Food

Rustic Chicken Stout Stew ~ A Betta Fish in a Sequined Bag

The problem with having a local business is that it’s often frequented by enterprising locals, all hoping to sell their wares.

Utopia was no different.

Now Sister Madly had heard tales of these free-range entrepreneurs but thought them as mythical as the Sasquatch- that is, until the winter when they descended upon Utopia in droves, pitching products from handmade jewelry to glass-blown bongs suggestive in their design, to local music unsuitable for human absorption. Sister Madly obtained an extraordinary amount of patience in those years, listening to horrific demos while dogs howled from the alley.

But even this did not quite compare to the brainchild of the wayward Fashionista, whose poorly executed British Accent* pitched her personal line of sequined handbags. These bags, each the size of a cigar box, seemed normal enough- that is, until the Fashionista flipped the purse around to reveal the small compartment containing a live, and rather surly, Betta Fish.

* Like many Americans attempting a British accent, the Fashionista could mimic nothing better than southern Alabama.

Now Sister Madly is all for chasing one’s dreams; she herself has aspirations that border the utterly insane- like one day eating a salad- but not one of those dreams include strutting along Bourbon Street with a Betta Fish in a Sequined Handbag. Clearly, her face reflected the WTF that she was thinking, as the Fashionista went on to emphasized certain selling points, including a self-contained LED light (with multiple twinkle settings) and the fact that almost any freshwater* fish from goldfish to guppy could be substituted for the Betta.

* This was blatant discrimination against all saltwater creatures- after all, what femme fatale wouldn’t want to tote a halibut glowing pride?

Being a humble clerk, Sister Madly was no more authorized to make wholesale purchases than she was to dispose of bodies in the company’s dumpster- and she campaigned for both during her employment. In fact, Management rarely purchased anything local, preferring rather back alley transactions and mysterious shipments from China * to the dubious wares of the native psychopaths.

* Sister Madly eventually gained the confidence of Management, who assigned her the task of ripping the labels off all shipments from China in an attempt to conceal the identity of their suppliers. It was useless, really- the return addresses were written in Chinese.

After the regulation We-Don’t-Want-Your-Wares-Weirdo-But-It-Sounds-Like-You-Have-A-Chance Spiel (which Sister Madly delivered most diplomatically,) the Fashionista said something quite lovely in British-Alabamian, smiled in this same language, and sashayed her glamorous self out the door- leaving handbag behind as a ‘sample.’

Make no mistake, Sister Madly likes presents; she likes finding books on the side of the road, or lotion samples in the mail, and has been known to dine quite handsomely toothpicked meatballs at the market. But all these are a far cry from being saddled with a surly Betta Fish by a Fashionista with a bad accent.

Then again, if Sister Madly can properly care for a Betta Fish, she would be prepared for the day the Humane Society drops off a sample Corgi. She would be the first civilian sought to test-ride a luxury Zeppelin cross-country, and would be the prime candidate to care for the sample case of premium Hard Cider expected to arrive the following week. It wouldn’t be long before Sister Madly proved herself worthy of a galaxy or two, with unlimited dimension-traveling privileges.

In the meantime, Utopia now had a Betta Fish who, judging by its disposition, did not like the poky accommodations of the Handbag Aquarium- and Sister Madly knew all about the unhappy conditions of poky accommodations.

So she transferred the surly Fish to a shiny, new, Tibetan Singing Bowl.

But new digs meant little without nutrition in terms of survival; so Sister Madly took it upon herself to feed the Surly Fish and even went so far as to do it with a smile.

But what does a Betta eat? Aside from giving her the evil eye, it’s been rather uncommunicative, and try as she might, Sister Madly did not speak fish. Taking into account the dietary lifestyle commonly found in poky accommodations, Sister Madly assumed (quite correctly, no doubt) that a Surly Fish would enjoy the same fare.

So she bought the Betta two large pizzas and some olives, knowing her coworkers would assist in finishing what the Fish could not consume as to avoid unnecessary waste. Her coworkers were most resourceful when it came to all things edible.

She also bought a small canister of Fish Food- you know, just in case.

RUSTIC CHICKEN STOUT STEW

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-6 chicken thighs, cubed
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 1½ cups stout, divided (1 cup + ½ cup)
  • bacon, cooked and crumbled (opt)
  • pearl onions, peeled
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • carrots, cubed
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp sage
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • heavy cream (opt)

Sauté chopped onion in bacon grease/oil until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic; sauté 1-2 min
Deglaze with 1 cup stout; 2-3 min
Mix in spices; 30 sec
Add vegetables; stir to coat
Add chicken; stir to coat
Add stock, Worcestershire, and remaining stout; mix
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer 1-1½ hour
Add cream (if using); simmer 10 min
Remove bay leaf; garnish with bacon before serving

THEME SONG: Dream On, Aerosmith

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Bourbon Maple Chicken ~ The Power of Cheese

In Sister Madly’s experience, cheeses don’t just pop across the marketplace like champagne corks; so it was something of a surprise when she found herself assaulted by a wedge of Camembert. To find the source of the offending cheese, she had to look no farther than the dreadlocked gent now contemplating the Brie, who gave no explanation other than the Camembert had ‘bad energy.’

Technically speaking, sir, everything has energy, if only potential- Sister Madly learned that much as a wee little thing in Science Class.

But Science doesn’t cover Cheese Energy as far as she knows, except with respect to other objects or situations.

