Posts tagged “horror

Harissa Wings ~ The Lab Coats are Coming!

On her way to Tallulah’s Olde Peculiar- a Marketplace where she is a Vendor– a rather chipper Sister Madly passed by Pompous Name Laboratory, which proudly displayed a banner that not only announced their Grand Opening, but invited the public to ‘Come in and say Hi!’

Do tell, Pompous Name Laboratory: why does Sister Madly have to make the first move? Why don’t you come out and say ‘Hi’ to her? Friends just don’t make themselves, you know.

Now you may think that Sister Madly is being tiresome, but rest assured, her skepticism is warranted. Businesses that invite her in to say ‘Hi’ always seem to have ulterior motives: Car Dealerships hopes the ever-so-seductive dance of the inflatable man-thing will convince her to buy a Pinto, while Credit Unions tempt her with promises of coffee mugs and folding camping chairs in the hopes of opening an account.

So naturally Sister Madly was curious as to why a Laboratory would want her to drop in for a little new-to-the-neighborhood tête-à-tête. Is there a shortage of Lab Rats? Do they need someone to ‘drink this solution’ or ‘press this button?’ Is it National Adopt-a- Pathogen Month? Or do they simply wish to showcase a happy and healthy strain of Free-Range E.coli?

Nevertheless, there is the possibility- however remote- that the Science-y People of Pompous Name Laboratory are simply lonely, as is the norm for those who choose to work in Labs. And while Science-y People are making terrific discoveries for which they should be applauded- such as finding cures for disease and creating new dyes to make red M&M’s edible again- being around smoking beakers and big Latin words all day is bound to render one more and more out of touch with reality.*

* At least with Sister Madly’s reality.

The fact that Sister Madly was even contemplating speaking to a Science-y Stranger- and of her own volition, no less- shows how much she’s progressed in venturing beyond her most excellent anti-social skills. True, she doesn’t speak science,* but this language barrier can be balanced with a good first impression, which includes poise, a toothy smile, and covered in someone else’s blood.

* She also doesn’t speak accounting, Trekkie, or bird.

Unfortunately, Sister Madly’s Travel Companion did not want to pop into the Laboratory and say ‘Hi,’ and most certainly did NOT want to represent ‘someone else’s blood’- which is totally unfair, because why else would Sister Madly have a Travel Companion? Without a good first impression, Sister Madly will have to resort to sign language and smoke signals, which will be misinterpreted as a biological warfare, cause widespread panic, burn down the Lab, and send her fleeing into the streets, shouting, “The lab coats are coming, the lab coats are coming!” before ultimately finding herself strumming her lips in a padded cell.

Perhaps she’ll send them fruit basket instead.

HARISSA CHICKEN WINGS

  • 2-3lbs wings

MARINADE

  • 1 TBSP harissa sauce
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • oil, as needed

SAUCE

  • ½ cup harissa sauce
  • ¼ cup honey, or to taste
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • salt/pepper, to taste

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

SAUCE
Add sauce ingredients to pan; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until thickened

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

THEME SONG: The Lunatics, The Specials and Fun Boy Three


My Solitary Valentine

You say you’re going to be Alone
On Valentine’s ~

But you forget about the Insects, Ghosts
And Surveillance Devices in your Home.

• ~   * Happy Valentine’s Day * ≈ ☼ ~ •


 ~ Welcome to Night Vale


Gnocchi Vegetable Soup ~ Black Market Merchants

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

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

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

As a most logical Moppet, the answer was obvious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GNOCCHI VEGETABLE SOUP

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

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


French Dip Sandwich ~ Clandestine Family Traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed, appliances are so thoughtful these days!

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

FRENCH DIP SANDWICH

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

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

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


Pulled Chicken Parmesan ~ The Magical, Mystical Repo-Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Repo-Man politely declined.

PULLED CHICKEN PARMESAN

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

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

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


Image 1) Chris Clor


Sing a Song of Sixpence

The far superior rendition that shall one day be played at Sister Madly’s wedding.

… and of course, the 3:14 timestamp, should you have no appreciation for the arts…


Autumn Harvest Tagine ~ To Catch a Falling Star

So, Starfish, we meet again…

“Is it alive?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ * DUMB SUPPER 2019 GUEST LIST * ~

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

AUTUMN HARVEST TAGINE

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

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

THEME SONG: Starman, David Bowie


Banana Curry Pizza ~ Disasterchef 2: Chaotic Neutral

It’s no secret that Sister Madly’s pedigree is largely mongrel, said to include Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, a dash of the British Isles, and the Middle East. However, part of this bloodline was scientifically confirmed the day Sister Madly was overcome by a most Scandinavian desire.

