.

Now the Professors are usually reluctant to let Sister Madly out of their sight for long, in case she should sneak into a closet until nightfall and poison them in their sleep (like she would bother waiting until they were asleep.) The last time they were this negligent, Sister Madly decked the halls with so much mistletoe that one was never more than a few steps away from at kiss.

This time their negligence would result in something far less whimsical.

You see, Sister Madly had come across a truly horrifying recipe she had intended to make for her brother-in-law that weekend, and had picked up the ingredients along with the eggs. But why waste a ghastly recipe on someone who will only smile politely at the result before ordering a pizza when she can make it now and send the Professors into months of intensive therapy?

The making of this concoction was terribly easy- so easy, in fact, that Sister Madly was almost ashamed. The Professors hardly gave her a second glance when she took her place in the corner of the kitchen, peeling bananas and wrapping them in ham. No doubt they thought this behavior was typical of one who had recently consumed a truckload of poppy seeds, and congratulated themselves for having Sister Madly properly sedated.

When she asked the Professors if they had any Dijon, she was handed a bottle of Wasabai mustard, and when she asked for cream, she given a container of caramel-flavored coffee creamer. Sister Madly, being nothing if not obliging, didn’t say a word; after all, she could blame the poppy seeds, but the Professors- they could blame no one but themselves.

It wasn’t long before the wallpaper began to peel beneath the cloud of the most hateful funk.

What’s that smell?!

That would be your druthers, Professor: Prosciutto and Musa Fruit Hollandaise- or, in bologna and cheese speak, Ham and Banana Hollandaise Sauce-From-A-Packet.

Bon Appetit.

bananas holli

HAM AND BANANA HOLLANDAISE

  • 6 bananas
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 6 thin slices ham
  • 3 Tbsp mustard
  • 2 packets hollandaise sauce mix
  • 1/4 c light cream
  • 1 cup water

BANANAS
Preheat oven to 400*
Peel bananas
Sprinkle Bananas w/2 Tbsp lemon juice to prevent darkening (does not work but do it anyway)
Spread ham with mustard
Wrap each banana in slice of ham
Arrange in single layer in baking dish
Bake for 10 minutes

SAUCE
Combine sauce mix with water, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and cream in a saucepan
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly
Pour sauce over baked bananas
Return bananas to oven
Bake until wallpaper peels from the walls and the linoleum warps, approx 5 minutes

THEME SONG: Yes, We Have No Bananas


Harissa Sweet Potato Tagine ~ A Glimpse of Autumn

Having decided to embrace the change of seasons, Sister Madly has taken a moment out of her not-so-busy schedule to give you a glimpse of autumn in her neck of the cosmos:

The Golds in all their glory!

autumn1

Resting gently on the sidewalk!

autumnleaf

Stealing your favorite parking space!

yllwsmart

And the Reds, majestic in their splendor!

autumnred

Falling in the orchards!

orchard oz

Dancing across the pavement!

blood splatter

And the Oranges, ablaze in their… hm.

cheetos

Once again… The Oranges, awaiting your kamikaze dive!

pile of leaves

 Assembled and ready for festive disembowelment!

pumpkins

Yes, the Oranges!

construction

The ORANGES…

zombies_1249941i

THE OR-AN-GES!!!

flagger2

The ORANGES that hunt you!

headlesshorseman

The ORANGES that haunt you!

029

The Oranges that seek to consume your very soul!

cthulhu orange

… and the ones that bring you back to your childhood.

great pumpkin

So put on your best furry socks…

furry socks

… turn out all the lights…

eyes-in-dark

… and hit ‘PLAY’…

peanuts-thelovecraftsman-dot-com

… because it is far better to be haunted by a pumpkin than to be devoured by the Great Old One…

Yes, welcome to the Madliverse. Cheetos should be here by noon.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

HARISSA SWEET POTATO TAGINE

  • 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4-6 chicken thighs, cubed (opt)
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup peas
  • other veggies as desired (cauliflower, butternut squash, etc)
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger root, grated – OR – 2 tsp powder
  • 2 Tbsp Harissa sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Combine sweet potatoes, broth, and coconut milk in a large pot
Bring to a gentle boil and cover
Cook until the sweet potato is easily pierced with a fork, 10-15 minutes
Puree w/immersion blender or food processor until desired smoothness
Add chicken, veggies and spices to sauce and mix thoroughly
Add broth if necessary/desired
Bring to boil
Reduce to a simmer and cover
* STIR FREQUENTLY * to prevent burning, especially if using cast iron or other nonstick pan
Cook until veggies are tender and chicken is cooked through, 25 min or so.

