Posts tagged “Cooking

Champagne Chicken ~ The Merchant of Menace

It’s said that, on average, champagne corks kill approximately 24 people a year- far more than the 10 killed by sharks.

Still, Sister Madly decided to risk it with the champagne rather than find sanctuary with a posse of sharks. She likes to live dangerously.

It was the end of October, when the veil between the worlds is said to be its thinnest, and when the living honor those who have passed on through a variety of traditions, including a celebration known as a Dumb Supper.

Now, Sister Madly has attempted a few Dumb Suppers in the past, and with mixed results.* Of course, this could be that the Departed were already engaged in another Dumb Supper across town, or were busy in the southern hemisphere doing southern hemisphere-ish things. Still, she had to consider the possibility that she was completely lacking in the area of social graces, and that the Departed refused to associate with anyone but the elite. Thus, Sister Madly decided to not only host a trial supper, but with a guest.

* Unsuccessful, and even more unsuccessful.

And what Dearly-Departed guest would be more appropriate than Vincent Price?

For a posh dinner party, one must be properly dressed; and for the Merchant of Menace such attire should be both classy and theatrical. Sister Madly has accumulated a most eclectic array of costumes during her Renaissance Faire Days, down to the satin-lined cloak worthy of an Elder god ritual. She admits it may be a bit show-offy for a Dumb Supper, but it would be perfect of the Vincent Price Trial Run. No doubt he would be wearing one as well.

Unfortunately, Sister Madly looked nothing like the sinister, show-offy cultist of her most excellent imagination, but a portable keyhole- something she did not realize during her Renaissance Faire Days. Did she always look like the gateway to another dimension? Why didn’t anyone ever tell her this?

Thanks a lot, fellas.

As for the feast- Mr. Price was a gourmand in his day, and the not-so-sinister Sister Madly couldn’t get away with Frozen Tater Tots and cans of Spaghetti O’s, even if she did garnish it with a lemon wedge and a sprig of parsley. A culinary effort would have to be made on her part, if only to apologize for dressing as a particularly unmenacing Keyhole.

So what could be more appropriate than a dish from A Treasury of Great Recipes, authored by Vincent Price himself?

No doubt he would be pleased that Sister Madly acknowledged his talents beyond The Pit and the Pendulum, and be touched that she was so thoughtful. And should she replicate his recipe to a ‘T’,* Mr. Price would put in a good word for her with gods of the afterlife, who will no doubt permit her to haunt the living willy-nilly. Of course, should she fail, Mr. Price may plague her with wicked laughter, poltergeists, and B-movie dreams for the rest of her life.

* What is this ‘T’ anyway, and why is it the standard to which everyone aspires?

So Sister Madly settled on a delicacy entitled Poularde Pavilion– that is, Champagne Chicken.* That sounded posh.

* Poularde Pavilion does not translate to Champagne Chicken on Google Translate, but Sister Madly is not one to question the magnificent Vincent Price.

Naturally, merely purchasing a bottle of champagne can bring about delusions of sophistication far beyond one’s station. However, Sister Madly- being most adult- retained enough sense to know she might horribly screw up the opening of said bottle; and as she hoped to get her security deposit back one day- and since she wasn’t quite ready to shuffle off this mortal coil in the most embarrassing way possible- Sister Madly opened the bottle on the fire escape outside.

Science can be a beautiful thing to witness, be it fireflies, the way liquid mercury separates, or the Northern Lights; and while there may be a ‘proper’ way of opening champagne, there is nothing more magical than the moment the internal pressure forces the cork from the bottle, and sends it sailing off into the sunset.

Or, as in the case of Sister Madly, over the fence and into the neighbor’s kiddie pool

Naturally, this left Sister Madly pondering one of the Great Mysteries of Life: how fast does a champagne cork travel?*

* Up to 60mph, it turns out- which is a $435 fine and possible license suspension up to 30 days should that Cork be pulled over in Sister Madly’s neighborhood.

Sister Madly did not replicate Mr. Price’s recipe to a ‘T’.
She gave up when instructed to preheat the oven to ‘moderate.’

CHAMPAGNE CHICKEN

  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in
  • 1¼ cup champagne or other sparkling wine, divided (¼ cup + 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Heavy cream, to taste (opt)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • pearl onions, peeled
  • wild mushrooms, sliced
  • pancetta, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp dried tarragon
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • pinch cayenne, or to taste (opt)
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • Oil, for searing

Season chicken w/salt and pepper
In heated skillet, brown chicken on both sides, 3-5 min per side
Remove from skillet; set aside
Sauté pancetta; 2-3 min
Add garlic, pearl onions, and mushrooms; sauté 2-3 min
Add herbs; sauté 30 sec
Deglaze with ¼ cup champagne
Return chicken to skillet
Add broth and remaining champagne
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer: 20-25 min
Uncover; simmer until sauce is reduced by half
Stir in cream (if using) simmer 2-3 min
Remove from heat and serve

THEME SONG: Haunted, Maya Kern

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Chicken Shawarma ~ The Atomic Bread-Shepherd

During the first few weeks of summer, a young Sister Madly would wait impatiently for hours to play with her friend Serafina, who was a member of a strict and rather unfun denomination known for its boycotts of various fast-food joints and hosting ‘safe alternatives’ to Halloween. That week, it was Vacation Bible School* that rudely took up Serafina’s mornings, and when Sister Madly showed up at her house later that day, Serafina was trying to draw a picture of Jesus.

* Fortunately, Sister Madly’s mother wouldn’t discover this Summer Vacation Buzzkill for a few years yet.

