Posts tagged “Cooking

Dashboard Cookies ~ Disasterchef: Netherworld

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

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

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

A surly, sluggish, salty AF champ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A surly, sluggish, salty AF puddle.

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

DASHBOARD COOKIES

  • Cookie Dough of Choice, homemade or ready-made

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

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


Polynesian Pasta Salad ~ Justice for the Fortress

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

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

Twice.

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

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

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

That means Tallulah kicked her Fortress on purpose. Twice.

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

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

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

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

Sometimes her genius is frightening!

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

* For now, that is…

POLYNESIAN PASTA SALAD

  • 1lb Pasta
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar

DRESSING

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

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

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

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

 


Sichuan Wings ~ Sad Satan’s Toolshed

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

* Albeit, an adorable one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

* A safer, saner dimension. A Lovecraftian Dimension.

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

* Thanks, Me-Ma!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…it seems Sister Madly has missed her calling…

SICHUAN WINGS

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

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

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


Arayes ~ Sins of the Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Damn. There goes her dinner plans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Son of God cannot sin!

“Which is why he served grape juice.”

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

ARAYES

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

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

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

THEME SONG: Summer Wine, Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra


Images:

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


Gnocchi Vegetable Soup ~ Black Market Merchants

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

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

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

As a most logical Moppet, the answer was obvious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GNOCCHI VEGETABLE SOUP

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

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


Chana Matar Paneer ~ Possessd by the Holiday Spirit

The Holiday Spirit is an impish, little brat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHANA MATAR PANEER

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

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

THEME SONG: Mele Kalikimaka, Bing Crosby


Marsala Chicken Wings ~ Saucepans and the Single Girl

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

  • Leonard Cohen
  • Vincent Price
  • Starfish
  • David Bowie

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

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

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

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

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

DUMB SUPPER MENU

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

SURLY STEAK

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

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

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

CHEATERS GARLIC BREAD

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

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

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

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

WILD RICE

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

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

Also, please note the most excellent presentation.

SCULPTOR’S SALAD WITH SOUR CREAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAYER CAKE

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

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

Truly, this is cookbook that understands the Single Girl.

MARSALA CHICKEN WINGS

  • 3-3½ lbs. chicken wings

MARINADE

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

GLAZE

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

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

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

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


French Dip Sandwich ~ Clandestine Family Traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed, appliances are so thoughtful these days!

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

FRENCH DIP SANDWICH

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

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

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


Braised Chicken Marsala ~ Ballad of the Last M&M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRAISED CHICKEN MARSALA

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

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

THEME SONG: I Melt with You, Modern English


Pulled Chicken Parmesan ~ The Magical, Mystical Repo-Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Repo-Man politely declined.

PULLED CHICKEN PARMESAN

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

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

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


Image 1) Chris Clor


Poblano Corn Chowder ~ One Wheel Short of a Bike

A few weeks ago, Sister Madly was on her way home from the Market when she was passed by a man on a unicycle.

Now, she knows what you are all thinking: how does one even begin to master the unicycle? Does one utilize training wheels? Where does one keep the spare tire? And who was the madman that came up with the concept in the first place? Indeed, it was this train of thought that momentarily distracted Sister Madly from the fact that the cyclist was completely naked.

Yes, Sister Madly had just wandered into the outskirts of the World Naked Bike Ride.

As it turned out, the World Naked Bike Ride- which began as a protest against society’s oil dependency while promoting positive body image- was meeting at the park in her neighborhood. The Good Samaritan in Sister Madly considered hunting down the Unicyclist to inform him that he was, sadly, one wheel short of a bicycle- it was the Naked Bike Ride, after all- but she was quite overdressed for the occasion.*

* The World Naked Bike Ride is bit of a misnomer, as riders are encouraged to wear shoes and helmets, making it the Nearly Naked Bike Ride with Special Guest: the Unicyclist Without a Spare Tire.