Harissa SPT

THEME SONG: Autumn Leaves, Coldcut


Star Gazing

Cultivate a sense of humor, they said.
From a humorous point of view, this lunch is rather good ~ Jerome K. Jerome

To most denizens of planet Earth, Star Gazing means just that: to gaze up at the stars.

stargazing

To the Ex of her teenage years, however, Star Gazing was a coy little euphemism for old-fashioned making out. Sister Madly discovered that in the most startling way possible.

And to a select few across the pond, there is this little gem:

Sister Madly is torn: she can’t decide if this banquet of vegan nightmares is disgusting, disturbing, or just plain lazy. Look at it: one can almost taste the psychosis that went into its creation. Is this really what God intended?

It‘s not that she is unfamiliar with British cuisine; in fact, she’s had quite a bit of international fare in her lifetime, most of which she enjoyed – except for that steak and kidney concoction, which was basically an autopsy in a pie. But Stargazy? A delicacy of such unapologetic madness must be reserved for a special occasion.

And in no time, that occasion presented itself.

There was yet another party in the works, one with a British Theme, that the Professors not only planned in her absence but expected her to participate in. Worse yet was that they insisted that Sister Madly was present when these plans were made, and she could not talk them out of it.

pub

For the record, Sister Madly was most certainly not present at the planning: never would she have agreed to a shindig whose sole purpose was to get sloshed under the Union Jack- an ironic theme, considering that the Professors’ home base is a British pub and they do just that every weekend. Apparently, the ultimate goal here is to get Sister Madly drunk over the next few days and keep her that way through the Fall. They’ve been trying to do that since December.

Well, two can play at that game, Professor, and Sister Madly has resources you would never have dreamt of. Let‘s see who can hold their liquor the longest when she shows up on your doorstep with a freshly baked Stargazy Pie and Blue Wonderland Mushroom Salad-

“What was that?”

plans

Fiddlesticks, Sister Madly – you didn’t just say that aloud, did you? You need to become aware of the moments that you are speaking your thoughts! One of these days it’s going to backfire. Seriously- revenge is no good when the target knows what’s coming.

“I thought you said something.”

Oh, just like you thought Sister Madly was present when you planned this whole Let‘s-Get-Drunk-In-Merry-Ol’-England Party?

“You were there- quit pretending otherwise.”

Someday, Sister Madly, you’re going to admit that your friendship with these creatures is much like Stargazy Pie: oppressive, unnatural and stuffed with nightmares. You might want to get out before you end up as one of the fishys- which is sooner than you think.

Go back to the Stars, Little One. One of them shines for you.

For the record, Sister Madly has decided against making the pie for the Let‘s-Get-Drunk-In-Merry-Ol’-England Party. It occurred to her that making a treat for a party she is not attending is a waste of time. She will make it for her brother-in-law instead.*

*Sister Madly did attempt this recipe over the weekend: she just skipped a few ingredients {i.e., everything but the cider} and a few directions {i.e., all of them except consuming the cider.} It was a success.

recipe-stargazy3

STARGAZY PIE

  • 2 Shortcrust Pastry/Ready Made Pie Crust
  • 3-5 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 3-5 mackerel or herring, cleaned and gutted w/head heartlessly in tact
  • 6-8 rashers of streaky bacon, rind removed and chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (wear your goggles!)
  • Mustard or horseradish, to taste
  • Generous handful of fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, chives, basil, etc)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (optional)
  • Egg, beaten (for glazing)
  • 6-pack of quality hard cider, divided (1/2 cup – OR – 4 oz. + remaining)
  • Preferred Method of Payment
  • Phone