Now Sister Madly had absolutely no idea what Jesus looked like, aside from the usual pictures of a long-haired, melancholy European holding his pet lamb. After much discussion, she and Serafina were pretty certain that this was an inaccurate depiction, as most of the churches they’ve encountered frowned upon men having long hair. As it was now up to them to right this horrible wrong, they approached the mission like lovely, little know-it-alls of all things sacred, tossing out terms associated with the Divine- such as holy, church on Sundays, and eternal.*

* While she did not fully appreciate ‘eternity’ as a child, as an adult, Sister Madly now flirts with the infinite on a weekly basis.

Since the girls lived in an era a few years after Jesus, Sister Madly decided to ransack the bible for a description of said messiah- she was a bit more of a know-it-all than Serafina, despite not being a member of a strict and unfun denomination at the time.

Nowhere was he described as the long-haired, melancholy European that the art world seems to favor; rather, Sister Madly came upon a host of verses which the artists of yesteryear clearly overlooked:

  • Bread of Life.

Obviously, this was no ordinary loaf of bread; it was alive– which meant the Loaf had a face.

  • Good Shepherd.

To the Smiling Loaf of Bread was added a Shepherd’s Staff.

  • Light of the World.

A magnificent Sunburst was drawn around the Smiling Loaf of Bread-Shepherd.

  • The Alpha and the Omega.

The Inedible End-Slice of Bread was added, which symbolized the Alpha and the Omega.

  • The Resurrection and the Life.

Since Bread rises when baked, there was no need for further artistic depiction. Still, there was concern that merely implying the Resurrection via oven and yeast was too profound and complex for the adult mind; thus they decided to include the baking temp for The Smiling, Atomic, Loaf of Bread-Shepherd.

Sister Madly, however, knew nothing about the joys of baking bread; she only knew the joys of delivering it to the neighbors in a wagon through the snow. And Serafina- well, she only knew the joys of Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwiches.*

* Sister Madly prefers Peanut Butter and Banana.

So Sister Madly suggested they call Information.

Even as a little Moppet, Sister Madly knew that Information was a direct line to the All-Knowing Oracle, as people were always calling it in old television shows asking for phone numbers; but when the Oracle had no answer, Sister Madly asked for the number to a Bread-Making Store. When told that there was no such thing as a Bread-Making Store, it became clear that the Oracle found that Sister Madly & Co. already possessed the information they sought deep within themselves, thus making them wise beyond their 7 years.

Unfortunately, the inherent Bread-Baking Temp Knowledge was hidden far-too deep within their souls to be discovered by 9 AM the following day, so they had no other choice than to depict the Bread actually rising.

And that is what they did.

  • Bread of Life.

Obviously, this was no ordinary slice of bread; it was alive– which meant the Slice had a face.

  • Good Shepherd.

To the Smiling Slice of Bread was added a Shepherd’s Staff.

  • Light of the World.

A magnificent Sunburst was drawn around the Smiling Slice of Bread-Shepherd.

  • The Alpha and the Omega.

Detail was added to indicate that the Smiling, Atomic Bread-Shepherd is the Inedible End-Slice, which symbolized the Alpha and the Omega.

  • The Resurrection and the Life.

The Smiling, Atomic, Inedible End-Slice of Bread-Shepherd pops merrily out of a Toaster.

As you can see, Sister Madly’s artistic skills have vastly improved since she was 7. This pleases her.

CHICKEN SHAWARMA

  • 6-8 boneless chicken thighs, whole

MARINADE

  • 5-7 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP sumac
  • 1 TBSP smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup oil, or as needed

Mix marinade ingredients together
Add chicken, shake/stir to coat
Refrigerate 30 min- 24 hours

PREPARATION
Remove Chicken from fridge 30+ min before baking
Preheat oven to 375*
Skewer chicken on metal or pre-soaked bamboo skewers
Lay skewers on greased baking track in baking tray
Cover with any remaining marinade
Bake for 45-60 min, or until cooked through
Slice and serve with pita

THEME SONG: Personal Jesus, Depeche Mode


Korean BBQ Chicken ~ The Gateau From the Chateau

One cannot help but consider the many ways that cake brings people together, such as weddings, birthdays, a passion for homemade potato-launching weaponry, christenings, and the like. So it was only natural that the most altruistic Sister Madly sought to perfect this skill in order to unite the whole of the human race- albeit, not with her.

She’d attempted Cake Perfection before, at friend and fellow co-worker’s house once upon a time after being awakened by Rita’s younger brother spraying a hose through the window. This time, it was the robust, repetitive call of Ri-co-la! from somewhere below, which the Pater Rita had perfected like an Alpine native.

In the previous installment, the bungling, sleep-deprived twosome faced a task fraught with September crushes and lovesick butterflies. But they were older and wiser now, and knew better than to frost a cake straight from the oven- such children they were in those days.*

* Approx. 6 weeks prior.

And in honor of this newfound maturity, they decided upon a most grown-up cake with 3 lovely tiers, with each being its own flavor: banana, root beer, and of course, red velvet.*

* To be clear, the intent was to make the cake, not eat it. Mature though she may be, Sister Madly wasn’t a complete idiot.

As it turned out, frosting a 3-tiered cake wasn’t quite the same as writing Congrats on Our Divorce, Darling!* across a giant chocolate-chip cookie. A cake demands a certain amount of finesse, which Sister Madly decided that she had obtained during her 6-week transition into adulthood; thus the decision was made to have the most mature Moppet kneel on an office chair while Rita maneuvered said chair around the cake in a graceful manner. Rita always took the helm when it came to operating heavy machinery.

* An actual request. Sister Madly is all about customer service.

This method was not successful.

Admittedly, Sister Madly has never seen one pastry chef maneuver another around a cake in order to frost said confection at 6:30 in the morning. Thus, one can only conclude that if it is not the chef that moves around the cake, it is the cake that rotates before the chef- a secret most patissiers keep to themselves in order to reign supreme in the culinary world.

Until now.