While the Ride itself was to commence at 9pm, a few carefree activists decided to get a head start on the demonstration by assembling at 2; and though Sister Madly is all for that Consume Less Fuel thing, she was unable to participate in the Ride as she, unfortunately, does not own a bike.

But even if one does not participate in the Ride itself, there is much to be learned from the demonstration; indeed, much to be shared:

– Riding a bike without certain undergarments can be extremely uncomfortable and is accompanied by many 4-letter words.

– Unicorns exist; they are environmentally conscious and roam about on their hind legs. Unfortunately, Sister Madly is unable to provide photographic evidence as Unicorns are also body positive, and roam about completely naked.

* Nessie and Sasquatch, however, are clearly gun-toting, non-Prius driving, cloth-wearing body-shamers as they were nowhere to be found at the Bike Ride. Savages.

– Fairies also exist: they tend to be 6 feet tall, have butterfly wings, and sparkly Peace Signs painted on their tummies.

– Barbecuing in the buff is an extreme sport due to errant ash and the potential to singe off more than one’s eyebrows. A child’s bike seat, however, is a perfectly legitimate way to transport a bag of charcoal, provided it is properly strapped in and wearing a helmet.

* Fully nudity does not appear to be addressed in the current Food Handler’s Handbook. It seems that the Health Department does not give a hoot about one’s attire as long as one wears a hairnet.

Extreme Barbecuer was not wearing a hairnet.

– Now, that man is wearing a helmet. That’s right sir: safety first.

– Not all hippies sit in a circle and sing One Tin Soldier while weaving flowers into their hair. Sometimes they sing the Scooby-Doo Theme Song while smoking dubious plant life.

– A pair of red stilettoes is considered adequate footwear, the lady with the ombre hair insisted. Sister Madly has to admit, there’s talent in stiletto cycling- after all, if she so much as even looks at a pair of stilettoes, Sister Madly will break her ankle; she’s sprained it twice just thinking about it these last few seconds. Hats off to the Stiletto Cyclist.

– If you order the cheesesteak sandwich from the Hawaiian Food Cart, just eat all the steak with a fork and feed the bread to the ducks: you will be minimizing waste while maintaining a healthy, low-carb lifestyle, and you just might bring joy to a lonely, hungry, down-on-his-luck duck. Just a friendly tip from the cyclist in a loincloth and equestrian helmet.

– A tutu is more often worn about the head than about the waist, something Sister Madly does not remember from Tallulah’s brief childhood stint in ballet- but then, neither were particularly fashion savvy in those days.

– Update: Stiletto-Wearing Cyclist was not a lady. Apologies.

POBLANO CORN CHOWDER

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 poblanos, roasted, peeled, and chopped
  • 2 cans creamed corn
  • 1-2 potatoes, cubed
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 1-2 celery, diced
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp turmeric (opt, for color)
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • dairy free milk ~ or ~ heavy cream (opt)
  • lime juice, to finish

Sauté onion until translucent: 8-10 min
Add garlic and poblanos; sauté 2-3 min
Add celery and carrots; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Add potatoes, corn, and broth; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until veggies are tender; 25-30 min
Blend soup to desired smoothness (opt)
Add cream (if using); simmer 2-3 min
Stir in lime juice and remove from heat

THEME SONG: Riders on the Storm, The Doors


Sriracha Bacon Sticky Wings ~ This Used to Be My Playground

Upon reflection, Sister Madly has come to the conclusion that her high school education was a bit lacking. While most students were studying the usual curriculum of Biology and How-Not-to-Get-Salmonella-at-the-Cafeteria, Sister Madly & Co. were handed flyers featuring Scuba Barbie and asked to describe what was wrong with the ad. When a heated discussion erupted over whether Miss Barbie was wearing her scuba gear correctly, the teacher tried to regain control of the dialogue by pointing out the impossible body proportions and beauty standards of the doll.

