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:
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. Besides, isn’t the reason 2 individuals are set up because they are believed to be compatible?
“It’s the Dark Ages, Sister Madly- 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
The moment One gives
It becomes a Mysterious,
Indescribably Magnificent World
~ Henry Miller
2) Roberto Greco
Two types of people laugh at the law: those that break it
and those that make it ~ Terry Pratchett
There are times when the normally angelic Sister Madly cannot help but turn maverick, shunning the law by ripping the tags off mattresses, and defiantly parking in the loading zone 3 minutes before 6 PM. This is no life for a coward, for one runs the risk of unpleasant consequences.
Take, for instance, last winter. The Professors were outside, doing whatever it is that Professors do out in the cold, when what appeared to be a Fireball was launched heroically out the kitchen window and into the night. Further investigation revealed this nuclear supernova to be a flaming bag of microwave popcorn.
Earlier that day, the Professors’ succumbed to a domestic desire to make a popcorn garland for the Xmas tree. After some discussion, it was decided that little harm could come of Sister Madly microwaving this popcorn while the Professors went outside to do whatever it is that Professors do out in the cold.
After a horrifying search through the pantry (Why are you stockpiling Spam, Professor? And not just any Spam, but Teriyaki!) Sister Madly came upon a package of ‘Organic’ Popcorn (You’ve got 12 cans of Teriyaki Spam, Professor- this healthy pretense isn’t fooling anybody.)
It was here that Sister Madly made the fatal error that defeats a maverick every time: she read the directions.
Do NOT use popcorn button.
Well, son of a biscuit! The Popcorn was getting ideas above its station! Just when did it assume the authority to tell her what to do? The microwave sacrificed one square inch of personal space to provide the world with an easy, make-all-your-popcorn-dreams-come-true button, and Sister Madly was going to utilize it!
But this Popcorn was clearly in the pay of her enemies, refusing to pop into its glorious destiny of faux-buttery goodness like a stubborn teenager. It knew that Sister Madly had implemented the Popcorn Button, disapproved of her doing so, and proceeded with the admonishment to NOT Reheat.
Why must you pretend to be wiser than the rest of the world, Great Popcorn? Soon you’ll be re-writing the moral codes in every Batman comic, declaring yourself Chancellor of a vague yet menacing government agency, and telling Sister Madly how to do her hair.
But a tyrant is only as powerful as the people who support him, so know this, impertinent Bag of Popcorn: Sister Madly will be reheating you with the same one-push button that she was advised against using- and without the slightest hint of remorse.
Little did she know that she was flaunting her feathered boa in the face of the Grim Reaper.
You see, in reheating the Popcorn, Sister Madly discovered something that could not be realized in any other manner: Popcorn is a magickal life form capable of committing both genesis and genocide simultaneously, popping itself into an edible sustenance even as it bursts into flames.
Apparently, reheating Popcorn is the fastest way to summon Zeus, and Sister Madly missed the What to Do When Zeus Invades Your Microwave 101 lecture down at the Learning Annex (she overslept.) As the Professors left no brochures regarding this subject on the kitchen table, Sister Madly merely hoped that if she just ignored the fire, it would go away.
Turns out, fires don’t just go away, nor do they negotiate. But they can make Popcorn smell funky- and upon discovering just how funky that scent is, Sister Madly flung the smoldering Bag out the window and at the feet of the Professors, who were doing whatever it is that Professors do out in the cold.
Woe betide he, Professor, who heeds not the counsel of the Popcorn.
THEME SONG: Who By Fire, Leonard Cohen
…because no man wants to be a coward in front of a cheese ~ Terry Pratchett
Fact: a single slice of Provolone Cheese, when melted down, will not only stretch beyond the total length of your intestines, veins and every other creepy, coiled-up thing in your body, but will ensnare every passerby in its gelatinous web. Should you find yourself needing to climb out of a bottomless pit, a slice of melted Provolone is all that is required for your rescue because, on top of everything else, it does not break. Ever.
The day was bright when Sister Madly came face to face with this particular foe. Whatever delicacy she had been put in charge of making required the melting of some Provolone Cheese, which even the Professors believed that she could accomplish without supervision as they left her alone in the kitchen while they went out on the porch for a smoke.
Granted, Sister Madly rarely uses Provolone herself, finding it plain and unassuming (much like North Dakota) but she had no reason to believe that it had wicked intent (again, like North Dakota.) That is where she went wrong, for this was a most insidious and industrious slice of Provolone, flaunting its superior melting capabilities like a tattered boa and flinging its tentacles across the kitchen. She knew not what master the Provolone was serving- indeed, it must have a master, because why else would a Cheese behave this way?
While there are many facets to a Cheese’s personality, the line between its sanities is very fine, leaving one mistaking its pathological hostility for heartfelt reconciliation until, like Sister Madly, you find yourself hopelessly entangled in a Web of Provolone.
The Professors aren’t going to like this much, Sister Madly. Just how many hours did it take to clean the house? You should know- you were told about it at least 3 times that morning. Now there are more webs around the kitchen than in the entire Havisham Estate.
She began making the same mistakes with the Provolone as she once made with North Dakota: she tried to be its friend, she said it was beautiful- she even tried reasoning with the Cheese, but it was no use. Cheeses are notoriously unreasonable.