No doubt the great culinarians of this world excelled in modern-day cake-ology by utilizing the modern-day turntable- which, of course, is your standard record player. Anyone who has any taste in music has access to one to those, if only by way of the neighbor’s skylight at 3AM in the morning.

But that is the risk one must take when it comes to cake.

Looking back, Sister Madly probably shouldn’t have set the player to 78 RPM, but hindsight is 20/20, after all. She did, however, retain enough wisdom to stop the turntable before garnishing the culinary masterpiece with a luscious Alpine Sunburst of Ricola Cough Drops.

While the cake seemed to lack a certain elegance- if not happily dwell in its own gravitational field- there was no denying a certain wonder in its very existence; all Alpine yodeling ceased within its presence. Indeed, it was absolutely magnificent to behold.

What is that?”

A testament to her greatness, sir: a 3-tiered red velvet gateau with essence of musa fruit and sassafras root.

“What’s in it?”

Cake material!

“Interesting…”

No. Don’t say interesting. That means you’re going analyze the cake and demand an explanation of things that have no explanation. It’s a cake, an undeniable work of art; it’s not meant to be questioned, but experienced and enjoyed- much like Pink Floyd.*

* Sister Madly merely declared it to be magnificent to behold, not to taste. There is more than one way to experience cake.

And so the Pater Rita and his Son decided to experience the cake together in the backyard by shooting it with a homemade spud gun.

KOREAN BBQ CHICKEN

  • 6-8 chicken thighs, bone-in

MARINADE

  • ¼ cup coconut aminos* ~ or ~ soy sauce
  • ¼ cup sake
  • 4 tsp ginger, minced
  • 4 tsp garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • 3+/- TBSP oil, or as needed

BBQ SAUCE

  • ½ cup coconut aminos ~ or ~ soy sauce
  • ½ cup sake
  • 2 TBSP gochujang paste
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire
  • 2-3 TBSP honey
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • salt/pepper, to taste

Coconut Aminos contain less salt (up to 65%) and is slightly sweeter than traditional soy sauce or tamari, yet without tasting of coconut.
If substituting soy or tamari; adjust salt and honey to taste.

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

SAUCE
Sweat off garlic and ginger; 2 min
Add remaining sauce ingredients
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until thickened

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

THEME SONG: Ri-co-la!, Various


Perfection Salad ~ DisasterChef Theatre

Let’s face it: one can only spend so much time lounging about, indulging in bubble wrap and drinking from the skulls of thine enemies. Faced with the possibility of becoming merely a husk of a person, Sister Madly decided to confront one of her greatest fears: making a salad.

Having fondly recalled the culinary success of Ham and Banana Hollandaise, Sister Madly returned to the recipe box of yesteryear for the inspiration that would propel her into the world of healthy vegetables.

And she found it.

An array of vegetables encased in gelatin, and stuffed rather glamorously into a decorative mold- or in Sister Madly’s case, a disposable tin.

SHOPPING LIST

  • 2 packets unflavored gelatin.

Unable to find unflavored gelatin (she didn’t try very hard, she admits) Sister Madly headed straight for the Jell-O. Not only does this confection have gelatin, it is available in an array of lovely colors. The lack of pigmentation was the one thing that, in Sister Madly’s most correct opinion, that kept the Salad from being absolute Perfection; thus she rectified this oversight with a package of Berry Blue.

  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage

Sister Madly saw no reason to waste time and effort shredding a large cabbage when Mother Nature has provided mankind with itty-bitty mutant ones.

  • ½ cup chopped green pepper

Green pepper, which is a formidable piece of produce in its own right, does not have a lot of kick, and Sister Madly needed some spice to balance out the sweetness of the Berry Blue.

So she replaced the Bell Pepper with Thai Chilies. Brilliant.

  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

Since celery is an affront to humanity, Sister Madly omitted this particular vegetable in order to maintain the title of ‘Perfection.’ She had every intention of including the Carrots; however, once at the market, Sister Madly found herself swept up on the winds of whimsy and substituted Cherry Tomatoes.

  • 4 oz chopped pimento

Since the pimento is the heart of an olive, and since produce is at its best when obtained organically, Sister Madly skipped the jar of farm-raised olives and chose to harvest this elusive fruit from its natural habitat: a martini.

And where best to get a martini than at a pub?

24 hours later… Behold, her genius!

Just as professional culinarians enhance their creations with decorative sticks and sprigs, Sister Madly, too, opted for garnish; but her garden yielded little more than slugs and rocks. She did come across a bit of herbal greenery in the backyard, but her neighbors were smoking it at the time.

In the end, she need look no further than her own pantry: indeed, all the culinary masters would agree that brown onions and garlic are the perfect accompaniment to Berry Blue Jell-O.

Even Sister Madly could not conceive what sort of mind would consider this anything other than absolute perfection. It was guaranteed to be called a work of art amongst those blessed with the gift of sight!

Having determined that her Salad was exquisite in every way, Sister Madly decided that it would be cruel not to share this gastronomic masterpiece with the world- and what better way than to present the Salad as the main course at a neighbor’s birthday celebration?

All she needed was a birthday candle.

Sister Madly, as you can see, is the soul of generosity.

Happy Birthday.

PERFECTION SALAD

  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 oz apple juice
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP vinegar
  • 1 cup carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 1 cup cabbage, shredded
  • ½ cup green pepper, chopped
  • 4 oz. pimento, chopped

In small saucepan, combine gelatin, sugar, and salt; mix well.
Add 1 cup water.
Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar and gelatin are dissolved. Remove from heat.
Stir in apple juice, lemon juice, vinegar, and ¼ cup cold water.
Pour into medium bowl.
Refrigerate 1 hour, or until mixture is consistency of unbeaten egg white.
Add carrot, celery, cabbage, green pepper, and pimento; stir until well combined.
Turn into decorative, 1½ quart mold.
Refrigerate 4 hours, or until firm.
To unmold: Run small spatula around edge of mold; invert onto serving plate.
Place hot dishcloth over mold; shake gently to release. Repeat, if necessary.
Lift off mold; refrigerate until ready to serve.