Take gravitational cheese energy, for example: Sister Madly can stuff you full of Brie and throw you off the roof; for electrical, that outlet by the sushi bar appears to be rather volatile.* However, if it’s thermal cheese energy you seek, Sister Madly will be more than happy to set the Brie on fire.

Sister Madly is all about helping her fellow man.

* A conclusion drawn by the presence of several bewildered electricians and lots of pretty sparks.

But the Dreadlocked Gent did not want the help of his fellow man, choosing rather to determine the energy himself by meditating with every Cheese- and she does mean every. He immediately bonded with a cheeky little Manchego from the discount basket, but did not jive with the Asiago nor the Double Gloucester with Chives; Sister Madly avoided those projectiles successfully.

Perhaps Cheese has properties she never realized, much like how the cancerous side-effects of radiation were of no surprise, but the subsequent arrival of Godzilla & Company was somewhat unexpected. Maybe Bad Cheese Energy has its own side-effects: it could be the reason why Sister Madly has 2 different-sized feet, or why her hair gets hair-band big after the rain, or why she is perpetually the 5th wheel amongst her friends.* Bad Cheese Energy may have been responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire, or the extinction of the dinosaurs; it could be the reason behind corruption in politics.

* Although that 5th wheel thing might have everything to do with Sister Madly being a proper lunatic.

But upon thinking about it, Sister Madly realized that she has experienced the Power of Cheese: once, a Provolone attempted to enslave her in the kitchen, while not too long ago she dabbled with Stilton, which is said to induce dreams. Sister Madly did dream that night, but it was nothing like the acid trip of pure imagination that was promised. Then again, perhaps Stilton is the LSD of cheeses, and the dreams will manifest as a series of magnificent flashbacks in years to come.

In fact, there’s one now…

Booyah!”

This most sophisticated salutation was accompanied by an insane proposition by the Happy Phlebotomist, who was in the field militantly actively recruiting for the local Blood Drive- at least, he was militantly actively recruiting Sister Madly.*

* Sister Madly isn’t sure ‘Booyah!’ is the best way to recruit souls for a blood-draining ritual… but then, she isn’t a professional.

Since the Phlebotomy Community of America has yet to figure out a needle-free way to extract blood (osmosis, for example- that’s a very science-y thing) Sister Madly was unable to accept his most intriguing proposition (apparently, the draining ritual comes with a free cookie!) but she was just fresh out of blood. It’s one of the more unfortunate side-effects of being a Moppet.

“But you’re all about helping your fellow man.”

Just when did she say that?

“About 10 minutes ago.”

… she was rather hoping you didn’t hear that…

BOURBON MAPLE CHICKEN

  • 6-8 chicken drums/thighs

MARINADE

  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 TBSP coriander
  • 2 tsp chipotle pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP lime juice
  • 3-4 TBSP olive oil, or as needed

BOURBON GLAZE

  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp lime juice

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

GLAZE
Mix together all ingredients except lime juice
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer to reduce (glaze will coat spoon)
Mix in lime juice and remove from heat

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Bake for 45 min
Remove from oven, brush chicken with glaze
Return to oven; bake 10-15 min, or until cooked through
Brush with remaining glaze straight from oven

 THEME SONG: Meltdown, AC/DC


Drunken Shepherd’s Pie ~ Space Cowboy Apollo

Sister Madly has to admit, she’s been having difficulty sleeping as of late- why, just a few weeks ago, she shamelessly punched herself in the face. This time, her angelic slumber became the envy of every Olympian, a magnificent performance ending with a triple-twist, half-pike, supersonic back-flip that landed her spread-eagle, face-first in the mattress.

What startled this sleeping cherub into a routine of otherwise impossible acrobatics was nothing short of a nuclear detonation: indeed, it was a text at 3:37 AM telling her that Art Bell had died.

It’s amazing how deafening the voice of Eric Idle* can be at 3:37 AM.

* She should mention that her text notification is Eric Idle of Monty Python fame, declaring ‘Message for you, sir!’ She thought it clever at the time.
She regrets that now.

To be fair, Sister Madly never outlined the proper procedure on notifying her of the death of Art Bell, so she can’t place all the blame on her PhD friend.*

* She neglected to do the same regarding the deaths of Leonard Nimoy and Stephen Hawking back in the day. Those texts came in at 4:04 and 4:23 AM, respectively.

Clearly, the Professor was having a bit of pillow talk with a Reaper- which is not a bad connection to have. Sister Madly’s connections includes a Phlebotomist, from which she has yet to benefit… but now sees a way in which she can.

It’s not revenge so much as ‘returning the favor.’

But just as she was romanticizing phlebotomic revenge upon the nocturnal Professor, Eric Idle announced but another special delivery:

And just what, exactly, is she meant to do with this information? Why is the water high? Does it have the munchies? Perhaps she is supposed to bring it treats…

So, the Puddle wants Dim Sum. It’s got fancy, hipster munchies.

“… 1:30???”

Sister Madly was beginning to miss the good ol’ days, when messages were delivered via carrier pigeon- not that she was around in those days, but she misses them nonetheless.

Then again, that means a flock of pigeons would, at this moment, be cooing outside her window, with messages inviting her to join a Puddle with the Muchies for Dim Sum to commemorate the life of Art Bell- and pigeons have even less respect for windows than they do statues.