That’s when the Professors chose to come crashing into the kitchen, and once again Sister Madly found herself facing a predicament as difficult to explain as the one below:
… and you’re still not going to get
“Just how did you manage that?”
But the Professors weren’t looking at the Cheese Web; they were looking at the stove.
“It doesn’t ignite without a match. How did you light it?”
The implication of that statement was not lost upon Sister Madly: you see, it wasn’t that the Professors trusted her enough to melt the cheese without supervision; they merely thought she could do no harm since they had taken the matches with them, leaving her (seemingly) unable to light the stove.
How did she do this, Professor? Like most inhabitants of the 21st century: she turned the knobby-thing to the right, it went click, click, click before erupting into a glorious ring of blue- the only blue, by the way, that is allowed in the house.
This, of course, was followed by the usual experiment, with the Professors’ being unable to ignite the stove in this fashion even as Sister Madly was able to do so 3 times in succession, thus proving yet another useless skill to add to her repertoire. This could very-well be her calling: Sister Madly, Guardian of the City, the streetlights going dark as she passes beneath them while lugging the Professor’s stove, igniting the left burner and stopping crime with a Web of melted Provolone like some 3rd rate Spiderman.
The Melting Moppet.
Then again, if she acquires enough useless super-skills, she might be able to trade them in for something worthwhile, like invisibility, or sleeping through the night…
SMOKED GOUDA AND CHIPOTLE SOUP
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 celery, chopped
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 2/3 c Marsala wine
- 2-3 carrots, chopped
- 1 c frozen peas
- 8 oz smoked gouda, shredded
- 4-6 c vegetable or chicken broth
- 3-5 chipotles in adobo, chopped
- 1 tsp adobo sauce
- 1 tbsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp basil
- 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 – 1 cup heavy cream
Sauté Onion and Garlic for 5 minutes
Add Mushrooms and Celery and Sauté for 5
Add Marsala wine, deglazing pan
Add spices and sauté for 30 secs
Add carrots, chipotles, adobo and broth
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes
Add cream and peas
Simmer until vegetables are tender (approx 10 min)
Add Gouda, stirring frequently until melted.
THEME SONG: I Melt with You, Modern English
For a brief period in her youth, Sister Madly attended an extremely conservative, Baptist-as-hell institution commonly referred to as ‘High School.’ Tales that emerge from this gloomy asylum range from questionable to legendary, including the method in which the joys of parenthood were taught by having the girls carry an egg around for a two-week stretch.
It is fortunate for mankind that Sister Madly never took this class. No doubt she would have grown up suppressing the urge to dye all the little children pastel colors every Easter- if she suppressed it at all. It is also a good thing that she does not have children of her own.
While some girls simply carried an egg around on a napkin, others took the task to heart, dressing up their eggs in cutesy little outfits and giving them names, such as in the case of an egg called Jessy.
Now, Jessy was the surrogate offspring of Lisa, who was from one of the founding families of the asylum. It wasn’t long before a couple of Sister Madly’s classmates discovered the unthinkable: Lisa was leaving her child unsupervised in her locker for the first two hours- even worse, she was getting away with it.
On Thursday, however, Lisa opened up her locker between classes and was confronted not by Jessy in his knitted hat, but by a plate of scrambled eggs.
It was during study hall the day before that Sister Madly overheard Scott’s and David’s bickering about Lisa’s cheating. Quite frankly, Sister Madly felt that their protests were a bit unwarranted, since only the girls were required to carry the eggs around as boys, apparently, did not need to learn the joys of parenting.* And she might have said so, had she not been blinded by the delightful vision of Lisa thinking that someone had scrambled Jessy.
*However, this could have been on the request of the janitor.
The beauty of this plan is that Lisa would not be able to report this crime without admitting that she had been cheating. For the boys, this wasn’t about retribution; this was about justice. For Sister Madly, it just sounded like fun. This was to be her first taste as an Evil Overlord, where she could just sit back and watch her henchmen carry out the deed.
However, being the mastermind meant that Sister Madly would not be involved in the action, and that kind of takes the joy out of things. She would also learn that if you want your evil plan to run smoothly and efficiently, you have to do it yourself- and even then, it’s no guarantee.
Her first indication of this was Thursday morning, when Scott slipped back into study hall with an illegally acquired, hard-boiled egg.
Now, the Egg-As-Offspring Project had several rules, the main one being that you couldn’t hard-boil your children. This is one of the few practical lessons the students could take away from this class, if not from the school, itself.
But even if Lisa had hard-boiled her child, this particular egg was faceless and naked, lacking the obnoxiously cute little knitted hat for which Jessy was known. Also, he had not been retrieved from the obnoxiously cute little egg bassinet her Papa had made, but from a paper bag-
Salt and Cabbages, Scott! You didn’t steal Lisa’s child; you stole her lunch!
The problem with Evil Overlording in a Baptist Institution is that the local criminal element tends to lack certain qualities essential for the overall effect: common sense, IQ points, stealth, experience, etc. Also, they were wearing penny-loafers.
Part 2 of this scheme belonged to David. He had decided to forgo completing his geometry assignment the night before to create a Hollywood-style ransom note of letters cut from magazines, requesting payment of candy bars (teenagers know what’s important) in exchange for the safe return of her child. If they did not receive payment by the end of lunch break, they would scramble Jessy.