~ From McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection

THEME SONG: Sweetest Perfection, Depeche Mode


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


5-Spiced Apricot Chicken ~ Forbidden Fruit on Rye

It wasn’t long ago that Sister Madly, after several gastronomical no-no’s which included the Great Ham and Banana Hollandaise Debacle, was indefinitely banned from the culinary process of party-planning. But this did not preclude her from being recruited to run essential errands, such as “picking up a couple of Swedes.”

Why Swedes specifically? Is not Sister Madly’s own Scandinavian heritage, as slight as it may be, enough of a cultural contribution to the party? Is it even possible to tell a Swede from a Norwegian? If she should bring home a Finn, would she be horribly punished?

Then again, just what kind of girl do you think she is? Do you think she routinely struts about in stilettos and a feathered boa down at the local Ikea? Sure, Sister Madly recently required that every single one of you be her Valentine– some of whom even had the audacity to question her technique- but there is a world of difference between demanding your companionship and wooing you with her dubious charm.

Besides, if Sister Madly was any good at wooing, would she resort to demanding?*

* Yes, actually. Sister Madly is lazy.

Naturally, her friends anticipated her childish tirade, and followed up with a clarifying text: Studebakers.

Well, maybe the Swede would be driving one.

Dammit… Rutabagas!

Rutabagas are a funny thing. Sister Madly has a hard time believing that the fool who first dug one up said, “Well, Son-of-a-Biscuit! What a delicious-looking thingamabob!” No doubt its history is more complicated, perhaps even stemming back to biblical times. It’s quite possible that something was lost in translating the Torah, that Eve was not tempted with the Forbidden Fruit, but the Forbidden Root.

But let’s face it: it would take an awful lot of sweet-talking on the part of the Snake to get Eve to chow down on a straight-from-the-dirt Rutabaga. Perhaps a verse was omitted from the original text in which God cursed the Forbidden Fruit by upping its carb count and reducing it to a Root, much like how the Walking-Talking Serpent was reduced to a slithering, hiss-happy Danger Noodle.

From a divine viewpoint, a Fruit-to-Root curse would have been absolutely necessary. No doubt the Forbidden Fruit would devastate the future of humanity by being a hit at the Farmer’s Market- why, just think of the incredible smoothies one could concoct, or all the lovely jams. Forbidden Fruit on a lightly-toasted rye would, without a doubt, be a most unholy way to start the weekend.

Being the cheeky little moppet that she is, Sister Madly brought up the subject to a Seminary Student later on at the party, one who got his kicks from taking himself much too seriously. She was curious as to what he had to say about her most excellent Rutabaga Theory.

He did not think it most excellent.

“If you consider the region and the climate of the Garden of Eden at the time, the Forbidden Fruit would have been similar to an Olive.”

And just what is so tempting about an Olive? It’s the only thing on this planet that can further contaminate a perfectly ghastly loaf of bologna! Olives have their place in the culinary world, make no mistake; but to bring about the downfall of all mankind- quite frankly, that tasty little wart just did not have the gumption. There is simply no way that a Serpent could seduce Eve with a beady-eyed little olive.

Unless it was in a martini.

Then again, who can say it wasn’t in a martini? How do we know that the Serpent wasn’t the local mixologist, wooing Eve with a posh cocktail? Savvy barkeeps have been making the same moves for generations- they must have picked it up from somewhere.

Speaking of which- would you like a drink, Soon-To-Be-Reverend No-Fun?

“There’s a reason they’re called spirits: being drunk with liquor is like being possessed by the devil.”

Spoken like a true fart.

5-SPICE APRICOT CHICKEN

  • 6-8 chicken drums/thighs

MARINADE

  • 3 TBSP soy sauce ~ or ~ coconut aminos
  • 2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 2 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 3-4 TBSP olive oil, or as needed

APRICOT GLAZE

  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 3-4 TBSP soy sauce ~ or ~ coconut aminos
  • 3 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Sriracha, or to taste
  • salt/pepper, to taste

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

GLAZE
Mix together glaze ingredients
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer to reduce (glaze will coat spoon)

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: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Iron Butterfly


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


Wild Mushroom Stew ~ A Confederacy of Mukluks

During the time Sister Madly spent in their employ, Utopia obtained a reputation of small-time intrigue, from back alley business deals to  Kinder Egg transactions, to smuggling contraband inside of Russian Nesting Dolls. In spite of these rumors,* Utopia decided to venture into the seedy underworld of Alpaca Sweaters.

* Sister Madly might have been responsible for spreading those rumors.

Now Sister Madly knows that there are certain risks one takes when fraternizing with the Knitting Demimonde, from products of questionable origin (i.e., “Made in the Hinterlands”) to defects in the sweater itself:

As with all art, beauty is in the mind of the beholder. Clearly this was not a Backwards Flag; this was something deeper: a masterpiece of hypoallergenic fleece symbolizing the all the hardships a weary Knitter endures during a strong, eastern wind in the Hinterlands.

Eastern winds contribute to sweater-wearing, after all.

But Management, bereft of soul as is their wont, cast aside Sister Madly’s magnificent critique in favor of a far greater concern over why the whole of West Michigan refused to show their patriotism with a Backwards American Flag Sweater in the middle of July.

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, Management concluded that the only way to rectify this horrible situation was to bundle the American Flag Sweaters with matching American Flag Mukluks, thus revolutionizing the fashion industry, winning a Nobel Prize, and retiring to a luxury hut in the Maldives. And no doubt they would have done just that, had it not been for a slight deficiency in Old Glory.