Now this is the same Teacher who once assigned the female students to carry an egg around for a week to prepare them for motherhood. Said Teacher was convinced that every high school student hungered for the shiny, happy joys of teen pregnancy while simultaneously suffering from eating disorders due to the “impossible beauty standards” of Barbie.

High school is, indeed, the best time of your life.

Still, Sister Madly can’t help but wonder if her childhood toys have, or continues to, influence her to this day:

CABBAGE PATCH KIDS
Throughout the 80’s, the Madly household amassed enough Cabbage Patch Kids to reenact the Great Plague, yet never once was Sister Madly thrown into fits of despair over the fact that she was born without the signature of Xavier Roberts tattooed across her bum. In fact, Sister Madly tried to unload her first Cabbage Patch Kid- a tot called Jennie Freddie- on Tallulah in the dead of the night a week or so after Xmas. Apparently, Sister Madly preferred to play with errant golf balls and rocks.*

* Tallulah once had a stick named Wendy, thus has no reason to poke fun at Sister Madly for her affinity for rocks. Sister Madly did not name her rocks.

CARE BEARS
Sister Madly must confess: these Bears were not goodwill ambassador toys so much as arsenal for a particularly twisted game of dodgeball. This Sibling Warfare notwithstanding, Sister Madly can’t remember being confined to a straitjacket because a big, blue thundercloud was not painted on her tummy.

MUNCH MAN
Even the Mother Madly mastered this far superior knockoff of Pac-Man by Texas Instruments, much in the way Sister Madly mastered the Art of Annoying Tallulah by simply sitting next to her. Still, Sister Madly can’t say she was ever compelled to devour Texas as a result… but admits that she does like to munch.

POPPLE
Sister Madly would like nothing more than the ability to fold herself into a plush little ball on a Saturday night… then again, maybe she can; she’s never actually tried. No doubt it involves pulling her lip over her head and swallowing herself whole… do remember to stretch before trying that maneuver, dear Moppet; you’re not the spring chicken you used to be.

SOME DOLL THAT HAD A PAIR OF WINGS
Even at a young age, Sister Madly knew that she would never possess the ability to sprout a pair of wings in order to fly to the candy store at a moment’s notice.* She really doesn’t know much else about the doll other than she didn’t play with it much because it was pink.

* She did on occasion try to float about the backyard with an umbrella ala Mary Poppins, but that was more out of curiosity as to whether this mode of transportation was possible. Further testing is needed.

OREGON TRAIL
Surely there was nothing more thrilling than crossing America in a covered wagon, chasing after oxen that wander off before dying of dysentery. She wonders if anyone has ever proposed a Vegan version of Oregon Trail where, instead of hunting buffalo, one sneaks into a garden and steals all the turnips- perhaps then Sister Madly would not, to this day, be sent into hysterics at the sight of a vegetable.

However, nothing impacted Sister Madly’s childhood more than the moment of awakening, the Coming of Age: when candy bars went from 35 to 40 cents apiece. She remains traumatized to this day.

SRIRACHA BACON STICKY WINGS

  • 3-3½ lbs. chicken wings
  • 1 cup bacon jam
  • 2-3 TBSP cider vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • sriracha, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp lime juice, or to taste

GLAZE
Sweat off garlic; 1-2 min
Add remaining glaze ingredients EXCEPT lime juice; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until glaze thickens
Stir in lime juice and remove from heat

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

* Not a first date meal; more like a ‘married for 10 years’ meal.

THEME SONG: When I Grow Up, Garbage


Aloo Gobi Matar ~ Moving Finger Writes

Sister Madly is a creature not unlike your good self- in fact, she may be more like yourself than you care to admit: like you, she dreams of one day becoming an eccentric old lady who runs the Curiosity Shoppe on the corner and frightens children with the volume of her hair.

But unlike yourself, Sister Madly has taken steps towards making this happen: yes, she has recently become a Vendor.