Unfortunately, this note was slipped into the wrong locker. Penny Loafers.
So, Sister Madly, perhaps you should have taken your cue from all those Bond films: that employing penny-loafer henchmen to do your dirty work is all but guaranteed failure. But as always, things just don’t ring true until you have experienced it yourself. You’re still finding that out.
That was the last time she aided the local criminal element. Besides, Sister Madly prefers active duty. Relying on henchmen is really nothing more than co-dependence.*
*Jessy was returned unharmed, without the ransom being paid, and without his hat. No one knows what happened to it. Penny Loafers.
POST’S THEME SONG: Jessie’s Girl, Rick Springfield
It’s a sad state of affairs when Sister Madly becomes the voice of reason.
She was on her way to a dinner party when she made a stop to pick up the requested potatoes. She had long-since decided on purple potatoes since no specific instructions were given, as the color would make the evening festive. Besides, what’s more fun than wandering the international market?
After her usual dilly-dallying amongst the chicken claws and cans of grass juice, Sister Madly found her purple potatoes- and was immediately enchanted by a blue mushroom in a nearby bin.
By now you know that Sister Madly likes mushrooms; she also likes blue. Put these two marvels of nature together and you have brushed the outer fringes of nirvana. No doubt the Professors would be pleased; they once mentioned wanting to hunt for blue chanterelles someday.
The Professors, however, were less than enthusiastic.
“On which trip through Wonderland did you dig that thing up?”
Now, you must know that Sister Madly’s idea of mushroom picking is digging through the U-Pick carton at the market- indeed, even Sister Madly wouldn’t trust a mushroom Sister Madly picked out in the woods, even under supervision. Also, there’s that tendency to wander off and get mixed up with big kitties.
“Are you sure it’s edible? It doesn’t look edible. What’s it called?”
Well, according to the sign, Professor, it’s line, line, intersecting-line-with-an-oh-so-subtle-yet-intriguing-arc, square-with-a-line-through-the-center, line. Repeat the sequence, but add a line- and, quite possibly, a smiley face.*
*Approximate. Sister Madly is not known for her spelling- especially when it comes to Asian Characters.
“That’s not a chanterelle, Sister Madly. It looks like a portabella that sat too close to the puffer fish. You can’t just pick up things because they are pretty. How do you know someone didn’t just walk by and toss it into the crate?”
Real Blue Chanterelle.
What is wrong with these people? It’s blue. It’s a blue mushroom. And when you get down to it, the question of death is never If but When, and should it be via Wonderland Mushroom, Sister Madly gives you permission for an I Told You So! eulogy.
Admit it, Sister Madly, their hesitation is not unwarranted. You think it was luck that you got the last blue mushroom, but did it occur to you that it was the last mushroom because it was blue and it wasn’t suppose to be?
Who cares? It’s a blue mushroom. It’s magic.
Magic- yes, it might be just that. You assumed, Sister Madly, that the name was written on the sign, but a slight variance in dialect and your unsupported interpretation of Blue Chanterelle might actually have read Shroom of Doom.
Still, this could be the shroom that puts the fun in fungus.
Be that as it may, Sister Madly, you’ve heard time and again that the Professor’s Significant Other, Mr. Safety,* doesn’t like people to hallucinate in his house.
(approx. 17 such internal and external exchanges edited from this narrative for brevity.)
*Mr. Safety: a worrier known for the lengths he will go to ensure that life is safe, clean and quiet. He also hates skinny jeans.
With a pair of tongs, the Wonderland Mushroom was handed back to Sister Madly, after which the Professors went about scrubbing the countertop as though performing a ritual exorcism. When they asked for the potatoes, she handed them over with a sulk.
“Sister Madly… they’re purple.”
The Professors, for all their faults, have a remarkable grasp of the obvious.
“But they can’t be; Mr. Safety is afraid of purple.”
They stated this as though it was the most natural thing in the world, and one look around that house proved this to be true: there wasn’t an ounce of purple anywhere in sight.
Sister Madly didn’t mean to disrupt this little purple-deprived world, but come on. Colors are not to feared; colors are our friends. Some even taste good. Black and white is meant for things like photography and film noir; the real world is meant for purple and blue.
Besides, if they didn’t want purple potatoes, they shouldn’t have sent her to the market unsupervised. Those are the documented risks of nonspecific instructions.
To this day, Sister Madly doesn’t know whether she left the Wonderland Mushroom at the Professor’s house, or whether Mr. Safety & Co. had it secretly removed and incinerated. Mr. Safety also doesn’t like people hallucinating in their own homes- as if that’s any of his business. Sister Madly has every right to hallucinate, indulge in psychosis, or go the full range from bananas to berserk and back again in the privacy of her own home, just like anyone else.
That was the last Wonderland Mushroom.
POST’S THEME SONG: Almost Like the Blues, Leonard Cohen
Sister Madly finds herself greatly miffed when the universe does not listen to a word she says.
It happened one summer a few years back. The Professor’s marriage had ended sometime ago, and he wanted to symbolically dispose of his wedding ring to celebrate his decision to move on with his life. His chosen method of disposal was to throw the ring into a mucky, mosquito-infested, most likely cancer-causing pond. Equally symbolic.*
*Some people call these things ‘wetlands.’ Sister Madly does not speak to these people.
