Posts tagged “culture

Shattered

There Comes a Time
When You Realize

The Only Person
Standing in Your Way

Is You.


Images: Pinterest


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


Soul Mates

An Invisible Red Thread

Connects Those
Who are Destined to Meet

Regardless the Time, the Place
Regardless the Circumstance

The Thread may Stretch or Tangle
But it will never Break.

~ Ancient Chinese Proverb


Images:

1.) Salfi Farooq
2.) kashmirlife.net
3.) Pinterest
4.) happytrips.com
5.) whiskaffair.com


Sweet Potato Lamb Samosas ~ Book Club Phlebotomy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Cookie Monster.

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

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

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

And that’s just what they did:

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

* In the original Kanamit, of course.

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

“None of these books exist!”

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

SWEET POTATO LAMB SAMOSAS

PASTRY

  • 2 sheets Puff Pastry, thawed
  • Egg, beaten

SWEET POTATO

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

LAMB

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

* ~ *  FILLING PREPARATION * ~ *

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

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

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

Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen w/Philip Glass


Madeira Lamb Stew ~ Monastic Skullduggery

They say nirvana is a state of perfect serenity; the highest happiness. Some believe it is impossible to achieve, but the truth is quite the contrary.

It began some years ago at Utopia, bazaar of sorts once described as ‘a bunch of weird people doing weird things.’ Sister Madly was in the middle of one of those weird things* when Management announced that Utopia would be hosting Tibetan Monks from an unpronounceable Buddhist monastery, who would be making a Sand Mandala at the store.

* Washing soap (don’t ask…)

Naturally this announcement came with a lot of unnecessary protocol, which ranged from limiting the music to Tibetan Chants, to locking the store’s mascot- a fat cat named Sinner- in the basement lest he turn the Mandala into his personal litter box; and while they did not forbid the employees from eating meat, Management strongly encouraged them to not eat it in the presence of the Monks as they were strictly vegan.

They wanted the week-long event to be a completely ‘spiritual’ experience.

Now Sister Madly has a confession to make: she does not like leafy green things. At all. She likes them on the trees, sure, and feeding them to the garbage disposal delights her to no end, but personally consuming them guarantees a night chock-full of healthy nightmares. She might be able to maintain this strongly-suggested vegan facade for a few hours a day, if not hallucinate while trying- which could be fun, now that she thinks about it…

And so the day came when the Monks from the Unpronounceable Buddhist Monastery arrived on their doorstep in saffron robes and buckets of sand, signifying the start of Sister Madly’s 8 Hours-a-Day Vegan Charade- the thought of just pretending to like leafy green things was enough to send her into fits. Indeed, the Road to Enlightenment is a twisted one.

It was on Thursday that nirvana was finally realized. Management had run off to another mysterious business meeting, leaving behind a long list weird to-do’s (wash candles, inventory all defective sparkle beads, etc) and a note stating that there was a snack plate* in the fridge in case the Monks felt ‘peckish.’

*…if one can call grass-clippings and spongy white things on toothpicks ‘snacks’…

However, the Monks from the Unpronounceable Buddhist Monastery were not the slightest bit interested in the Snack Plate; no, they wanted Chinese food from the restaurant across the street. With considerable effort, Sister Madly broke through that language barrier to find that they wanted 8 orders of Steamed Dumplings and 8 orders of Kung Pao Pork, which is slightly incompatible with a ‘strict vegan lifestyle.’

But then, who is she to judge?

There was some hesitation on the part of Victor, who felt that by calling in this order he would be contributing to the corruption of their humble souls. So Sister Madly made the call, and merrily launched the Monks down the path of sin.

It turned out that the Monks were no strangers to transgression: not only were they avid fans of meat -pork, no less- they also had email, a cell phone each, played a wicked game of ping pong,* and would routinely break from Sand Mandala-ing to challenge the kids on the street to skateboard races (albeit through an interpreter.)

*And billiards. And badminton. And volleyball. It was quite unfair, really.

Yes, when Management’s away, the Monks will play. They released Sinner from the basement, fed him massive amounts of pork, and took an immediate- if not unfortunate- liking the Miami Vice soundtrack. But the highlight of this monastic skullduggery was the moment Sister Madly broke out the ultimate forbidden fruit:

Pop Rocks.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said that music is the universal language of mankind; yet there is another phenomenon that transcends all cultures and dialects: the wide-eyed, giddy wonder of experiencing Pop Rocks for the very first time, and the numbing bliss that immediately follows.