Consume 1 cider – you’re going to need it
Line pie dish with 1 pastry/crust
Mix 3/4 herbs, breadcrumbs, 1/2 onion, and mustard/horseradish
Stuff the fishys w/herb mixture
Arrange fishys in pie dish w/heads pointing skyward
Scatter remaining onions, herbs, bacon, eggs, and disgust in between the fishys
Season w/salt, pepper, and sadness
Add 1/2 cup cider
Cover dish w/pastry, allowing the fishys’ heads to poke through
Slit pastry in center to allow steam to escape
Make sure fishys are all snuggly in the pie and glaze crust w/egg
Avoid looking into their bleak, sightless eyes
Bake @ 400* for 45-50 minutes
Consume other 5+ ciders

TO SERVE:

Allow pie to cool slightly
Scatter pie crust w/parsley
Bask in the glory of this psychotic delicacy
Dump pie in garbage
Locate Phone and Preferred Method of Payment
Order Chinese *

*Or any delivery-based Take Away. We do not drink and drive.

THEME SONG: I Am the Cosmos, This Mortal Coil


IMAGES:

1) lovethispic.com
2) pinterest
3) yelp
5) pinterest


Smoked Gouda and Chipotle Soup ~ A Most Industrious Slice of Cheese

…because no man wants to be a coward in front of a cheese ~ Terry Pratchett

Fact: a single slice of Provolone Cheese, when melted down, will not only stretch beyond the total length of your intestines, veins and every other creepy, coiled-up thing in your body, but will ensnare every passerby in its gelatinous web. Should you find yourself needing to climb out of a bottomless pit, a slice of melted Provolone is all that is required for your rescue because, on top of everything else, it does not break. Ever.

evil_cheese_demotivational_poster_1219429960The day was bright when Sister Madly came face to face with this particular foe. Whatever delicacy she had been put in charge of making required the melting of some Provolone Cheese, which even the Professors believed that she could accomplish without supervision as they left her alone in the kitchen while they went out on the porch for a smoke.

Granted, Sister Madly rarely uses Provolone herself, finding it plain and unassuming (much like North Dakota) but she had no reason to believe that it had wicked intent (again, like North Dakota.) That is where she went wrong, for this was a most insidious and industrious slice of Provolone, flaunting its superior melting capabilities like a tattered boa and flinging its tentacles across the kitchen. She knew not what master the Provolone was serving- indeed, it must have a master, because why else would a Cheese behave this way?

While there are many facets to a Cheese’s personality, the line between its sanities is very fine, leaving one mistaking its pathological hostility for heartfelt reconciliation until, like Sister Madly, you find yourself hopelessly entangled in a Web of Provolone.

cobwebs

The Professors aren’t going to like this much, Sister Madly. Just how many hours did it take to clean the house? You should know- you were told about it at least 3 times that morning. Now there are more webs around the kitchen than in the entire Havisham Estate.

She began making the same mistakes with the Provolone as she once made with North Dakota: she tried to be its friend, she said it was beautiful- she even tried reasoning with the Cheese, but it was no use. Cheeses are notoriously unreasonable.

That’s when the Professors chose to come crashing into the kitchen, and once again Sister Madly found herself facing a predicament as difficult to explain as the one below:

sandwich mystery

… and you’re still not going to get
an answer.

“Just how did you manage that?”

But the Professors weren’t looking at the Cheese Web; they were looking at the stove.

“It doesn’t ignite without a match. How did you light it?”

burner2

The implication of that statement was not lost upon Sister Madly: you see, it wasn’t that the Professors trusted her enough to melt the cheese without supervision; they merely thought she could do no harm since they had taken the matches with them, leaving her (seemingly) unable to light the stove.

How did she do this, Professor? Like most inhabitants of the 21st century: she turned the knobby-thing to the right, it went click, click, click before erupting into a glorious ring of blue- the only blue, by the way, that is allowed in the house.

This, of course, was followed by the usual experiment, with the Professors’ being unable to ignite the stove in this fashion even as Sister Madly was able to do so 3 times in succession, thus proving yet another useless skill to add to her repertoire. This could very-well be her calling: Sister Madly, Guardian of the City, the streetlights going dark as she passes beneath them while lugging the Professor’s stove, igniting the left burner and stopping crime with a Web of melted Provolone like some 3rd rate Spiderman.