On the other hand, Sister Madly does have a few recipes for pigeon, and she’s been wondering where to procure such a beast… no doubt that is the tasty origin of the term “shoot the messenger.”

“UFO PIZZA!!!”

Sister Madly is pretty certain that Art Bell covered that topic at least once in his career, Professor, so she sees absolutely no reason to bring it up now.*

* 4:15 AM.

And if there is a pizza flying over your house, Professor, it is not a UFO.

“Space Cowboy Apollo.”

Tallulah… was your dear, sweet, angelic-younger-sibling-who-knows-where-you-sleep-and-has-access-to-a-spare-key-and-a-Phlebotomist just as maddening in days of yore? Be honest now… Sister Madly is trying to find the source of this Karma.

“Danger Bird on Ellipses!”

Update: Sister Madly has just fired Eric Idle as her messenger and switched to something called “Pebble.”

“Lunar Luau!!!!”

People throw pebbles, you know…

DRUNKEN SHEPHERD’S PIE

  • 1 lb lamb, cubed
  • 3-4 cups beef stock
  • 1½ cups stout, divided (1/2 cup; 1 cup)
  • Shot of whiskey (opt)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Assorted vegetables, chopped (carrots, mushrooms, green beans, etc)
  • 3 TBSP Worcestershire
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp sage
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 1lb (approx.) potatoes/cauliflower, cooked and mashed*
  • cheddar cheese, grated

* Follow favorite mash recipe

FILLING:
Brown lamb on all sides; set aside
Add onions; sauté until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; sauté until fragrant; 30 sec
Deglaze with ½ cup stout; 2-3 min
Add lamb, vegetables, Worcestershire, whiskey, and remaining stout; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer 1½ – 2 hours

TO SERVE
Divide stew amongst oven-proof ramakins (remove bay leaf)
Top with mash; sprinkle cheese over mash
Bake @ 400* for 25-30 min, or until mash is crispy

THEME SONG: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Metallica


Images:

2) Chris Clor


Island Pulled Chicken ~ A Mean Case of the Grumpies

Mornings are not always sunshine and good cheer; in fact, they can be downright sadistic. Take last week, for instance: upon fighting the blankets with her usual morning petulance, Sister Madly was assaulted by the blinding flash of a Near Death Experience.

That’s right: she punched herself in the eye.

It is only natural that, in the few moments following a Near Death Experience, one considers the life choices that eventually led to this moment. Sister Madly can’t say that her 5-Year Plan had been ambitious, but it was adequate:

Now that she had been given a second chance in life, Sister Madly was left with a newfound sense of purpose; having long-since accomplished nothing on the above list, she decided it was time to fully embrace the dream of And-Then-They’ll-All-Be-Sorry by playing the role of a mature, responsible adult.

Not that she knows how to be an Adult, let alone a responsible one; as for maturity- face it, there are cheeses more mature than Sister Madly. But ‘fake it until you make it,’ as they say, and Sister Madly started by faking her way to the market; all she found in her pantry that morning was a jar of capers and a sweet potato growing tentacles- epic tentacles. After all, Adults don’t let their cupboards go bare, lest they come down with a mean case of the grumpies.

But once at the market, Sister Madly found no shopping baskets, no carts, not even one of those motorized scooters she has no business using- nothing, but this seething, diabolical dirigible:

The idea of using this apparatus without a flock of squawking children was out of the question. As a single individual well-over the tender age of 25, Sister Madly’s only choice was to purchase whatever she could fit in her arms and forego the rest. But as her pocket-sized physique can carry only so much, it meant either foregoing cleaning supplies, or food.

Her natural inclination was to forego the cleaning; her apartment is tiny- it’s about 80% bed, which means only 20% biohazard. That’s a ratio she can live with. Besides, Sister Madly can’t spend another night with the Tentacled Potato in her pantry; she’s pretty certain it plans to murder her in her sleep, and Adults don’t like to be murdered.

Then again, how do you plan on ridding yourself of the Potato, Sister Madly? If you eat it- thus risking turning into a mutant- you will need food in the morning; but if you throw it away- thus splitting the Earth in two- you will need cleaning supplies. No doubt it’s gooey inside of the Earth.

There is no way around it: all of your groceries are essential.

So Sister Madly tossed aside the threadbare remains of her self-respect, embraced this thing called Adulthood, and with the Despicable Dirigible promptly plowed into a massive display of Cadbury Eggs.

And nearby, a child started to cry.

Sister Madly will be sleeping in the sock drawer tonight. She suddenly finds herself with a mean case of the grumpies.

* Good news: Annie’s Mac & Cheese is 10 for $10 with your shopper’s card! You’ll find the deal scattered along the entire length of aisle 7.