Let’s see if you can spot the error:

This sent Management into the throes of an existential crisis.

Fiddlesticks!” *

* Sister Madly apologizes for the graphic language.

While nobody could deny that the Flag had American roots, it would have, perhaps, behooved Management to have been a bit more specific when placing the order.

Upon being promoted to Marketing Director a few seconds prior, Sister Madly was enlisted to find a way to promote the Confederate Mukluks in a positive light, as Utopia would rather utilize the errant Mukluks than complain about the product- Knitters, as you know, can be particularly cutthroat.

Not wishing to be shish-kabobbed on the nearest knitting needle, Sister Madly pitched her usual poppycock: Sweetest Day was just around the corner, after all, and what better gift for your sweetheart than this knitted ensemble depicting America’s Civil War?

Then again, why not bundle the Sweaters with a full-length mirror (gilded frame optional) as the Flag would no longer appear reversed in this reflective apparatus? As for the Mukluks, they could easily be marketed to some disgruntled butler as cheeky little dusting cloths- knitted Mukluks clean up dust almost as efficiently as they create it.

Sister Madly even enlisted herself as visual aid, modelling the lovely* ensemble in a beam of sunlight.

* In marketing, even the most hideous of products becomes ‘lovely.’

But even as Sister Madly pitched this most excellent campaign, the sight of her posing most artistically in the latest Civil War Couture*- thus violating every city ordinance in the process- was enough to convince Management to donate the ensemble to the local shelter down the street. Utopia, despite its questionable reputation, was nonetheless generous with its clutter.

* Sister Madly also apologizes to the lady passing by the window during this unfortunate exhibition: you didn’t deserve to witness that.

WILD MUSHROOM STEW

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16oz wild mushrooms
  • rainbow carrots, chopped
  • pearl onions, peeled
  • baby potatoes, quartered
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 3-4 cups veg or mushroom broth
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire (vegan substitutes here)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • oil, for sautéing

Sauté chopped onion until translucent
Add garlic; sauté 1-2 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Deglaze with Marsala Wine; 2-3 minutes
Add tomato paste; mix
Add potatoes, carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms; stir to coat
Add broth
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; cover
Simmer until veggies are almost tender, stirring occasionally
Uncover; simmer to reduce/thicken
Add Worcestershire; mix
Adjust seasonings to taste

THEME SONG: Quiet Americans, Shearwater


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


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


Chip Shop Curry Sauce ~ The Thyme Lord

Folk Songs have a lot to answer for. ~ Terry Pratchett

Earlier at the Faire, Sister Madly was Romancing the Stone: a quest where one picks a numbered stone* in hopes of connecting with their True Love -only now, thanks to her friends, her Token to True Love had been switched out for a pair of Mystery-Flavored Dum Dums.

* #88, although she could have been reading that upside down.

Amongst the reasons given for this heartless kleptomania was the logic that, in Arthurian legends, all heroes fight epic battles for love.* “Romance wasn’t so easy in those days, Sister Madly; the sooner you retrieve your rock from the Dodo, the sooner you can find your True Love and bask in the satisfaction of a job well-done. ”

* No doubt Karma had a hand in this as well. 

That is how Sister Madly found herself down at the Living History Camp casing the Dodo’s pavilion, one so dismal and so depressing that even the flies were on Zoloft.

After a lengthy self-interrogation, Sister Madly decided that there was no need to bother the Dodo with her petty relationship issues (even though he was the reason she was having said issues.) It would be so much kinder to just creep around the back and crawl under the canvas- indeed, Sister Madly can be so considerate, sometimes (take that, Karma!)

But the man* she encountered inside was not the Dodo.

* Well, not a man so much as a shrubbery.

Some would say that by not parading into the pavilion through the front entrance she revealed herself as an intruder, but Sister Madly remained ever optimistic. Sure, she lacked certain qualities inherent in all homegrown plague doctors- such as the creepy bird mask and absolutely any knowledge of the Plague whatsoever- but unrealistic confidence is 80% of the battle: if she believes that she is part of the Guild, everyone else will believe it as well. Or at least 80% will.

Drop that Plague and turn around slowly!

By the look on his face, this shrubbery was one of the 20%. Perhaps Sister Madly underestimated that whole ‘enter a residence through the front door’ thing; she made a mental note to try it sometime.

Despite his disbelief, the Shrubbery insisted that he wasn’t looking to steal the Plague, but to be cured of it.

Sir, that is how she cures the Plague!

He remained unconvinced. “You’re making that up.”

Well, yes, but making a point in the process. As Confucius once said, Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated…

…and what’s that smell? Is that basil?

The Shrub was horribly offended. “Thyme.”

So, you’re a Thyme Lord.

The Shrubbery was just as skeptical. Apparently, a Plague-Ridding Professional had absolutely no business dressing as a medieval-highwayman-gypsy-thief thing with a wee bit of pirate sprinkled in- absolutely none.

What? It’s casual Saturday!

Clearly she would lose her plausibility as a card-carrying member of the Plague-Ridding Profession if she didn‘t figure out a way to cure this Thyme Lord in a manner that he found acceptable. He seemed very picky.

Well, sir, did you ever just consider not dying?

The Thyme Lord found her method lacking, going so far as to imply that there would be a special place in purgatory for impersonating the avian Florence Nightingale.

Impersonating? Does she look anything like Slender Bird?

“No. That’s the point.”

Precisely. If she doesn’t look like the Dodo in a Black Dress, then she cannot be accused of impersonation. Besides, you’re one to talk, being dressed as a Thyme Lord and all.

Now, there are times when logic fails our dear Moppet. Had Sister Madly entered the pavilion through the front door like a civilized burglar, she would have noticed several Shrubberies enjoying a pint just outside the entrance.