While friends envisioned the Professor turning Frodo at the last minute and deciding to keep the ring, Sister Madly was certain he would end as Gollum by falling into the pond. Even though she was warming up to the idea, the pond was clearly a bio-hazard and she did not wish to be the one to fish the Professor out from the schools of free-range E.Coli.
And so Sister Madly proposed that he tie the ring to some balloons, and set it free.
While initially pleased with the suggestion, the Professor- whose idea of living it up is crossing against the light- began voicing his irrational concerns: power lines, airplanes, environmental issues, embarrassment. Seriously, Sister Madly, isn’t that littering?
Of course it’s not littering, Professor; it won’t be litter until it comes back down again. This way, you will never know where the ring lands, or whether someone finds it; you just watch it disappear. Besides, there is something liberating about releasing a part of yourself into the wind and watching it fly; it’s more than being alive, it’s feeling yourself live. Stop analyzing all the whimsy out of this.
She does not know how it happened, but it was decided that Sister Madly was in charge of obtaining the balloons. Being in the grip of a most audacious mood, she added to this helium bouquet a familiar face: a smiley balloon, one too cheery for its own good, which comes with the Devil built right in.
All along the way to the hilltop, the Smile haunted her rearview mirror, floated up beside her and even tried to take control of the wheel. Subsequent punches to that cheerful face proved ineffective, and resulted in flashbacks of the balloon that once stalked her through the house many years ago. Sister Madly took out the latter with a butter knife.
The balloon had the last laugh that night, but here was a chance for Sister Madly to even the score: just as the Professor was to leave behind his broken marriage, so would Sister Madly to a leave behind- by proxy- a more-or-less disturbing incident of her childhood.
There’s one thing to be said about for forest fires and smog: you get the most amazing sunsets. This is what Sister Madly had hoped to remember about that evening as the balloons were unleashed, mad and majestic- almost as majestic as that pine tree with which the bouquet decided to entangled itself.
Way to go, Sister Madly; that tree was probably the whole national forest. Not only will the Professor know what became of his wedding ring, the rest of the world will know as well. Soon the EPA will be hunting you down for defacing the ecosystem with a broken marriage and a Smile. If this is the best fortune that the gods can bestow, she’s crossing over to the dark side so fast…
“Well, Sister Madly, what do you say to that?”
Unfortunate, Professor. Most unfortunate.*
*The balloons eventually freed themselves, and were last seen drifting through the air in a serene, Zen-like reverie.
CURRIED MUSHROOM BARLEY
- 1 Medium Onion, chopped
- 1 cup Dry Barley, rinsed
- 5 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 tsp Marjoram
- 2 tsp Thyme
- 1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
- 16 oz Sliced Mushrooms
- 5-6 cups Beef or Mushroom Broth
- 2 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
- 2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
- Salt to Taste *
Sauté garlic and onions in butter/oil for 5 minutes
Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes
Add barley, marjoram and thyme, sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.
Add broth, curry paste, vinegar, bay leaves
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat and cover
Simmer until barley is tender, stirring occasionally (adding broth if needed) approx 1 hr.
Remove bay leaves and season with salt
* Curry paste can be salty; add salt at the end
POST’S THEME SONG: Wild is the Wind, David Bowie
In the Norwegian Sea, there is the Kraken.
In Scotland, there is Nessie.
There is the Yeti in the Himalayas, and the Chupacabra of Latin America.
And Sister Madly: Chicken of the Woods, Northern Michigan.
Bing unnamed search engine. Thanks a heap.
As for just how long she had been a legend, she could not say, but Sister Madly is reasonably certain that it resulted from her less-than stellar camping skills. The locals, no doubt, speak of her cheerful disregard for historical relics and her pathological fascination for grilled cheese; of her ritual spaz-dancing and lamentations over long-lost fireflies. The sighting of this delinquent chicken can be confirmed by a Park Ranger, one whose liquid bronzer left him the color of a highway cone. He should be easy to find.
Why this case of the grumpies, Sister Madly? You’re a legend now, or on your way to be. You’re the Chicken of the Woods. It was one thing when you were just kindhearted, unfussy, angelic Sister Madly, but now that you are listed in the books of Northern Michigan Folklore, surely you must behave as such. You must give sightings. You must leave tracks. But most importantly: you must be featured in photos- but only as a vague figure, mind you- which experts will label as inconclusive evidence.
Because there are always experts when it comes to legends.
Now, Sister Madly is well-aware that Chicken of the Woods is a mushroom, even as
Bing unnamed search engine is not. To be fair, Sister Madly is not the first result to pop up under this search- she doesn’t appear for 8 pages, in fact (yeah, she checked.) Still, there is an insult in there somewhere, she’s certain of it, and one simply does not make fun of Sister Madly.
Sister Madly makes fun of you.*
*It was worth a shot.*
And so the Chicken of the Woods, sulking at this new development thus full of snark, accompanied Tallulah to the market to fulfill the mission of making Mr. Tallulah his requested bologna and cheese sandwich- yes, Sister Madly just outed her brother-in-law as a man with nostalgic tastes.
Some say that the best way to cheer yourself up is to do something for someone else. So she decided give a recitation for the shoppers in the deli, one featuring the ingredients of that delicacy, bologna.