ISLAND PULLED CHICKEN

CHICKEN
6-8 boneless chicken thighs, whole
2 sweet onions, sliced
2 TBSP Ginger, minced
1 TBSP Garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cumin
2 star anise
1½ chicken broth
¼ cup oil, or as needed

SAUCE
1 cup guava jam (used Mango, Guava, Passion Fruit Preserves)
6 TBSP pineapple, crushed
2 TBSP ginger
4 TBSP Worcestershire
1 TBSP rice wine vinegar
1 tsp gochujang/other chili sauce, or to taste
Salt, to taste
1 TBSP lime juice, or to taste

TO MAKE CHICKEN
Heat oil in Dutch oven
Add onions, stirring to coat
Lower heat, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized (30-45 min)
Add ginger and garlic; stir to coat; 2 min
Mix in spices, broth, and chicken; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked (25 min)
With 2 forks, shred chicken in pan

TO MAKE SAUCE
Mix together sauce ingredients EXCEPT lime juice
Add sauce to chicken; mix
Simmer to reduce and thicken; 10-15 min
Add lime juice; stir and remove from heat

THEME SONG: When I Grow Up, Garbage


Jamaican Beef Patties ~ The Darkside of Suspended Animation

Don’t set your wit against a child. ~ Jonathan Swift

There was a time when Sister Madly was convinced that people ceased to exist when she was not with them. It was not that they simply disappeared to some mystery kingdom – a nightmare that plagues children from time to time – but that they were plunged into a vortex of suspended animation. Nothing existed nor came to pass unless she was near; nothing really mattered unless she decided that it mattered. The progression of life itself depended entirely upon her presence.*

* Sister Madly should probably mention that she hasn’t believed this for a long time now- that is, for weeks. She is an adult, after all.

While not everyone was familiar with the Laws of Suspended Animation, every child was familiar with the never-ending appetite of the Dark. It’s well-known that when one turns off the light in a basement, one has only 10 seconds to make it up the stairs- otherwise, the Dark will devour you. Losing children to the Dark is unfortunate, that much is true; but those children could be easily replaced. However, the same could not be said about Sister Madly. She had a responsibility to the human race: they only exist if she exits, and if the Dark wins, it would mean the end of all mankind. Sister Madly was well-aware that she was placing humanity in danger every time she ventured downstairs.

It was during one of these expeditions to the basement that a 6-year-old Sister Madly came across a sheer, red and black babydoll tucked away in a shoe box. She had never seen anyone in her family wear this strange nightie before- besides, who would want to? It was see-through, which meant it would be plenty chilly in the winter, and there didn’t seem to be any pants! No outfit is complete without pants. Pajamas are meant to be sensible and comfy, like the footed-sleeper that Sister Madly wore every night, zipped up tightly under her chin.

The logical conclusion was that some wayward sleepwalker managed to defy the Laws of Suspended Animation, break into her basement, and was immediately devoured by the Dark. Her parents then tried to cover this up by hiding the evidence in a shoebox. Judging by the size of the strange nightie- which, of course, was meant to be ankle-length- that someone had been a munchkin.

Sister Madly made it up the stairs in record time that night.

The awful truth about the babydoll was revealed some years later, when her mother cheerfully confessed that the lingerie was hers and had been worn only once- however briefly- on a night that resulted in Sister Madly.*

* No doubt this lingerie was set aside in order to remind her mother not to do the things that eventually resulted in the aforementioned Sister Madly. The world doesn’t need any more of those.

Sister Madly found this absolutely horrifying. Her mother, in this see-through, no-pants nightie, did some sort of ritualistic dance which summoned the Stork to drop Sister Madly on her doorstep!

You know what that means, don’t you? It means that it doesn’t matter if Sister Madly makes it up the stairs in under 10 seconds; it doesn’t matter if she is devoured by the Dark. The human race existed- even thrived- before she was born! And if it did so before she existed, it certainly will do so after.

But that was nothing compared to the utter horror of discovering what that ritualistic, Stork-summoning dance turned out to be.

JAMAICAN BEEF PATTIES

  • oil, for sautéing
  • 2 garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 chili, seeded & chopped (opt)
  • 1 lb minced beef
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • shredded cheese (opt; not traditional, but… cheese)

FILLING
Sauté onion until translucent; 5 min
Add garlic and pepper (if using) sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; mix until fragrant; 1 min
Add beef; sauté until cooked through
Add broth; simmer until evaporated

BAKE
Preheat the oven to 400*
Roll out pastry sheets; cut into squares/rounds
Add filling to pastry
Top filling with cheese (if using)
Fold pastry over filling; seal edges
Brush with egg wash; bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden

THEME SONG: Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen


Lamb Masala ~ Voodoo Child

It’s said that everyone should work in Customer Service at least once in their lifetime, to appreciate what it’s like to work on the other side of the counter, to understand it’s about mutual respect not entitlement, and to master the art of maintaining a professional demeanor when you and your coworkers start toppling over like a flock of Fainting Goats.

Sister Madly never did achieve that last one.

It was at Utopia, and as was the winter custom, Sister Madly and Co. were passing around the common cold like a freshly-lit peace-pipe. These colds were typically nothing more than a nuisance, and this time would have been no different if it weren’t for one thrilling side-effect:

Vertigo.

Imagine, if you will, Sister Madly going about her day, selling crystals and reaping the souls of the righteous, when the floor beneath her right foot suddenly falls away into the abyss. Now imagine this being accompanied by a crushing bout of dizziness, resulting in a full-on face plant into the patchouli incense.

Or into a customer.

Or the Voodoo Fetish.*

* Nkondi, a grotesque statue covered with nails, whose function was to protect villages of the Congo by housing a spirit that hunts, harms, and punishes witches and other enemies of the tribe. Best not to anger it.

Feeling that she was entitled to a little sit-down after that whole ‘face in the Fetish’ incident, Sister Madly lingered amongst the beads and mystery dust, wondering if she owed the Fetish an apology. She’d hate for it to foster a lifelong grudge over this little incident- that sort of thing is not healthy! Particularly not for the angelic, oh-so-plucky, shorter-than-she-deserves-to-be Sister Madly.