The Melting Moppet.

Then again, if she acquires enough useless super-skills, she might be able to trade them in for something worthwhile, like invisibility, or sleeping through the night…

Smoked Gouda Chipotle

SMOKED GOUDA AND CHIPOTLE SOUP

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 celery, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2/3 c Marsala wine
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 c frozen peas
  • 8 oz smoked gouda, shredded
  • 4-6 c vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3-5 chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 – 1 cup heavy cream

Sauté Onion and Garlic for 5 minutes
Add Mushrooms and Celery and Sauté for 5
Add Marsala wine, deglazing pan
Add spices and sauté for 30 secs
Add carrots, chipotles, adobo and broth
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes
Add cream and peas
Simmer until vegetables are tender (approx 10 min)
Add Gouda, stirring frequently until melted.

THEME SONG: I Melt with You, Modern English


Curried Mushroom Barley ~ One Ring and a Smile

Sister Madly finds herself greatly miffed when the universe does not listen to a word she says.

It happened one summer a few years back. The Professor’s marriage had ended sometime ago, and he wanted to symbolically dispose of his wedding ring to celebrate his decision to move on with his life. His chosen method of disposal was to throw the ring into a mucky, mosquito-infested, most likely cancer-causing pond. Equally symbolic.*

*Some people call these things ‘wetlands.’ Sister Madly does not speak to these people.

one ring

While friends envisioned the Professor turning Frodo at the last minute and deciding to keep the ring, Sister Madly was certain he would end as Gollum by falling into the pond. Even though she was warming up to the idea, the pond was clearly a bio-hazard and she did not wish to be the one to fish the Professor out from the schools of free-range E.Coli.

And so Sister Madly proposed that he tie the ring to some balloons, and set it free.

While initially pleased with the suggestion, the Professor- whose idea of living it up is crossing against the light- began voicing his irrational concerns: power lines, airplanes, environmental issues, embarrassment. Seriously, Sister Madly, isn’t that littering?

Of course it’s not littering, Professor; it won’t be litter until it comes back down again. This way, you will never know where the ring lands, or whether someone finds it; you just watch it disappear. Besides, there is something liberating about releasing a part of yourself into the wind and watching it fly; it’s more than being alive, it’s feeling yourself live. Stop analyzing all the whimsy out of this.

evil balloon

She does not know how it happened, but it was decided that Sister Madly was in charge of obtaining the balloons. Being in the grip of a most audacious mood, she added to this helium bouquet a familiar face: a smiley balloon, one too cheery for its own good, which comes with the Devil built right in.

All along the way to the hilltop, the Smile haunted her rearview mirror, floated up beside her and even tried to take control of the wheel. Subsequent punches to that cheerful face proved ineffective, and resulted in flashbacks of the balloon that once stalked her through the house many years ago. Sister Madly took out the latter with a butter knife.

The balloon had the last laugh that night, but here was a chance for Sister Madly to even the score: just as the Professor was to leave behind his broken marriage, so would Sister Madly to a leave behind- by proxy- a more-or-less disturbing incident of her childhood.

release balloons

There’s one thing to be said about for forest fires and smog: you get the most amazing sunsets. This is what Sister Madly had hoped to remember about that evening as the balloons were unleashed, mad and majestic- almost as majestic as that pine tree with which the bouquet decided to entangled itself.

Way to go, Sister Madly; that tree was probably the whole national forest. Not only will the Professor know what became of his wedding ring, the rest of the world will know as well. Soon the EPA will be hunting you down for defacing the ecosystem with a broken marriage and a Smile. If this is the best fortune that the gods can bestow, she’s crossing over to the dark side so fast…

“Well, Sister Madly, what do you say to that?”