Mechanically Separated Chicken…
There is something poetic in those words, for it conjured up the vision of a steampunked, bionic bird on the open range. But this also conjures up questions, for if a Mechanically Separated Chicken is, indeed, a steampunked, bionic bird, then bologna is not a package of meat but one of limited edition commemorative coins, which smell. Who wants Mechanically Separated Chicken breath fogging up their car windows on a cold winter morning?
Sensing the unspoken demand for an encore, she moved on to give a moving performance with her ode to authentic American Imitation Pasteurized Process Cheese Food.* Akin to a sheet of rubber, it will seal the hull of a ship if properly melted down- the tragedy of the Titanic could have been averted had it contained an 8 inch chunk of sun and a pound of American Cheese. Or a few extra lifeboats.
*Authenticity Test: unwrap a slice of cheese and throw it at the ceiling. If it sticks, it is authentic. This was a favorite pastime of Sister Madly’s as a child.
She was soon shushed up by Tallulah, who wanted to purchase a bottle of wine without the clerk denying her this luxury, and seem to think that reciting the ingredients of artificial food products to the shoppers would prove inebriation. Alcohol would be required of her to assemble this Mechanically Separated Chicken and American Imitation Pasteurized Process Cheese Food sandwich, her first since childhood. It was a task not included in her wedding vows, but she did it anyway.
That is True Love.
But who needs True Love when you’re the Chicken of the Woods?
They say that Marlene Dietrich’s favorite meal was hot dogs and champagne.
Sister Madly saw this as a challenge.
It happened some years ago, when all that Sister Madly really knew about the elite was what classic Hollywood had glamorized. Apparently, this required pairing junk food with fancy spirits which, in Sister Madly’s mind, was limited to brandy, scotch, port and bourbon. What can you expect from a wide-eyed little ingénue who grew up in a place where the state flower is the highway cone?
Well, Madame Dietrich: challenge accepted.
Hot dogs and champagne, you say?
Well, Sister Madly can deal you one better:
And French Fries.
The Modernized Dietrich.
And the bartender didn’t even bat an eye.
While no one has ever paired Port with French Fries in the golden years of Hollywood, Sister Madly just assumed that was an oversight on their part. She may never achieve the status of Madame Dietrich, she may never attain her glory, but there’s no reason that Sister Madly couldn’t be a legend in her own little world.
Yes, Sister Madly: Sophisticate.
Of course, the real thing turned out to be nothing like she expected, much like that one summer on Mackinac Island, when she and Tallulah decided to try the god-awful tandem thing. Actually, the tandem thing was all right as long as only one person was riding it. With all the speed and enthusiasm of continental drift, Sister Madly looked over her shoulder to find an empty bike seat and no Tallulah.
That is also when Sister Madly discovered the incredible stopping power of a picket fence.
While Sister Madly can’t tell you what, exactly, her expectations were of the Modernized Dietrich, she was still surprised by the ostentatious presentation of the purple-filled thimble. In all the great fairy tales, these tiny goblets contain either a sleeping potion, the blood of a virgin, or some other poison evident to everyone but the ill-fated victim. But while the bartender was, indeed, a shifty sort of fellow, he lacked the imagination- certainly the humor- to carry out such a prank.
So tell us, Sister Madly- what were you expecting? Sure, you’ve had bigger shots of cough syrup, but this is the cultured life: the way of the sophisticate, flaunting feathered boas and paying a fortune for a single string bean and a chicken nibblet in all of your finer French restaurants. This is what they call class, and lord knows, you could use some.
Besides, any libation with that sinister character on the bottle can’t be all bad. Who wouldn’t want to run into a caped marauder some lonely night during a bout of selective nocturnalness? *
*On the street, that is; not in the apartment.
Then came another surprise: Port, it turns out, is a fortified wine, and Sister Madly did not drink wine in those days. Had she known this, she would have tried a bit of scotch, which might have paired better with the French Fries. She certainly wasn’t thinking that Port was a wine- nature does not embed that knowledge into the human DNA anymore than it dictates that all cats should respond to the Here Kitty, Kitty gesture.
Fortified wine- fortified with what? Doesn‘t fortify mean to make something stronger? Perhaps the wine had just completed an Olympic training course, or attended a week-long motivational seminar; perhaps it has been armed with battle axes and spiky helmets in anticipation of facing the ultimate foe that is Sister Madly.
But this one thing is for certain: Port is chock-full of anti-French Fry compatible enzymes and all things sticky-purple. In other words, Port and French Fries do not mix.
The Modernized Dietrich was a failure.
(No doubt, most of you knew this without having to sample the delicacy, with the wiser amongst you knowing that any such warning to Sister Madly would have been met with a squirt of mustard to the face. You see, sometimes things just aren’t true until you prove them to yourself.)
Port and French Fries, hereafter known as The Bastardized Dietrich.
Just face it, Sister Madly: this sophistication stuff is for the birds.
MUSHROOM BRIE SOUP
- 16 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 8 oz brie cheese, cubed, rind removed
- 1 lg onion, chopped
- 2/3 c dry white wine
- 4 c chicken/vegetable broth
- 1/2 c heavy cream
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
Sauté mushrooms, garlic and shallot in butter/oil, until fragrant. Set aside.
In large saucepan, sauté onion in butter/oil until translucent- 5 minutes or so
Add wine and simmer about 5 minutes
Stir in broth, brie, and spices.