The highest happiness.

A state of perfect serenity.

Pop Rocks.

MADEIRA LAMB STEW

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • baby carrots
  • baby potatoes, cubed
  • cipollini or pearl onions, peeled
  • mushrooms
  • 1 lb lamb, cubed
  • 1 cup Madeira wine, divided (1/4 cup + remaining)
  • 4 cups beef or lamb stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp Dijon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil/ghee

In Dutch oven, brown lamb on all sides; set aside
Saute chopped onion until translucent, adding oil if needed; 5 min
Add garlic and carrots; saute 3-5 min
Add bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme; saute until fragrant; 30 secs
Deglaze with 1/4 cup Madeira wine; bring to a simmer
Add lamb, potatoes, cipollinis, and mushrooms; stir until coated
Add stock, Worcestershire, and remaining wine; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; cover
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat and veggies are tender; 1-1.5 hours
Uncover; simmer to reduce and thicken (if desired)
Add Dijon; mix thoroughly
Remove bay leaves before serving

THEME SONG: Happy Together, the Turtles


Curried Sumac Pulled Chicken ~ The Perks of Being Invisible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CURRIED SUMAC PULLED CHICKEN

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

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

THEME SONG: Invisible, U2


Image 4.) Anna Spencer Photography


Palisades

Your Task
Is not to Seek Love,

But to Face the Barriers

You have Built
Against it.

~ Rumi (paraphrased)


Images:

1.) Flicker
2.) Gerald Robinson Photography
3.) Brian Stevens
4.) ecrater.com


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


Wanderlust

bismuth-3

All that is Gold
Does Not Glitter

Not All Those Who Wander
Are Lost ~

The Old that is Strong
Does not Wither

Deep Roots are Not Reached
By the Frost.

 ~ J.R.R. Tolkien


All Images: Pinterest


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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, it’s nice to be included.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, most of the alpaca…

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

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

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

…with babies?

“No, with cinnamon.”

Well, that’s alright then.

CITY CHICKEN SKEWERS

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

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

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

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


Adversity

Adversity
Is like a Strong Wind:

It Tears from Us All but That
Which Cannot be Torn

So that We may
See Ourselves

As We Really Are.

~ Arthur Golden


Images:

1.) Pinterest
2.) Markus Weggässer
3.) We Heart It
4.) news.nationalgeographic.com
5.) We Heart It


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


Moroccan Pulled Chicken ~ To Catch a Truant

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freshmen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOROCCAN PULLED CHICKEN

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

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

THEME SONG: School’s Out, Alice Cooper


Lighthouse Photo by Thomas Zakowski


Burning Man

Poetry
Is the Evidence of Life ~

If your Life
Is Burning Well,

Poetry
Is just the Ash.

~ Leonard Cohen


Images:

1.) Tumblr
2.) Tumblr
3.) Lucinda Walter Photography
4.) Pinterest


Grand Mystère

Never Cease to Stand

Like Curious Children

Before the Great Mystery

Into which We were Born.

~ Albert Einstein


Images:

1.) Francesco Mariani
2.) Kolbein Svensson
3.) Lurie Belegurschi
4.) Jari Johnsson
5.) Wayne Pinkston Photography


Beyond the Invisible

I Wonder ~

How Many People
I’ve Looked at

All My Life

And Never Seen…

~ John Steinbeck


Images:

1) Laura Williams Photography
2) Jeremiah Morris
3) Alex Baker Photography
4) Albert Wu Photography
5) Laura Williams Photography


Meditating with the Swans

Quite frankly, Sister Madly had never seen the Professor run so fast; it made her think that she should be running as well.

How it happened she cannot say, but somehow Sister Madly found herself tagging along with the PhD’s for a round of golf- or, as the Professors like to call it, meditation, thus disguising a form of inhumane torture as a spiritual practice.