“That’s Parsley. And Sage. Rosemary…”

That’s right, Sister Madly: the shrubbery you encountered during your burglary attempt was not a Thyme Lord, but a key ingredient of Simon and Garfunkal’s spice rack.

It was then that she realized just how serious the situation was: the Plague that needed to be cured here was the horrific Plague of Unforgivable Puns.*

* If any of you point out that ‘Thyme Lord’ is, itself, a pun, Sister Madly will be very unhappy with you.

And so Sister Madly handed him a fistful of Dum Dums.

“What am I suppose to do with these?”

Well, first you unwrap the Dum Dum, then you stick it in your mouth. That’s where things get a bit technical…

… or she can axe off your leg, if you’d like.

CHIP CURRY SAUCE

  • 2”- 3” ginger root, minced
  • 1/2 green apple, minced
  • 1 sm onion, minced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
  • 1½- 3 cups vegetable stock
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • Oil, for sauteing

Saute onion, ginger, garlic, and apple in hot oil until soft; 5-10 min
Add curry, garam masala, salt/pepper, and 5 spice; saute 30 sec
Add stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer; 15 min
Puree sauce to desired smoothness
If too thick, stir in additional stock and simmer to set flavors

THEME SONG: Scarborough Faire, My Dying Bride


Images:

1.) Christopher Lovell
5.) Tumblr


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


Tom Kha Gai ~ Romancing the Stone

People would take pains to tell her that beauty was only skin-deep, as if a man ever fell for an attractive pair of kidneys ~ Terry Pratchett

The last time Sister Madly went on the prowl was at the Renaissance Faire some years ago. The outcome was less than favorable.

Perhaps unwisely, Sister Madly found herself Romancing the Stone, a quest where one picks a numbered stone from a basket with the goal of finding the individual with the corresponding number from another basket. It is the one weekend at the Faire where the wandering minstrels are drowned out by the sounds of a medieval-love bingo game. Yet despite the pretext of feral romance, this venture was not without risks; she was just as likely to end up with a starry-eyed inamorato as she would this salty gentleman:

Or this one:

Or this:

Yes, even this:

As you can see, the risk was hardly minimal.

But the quest took a dark turn a few hours later when Sister Madly, who had been sharing a pint with the Scotts of Clan Picnic Blanket, noticed that her Stone was missing.

But even more mystifying was how long it took for her to realized that Dum Dums had been left in its place.

Seriously? Sister Madly’s future happiness is to be at the mercy of a corpse-bird in a black negligee? That’s as safe as an ejection seat in a helicopter! The Dodo was an absolute philistine when it came to all-things whimsical; the only reason he would carry a heart-shaped rock was if he was attending a stoning in the square.

Nevertheless, one can’t discredit a fact just because one doesn’t like the reality of it- and judging by the adolescent snickering across the way, Clan Picnic Blanket was a party to this latest bit of skullduggery.

You know, Snickering Scotts, you could have said something when you saw someone pilfering her Stone- you know the Dodo’s fondness for Sock Trafficking; now he’s going to sell her Stone to some little love tart and leave Sister Madly to die an old maid! She might as well go home right now and start collecting kittens.

Then again, how did you not notice the theft, Sister Madly? The patterns in the picnic table were not so interesting to have missed the Big Bird of Creepiness looming over your shoulder. A creature like that should have stuck out like a cactus in a pancake.

While the Scotts freely admitted their part in the theft, they insisted that they were doing her a favor: they didn’t give her Stone to the Dodo to guarantee her spinsterhood, but to secure her a soul mate. Sure, the Dodo had his faults- an unsunny disposition, looks that were in league against him, not to mention that whole ‘plague’ thing- but at least Sister Madly knew what she would be getting herself into, unlike most blind dates. She could still look for the original suitor if she wished, but should she find that suitor, well, unsuitable, she had a backup- how many people can say as much? Just write that number on some random rock, and make all your soul mate dreams come true!

Besides- had she seen the other wandering romantics?

You know, Scott, if Sister Madly had a chalupa, she would so throw it at you right now! She doesn’t take kindly to people who steal her rocks- her vegetables, yes, but not her rocks. And isn’t the reason 2 individuals are set up because they are believed to be compatible?

“Romance isn’t meant to be easy, Sister Madly. Besides, it’s the Dark Ages- you take what you can get!”

No doubt this was intended to console her, as condescending arrogance is wont to do; unfortunately, all Sister Madly heard was a dare…

Yes, the Dark Ages- what a time to be alive!

TOM KHA GAI

  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2” ginger, minced
  • 2 chilies, chopped and seeded to taste
  • 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp green curry paste
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • (2) 14 oz. cans coconut milk
  • 3-4 cups broth
  • 1/4 cup Thai basil, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste
  • Ghee/Oil, for sauteing

Saute onion in a stockpot until translucent, 5 min
Add garlic, ginger, and mushrooms; saute, 3-5 min
Add curry paste; mix
Add chicken; stir to coat
Mix in coconut milk, broth, chilies, and fish sauce; bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked; approx 30 min
Mix in lime juice and basil; remove from heat

THEME SONG: Made of Stone, The Stone Roses


Images:

2.) Pinterest
3.) Pinterest
4.) Tumblr
5.) Pinterest
9.) Tumblr


The Culinary Crime Boss

As of late, Sister Madly has been reluctant to hang around the Professors for fear of catching something nasty, such as a chronic desire to play golf,* or a fatal love of calamari. When she gets restless, she absorbs such diseases like a sponge.

* But not triathlons. Sister Madly is immune to triathlons.

taco-socks-2

But when she was invited over to ‘assist in preparations for the upcoming holiday party’ Sister Madly’s restlessness got the better of her: not only did she accept the invitation, she arrived 3 minutes early- and was greeted at the door by one of the Professors who, quite unexpectedly, presented her with a cigar box.