Now what’s tricky about being a Vendor is that one actually has to vend things. But unlike the seasoned Vendor who frequents estate sales, has a sprawling beach house and a mutt named Trinket, Sister Madly is pillaging free bins on the side of the road while pondering the ethics of nicking books from Little Free Libraries. She does hit up auctions now and then, but even her sparring at the Renaissance Faire did not prepare her for the blood-soaked battles she faces against bidders; Rorschach Plate auctions are particularly cutthroat.

But for all the blood, sweat, and four-letter words expended clicking the ‘bid’ button, Sister Madly has to admit, it gets a little boring. She has the spirit of a maverick, preferring to spend her free time in the noble pursuit of shenanigans, tomfooleries, and avoiding housework. And of course, napping in the sock drawer.

And occasionally, these auctions go awry:

And the Postal Carrier still insisted she sign for that.

On the bright side, she now has Pakistani stamps to sell to the avid collector; you may leave your bids in the comments below.*

* Sister Madly also accepts Ferrero Rocher in lieu of cash.

Recently, she came across an auction for a ‘haunted’ ring, which was said to relocate itself in the middle of the night. Since the average person is disinclined to invest in a Ring that is perpetually lost, it wasn’t a popular auction; however, Sister Madly figured if she could make the ring devoted to her exclusively- more specifically, to the Madly Marketplace- the Ring would relocate back to said Marketplace after purchase, where Sister Madly could sell it again and again indefinitely.

But how does one secure the devotion of a Ring? Does she woo it with poetry and roses? Hire a Mariachi Band for a moonlit, margarita serenade?* Or should she provide one-on-one training and reward good behavior with kibble? Maybe she should play hard-to-get, or perhaps she should make a pie chart and use the word ‘community’ a lot.

* The preferred method for wooing Sister Madly… or ticking her off. She forgets which one.

Being a savvy BusinessMoppet of a few weeks, Sister Madly recognizes a potential flaw in this plan: What if the customer is so in love with the Ring it is never removed from the finger? Will the Ring return to the Madly Marketplace with the customer in tow, or just with the finger? And can she charge extra for that appendage next time around?

But for the moment, Sister Madly put aside that auction in favor of one featuring an Automatic Writing Planchette. Winning said auction was easy, as most bidders were busy warring over the newest listing of Rorschach Plates- barbarians, the lot of them. Seriously, if there is a New World Order, it will be run by antique dealers.

Now Automatic Writing is said to be the psychic ability to write words or phrases without consciously doing so, and is attributed to the supernatural or spirit world; however, skeptics ascribe ‘automatic writing’ to the Ideomotor Effect, a physiological phenomenon in which an individual makes movements unconsciously. Since the Planchette had never been used, it was possible that Sister Madly procured an Ideomotor Effect Planchette and not an Automatic Writing one. Not wanting to falsely represent her product, Sister Madly set the Planchette up in the kitchen to see if it will write anything (she is hoping for a lovely note from Vincent Price)- after all, if it IS an Automatic Writing Planchette, it certainly doesn’t need Sister Madly to guide it along. Also, she can’t spell, which is embarrassing for spirits.

UPDATE: the Planchette has written a squiggly line, but whether this was by supernatural means or the aggressive jackhammer outside the window is unclear.

UPDATE #2: Sister Madly has since decided that it was the former, as ‘responsive to jackhammers during utility repair’ is not a good sales pitch- again, savvy BusinessMoppet.

ALOO GOBI MATAR

  • 1 TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-2 chilies, minced
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2-4 cups vegetable broth (less for dry curry)
  • 1lb (medium) cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ½ cup peas, frozen
  • coconut milk ~ OR ~ heavy cream, to taste (opt)
  • salt/pepper, to taste

Heat oil in skillet
Add onion; sauté 5 min
Add garlic, ginger, and chili; sauté 3-5 min
Add spices, sauté until fragrant; 1 min
Mix in tomato paste; 1 min
Add potatoes, cauliflower, and broth; mix
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; cover
Simmer until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally 15-20 min
Add peas and cream (opt)
Simmer until heated through; 3-5 min

THEME SONG: Working Girl, The Members


Teriyaki Chicken Wings ~ The Ladies of the Night

“I don’t wanna go to church- I wanna eat pancakes and watch the hookers.”