But her heartfelt apology was interrupted by Victor, who was crawling across the floor, pushing a shoe box ahead of him with a wooden dowel as though it were a fresh batch of nitroglycerin.

DON’T TOUCH THE BOX!”

Victor, being the throes of vertigo himself, refused to carry the box lest he drop it, refused to slide it along the floor with his foot lest he fall on top of it, and certainly didn’t want Sister Madly- who had violated the Fetish, uninvited- handling it, lest he be cursed by proxy.

It wasn’t nitroglycerin in that box, but it might as well have been to Victor: a fertility god the size of business card, carved from a single opal. Victor had a pathological fear* of fertility gods, afraid that he would upset one and be cursed with a litter of children without engaging in the enjoyable process of making those children.

* He also lived in fear of the Giant Squid.

Normally, Sister Madly wouldn’t be too concerned with angering the Fertility God- after all, she routinely used the African gods to fan herself when she was hot and has yet to give birth to anything other than some incredibly bad ideas. Still, she had to admit that she, too, didn’t feel much like having children at the moment. There was still so much she did not understand about the universe, like tire treads. Why are they so blasé? If Sister Madly had a monopoly on the tire market, she would implement a line of designer treads, like Celtic Knots. She’d like a set of tires with Celtic Knot tread. Or a string of poetry- just imagine all the joy of happening upon Lovecraft written in the snow.

That is not dead which can eternal lie…

Or perhaps Poe- the entire tread nothing but the word Nevermore in slick, gothic lettering.

Or Dr. Seuss.

I do not like green eggs and ham…

It was absolutely brilliant, this idea of Poetry Tire Tread- but a brilliance the world would never know if Sister Madly ended up annoying the Fertility God. She could combat whatever curse the Fetish was about to dish up- endless William Shatner on the radio, a plague of creepy-crawlies, cucumbers- by hiding in her sock drawer, but children could easily break through this line of defense (she ought to know, having once been a child.) Indeed, a litter of Sister Madlys would be a nightmare.

Victor chose to continue on his own. He didn’t want a litter of Sister Madlys either.

LAMB MASALA

  • 1lb lamb, cubed
  • 1 14oz. can coconut milk
  • 1½ TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1½ TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 1-2 chilies, chopped
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • ghee, for sautéing

Brown lamb in heated pan; set aside
Heat ghee in pan
Add mustard seeds; roast until seeds start popping all over town
Add onions; sauté until translucent
Add chilies; sauté 2-3 min
Add ginger and garlic; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; sauté until fragrant; 30 secs
Add tomato paste; stir to coat
Add lamb; stir to coat
Add coconut milk; mix, and bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until lamb is tender, stirring occasionally; 15-20 min

THEME SONG: Voodoo Chile, The Jimi Hendrix Experience


Pomegranate Glazed Chicken ~ To Hobnob with the Dead

It’s said that around the end of October the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, allowing the Living to hobnob with the Dearly Departed. One unsettling tradition this time of year is a Dumb Supper: a silent dinner held in honor of those who have passed on. Since there would be many such delightful celebrations on Samhain, Sister Madly decided to host hers early.

Now last year’s attempt was fraught with problems, including an uncertainty as to how to invite the Dead to dinner, and not having enough space to accommodate the guests. The latter of these issues was easily solved this time around as Sister Madly would be house-sitting for her sister – the impeccable Tallulah – and her husband while they venture off and do saintly anniversary things.

As for inviting the Dead… there are Spells specifically tailored for summoning the spirits, but spelling was one of Sister Madly’s weaker subjects when she was a school-aged brat and she is proud to say that she hasn’t improved much since. And as neither the Dead nor Sister Madly is on social media, she resorted to verbal invitations, arbitrarily shouting them out these last few months regardless of the hour, especially when passing a cemetery.*

* She also invited a cow, a vagrant in plaid pants, a scrub jay, and a tow truck while utilizing this method.

The arrangements were nearly perfect: the house is set back from the street, thus away from the prying eyes of the HOA should calling up the Dead be in violation of the Bylaws. Also, should the more impish of the Dearly Departed choose to stick around after the Supper, they will be haunting Tallulah and possessing her 2 toffee-nosed cats.

And perhaps an appliance or two.

When hosting a Dumb Supper, one is required one to feed the guests; not only is it polite, it speaks well of one’s upbringing. Naturally, Sister Madly decided to raid Tallulah’s pantry to fulfill the menu- no doubt Tallulah would be pleased to find her cupboards stripped bare for the sake of the Dearly Departed, just as she would be happy to find that her humble abode ransacked for the event.

However, this did not go as planned. The only fare that had potential was a can of Spam,* a post-ripe mango, half a bottle of vodka, and a tin of Oh, My Cod! cat food- it was not unlike the Peanuts Thanksgiving of jelly beans, popcorn, and buttered toast- and that was unacceptable. After all, the Dead might be gluten-free, and it would be inhospitable of Sister Madly not to accommodate the dietary needs of her ephemeral guests. It was most impolite of the impeccable Tallulah to have not been more prepared for the Dumb Supper she didn’t know Sister Madly was going to host.

* The Spam was a wedding gift to Tallulah 3 years prior, and manners forbid Sister Madly from revealing the giver.

Just as she was mentally rehearsing her Why-Is-There-No-Food-For-The-Dead Reprimand (complete with dramatic eyebrow-arching at appropriate intervals) Sister Madly became aware of a low and oh-so mysterious hum somewhere at the dark end of the house.