Unfortunate, Professor. Most unfortunate.*

*The balloons eventually freed themselves, and were last seen drifting through the air in a serene, Zen-like reverie.

curried barley

CURRIED MUSHROOM BARLEY

  • Butter/oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Dry Barley, rinsed
  • 5 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 tsp Marjoram
  • 2 tsp Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
  • 16 oz Sliced Mushrooms
  • 5-6 cups Beef or Mushroom Broth
  • 2 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
  • 2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt to Taste *

Sauté garlic and onions in butter/oil for 5 minutes
Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes
Add barley, marjoram and thyme, sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.
Add broth, curry paste, vinegar, bay leaves
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat and cover
Simmer until barley is tender, stirring occasionally (adding broth if needed) approx 1 hr.
Remove bay leaves and season with salt

* Curry paste can be salty; add salt at the end

POST’S THEME SONG: Wild is the Wind, David Bowie


Penny Pinching Ice ~ It’s All About the Loopholes

Sister Madly often looks upon someone who is traveling with a bit of resentment, as though they are leaving her behind. She will even go so far as to take it personally.

take me with you

But not always.

According to some sources, a vacation is a period of time that is devoted to travel, recreation, and relaxation. If one embraces this definition, it becomes evident that Sister Madly has not had a real vacation in years.

Allow her to break it down for you:

  • Travel: yes, often extensive and through questionable territory. Sometimes on foot. With pursuers.
  • Recreation: yes, but at her expense. Always.
  • Relaxation: absolutely out of the question. It is difficult to relax when you are the source of the ‘recreation.’

campingThere should be nothing more delightful than a vacation with friends, but for Sister Madly, that is often not the case. Her particular circle has an uncanny ability to ensure that these excursions contain just enough detail to make the whole thing inconvenient.

Of course, some travel woes are entirely her fault (You say you’re going camping in the mountains, Sister Madly? Sure, the ski resorts are still open, but no doubt YOU will be all warm and toasty in that little pup tent with all the holes and no tarp. That’s not snow; the mountain is naturally white. Has been since the beginning of time.)

As for others…

One such trip was planned over the summer, and held such promise that Sister Madly was actually looking forward to it: all that was expected of her was the provision of ice for the cooler. It seemed more than fair, if not too good to be true.

Oh yes, it was too good to be true, for on the night before they were to leave, one of the Professors handed her a stack of ice cube trays.

“For the ice, Sister Madly. You said you’d do it.”

nice blimps

Wait. Is Sister Madly to assume that she is to make the ice for the cooler? That thing is the scale model of a zeppelin! It’s no wonder, then, that this was the only task demanded of her. It would require all her free time babysitting the freezer when she could be out stealing garden gnomes or pulling the wings off butterflies. She’d rather perform liturgical dance to the Miami Vice soundtrack than waste a perfectly good Friday night making ice.

“You can do them both simultaneously.”

She was then reprimanded for procrastinating, and sent on home like a naughty child.

Loopholes, Sister Madly; it’s all about the loopholes. It can hardly be called ‘procrastination’ if you have no intention of doing it in the first place; that’s called noncompliance, and the Professor said absolutely nothing about noncompliance. You were merely told not to procrastinate. Just buy some ice first thing tomorrow, find a way to survive the weekend, and you can get back to your bleak, meaningless life come Monday morning.

The Horror King

She briefly entertained the idea of purchasing dry ice, delighting in visions of the Professors retreating while the fog spilled from the cooler. Sure, it’s all fun and games, Sister Madly, until Vincent Price rises out of the mist, and you’ve seen enough of his movies to know what happens next.

Real ice. It’s safer for everyone involved.

The Professor, by all accounts, seemed utterly perplexed that Sister Madly had spent money on something that could have been obtained for free.* Having just spent the evening looking up Victorian-Era Post Mortem pictures on the internet (which resulted in a severe case of selective nocturnalness) a groggy Sister Madly was only able to offer up this explanation:

She forgot the recipe.

*This particular Professor is a notorious penny pincher.

ice water

PENNY PINCHING ICE

  • Liquid Dihydrogen monoxide (thawed if in solid form)*
  • Ice Cube tray
  • Device that generates sub-freezing temperatures, such as a refrigeration system, a mountain peak, or Northern Michigan

Pour liquid dihydrogen monoxide into ice cube tray- do not overfill.
Place ice cube tray into sub-freezing generating device.
Wait.