Perhaps she’d better explain…

It was over ten years ago that Sister Madly left the great state of Michigan for stranger lands. Her Mother had accompanied her along the journey, and as it was the Mater’s last day in town- which she faced with a most suspicious good cheer- they arranged to meet Tallulah that evening a pub that had once been a Chapel* back in the 30’s.

* Actually, it began as a mortuary, only to include weddings later on- after all, if a marriage ends at the Chapel, it should begin at the Chapel.

As Tallulah was working at a most sophisticated and respectable boutique, Sister Madly and the Mothership were free to pop into the neighborhood bar for a pre-dinner cocktail- after all, it was 5 o’clock somewhere.

It was a classy joint with its plastic lawn furniture, AstroTurf, and life-size cutout of Liberace in the corner. Even the cocktails were nothing short of sophistication, with Sister Madly’s margarita lacking everything but the tequila, and the Mothership’s wine presented in a single-serving bottle with a neon bendy straw.

It was nothing short of superb.*

* Although Sister Madly was compelled to have a stern tête-à-tête with the jukebox: not everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting. Sister Madly surely wasn’t.

Now the occasional bar fight is to be expected even in the classiest of joints- sometimes over a lady, sometimes over a game of billiards- but the epitome of class is when a heated discussion erupts over Martha Stewart and her decision to add bacon to pancake batter.*

* The epitome of class is also when the patrons demand to watch the Cooking Channel over sports or CNN.

Classier still was that this discussion was spearheaded by an absolute philistine who declared he ate nothing but raw. Sister Madly made the assumption that when he said this, he meant Raw Vegan.

That is not what he meant.

As it turned out, the Philistine was an ex-vegan of 6 years who now eats only raw meat organ meat in particular. He seemed equally disappointed in Miss Martha’s decision to cook the bacon as he was in her refusal to serve raw pancake batter.

Sister Madly must confess that, despite her many angelic qualities, she is not a raw meat-eater… more like a medium, medium-rare meat-eater. No doubt this sin is what will keep her from attaining sainthood in the afterlife.*

* Which is perfectly fine, as a naughty Sister Madly fully intends to haunt each and every one of you upon reaching said afterlife.

What fascinated the Mothership, however, was not the unconventional diet of the Philistine, but the fact that he was in search of a companion who was willing to be Raw with him- and by ‘companion’ she though he meant ‘hooker’- but then, she was a few bendy-straw wines into the afternoon.

Now even Sister Madly, who had only been in town for a few days, knew where to find the Ladies of the Night; Tallulah often saw them while working at her most sophisticated and respectable boutique, and told many a tawdry tale. One more bendy-straw wine later, the Mothership decided that pancakes and spying on the Ladies of the Night was more appealing than an evening at the Chapel Pub.

“I don’t wanna go to church- I wanna eat pancakes and watch the hookers.”

TERIYAKI CHICKEN WINGS

  • 3-3½ lbs. chicken wings ~ OR ~ 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs

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
  • 1-3 TBSP oil, or as needed

SAUCE

  • 2-3 TBSP honey, or to taste
  • 2 TBSP ginger, grated
  • ½ cup sake
  • 1 cup coconut aminos ~ OR ~ soy
  • 1-2 TBSP rice vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced

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 sauce thickens

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Bake:
~ 30 min (WINGS)
~ 45 min (THIGHS)
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: One Sin Between Me and the Lord, Peter Murphy’s Carver Combo


Thai Basil Lemongrass Wings ~ A PhD in Small Talk

What training does one need to be an Executioner?

Admittedly, Sister Madly has never seen Executioner listed as college major, so the courses one must take for this profession must be wide and varied- business management, for example, and art theory- much like how one needs a degree in Philosophy to be a professional dog-walker.*

* The employment ad for aforementioned dog-walker position stated, ‘degree in any field,’ which clearly meant Philosophy.