Sister Madly does not like the dark end of the house, not when there’s mysterious hums and no curtains on the windows (seriously, Tallulah, that last one- what gives?)

But then, she became indignant: the Supper was not for 2 days yet! While simple etiquette tells us that fashionably late to a party is acceptable, 2 days early is nothing more than outrageously boorish, regardless of one’s mortal state. Sister Madly will have to see about leaving a Book of Manners at the cemetery the next time she passes by.

Armed with the adorable Ebenezer (ghosts, she decided, become weak in their nebulous knees at the sight of a grumpy Persian,) Sister Madly investigated this ghostly transmission and soon discovered the source: standing upright at the edge of the bathroom sink was Tallulah’s electric toothbrush, at full-power on its own accord, slowly rotating in its place.

If this was not the early arrival of the Invite, then this must be a transmission* of a wretched soul who had passed on in this very room. Everybody knows that ghosts commonly haunt the place of their death, particularly if that death was tragic.

And Sister Madly knows exactly how that happened:

* The transmission was a request of Chinese Takeout. Sister Madly, of course, obliged.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
~ * ~ * ~
~

POMEGRANATE GLAZED CHICKEN

  • 8-10 chicken drumsticks/thighs

MARINADE

  • 1 Tbsp sumac
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

POMEGRANATE GLAZE ~ (yields approx. ½ cup)

  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbsp honey (to taste)
  • ¼-½ tsp harissa or sriracha (to taste)
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • salt, to taste

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

GLAZE
Mix together all ingredients except Worcestershire
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer to reduce (glaze will coat the back of spoon)
Add Worcestershire; mix and simmer 2-3 minutes
Adjust honey and harissa/sriracha to taste
Remove from heat; set aside

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken in a baking tray (for crispier chicken, add baking rack to tray)
Bake for 45 min
Remove from oven, brush chicken with glaze
Return to oven; bake 10-15 min, or until cooked through
Brush with remaining glaze straight from oven

 THEME SONG: Ghost Story, Charming Disaster


Desperado

Learn the Rules
Like a Pro ~

So you can Break Them
Like an Artist.

~ Pablo Picasso (attributed)


Images:

1.) Carved by Daniele Barresi
2.) Flickr
3.) Carved by Sachiko Ishikawa


Tandoori Chicken Samosas ~ The Chair that Sought World Domination

It was over 5 years ago that the Chair first appeared on the sidewalk, and Sister Madly wanted it. She didn’t need another chair and the thing was as ugly as incompetent gumbo, but by golly it was free, thus worthy of bragging rights- much like her CD single of Milli Vanilli’s Girl I’m Gonna Miss You once found in a free bin. Sister Madly’s a sucker for nostalgia.

She spent the day watching the Chair from the window, her wide eyes and polished halo assuring those passing by that she only wanted to make sure the Chair returned to its rightful owner; however, what Sister Madly really wanted was to be sure she was the one to claim it.

All afternoon, she paced back and forth through the kitchen, carrying on imaginary conversations with potential rivals while boxing mosquitoes and strumming her lips in utter boredom. After midnight, she and Tallulah hauled the monstrosity inside.

It soon became clear that not only did the Chair want the apartment to itself, that had been its intent all along, letting such wishes be known by the most satanic stench that only a Chair of that pomposity could produce: cigars, swamp gas, death, and tuna-marinated soccer feet. It happened overnight, making much of itself in the apartment like an unwelcomed uncle. Never once did Sister Madly think that there might be something wrong with the Chair as it was cheerfully lugged into the flat- it was absolutely hideous, sure, but Sister Madly had convinced herself that it was in a delightfully tacky sort of way.

It wasn’t long after that Sister Madly came up with a plan, one that included Tallulah, an abandoned truck, and just enough detail to make the lives of those involved thoroughly inconvenient: said truck- and everything that just happened to be inside of it- was to be towed within 72 hours per the obnoxious sticker on the window. If all went as planned, both Chair and truck would be happily tucked away in some impound lot within a week’s time.

Tallulah, however, thought it best to leave the Chair on the side of the road as it was found, albeit after dark. This sister/roommate/she-who-is-often-not-around-when-disaster-strikes was sometimes grown-up and unfun like that.

After successfully begging, sulking, and plying her with wine, it suddenly made sense to now wise Tallulah to leave the Chair inside the Soon-To-Be-Towed Truck at midnight- a plan that was ruthlessly thwarted by the City, who had towed the truck earlier that day during the plying-with-wine fest.

The entire block was then circled as the two tipsy yet wise siblings attempted to abandon the neon-striped horror in a place that was not in full-view of twenty apartments; there was even talk of burying the beast in the cemetery, as it already smelled of death and would probably go unnoticed. But the Chair had become quite attached to Sister Madly, refusing to roll over the cracks, clinging desperately to the curbs, even sacrificing a wheel to the sewer grate in an attempt to remain with its true love.

It was at the sight of an old man watching from his window the siblings realized that, wherever the Chair ended up, someone would know exactly who was responsible, and that put an almighty damper on the evening. When the lovable curmudgeon made the expected “What the hell…?” inquiry, Sister Madly said that they were taking their easy Chair for a walk, and there was no city ordinance against that.

For tonight, Dancing Eyeball will be standing in
for Lovable Curmudgeon.