Stir in sautéed mushrooms.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes- do not boil.
POST’S THEME SONG: Lili Marlene, Marlene Dietrich
There was a sense of lightheartedness that afternoon, when Sister Madly came home with a package of fresh, pre-chopped onions. Just knowing that tomorrow’s kitchen disaster was going to be without tears made this week’s what-the-hell purchase as prized as her antique opium pipe. Even Toto’s Rosanna could not chase away the butterflies.
Once the prep work aftermath had been cleared away, Sister Madly retrieved the onions from the fridge, noting that the container seemed to be bulging slightly. She hardly had time for curiosity at this phenomenon, for the moment she picked up the onion container, it exploded.
This, of course, made Sister Madly cry- and hers is not the gentle weeping of one touched by a animal rescue commercial. No, every time she comes within a half-mile radius of onions being chopped, Sister Madly looks as though she had just witnessed the massacre of millions of helpless kittens as she walked barefoot across a sea of Legos.
What made matters worse was that the paper towel she blindly reached for to wipe her eyes and nose was the one she used to handle the habanero peppers a few moments before.
Now, habanero eyes are horrible in and of themselves; but habanero nose- that is a another thing entirely. She knows better than to handle these foods without the proper eyewear- but now she has to protect the rest of her face as well? Exactly how was she the only one in her family to end up with such a hyper-sensitive system? She might as well just pitch a tent at the fairgrounds and charge admission.
In a few short weeks, this will be Sister Madly:
Hmm? You say you’ve seen something like this before, Sister Madly? There is something familiar about it… Perhaps you are reminded of a past life, a medieval life…
Perhaps you’re reminded of THIS GUY!
You realize what this means, don‘t you? Sister Madly is slowly and systematically turning into the Dodo.
That was his plan from the beginning, wasn’t it? While Sister Madly believed their rivalry operated on a day-to-day basis, the Dodo had a scheme that reached far into the future. She had suspected something like this in the past, believing him to be responsible for the sudden onslaught of search engine terms that addressed the Dodo specifically.
It all makes sense now: the onions, the peppers- it’s the Dodo’s subtle attack, turning Sister Madly into a modern apparition of himself. The Dum Dums, those Mystery Flavor Dum Dums that he use to throw at her- they have something to do with this, don’t they? She doesn’t know how, but she is convinced this ever-increasing hypersensitivity is directly related to the Mystery Flavor Dum Dums, which were probably created with the same engineering techniques as GMO’s. The Dum Dums may also be responsible for the intolerance that once caused Sister Madly to murder a sandwich.
It‘s been over a decade since their last encounter, and she foolishly assumed that he had flown off to the Great Bird’s Nest in the Sky. She had long-ago given her concession speech, sulking in the dark one night when she realized that although she had won several battles against the Dodo, she had lost the war.
But he‘s never really gone, is he?
So what would becoming the Dodo entail? Well, based on what she had witnessed in the past, it would require Sister Madly to endure the insults and pranks of Sister Madly, to throw Dum Dums almost compulsively at Sister Madly, to have to Riverdance her way out of jail as a penance to Sister Madly, and to creep everyone out with her outfit- including Sister Madly.
In other words, it would require Sister Madly to be constantly at war- with herself.
They say if you can’t beat them… No, absolutely not. She will not be joining him. That just will not do. You see, even in this dark place, there is a glimmer of hope: for if the Dodo is, indeed, still out there, it means that Sister Madly still has a chance to win this war.
POST’S THEME SONG: Everybody Knows, Leonard Cohen
~ Thanks to everyone who entered the Necronomicon Giveaway. Sister Madly has been in contact the winner- she will keep you updated! ~
Sometimes one must go to extreme measures to get a point across- if not to oneself, then to the multiverse and all of its dwellers.
Sister Madly has learned just how to do that.
She has been attempting to buy wax paper for the last 3 days, each time returning home with a surplus of the usual what-the-hell purchases (star anise, candles, a few sparkly things) not one of which is wax paper. Shopping lists are of no use to Sister Madly since they are typically scrawled across the back of the electric bill and mailed off with the payment. But something had to be done, because the tantrums she was throwing from painting her art projects to the kitchen table were borderline unacceptable.
Now, Sister Madly has gone past tying strings around her fingers and hanging notes on the door; any sort of electronic reminder is met with either the loving touch of a cast-iron skillet or by being hurdled across the room. She is more apt to remember certain responsibilities or appointments if she takes a common household object and leaves it somewhere out of place.
And so Sister Madly went to the usual measures to remind herself about the wax paper: she brought the garbage along with her to the market. It’s hard to become sidetracked when your passenger is a large, brooding, stinky bag of garbage.
Allow yourself this glimpse into the Sister Madly psyche:
-A shoe hanging on the door knob reminds Sister Madly that she is not dressed appropriately to leave the apartment.
-A web of duct tape across the mirror notifies her of utilities that are to be paid (utility bill usually attached to this web like a helpless, succulent fly.)
-An elaborate sock sculpture resting on the laptop means there is something she needs to do on the computer.
-Any knife, sword, hatchet or bloody object lying on the counter is a typical weekday affair and not to considered out of the ordinary.
-A pickle jar in the middle of the floor is a general reminder to ask herself why she put the pickle jar in the middle of the floor in the first place.* If there is any decoration attached, she may have been drinking at the time.