It happened the day she attended a casual ‘backyard BBQ,’ which quickly turned most pretentious with sushi, red wine, and lavender footbaths. It was upon fleeing the smoked oysters that Sister Madly encountered this pod from another planet hovering inside the kitchen:

Now Sister Madly found this to be extremely negligent- why, just anyone could wander in off the street, kick over that bag of golf clubs by the door, and make themselves a gourmet pizza. The Pod was not only sentient but a smooth talker with all the temptation of Original Sin…

You know what? To hell with this Pretentious BBQ- she’s making a Banana Curry Pizza!

Now, unless one is of Swedish descent, one does not naturally associate bananas with pizza; but as Sister Madly had a bit of Sweden- and admittedly, a lot of cider- coursing through her veins, resistance was futile.

Surely it cannot be worse than assembling an IKEA bookshelf.*

* This inability to assemble IKEA furniture indicates that Sister Madly is not a purebred Swedish Maiden Fair.

As it turned out, Sister Madly has just enough Swedish in her to make a Banana Curry Pizza, but not enough to actually enjoy it. And as the environmentalist in her would not permit her to desecrate the land by tossing the monstrosity into the compost, Sister Madly left the Pizza on the counter, and decided it was no longer her problem.

And it wouldn’t have been, had it not been for the Professor.

“I need to know who’s responsible for this.”

Clearly the Professor did not hold a PhD in Pizza- to this day, Sister Madly couldn’t say in which field is his PhD; he just keeps emerging from Idaho with gifts of potatoes and unsolicited commentary on her culinary creations.

That would be Sweden, Professor.

Domestically.”

Just what is it about bananas that automatically makes one suspect Sister Madly? Sure, there was that whole Ham and Banana Hollandaise thingy, but had you let her help with the Scotch Eggs that day, that dish would never have materialized.

“You can’t just throw whatever you want onto a crust and call it a pizza!”

Yes she can.

“It’s pizza- there are rules.”

There are no rules, Professor! The freedom to top one’s pizza with whatever noms desired was clearly one of the subjects discussed amongst the Founding Fathers. While never officially included in the Constitution, it is implicit in the Second Amendment- The Right to Bear Arms- as deviant pizza toppings* have been perceived by many as a threat to one’s safety and wellbeing- of which you have been inferring, sir, for the last 3 minutes.

* See the great ‘Does Pineapple Belong on a Pizza?’ debate.

There was something touching in the way this PhD struggled to comprehend how one could defend a Pizza that she created yet found completely disgusting.

“Chaotic neutral.”

… are you talking about Sister Madly, or the pizza? Because there is nothing neutral about that pizza- proud of it, though she may be.

Oh, but the Professor had an explanation- D&D terms were involved- and a most narcoleptic dissertation it promised to be, had he not been interrupted by a plucky little Bohemian declaring the Pizza to be “just so frickin’ amazing.”

The Professor had but one response:

“Stay right there, I’m calling the police.”

BANANA CURRY PIZZA

  • pizza crust, homemade or ready-made
  • pizza sauce
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • smoked ham, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • curry powder
  • garam masala
  • mozzarella, shredded
  • gouda, shredded (opt)

Preheat oven to 450* (or as recommended by ready-made crust)
Mix pizza sauce with curry powder to taste (opt)
Spread thin layer of pizza sauce over crust
Cover with grated cheese
Top with ham, onion, and banana
Sprinkle bananas with curry powder and garam masala
Bake until cheese is melted and crust is cooked through; approx 15 min

THEME SONG: Anything by ABBA


Mediterranean Chicken Soup ~ The Wisdom of the Teacup

Aside from the occasional Dumb Supper, Sister Madly never entertains in a high-society fashion. So when she received a single teacup from Tallulah over Christmas, she assumed that Tallulah intended her to serve herself from this charming china set.

Now, Sister Madly has been known to have discussions with herself, often keeping herself up at night with lengthy dissertations about the correlation between Hollow Earth and Pop Rocks, until she rolls over and tells herself to put a sock in it. She then hurls insults at herself under her breath like a petulant child until she falls asleep exhausted somewhere between 4 and 5AM. Clearly, a nightcap from this teacup will put an end to those late night discourses.

Tallulah knows her so well.

Her Brother-in-Law, however, has a different theory about his favorite holiday: Christmas, he says, is a time to get someone the present you want to give them, not necessarily what they want*- a theory he later demonstrated by gifting Sister Madly the LP soundtrack of that beloved cult classic Manos: The Hands of Fate.