*Some folks call this water, the pretentious fops.

POST’S THEME SONG: Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice (like you didn’t see that coming)


Mushroom Brie Soup ~ The Modernized Dietrich

They say that Marlene Dietrich’s favorite meal was hot dogs and champagne.

Sister Madly saw this as a challenge.

It happened some years ago, when all that Sister Madly really knew about the elite was what classic Hollywood had glamorized. Apparently, this required pairing junk food with fancy spirits which, in Sister Madly’s mind, was limited to brandy, scotch, port and bourbon. What can you expect from a wide-eyed little ingénue who grew up in a place where the state flower is the highway cone?

dietrich 2

Well, Madame Dietrich: challenge accepted.

Hot dogs and champagne, you say?

Well, Sister Madly can deal you one better:

Port.

And French Fries.

The Modernized Dietrich.

And the bartender didn’t even bat an eye.

While no one has ever paired Port with French Fries in the golden years of Hollywood, Sister Madly just assumed that was an oversight on their part. She may never achieve the status of Madame Dietrich, she may never attain her glory, but there’s no reason that Sister Madly couldn’t be a legend in her own little world.

Yes, Sister Madly: Sophisticate.

tandemOf course, the real thing turned out to be nothing like she expected, much like that one summer on Mackinac Island, when she and Tallulah decided to try the god-awful tandem thing. Actually, the tandem thing was all right as long as only one person was riding it. With all the speed and enthusiasm of continental drift, Sister Madly looked over her shoulder to find an empty bike seat and no Tallulah.

That is also when Sister Madly discovered the incredible stopping power of a picket fence.

While Sister Madly can’t tell you what, exactly, her expectations were of the Modernized Dietrich, she was still surprised by the ostentatious presentation of the purple-filled thimble. In all the great fairy tales, these tiny goblets contain either a sleeping potion, the blood of a virgin, or some other poison evident to everyone but the ill-fated victim. But while the bartender was, indeed, a shifty sort of fellow, he lacked the imagination- certainly the humor- to carry out such a prank.

So tell us, Sister Madly- what were you expecting? Sure, you’ve had bigger shots of cough syrup, but this is the cultured life: the way of the sophisticate, flaunting feathered boas and paying a fortune for a single string bean and a chicken nibblet in all of your finer French restaurants. This is what they call class, and lord knows, you could use some.

sandeman

Besides, any libation with that sinister character on the bottle can’t be all bad. Who wouldn’t want to run into a caped marauder some lonely night during a bout of selective nocturnalness? *

*On the street, that is; not in the apartment.

Then came another surprise: Port, it turns out, is a fortified wine, and Sister Madly did not drink wine in those days. Had she known this, she would have tried a bit of scotch, which might have paired better with the French Fries. She certainly wasn’t thinking that Port was a wine- nature does not embed that knowledge into the human DNA anymore than it dictates that all cats should respond to the Here Kitty, Kitty gesture.

Fortified wine- fortified with what? Doesn‘t fortify mean to make something stronger? Perhaps the wine had just completed an Olympic training course, or attended a week-long motivational seminar; perhaps it has been armed with battle axes and spiky helmets in anticipation of facing the ultimate foe that is Sister Madly.

But this one thing is for certain: Port is chock-full of anti-French Fry compatible enzymes and all things sticky-purple. In other words, Port and French Fries do not mix.

The Modernized Dietrich was a failure.

(No doubt, most of you knew this without having to sample the delicacy, with the wiser amongst you knowing that any such warning to Sister Madly would have been met with a squirt of mustard to the face. You see, sometimes things just aren’t true until you prove them to yourself.)

Port and French Fries, hereafter known as The Bastardized Dietrich.

Just face it, Sister Madly: this sophistication stuff is for the birds.

Brie

MUSHROOM BRIE SOUP

  • 16 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 8 oz brie cheese, cubed, rind removed
  • 1 lg onion, chopped
  • 2/3 c dry white wine
  • 4 c chicken/vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
  • Butter/oil

Sauté mushrooms, garlic and shallot in butter/oil, until fragrant. Set aside.
In large saucepan, sauté onion in butter/oil until translucent- 5 minutes or so
Add wine and simmer about 5 minutes
Stir in broth, brie, and spices.
Stir in sautéed mushrooms.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes- do not boil.