*Sometimes this discussion amongst herself occurs in the middle of the night, when she kicks over the pickle jar in the dark on her way for a glass of water.
This same method was often applied at a previous place of employment, when there was a slight problem with roaches. Notes left on the note-leaving board went largely unnoticed, all because the management did not want believe there was such an infestation in their beautiful little world.
Or maybe the roaches were to blame.
On the off chance that it was the fault of the latter, Sister Madly started leaving notes taped to tubs of cookie dough and buckets of frosting. Then she left several notes tape to several buckets of frosting, which she arranged into a nifty pyramid sculpture in the middle of the kitchen- which backfired because, as it turned out, she was the one who opened the next morning and had to deal with said nifty pyramid sculpture.
Finally one night, after an amusing chase around the whole of the bistro, Sister Madly was able to corner one of these the elusive, note-destroying creatures. With a significant amount of packaging tape, she attached the roach to a piece of paper, applied a fancy network of arrows as to guide the management to the correct visual aid, and stuck the note to the back door with a butcher’s knife.
Much like this, only with a Roach attached and less poetry.
This upset management slightly, as this was the only butcher’s knife in the vicinity and it had been placed out of her reach.
But the roaches were no more.
The pickle jar will be set out again tonight: the Professors, you see, have planned a weekend of experimental fun for Sister Madly, and she is not to be late…
PANEER MUSHROOM MASALA
- Paneer, cubed
- 8 oz. mushrooms
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin (or to taste)
- Lg. pinch of Fenugreek
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2-3 tsp heavy cream (opt)
- Lemon juice to taste
- Salt to taste
Pan fry Paneer- set a side.
In a skillet Sauté bay leaves, cinnamon stick, ginger paste and spices til fragrant.
Add the onion. Sauté til onion is translucent.
Add mushrooms; Sauté for five minutes.
Add the tomato. Cook till soft- 5 minutes or so.
Add the tomato paste and mix.
Add the coconut milk, paneer and simmer for ten minutes.
Add the cream, necessary salt, and lemon juice- mix.
Let stay for few minutes before serving.
POST’S THEME SONG: Always Something There to Remind Me, Naked Eyes
The best $2 Sister Madly ever spent was to see the Dodo Riverdance.
Understandably, this did not endear Sister Madly to the Dodo in the least.
It all began after the Pub Sing-Along, when it became apparent that the crowd knew something that Sister Madly did not. She didn’t like the way they were laughing; it was not the laughter bestowed upon one found utterly adorable, but the laughter at one’s expense. Sister Madly is finely tuned to the subtle difference.
The obvious place to look was behind her; in the movies, that is when things go wrong. But this one came without her looking: a glass of ice water to the back, followed by a Mystery Flavor Dum Dum. To Sister Madly, the Mystery Flavor Dum Dum is the highest of insults.
Actually, the Dodo didn’t throw the Dum Dum at her; he handed it over. She took this to mean that the Dodo’s was symbolically calling her names. She couldn’t bring herself to forgive this anymore than could she forgive the ice water: though refreshing once the initial shock had passed, it wasn’t worth being rendered incapacitated in a hunchback position while waiting to thaw.
Yet it was during this deep freeze that Sister Madly settled on her retaliation: to have the Dodo arrested. Sure, it seemed severe, but she saw no reason why she couldn’t get away with it. Besides, it only cost $2*, which was comparable to the amount of Dum Dums thrown at her over the course of their acquaintance.
* $2.68 when adjusted for inflation.
The prison system was simple: a warrant was issued, the offender apprehended and, after a lengthy trek around the Faire for the sole purpose of being taunted, hauled off to jail. Here, his options were to either pay a fine (which rarely, if ever, happened) or serve his sentence, which included some sort of humiliation such as singing I’m a Little Teapot.
Which was exactly the sentence Sister Madly was hoping for.
Since the charge of ‘Dum Dum Throwing’ brought a snicker from the crazy-haired warrant issuer (jerk) she settled on assault and battery. To this day, Sister Madly has no idea how she missed the arrest; tagging along on the taunting trek is part of the tradition- not to mention, part of the pleasure- for the accuser, but this all happened without her. All she knows is that a short time later, the Dodo was greeting her with that time-honored gesture of disapproval from inside the jail.
Well… at least he knew who was responsible.
Having missed the taunting trek, Sister Madly decided to get her insults in while she had the time. She was pleased at how well this went- that is, until she was confronted by the Dodo’s entire entourage. They wanted to know if the word retribution meant anything to her.
Which, of course, it did: it was the reason she had the Dodo arrested.
“Would you have Nostradamus arrested?”
If he threw Dum Dums at her, she would.
And Sister Madly should have just left it at that; but no. She had to start thinking. What did Nostradamus have to do with this? There had to be a reason these weirdos were bringing him up. And as she wondered, Sister Madly fell victim to a case of 3 AM Rationale -as it was 3 AM somewhere in the world- which began its rapid deterioration into madness.
What if he is Nostradamus? Not that this gives him liberty to throw Dum Dums at people… but that’s going to be his defense, isn’t it? He’s going to claim to be Nostradamus, and somehow it’s going to get him out of jail without singing I’m a Little Teapot. He’s either going to be released on his own recognizance, or by entering an insanity plea because this would prove that Skeksis is schizo- in which case he would end up in the Asylum, which wouldn’t be problem except that the Dodo ran the Asylum.