Then again, does one even need a degree in Execution? Or does the discipline provide on-the-job-training? Is it all based upon experience? There’s a small arsenal of medieval weaponry under her bed ready to be used at a moment’s notice; perhaps Sister Madly ought to add a few souls to her repertoire thus expanding her resumé. Execution-ing is quickly becoming a lost art.

The Professor, however, with his undetectable sense of humor * and a crippling fear of Cheeto dust, clearly disapproved of this rumination.

* Make no mistake, the Professor had a sense of humor- just not a detectable one.

So Persephone can declare at which strip club she saw her first cockroach- and do so without reproach- but Sister Madly cannot speculate about a career change? What if she’s a natural? She was pretty good at axe-throwing at the Ren Faire back in the day… surely that means something.

The Professor, however, indicated that he was not interested in discussing Capital Punishment on his night off.

Who said anything about Capital Punishment? Perhaps Sister Madly doesn’t want to be a government employee; perhaps she wants to freelance. She could contract her services, be her own boss- the entrepreneurial spirit runs strong through the Madly Family Tree. No doubt her own sister, Tallulah, would utilize these talents from time to time- everybody knows how cutthroat retired, part-time antique dealers can be.

Still, the Professor wanted to change the subject, and Sister Madly is nothing if not accommodating.

…Sister Madly had a dream the other night that Tallulah got a French Bulldog, whom she named Johnny Popcorn…

While said Professor was unable to follow the storyline, he did manage to question why it was a French Bulldog.*

* Sister Madly wondered that, too, as she would’ve chosen a fox or an otter; but it was Tallulah’s dog in the dream, so clearly it was Tallulah who chose a French Bulldog and he should ask her.

…Ever try oyster sauce straight from the bottle? Sister Madly won’t be making that mistake again…!

Nope. Too controversial.

What would you do if you found out that Sister Madly was actually your imaginary friend?

Oh no- that was just too traumatizing to consider.

… A few months ago was Sister Madly’s half-birthday…

Apparently, the Professor was unfamiliar with the Half-Birthday, a phenomenon Sister Madly’s encountered quite frequently ever since leaving Michigan. It seems nobody outside the Midwest is interested in celebrating the halfway point to their next birthday. Sister Madly, however, is much more diplomatic and graciously allows people to buy her ciders on that magnificent day.

You see, that is why it’s important to determine the avenues one must take to be an Executioner: to give those launching down the destructive path of tasting oyster sauce straight from the bottle- and the subsequent discussion thereof- the means to a brighter future! As it stands, Sister Madly is one tedious tête-à-tête away from a PhD in Small-Talk.

… but seriously, about that Executioner thing- does one need a degree, or is it all about experience?

THAI BASIL LEMONGRASS WINGS

  • 3-3½ lbs. chicken wings ~ OR ~ 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, finely minced ~ OR ~ 3 TBSP lemongrass paste
  • 3 TBSP fish sauce
  • 3 TBSP coconut aminos ~ OR ~ low sodium soy
  • 1 TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Thai basil, finely chopped *
  • 2-3 TBSP oil, or as needed

* Thai Basil substitute: fresh basil, plus pinch of anise.

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

BAKE
Preheat oven 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Coat chicken with any remaining marinade
Bake for:
~ 45-50 min (WINGS)
~ 55-60 min (THIGHS)
Remove from oven; let rest 5 minutes before serving

THEME SONG: Psycho Killer, Talking Heads


Autumn Harvest Tagine ~ To Catch a Falling Star

So, Starfish, we meet again…

“Is it alive?”

While known internationally for her pearls of wisdom, Sister Madly’s savvy falls short in the Is-The-Beached-Marine-Creature-Alive field of biology. The only way she can tell with any certainty that something is dead is if the creature is missing its head*- and a starfish doesn’t have one of those as far as she can tell. It is one of the many reasons Sister Madly has never pursued a career in the healthcare field.