The Chair returned home with them that night, locked away once again in the spare room. It was frequently bathed Febreze and other ritual oils in an attempt to keep it smelling fresh, so that when some psychotic recipient finally stands up and exclaims, “Hullo, I want that hideous thing!” he would not know of its Pit of Hell origin.

But it was the Goodwill Donation Truck that wound up with the Chair in the end. But that doesn’t matter, really; Sister Madly got it inside a truck after all.

TANDOORI CHICKEN SAMOSAS

  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
  • Paneer, cubed (opt)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • 1½-2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp Greek yogurt, tempered*
  • Ghee/Oil
  • 2 sheets Puff Pastry
  • Egg, beaten

Saute onion until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic and ginger; saute 2-3 min
Add spices; saute until fragrant; 30 sec – 1 min
Add puree, chicken, and stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked; 25 min
Shred chicken in sauce
Mix in paneer and tempered* yogurt; 3-5 min
Remove from heat; discard cinnamon stick and star anise

TEMPERING YOGURT
Start w/yogurt at room temperature if possible.
Gradually mix in hot cooking liquid
(Slowly heating yogurt prevents curdling/separating from shock)
After the yogurt’s sufficiently heated, add to the Tandoori.

PREPARING SAMOSAS
Preheat oven to 400*
Roll out pastry sheets; cut into 9 squares (approx 4”x4”ea)
Add filling to the center of each square
Fold pastry over filling
Brush egg wash over pastry
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden

THEME SONG: Girl I’m Gonna Miss You, Milli Vanilli


Sriracha Mango Chicken ~ A Game of Thrones

“What are quantum mechanics?”
“I don’t know. People who repair quantums, I suppose.” ~ Terry Pratchett

Quite frankly, Sister Madly knows more about the mechanics of a toilet than she feels is necessary.

But this was not always the case; while weekly chores were implemented early in life, basic home repair was never a part of her childhood rearing- apparently, that’s what dads are for. Responsibility was given to her in the form of a psychopathic alarm clock- indeed, Sister Madly doesn’t know how to change a tire, or why the refrigerator makes that funny noise, or how to light the pilot (probably for the best, that last one) but make no mistake: she knows exactly what to do when the alarm clock detonates beside her when she is asleep.

However, these death-defying, skillet-wielding, alarm-silencing ninja-skills are totally useless when it comes to fixing a toilet.

Some 10 years ago, Sister Madly came home to the sound of water running in the tank. While this wasn’t a particularly new phenomenon on planet Earth, Sister Madly never really understood why it happened; thus she decided to investigate.

When she lifted the lid off the tank, so much steam was released that Sister Madly was certain Vincent Price was about to emerge from its depths to Tchaikovsky’s Lake in the Moonlight. When that did not happen- and a bitter disappointment, it was- Sister Madly investigated further to find that the tank was filled with hot water.

Somewhere deep within her twisted psyche was the inkling that this wasn’t suppose to be; however, a tank full of hot water may come in handy should she ever need to thaw a cryogenically-frozen chicken’s head at a moment’s notice. Sister Madly is practical like that.

Still, this did not explain the running water. So upon visiting her parents the next day, the Pater Madly gave her a brief lesson on toilet repair, making a point to say that if the screw was stripped, she would have to bend the float manually.*

* Despite his staggering intellect, the Pater Madly failed to mention certain key phrases, such as ‘call maintenance to fix it for you’… alright, he DID say that, but he should’ve put more emphasis on it.

Now Sister Madly has seen some weird things in her life, but the inner workings of her toilet were just so alien that she was pretty certain it was from another dimension entirely. Still, she managed to find the offending float amidst the fog and, since the screw was stripped, bent the float as directed- well, not bend the float so much as break it off completely.

A note for those smart enough to have called Maintenance in the first place: when one breaks the float off, the tank begins to fill with water.

And it does not stop.

Now the typical Sister Madly response to when something goes horribly wrong is to stare at the disaster and wonder just how long she can live with it. Unfortunately, Sister Madly couldn’t approach the Broken Float Situation with the same devil-may-care attitude, as the risk of a global flood was clearly imminent. Since she could not fix the toilet by staring the hell out of it (she tried) Sister Madly decided to call the Pater Madly, 1AM or not.

For a parent receiving a call in the middle of the night, her dad was remarkably unconcerned; there was more anxiety when she asked him about the Birds and the Bees back in the day.  After being a good father by not saying “I told you to call Maintenance!” he informed her of the life-changing, humanity-saving apparatus lurking beneath the fog: the shut-off valve.

While this did not work completely, it did reduce the imminence of a global flood (you are welcome, human race!) by requiring Sister Madly to flush the toilet every 2 minutes instead of the previous 12 seconds. This of course was cause for celebration, and Sister Madly invited over her neighbor, Velma, where they spent the next 3 hours drinking Bailey’s and flushing the toilet, while rehearsing lines for Velma’s upcoming play: Arthur Miller’s The Creation of the World and Other Business.*

The plumber had never seen 2 such chipper near-victims of toilet tank drowning.

* The ‘Other Business,’ no doubt, being adventures in toilet tank repair. Very perceptive, that Miller fella.