This was unacceptable. Sister Madly paid $2 for the privilege of the Dodo’s public humiliation- he was not going to get out of it that easily. Not that there was a thing she could do about it, aside from halting her internal dialogue which was manifesting itself through various gestures and facial expressions. People were beginning to stare.
It was the sheriff who snapped her out of this downward spiral with that phrase that made it all worthwhile:
“… hereby sentence you to Riverdance.”
His dance was not unlike this gentleman’s…
Yes, there was nothing more satisfying than watching the Dodo’s performance, aside from knowing that she was solely responsible for his humiliation. It’s true, what they say: revenge is sweet.
Rock me, Nostradamus.
SAFFRON CHICKEN TAGINE
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
- 2-3 carrots, chopped
- 1 cup peas
- 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (opt)
- 2 large sweet onions, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth (or as needed)
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 1 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- butter/oil, for sauteing
In Dutch Oven/stockpot, saute onions and garlic in butter/oil; 5-10 min
Mix in spices and heat for 30-60 secs
Add carrots, mushrooms, and chicken; stir to coat
Add broth and bring to a boil
Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook for 30 min, stirring occasionally
Uncover and add peas
Continue to simmer, uncovered, to reduce
Remove cinnamon sticks and serve
POST’S THEME SONG: Rock Me Amadeus, Falco
Lately, Sister Madly’s life has been nothing but an anthology of short, plotless events. She attributes this
lull good fortune to her guardian angel, Birkenstock, without whom a typical week would read as follows: Saturday, Pre-Monday, Monday, Second Monday, W T F.
Observe, if you will, the minutes from last week’s surveillance:
SATURDAY: Sister Madly attempted another sketch of the Dodo, was by chased around the apartment by a volatile wasp- which she decided counted as exercise- and endured a 5-hour power outage during which she tried to make some soup.
The success of this contraption largely depends upon
your goal; should it include setting the pan on fire –
PRE-MONDAY: Blissfully spent wrapped in a Benadryl-Hazed Cocoon.
MONDAY: Sister Madly woke up at some ungodly hour to a Post-It Note that simply said ‘SEES’– she is still uncertain as to what this means. Early rising seems to come easier now that she is at the tender age of Over-25; this is one part of her mother that Sister Madly had hoped she would never inherit.
Ambiguous Post-It Notes, however, is a trait independent of either parent. Some of the more recent Post-Its include ‘No Privacy’, ‘Disco’ and ‘- – – > 7899′, all of which have yet to be solved. Sister Madly will keep you updated.
SECOND MONDAY: Sister Madly ate a piece of unpronounceable candy gifted to her by the Professors. However, when she found no hazelnut inside, her world no longer made sense. She expected more from her unpronounceable candies. Sister Madly’s ramblings on the subject included the addition of several extra syllables to the candy’s enunciation, which only led the Professors to believe that the girl was having a stroke.
Adding a few extra ‘R’s, ‘O’s and an ‘L’ or two =
people having no idea what you are talking about.
W: Sister Madly engaged in a battle with Itsy-Bitsy, Buick-Sized Spider and later, the Beast who was his brother. It is still unclear whether either sibling passed on due to poisoning by the Pine Forest Fresh Scented Bug Killer, or by drowning in a gallon its residue.*
- The day a young Sister Madly learned about the exoskeleton of certain lesser creatures was the day she stopped stomping on them for good. Knowing what that crunch really was beneath her feet took the fun out of it entirely.
Upon realizing that Pine Forest Fresh Scented Bug Killer didn’t smell so bad, Sister Madly chased a quarter cup of baking soda with 5 seconds of Spray down the kitchen sink for added freshness.
T: Well. Guess who glued her Necronomicon to a picture frame?
Nevertheless, this is an improvement over previous misfortunes, as Sister Madly would rather go through life with the Necronomicon hanging on her wall than with an opium pipe glued to her hand. The latter was a little hard to explain.
F: Sister Madly successfully removed the Necronomicon from the picture frame.
Pine Forest Fresh Scented Bug Killer triggered a scent memory: the cologne of her Ex. Sister Madly lit her favorite candle to counter-act this scent memory with another scent memory, but the only thing she could come up with was the memory of how her deodorant melted in her car after a hot day at the Renaissance Faire- neither of which smelled like her candle in the least.
Sister Madly will be firing Birkenstock over lunch this afternoon. She is not pleased at how W T F has come to mean Where’s The Fun.
POT STICKER MEATBALLS
- 1 lb lean pork mince
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos ~OR~ soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp green onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together
Shape into balls
Bake @ 375* for 12-15 minutes
SWEET AND SOUR DIPPING SAUCE
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp coconut aminos ~OR~ soy sauce
- 1/8 cup water
- 3 tbsp honey *
- 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
- 4-5 small dried chilies, chopped and seeded to taste
- arrowroot ~OR~ cornstarch, to thicken (opt)
Mix sesame oil, vinegar, coconut aminos/soy sauce, water and honey in a saucepan
Add scallions and chilies
Bring to a boil-simmer for five minutes
Add starch to thicken if desired and remove from heat
* Adjust honey to taste
POST’S THEME SONG: Someone to Watch Over Me, Ella Fitzgerald