 POST’S THEME SONG: Lili Marlene, Marlene Dietrich


Paneer Mushroom Masala ~ Of Anise Stars and Butcher’s Knives

Sometimes one must go to extreme measures to get a point across- if not to oneself, then to the multiverse and all of its dwellers.

Sister Madly has learned just how to do that.

star-anise

She has been attempting to buy wax paper for the last 3 days, each time returning home with a surplus of the usual what-the-hell purchases (star anise, candles, a few sparkly things) not one of which is wax paper. Shopping lists are of no use to Sister Madly since they are typically scrawled across the back of the electric bill and mailed off with the payment. But something had to be done, because the tantrums she was throwing from painting her art projects to the kitchen table were borderline unacceptable.

Now, Sister Madly has gone past tying strings around her fingers and hanging notes on the door; any sort of electronic reminder is met with either the loving touch of a cast-iron skillet or by being hurdled across the room. She is more apt to remember certain responsibilities or appointments if she takes a common household object and leaves it somewhere out of place.

And so Sister Madly went to the usual measures to remind herself about the wax paper: she brought the garbage along with her to the market.  It’s hard to become sidetracked when your passenger is a large, brooding, stinky bag of garbage.

impressive

Allow yourself this glimpse into the Sister Madly psyche:

-A shoe hanging on the door knob reminds Sister Madly that she is not dressed appropriately to leave the apartment.

-A web of duct tape across the mirror notifies her of utilities that are to be paid (utility bill usually attached to this web like a helpless, succulent fly.)

-An elaborate sock sculpture resting on the laptop means there is something she needs to do on the computer.

-Any knife, sword, hatchet or bloody object lying on the counter is a typical weekday affair and not to considered out of the ordinary.

-A pickle jar in the middle of the floor is a general reminder to ask herself why she put the pickle jar in the middle of the floor in the first place.* If there is any decoration attached, she may have been drinking at the time.

*Sometimes this discussion amongst herself occurs in the middle of the night, when she kicks over the pickle jar in the dark on her way for a glass of water.

pickles

This same method was often applied at a previous place of employment, when there was a slight problem with roaches. Notes left on the note-leaving board went largely unnoticed, all because the management did not want believe there was such an infestation in their beautiful little world.

Or maybe the roaches were to blame.

On the off chance that it was the fault of the latter, Sister Madly started leaving notes taped to tubs of cookie dough and buckets of frosting. Then she left several notes tape to several buckets of frosting, which she arranged into a nifty pyramid sculpture in the middle of the kitchen- which backfired because, as it turned out, she was the one who opened the next morning and had to deal with said nifty pyramid sculpture.

Finally one night, after an amusing chase around the whole of the bistro, Sister Madly was able to corner one of these the elusive, note-destroying creatures. With a significant amount of packaging tape, she attached the roach to a piece of paper, applied a fancy network of arrows as to guide the management to the correct visual aid, and stuck the note to the back door with a butcher’s knife.

knife in door

Much like this, only with a Roach attached and less poetry.

This upset management slightly, as this was the only butcher’s knife in the vicinity and it had been placed out of her reach.

But the roaches were no more.

The pickle jar will be set out again tonight: the Professors, you see, have planned a weekend of experimental fun for Sister Madly, and she is not to be late…

masala

PANEER MUSHROOM MASALA

  • Paneer, cubed
  • 8 oz. mushrooms
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (or to taste)
  • Lg. pinch of Fenugreek
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2-3 tsp heavy cream (opt)
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil/butter/ghee

Pan fry Paneer- set a side.
In a skillet Sauté bay leaves, cinnamon stick, ginger paste and spices til fragrant.
Add the onion. Sauté til onion is translucent.
Add mushrooms; Sauté for five minutes.
Add the tomato. Cook till soft- 5 minutes or so.
Add the tomato paste and mix.
Add the coconut milk, paneer and simmer for ten minutes.
Add the cream, necessary salt, and lemon juice- mix.
Let stay for few minutes before serving.