* Even then, it’s no guarantee- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a testament to that.

It was at the Pacific Coast where Sister Madly & Co. encountered the Starfish who had so fearlessly deviated above the tide line. Much like Sister Madly herself, the creature lacked the perfection found in the Starfishes of souvenir shops and more like it had been constructed with an Etch-A-Sketch- in fact, it was almost identical to the poor creature she heartlessly dissected in biology class back in the day. The only thing learned that semester was that a box cutter is no match against the armor of this whimsical echinoderm.*

* That, and her teacher believed that ancient dinosaurs still existed and roamed about the ‘jungles of Brazil.’

Now consider this, Sister Madly: what if this beached Star-Creature is the vengeful spirit of the Dissected Starfish of Yesteryear? At the very least, it was plotting to put a custard pie in your face- everybody knows that Starfishes have an affinity for Custard Pie Retribution, especially in the afterlife. Had your biology teacher graduated from an accredited college, he would have learned of the karma that follows the dissection of a Starfish and passed that info onto his students.*

* He would have also learned that the T-Rex no longer roams about the ‘jungles of Brazil.’

It is also well-known amongst marine biologists that the final wish of every Starfish is to lie in repose on a shelf in Tallulah’s sunroom. After a lengthy interrogation, it was determined that the Starfish was probably dead- and if not, he should have spoken up- thus steps were taken to see this final wish fulfilled, which began by preserving the creature in alcohol.

It was a marvelous idea, really, as a drunk Starfish would be less likely to haunt Sister Madly effectively and put a Custard Pie in her face. Perhaps they could share a couple of pints and sing a few pub songs, and bond over their shared distaste for Biology. They would go onto win the World Tiddlywinks Tournament, frolic hand-in-fishy-appendage throughout Southeast Asia, then settle down and start a fabulous punk band- Sister Madly and the Starfish. Sister Madly would play the doorbell, of course,* and win a Grammy for doing so.

* She’s also rather talented with the smoke alarm- without even using her hands!

Indeed, it could have been a most beautiful friendship, had Tallulah not soused the Starfish with buckets of isopropyl alcohol instead of the delightful Nice & Naughty Cider that Sister Madly requested. How did she expect Sister Madly to bond with her new Spectral Fishy Friend over the same stuff ne’er-do-wells use to deodorize their shoes? Tallulah just doesn’t understand!

So in order to make amends, Sister Madly extended him an invitation to her annual Dumb Supper this upcoming October. Tallulah won’t be there, but Sister Madly will allow her to make cookies.

~ * DUMB SUPPER 2019 GUEST LIST * ~

1.) Leonard Cohen
2.) Vincent Price
3.) Starfish
4.) David Bowie

AUTUMN HARVEST TAGINE

  • 2 sweet onions, sliced
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 TBSP ginger, grated
  • 1-2 chilies, diced
  • sweet potato ~ OR ~ butternut squash, cubed
  • carrots, chopped
  • parsnips, cored and chopped
  • pearl onions, peeled
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 TBSP ground coriander
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 lg pinch saffron, ground
  • ½ tsp salt, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Oil, for sautéing

Add sliced onions to hot oil, stirring to coat
Lower heat, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized (30-45 min)
Add ginger, garlic, and chilies; sauté 5-8 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Add broth and vegetables; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until veggies are tender; 30-45 min
Remove bay leaves and star anise before serving

THEME SONG: Starman, David Bowie


Southwest Stuffed Wings ~ A Sixpence Sutra

In civilized society, one never promotes a holiday before its season. Seeing as Utopia resided on the edge of civilization, Management flirted with this unspoken decree by requesting that Sister Madly, despite being a swingin’ bachelorette, create a window display for Valentine’s the day after Christmas.