Well, Sister Madly was getting spiritual, too- and by that, she means adding shots of Fireball to her cider. You see, Sister Madly hasn’t had interest in meditating ever since she sold her soul back when she need some quick cash. As she now prefers the transcendental practice of throwing chicken claws at random strangers to golf, the world is starting to realized that Sister Madly has been living with a cheap, knockoff soul for several years. It’s much like discovering your sweetheart has pawned a diamond ring and has been wearing a duplicate made of sparkly glass.*

* Knock-off souls look much like nougat.

Now this type of spirituality often leaves the seeker in quiet contemplation over complex mysteries, such as why  does nature not permit birds to cross-breed when she grants that freedom to domesticated canines. Just think of how magical this world would be with hummingbird-sized peacocks, or with cardinal-colored crows stealing scraps out of the garbage. While the Professor’s ‘meditation’ compels one to be present in the moment, that particular moment is a dreary game of golf and who in their right mind wants to be present in the middle of that?

It was at that moment that the Professor rose out of the sand trap like a majestic phoenix in a pair of extremely unbecoming golf meditation pants. An errant swing had sent the meditation ball down to the bog, where the Professor was attacked by a swan-

A swan? What’s a fine, discerning creature like that doing at a golf course?*

* Then again, Sister Madly is also a fine discerning creature, herself, and SHE’S at a golf course…

The Professor proceeded to embarked upon a lengthy dissertation over the Swan’s unwarranted aggression and its arrogant disregard for golf meditation- basically getting himself into a tizzy over issues that would better be addressed with heavy sedation and months of therapy.

Perhaps it was angered by your fancy pants.

“…”

Now, don’t you go thinking about her in that tone of voice, Professor! All that Sister Madly meant was that she is constantly amazed that golf pants do not provoke more feral attacks; she’s fighting that primal instinct, herself…

…that is, until Sister Madly caught sight of this ‘swan.’

Professor… that’s a goose.

After a moment of dull incredulity, the Professor mentioned merely seeing a flash of a long-necked creature as it attacked, therefore assuming…

Once again, Professor, that PhD has let you down. By that definition, anything with a long neck would be a swan:

Swan.

Swan.

Punk Swan.

Checkered Swan.

What-Was-Evolution-Thinking? Swan.

Extinct Swan.

Hoppy Swan.

Spitting Swan.

Now it is common knowledge that geese are territorial, and this Goose had a particular affinity for Sand Trap By-The-Bog. Unfortunately, the Professor also had an affinity for Sand Trap By-The-Bog, despite protestations to the contrary, and any attempt to retrieve the (supposedly) wayward ball was thwarted by the Goose in a spectacle of honking, feathers, four-letter words, and golf pants while Sister Madly enjoyed the show with her Spiritual Advisor * from the safety of the hill. She had no idea that golf meditation could be this exciting!

* Aka, She Who Manned the Beverage Cart.

“I thought Canadians were polite!”

That’s stereotyping, Professor. Shame on you.

But it was the Spiritual Advisor who enlightened Sister Madly on the matter, as any good spiritual advisor would:

“That’s Max. He doesn’t like obnoxious golf pants.”

Oh dear. Someone really ought to tell the Professor. Someone in safe, muted colors.

Someone like Sister Madly.

And she will.

Someday…

 

THEME SONG: Swan Lake Suite, Op. 20 Scène, London Philharmonic


Miracles

nebula-carina-3

There are Two Ways
To Live your Life:

nebula-orion

One is as Though
Nothing is a Miracle.

eagle-nebula-stellar-spire

The Other is as Though
Everything is a Miracle.

galaxy

~ Albert Einstein


All Images: NASA


Maltese Rabbit Stew ~ The Slaughterhouse Jive

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

rabbit

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

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

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

valletta_malta-wallpaperweb

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

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

What sound did this beast make when it was alive?

quail

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

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

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

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

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

chicken2

… to this:

polish chicken

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

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

At least, she assumes those were the kidneys…

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

hand-grenade

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

* Not really. Well… no, not really.

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

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

rcp-rabbit-stew

MALTESE RABBIT STEW

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

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

THEME SONG: White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane


Poets and Madmen

lily-cahaba

Only a Poet

lily-glory

Or a Madman ~

lily-michigan

Can Water the Asphalt

lily-stargazer

And Expect Lilies to Grow.

lily-water

~ W. Somerset Maugham (paraphrased)


Images: Pinterest