Certainly this was a lovely gesture on the part of the Professor… a gesture that became lovelier still when Sister Madly discovered that the box did not contain the cigars depicted on the label- those had been enjoyed by person or persons unknown- but a pair of Taco Socks.

Now even though Sister Madly was invited over to ‘assist in preparations for the upcoming holiday party,’ the Professors weren’t actually allowing her to do so. If it hadn’t been for the aforementioned Lovely Gesture, Sister Madly surely would have shuffled off this mortal coil out of uselessness, if not boredom; instead, she was able to pass the time by putting the Taco Socks on the cat,* which resulted in the cat screeching like a banshee and leaping into the compost bucket.

* Sister Madly never quite got the hang of maturity, having bypassed adulthood completely and landing face-first in the middle of dementia.

angry-cook

This wouldn’t have happened, Professor, had you assigned Sister Madly a culinary task.

But the Professors, having decided that Sister Madly was terribly upset, denied her such a task, saying that when one cooks while angry, it comes across in the food.

And just how does one assess the temperament of a cookie, Professor? Is Sister Madly to assume that, if she doesn’t like a particular dish, the cook was angry during its preparation? She wasn’t angry the day she made the wicked little delicacy known as Ham and Banana Hollandaise– a bit puckish, perhaps, but not angry. Sister Madly could have been soaring on a lovely rainbow bliss and that dish still would have tasted like boiled gym socks.

zombie-cookies

It turns out that the Ham and Banana Hollandaise Incident was still a touchy subject for the Professors, the mere mention of which drove them to banish Sister Madly to the corner as though she was a particularly dim-witted child. They weren’t about to allow Sister Madly to help with the baking now as the Professors didn’t want to give their colleagues a batch of dim-witted cookies.

So Sister Madly made her displeasure known through the most passive-aggressive means imaginable: by ripping the heads and limbs off the gingerbread and turning them into zombies.

For the next few hours, Sister Madly served up tray after tray of grotesque little men with missing limbs, bleeding hearts, and x-ed out eyes- indeed, it was more than a culinary masterpiece; it was pure art. Sister Madly was rather pleased with the result- why, she couldn’t have been more pleased if she had ordered a hit on the local bakery like some Culinary Crime Boss…

silhouette

“What are you doing?!”

Well, Professor, she was under the impression that she was doing you all a favor. You said you wanted the gingerbread decorated.

“But zombies? For Christmas?”

Christmas does not discriminate against the undead, Professor, and neither does the Underworld. Besides, you never specified how the gingerbread were to be decorated, so Sister Madly took certain liberties. Just as one can’t get mad at mustard for tasting like mustard, one can’t get mad at Sister Madly for doing Sister Madly things. Seriously, never has she heard such ingratitude- you could very well end up with a gingerbread head in your bed tomorrow morning!

It‘s like this, Professor: even though it may not be what you want, it may be exactly what you need. Taco Socks, for instance; never would Sister Madly have thought that one day her livelihood would depend upon the integrity of a Taco Sock and a few bits of electrical tape, but that is precisely what happened later that night when her windshield wipers became totally incompetent in the middle of a storm.

windshield-wiper-sock

And by Jove, it worked like a dream! Why, with such an ingenious feat of engineering, there is no need to purchase a new set of wiper blades. It is both practical and resourceful, not to mention a daring fashion statement worthy of a Culinary Crime Boss. Just one look at her Taco Sock Wiper Blade and people will say, ‘Aye, now there’s a girl who knows what she is doing!’

And what you are doing, Sister Madly, is repairing your car with tacky neon footwear!

In the end, you did catch something nasty from the Professors, Sister Madly…

Taco Socks.

THEME SONG: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Rolling Stones


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


Mysterious World

Pomegranate

The moment One gives
Something

Pomegranate art

Close Attention

Pomegranate heart

It becomes a Mysterious,
Awesome,

Pomegranate

Indescribably Magnificent World
In Itself.

~ Henry Miller


Images:

1) WeHeartIt
2) Roberto Greco
3) chasingdelicious.com
4) WeHeartIt


The Plague Ground

It’s a known fact that every great business transaction begins with “Psst, Buddy…”

More so when the negotiation sequence is initiated by a sock.

run away

It began a few hours prior in faux Medieval times,* where all attempts to out-cupcake the Dodo in the Battle of the Baked Goods failed in a most pathetic manner. True, it was because Sister Madly fled in what looked like a cowardly fashion, but she had a good reason: her sock was slipping off.

*A Renaissance Faire.

For those still following along, aye- this would be same sock that accosted Sister Madly behind the Hatchet-Throwing Range (perhaps not the ideal place for a little business tête-à-tête, but the nearest Waffle House was several states away.) She lost her sock, you see, when the Dodo made off with it after Sister Madly launched it out the window of the Citadel That Has No Pearls. What became of the Avian Horror immediately after was a mystery- that is, until she came upon a 2-ton* Viking well-versed in Barbarian-speak with her sock on his hand. Sister Madly didn’t think that was very sanitary, but then, hygiene didn’t seem to be a top priority with this particular philistine.

*Weight approximate.

sock puppet2

It came as no surprise to find that, amongst his other fiendish virtues, the Dodo was a heartless Sock Trafficker, having sold her paisley little friend to the Vikings for mere pennies on the dollar. Now her wretched Sock was doomed to a life of hard Viking labor, such as drinking and pillaging, and bellowing incoherent battle cries (faux Medieval-era Vikings didn’t do much else.)

But what baffled her was that the Sock didn’t seem particularly upset about this- in fact, it seemed rather chipper, if not downright happy. The Sock was never happy on her foot; after all, it did try to slip off earlier in the day. It did fly out the window at the first opportunity, and not once did it protest when shanghaied by the Dodo.