POST’S THEME SONG: Always Something There to Remind Me, Naked Eyes


Pot Sticker Meatballs ~ An Anthology of Plotless Events

Lately, Sister Madly’s life has been nothing but an anthology of short, plotless events. She attributes this lull good fortune to her guardian angel, Birkenstock, without whom a typical week would read as follows: Saturday, Pre-Monday, Monday, Second Monday, W T F.

Observe, if you will, the minutes from last week’s surveillance:

SATURDAY: Sister Madly attempted another sketch of the Dodo, was by chased around the apartment by a volatile wasp- which she decided counted as exercise- and endured a 5-hour power outage during which she tried to make some soup.

post apocalyptic

The success of this contraption largely depends upon
your goal; should it include setting the pan on fire –
proceed.

PRE-MONDAY: Blissfully spent wrapped in a Benadryl-Hazed Cocoon.

MONDAY: Sister Madly woke up at some ungodly hour to a Post-It Note that simply said SEES’ she is still uncertain as to what this means. Early rising seems to come easier now that she is at the tender age of Over-25; this is one part of her mother that Sister Madly had hoped she would never inherit.

Ambiguous Post-It Notes, however, is a trait independent of either parent. Some of the more recent Post-Its include ‘No Privacy’, ‘Disco’ and ‘- – – > 7899′, all of which have yet to be solved. Sister Madly will keep you updated.

SECOND MONDAY: Sister Madly ate a piece of unpronounceable candy gifted to her by the Professors. However, when she found no hazelnut inside, her world no longer made sense. She expected more from her unpronounceable candies. Sister Madly’s ramblings on the subject included the addition of several extra syllables to the candy’s enunciation, which only led the Professors to believe that the girl was having a stroke.

Ferrero

Adding a few extra ‘R’s, ‘O’s and an ‘L’ or two =
people having no idea what you are talking about.

W: Sister Madly engaged in a battle with Itsy-Bitsy, Buick-Sized Spider and later, the Beast who was his brother. It is still unclear whether either sibling passed on due to poisoning by the Pine Forest Fresh Scented Bug Killer, or by drowning in a gallon its residue.*

  • The day a young Sister Madly learned about the exoskeleton of certain lesser creatures was the day she stopped stomping on them for good. Knowing what that crunch really was beneath her feet took the fun out of it entirely.

Upon realizing that Pine Forest Fresh Scented Bug Killer didn’t smell so bad, Sister Madly chased a quarter cup of baking soda with 5 seconds of Spray down the kitchen sink for added freshness.

T: Well. Guess who glued her Necronomicon to a picture frame?

Nevertheless, this is an improvement over previous misfortunes, as Sister Madly would rather go through life with the Necronomicon hanging on her wall than with an opium pipe glued to her hand. The latter was a little hard to explain.

012

F: Sister Madly successfully removed the Necronomicon from the picture frame.

Pine Forest Fresh Scented Bug Killer triggered a scent memory: the cologne of her Ex. Sister Madly lit her favorite candle to counter-act this scent memory with another scent memory, but the only thing she could come up with was the memory of how her deodorant melted in her car after a hot day at the Renaissance Faire- neither of which smelled like her candle in the least.

Sister Madly will be firing Birkenstock over lunch this afternoon. She is not pleased at how W T F has come to mean Where’s The Fun.

Potsticker MB

POT STICKER MEATBALLS

  • 1 lb lean pork mince
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos ~OR~ soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together
Shape into balls
Bake @ 375* for 12-15 minutes

SWEET AND SOUR DIPPING SAUCE

  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos ~OR~ soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 3 tbsp honey *
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 4-5 small dried chilies, chopped and seeded to taste
  • arrowroot ~OR~ cornstarch, to thicken (opt)

Mix sesame oil, vinegar, coconut aminos/soy sauce, water and honey in a saucepan
Add scallions and chilies
Bring to a boil-simmer for five minutes
Add starch to thicken if desired and remove from heat

* Adjust honey to taste

POST’S THEME SONG: Someone to Watch Over Me, Ella Fitzgerald