Now, some might say that embracing the pink holiday before the New Year is a bit premature, but no one has ever accused Management of abusing logic; and as she was far from civilized herself, Sister Madly set about creating a Love Fest so romantic it would put Cupid out of business and into months of intensive therapy.

As none of her co-workers were willing to donate their anatomical hearts to fulfill her artistic vision, Sister Madly had to rely upon actual merchandise, including the Lovers Tarot, several copies of the Kama Sutra (including the pop-up edition full of mechanical witchcraft) and more than enough incense needed for chemical warfare. Indeed, one would not look at this menagerie of color and romance without being filled with all the chalky heart-shaped joys of Valentine’s, bypassing the quiet melancholy of January where contemplation over World Peace and whether anyone really uses the word acquiesced* aloud routinely abides.

* Or crestfallen. Nonplussed

It wasn’t long* before the window display worked its marketing magic on a prim and proper spectator, and lured the waif oh-so seductively into its psychedelic love web.

* Approximately 27 days, 3 hours, and 46 seconds.

While it was difficult to discern the woman’s opinion of this glorious masterpiece, the back of her head looked awfully critical. No doubt within this wandering individual common sense reigned supreme, disturbing her soul with the instinct that Valentine’s should never be promoted 7 weeks before its appointed time.

However, the subsequent symphony of tongue-clucking and aggressive sighing assured Sister Madly that this was not the case, as Miss Prim and Proper announced to no one in particular that she was seriously offended by the pop-up Kama Sutra.

Now, one might assume that the person making a fuss over the Kama Sutra is the one who needs it the most; Sister Madly, however, knew better than to make such assumptions. Perhaps the lady was frustrated for another reason, such as the growing price of avocados, or the invention of the banjo; perhaps she was irritated over how the heated sidewalks malfunctioned that day,* leaving them covered in snow and ice.

* Sister Madly, too, was rather piqued over this malfunction: she fell on her bum twice.

Contrary to popular belief, only 20% of the Kama Sutra is about the creative side of copulation. The popup version of this book, however, focuses exclusively on that 20% and is best not left within the reach of children- unless you are prepared to have some rather frank discussions with your offspring.

Then again, when one considers the population of India in comparison to the rest of the world, one cannot help but acknowledge the success of that 20%…

“There is no such thing as KARMA!”

As it turned out, Miss P&P’s distress was not over the playfully explicit material, but the concept of Karma. This tongue-clucking contempt for Eastern Mysticism led to a zealous sermon about the evils of meditation, the dangers of yoga, and would finish in approximately 15 minutes time with a store-wide exorcism that included casting demons out of the stack of Cthulhu* knit hats.

* Actually, it was an octopus- but the hats sold better when the creature was labeled as ‘Cthulhu.’ Marketing.

There was a moment when Sister Madly considered informing Miss Prim and Proper that she had- quite understandably, actually- misread the title; but then Sister Madly would have to explain that the Kama Sutra was not a book regarding the mystical principles of Cause and Effect, but an interactive novelty featuring innovative and often athletic positions of physical intimacy.

It was the classic no-win situation.

Face it, Sister Madly: either way, you are about to be exorcised.

SOUTHWEST STUFFED CHICKEN WINGS

  • 20-24 chicken wings, deboned, tips intact (tutorial here)
  • 1 cup chicken, cooked and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 chili, chopped and seeded
  • 1 red/orange bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup corn, drained
  • ½ cup black beans, cooked, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp chipotle
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 – 1½ cups shred cheese

Sauté onion until translucent: 5-8 min
Add garlic, bell pepper, and chili; sauté 5 min
Add spices; sauté 1 min
Add corn, beans, tomato, and chicken; sauté 5 min
Cook out any excess water
Add cheese; mix until melted and remove from heat

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Spoon mixture into in each wing, filling entire cavity
Secure cavity w/toothpicks
Season wings with salt and pepper
Place wings on greased baking rack in tray
Bake for 45 min, or until cooked through

THEME SONG: Karma Chameleon, Culture Club


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


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