And when one considers the fact that it was the Sock, itself, negotiating its own safe return…

hugovladdeviant

She promised the Sock prime real estate in her sock drawer. She promised him treats. She promised to hand-wash him in the kitchen sink rather than force him to endure the spin-cycle, which can’t be a pleasant experience. She even promised to buy him a cider here and now… an offer that was interrupted by the arrival of some good, old-fashioned, plague doctor melancholy.

You’re bribing a Sock Puppet with a pint?

My dear corpse-bird, if Sister Madly had a dollar for every time… that is, she has negotiated with socks before, especially during that crucial washer-to-dryer transfer- that they honor their commitment to each other, that they implement the buddy system- admittedly with mixed results. Besides, she wouldn’t be bribing her Sock with a pint if someone hadn’t handed him over to the Vikings in the first place!

I set him free. If he loves you, he will return to you.

yahhSister Madly’s dainty way conceding ‘Touché.’

Why aren’t you out treating the plague?!

Do you see a case of the plague that needs to be treated?

a00c64db8634eb377a8435b7e056e802

Rather than admit that he had a valid point- or worse, that he was good at his job- Sister Madly lamented that she didn’t have any cupcake ammo aimed at his stone-cold heart (if he had one.) The Dodo then obliged her with a handful of his customary Mystery Flavored Dum Dums.

Which she threw right back at him.

But soon she faced a different dilemma: her other sock clearly wasn’t happy about being left out of the barbarism- she knew this, because it was currently working its way down to her toes much like its mate had. It wouldn’t be long before she had a mutiny on her hands, and to be overthrown by sock puppets was not the way she wanted to leave this planet.* Besides, this particular sock species tends to mate for life- one never sees a paisley sock paired with an argyle. To destroy such a bond would be cruel, and Sister Madly had no choice but to let this sock join its mate. Her conscience can be totally bourgeois, sometimes.

*Earth.

And so Sister Madly pulled off her other sock and stuffed it into the Viking’s drinking horn.*

*Her conscience can be a total brat as well.

THEME SONG: Rock-A-Sock-A-Hop, Jimmy Crain


IMAGES:

3) hugovlad.deviantart.com
5) imirr.deviantart.com


French Onion Barley ~ One More Thin Gypsy Thief

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

bathtub gin

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

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

vintage pinup vargas 3

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

Not that she holds a grudge or anything…

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

Sleighbell

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

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

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

knitting

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

Blood, you see, is thicker than moonshine.

french onion barley

FRENCH ONION BARLEY

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

PASTRY TOP

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

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

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

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


When Zeus Invades Your Microwave

Two types of people laugh at the law: those that break it
and those that make it ~ Terry Pratchett

There are times when the normally angelic Sister Madly cannot help but turn maverick, shunning the law by ripping the tags off mattresses, and defiantly parking in the loading zone 3 minutes before 6 PM. This is no life for a coward, for one runs the risk of unpleasant consequences.

mattress tag

Take, for instance, last winter. The Professors were outside, doing whatever it is that Professors do out in the cold, when what appeared to be a Fireball was launched heroically out the kitchen window and into the night. Further investigation revealed this nuclear supernova to be a flaming bag of microwave popcorn.

Earlier that day, the Professors’ succumbed to a domestic desire to make a popcorn garland for the Xmas tree. After some discussion, it was decided that little harm could come of Sister Madly microwaving this popcorn while the Professors went outside to do whatever it is that Professors do out in the cold.

After a horrifying search through the pantry (Why are you stockpiling Spam, Professor? And not just any Spam, but Teriyaki!) Sister Madly came upon a package of ‘Organic’ Popcorn (You’ve got 12 cans of Teriyaki Spam, Professor- this healthy pretense isn’t fooling anybody.)

popcorn advice 2

It was here that Sister Madly made the fatal error that defeats a maverick every time: she read the directions.

Do NOT use popcorn button.

Well, son of a biscuit! The Popcorn was getting ideas above its station! Just when did it assume the authority to tell her what to do? The microwave sacrificed one square inch of personal space to provide the world with an easy, make-all-your-popcorn-dreams-come-true button, and Sister Madly was going to utilize it!

But this Popcorn was clearly in the pay of her enemies, refusing to pop into its glorious destiny of faux-buttery goodness like a stubborn teenager. It knew that Sister Madly had implemented the Popcorn Button, disapproved of her doing so, and proceeded with the admonishment to NOT Reheat.

popcorn microwave

Why must you pretend to be wiser than the rest of the world, Great Popcorn? Soon you’ll be re-writing the moral codes in every Batman comic, declaring yourself Chancellor of a vague yet menacing government agency, and telling Sister Madly how to do her hair.

But a tyrant is only as powerful as the people who support him, so know this, impertinent Bag of Popcorn: Sister Madly will be reheating you with the same one-push button that she was advised against using- and without the slightest hint of remorse.

Little did she know that she was flaunting her feathered boa in the face of the Grim Reaper.

You see, in reheating the Popcorn, Sister Madly discovered something that could not be realized in any other manner: Popcorn is a magickal life form capable of committing both genesis and genocide simultaneously, popping itself into an edible sustenance even as it bursts into flames.

fire

Apparently, reheating Popcorn is the fastest way to summon Zeus, and Sister Madly missed the What to Do When Zeus Invades Your Microwave 101 lecture down at the Learning Annex (she overslept.) As the Professors left no brochures regarding this subject on the kitchen table, Sister Madly merely hoped that if she just ignored the fire, it would go away.

Turns out, fires don’t just go away, nor do they negotiate. But they can make Popcorn smell funky- and upon discovering just how funky that scent is, Sister Madly flung the smoldering Bag out the window and at the feet of the Professors, who were doing whatever it is that Professors do out in the cold.

Woe betide he, Professor, who heeds not the counsel of the Popcorn.

popcorn directions

THEME SONG: Who By Fire, Leonard Cohen