SRIRACHA MANGO CHICKEN

  • 10-12 chicken drumsticks/thighs
  • Yogurt/Sour cream, to serve (opt)

MARINADE

  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 3-4 tbsp oil

SAUCE

  • 1 cup mango, cubed
  • 1/4 cup sriracha
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp butter

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

SAUCE
Puree together mango, sriracha, and garlic
Transfer to saucepan
Add butter and water; heat for 15 min, stirring occasionally
Set aside

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken in a baking tray (for crispier chicken, add baking rack to tray)
Bake for 45 min
Remove from oven, brush chicken with sauce
Return to oven; bake for 10-15 min, or until cooked through
Brush with remaining sauce straight from oven
Serve with yogurt or sour cream

THEME SONG: Lake in the Moonlight (Swan Lake), Tchaikovsky


Pambazos ~ Doomsday Steppers

Is it too much to ask that bandits not steal the fire escape in the middle of the night?

This isn’t the first such heist in the Madliverse; once a tree outside her window disappeared for no good reason that she could tell, and Sister Madly has endured the morning kiss of the nuclear sun ever since.

For those psychotics who are contemplating a similar caper, do have the courtesy to leave the unfortunates some sort of warning- such as caution tape, or employing a limbless, black knight declaring that ‘none shall pass’ at the site where the staircase used to be. Had the aforementioned bandit embraced these basic underworld civilities, his feat would have appeared as a cozy little blurb in the apartment newsletter to be marveled by the tenets over a cup of cocoa.

Instead, Sister Madly and Co. discovered the architectural deficiency in the most astonishing manner possible.*

* T’was even more astonishing to the tenet below, at whose feet was dropped a bag of putrid trash, along with Sister Madly’s shoe.

Judging by her neighbor’s slit-eyed glare, it would seem that Sister Madly, herself, was widely considered responsible for the heist. Sure, some say that her mind is as twisted as a pretzel, and she has been known to have a teeny-tiny problem with pyromania*- hardly worth mentioning, really- but that doesn’t mean she has the capability to waltz off with a fire escape at a moment’s notice. In fact, such a heist would be nearly impossible for anyone shorter than a Sneech- and Sister Madly is hardly a Sneech.

* The untimely flambéing of that lone corn fritter, that German Christmas Pinwheel Thingy, and New Year’s Day 2014 were all accidents- happy little accidents.

But that doesn‘t mean such allegations are unfounded. As the more devout amongst you know, August 8th is the most significant festivity of the year: Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night, and Sister Madly can be counted amongst the faithful.

Now if our dear Moppet took the term ‘neighbor’ literally, she need only open her door and chuck a zucchini across the hall- an act that has been deemed ‘less-than neighborly’ by tenets in the past. Zucchini Night is one of the few times a year that Sister Madly embraces the ‘all mankind is your neighbor’ metaphor, before reverting to that customary petulance that is much beloved.

However, due to a recent trip to the coast (in which she overstayed her welcome) Sister Madly was obliged to celebrate this sacred holiday a few days late- and in daylight. Although her impeccable stealth guaranteed the ceremonial Leaving-of-the-Zucchini went off without a hitch, Sister Madly was unable to bask in the satisfaction of a job well-done as there just happened to be a crucial witness bumbling down the street:

Google.

Sister Madly knew these sort of things happened, but they happen to other people: desperadoes busted for their negligence, for flinging their DNA over murder scenes willy-nilly while the BBC watches from a nearby Pringle can. Moppets are much less sloppy, crushing all Pringle cans before embarking upon a murder most foul; but Google does not heed the way of the Moppet, choosing rather to defiantly photograph humanity without so much as a how-do-you-do, and this peeves Sister Madly.

Now it’s well-known amongst the local demimonde that it’s best to ‘do away’ with a witness rather than allow said witness the liberty to resort to extortion- blackmailers, you see, can never be bought; one can only hope to even the score. So Sister Madly engaged the intrepid Itty Bitty*- her trusty accomplice, lookout, and sleepy-eyed assassin- to properly attend to the matter.

* A handsome Smart Car.

And so it came to pass that she and Itty Bitty embarked upon a mission to silence Google, dodging speed bumps and toddlers lurking in the fray until foiled by a family of ducks crossing against the light, behind which the Duo watched Google peter off into the summer haze with a nonchalance that bordered upon the sinister. Yes, Sister Madly is an extremely ineffective do-away-with-er.

But not all hope was lost; due to its inability to mind its own business, it is possible that Google witnessed the heist of her fire escape, and for that Sister Madly would pay a pretty penny- or at least, a very shiny one. Google would be coughing up the info in no time; Sister Madly can be a sadistic interrogator, you know.

Then again-

PAMBAZOS

  • 1 regular or sweet potato, peeled, cubed, and cooked
  • 1 lb chorizo, casings removed and crumbled
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste
  • Red enchilada sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • Brioche/Kaiser rolls, or similar
  • Oil
  • To Serve: sour cream, guacamole, queso fresco, lettuce

FILLING
Cook chorizo in skillet; approx 5-7 min
Add onion, cook until softened
Add potatoes; mix, crushing slightly

ROLLS
Heat oil in clean skillet
Brush outside of rolls with enchilada sauce until well-coated
Pan-fry rolls in skillet, coated side down, until browned
Add filling and desired toppings
Serve immediately

THEME SONG: The Last of the Secret Agents, Nancy Sinatra


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 thickened
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

  • 2 cups 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 a minimum of 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
  •  1 tbsp ginger, minced -OR- 1 tsp ground
  •  2 bay leaves
  •  2 tsp ground coriander
  •  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