* A very interesting theory, Mr. Tallulah; Sister Madly just might implement this same philosophy for you next year. Hopefully, SkyMall is still in circulation.

While not a brilliant score musically, there is a certain novelty in owning the soundtrack to one of the worst disasterpieces in cinematic history- that, and she likes to annoy her neighbors.

Also, it provided some lovely dinner music later that evening.

* Be thankful that Sister Madly linked you to the 10 minute video, not the 10 hour one- that is her Christmas gift to you.

But the Manos soundtrack was not the only gift from Mr. Tallulah; it was accompanied by that coveted DVD of Radiant Fireplace 2, to satiate her midnight cravings to watch 60 minutes of nonstop fireplace.

Being that it was Christmas, the unwrapping of Radiant Fireplace 2 quickly led to a discussion amongst herself over the storyboard for a truly festive Yule Log Video.

Allow Sister Madly to elaborate:

Naturally, one starts by setting some dead trees on fire to merry music…

By the 3rd Song- Greensleeves, of course- break out the snacks…

After a S’more or two, revive the dying flame with kindling and all those pesky incriminating documents you forgot to shred…

45 minutes later, ritually summon an Elder God Sister Madly…

Then scramble to appease her demand for an offering…

No doubt Sister Madly is pleased…

… nope, not as pleased as she could be…

Now look what you’ve done- you’ve sent Sister Madly into a proper tantrum! Why would you even think that a spider is an appropriate offering? What’s wrong with Moroccan Lanterns or fuzzy socks or Ferrero Rocher candies? Pretty rocks? Birds of Paradise? Spiders are never an acceptable currency in the Madliverse- you should know that by now, peasant!

And it is here that the more sensible amongst you would implement, most carefully, the wisdom of Tallulah’s Teacup*- as you can see, Sister Madly’s tantrums are epic.

* Having filled it to the brim with Cider, of course.

MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN SOUP

  • 4-6 chicken thighs, whole
  • 6-8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked (opt)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 TBSP fresh garlic, minced
  • carrots, chopped
  • celery, chopped
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • 2½ tsp thyme
  • 2½ tsp marjoram
  • ¼ tsp pepper, or to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • oil/ghee, for sautéing

Sauté onion in hot oil until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic; sauté 2-3 min
Add celery, carrots, and mushrooms; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Add chicken; stir to coat
Add stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until veggies are tender; 30-40 min
Shred chicken with 2 forks
Add couscous; cover; simmer 8-10 min until cooked
Remove from heat and serve

THEME SONG: Let the Fire In, Peter Murphy’s Carver Combo


Images:

 10) Jill Greenberg


Champagne Chicken ~ The Merchant of Menace

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

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

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

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

* Unsuccessful, and even more unsuccessful.

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

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

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

Thanks a lot, fellas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAMPAGNE CHICKEN

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

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

THEME SONG: Haunted, Maya Kern


Divergent

Nobody Realizes
That some People


Expend Tremendous Energy
Merely to be Normal.

~ Albert Camus


Images: 

1) Laurie Simmons
3) mrs-white.deviantart.com


Perfection Salad ~ DisasterChef Theatre

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

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

And she found it.

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

SHOPPING LIST

  • 2 packets unflavored gelatin.

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

  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage

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

  • ½ cup chopped green pepper

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

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

  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

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

  • 4 oz chopped pimento

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

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

24 hours later… Behold, her genius!

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

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

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

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

All she needed was a birthday candle.

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

Happy Birthday.

PERFECTION SALAD

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

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

~ From McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection

THEME SONG: Sweetest Perfection, Depeche Mode


Puppet Master

Nothing
Is More Despicable

Than Respect
Based on Fear.

~ Albert Camus


Images:

1)bee-tea.deviantart.com
2) Pinterest
3) Pinterest


Drunken Shepherd’s Pie ~ Space Cowboy Apollo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… 1:30???”

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

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

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

“UFO PIZZA!!!”

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

* 4:15 AM.

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

“Space Cowboy Apollo.”

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

“Danger Bird on Ellipses!”

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

“Lunar Luau!!!!”

People throw pebbles, you know…

DRUNKEN SHEPHERD’S PIE

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

* Follow favorite mash recipe

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

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

THEME SONG: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Metallica


Images:

2) Chris Clor


Hey There, Cthulhu

Hey there Cthulhu, down there in your sunken city
You’re a billion light years distant and the stars look very pretty
From R’lyeh
So close and yet so far away
Iä, Ië

Cthulhu Fhtagn, or is that k-THOO-loo fuh-TINE?
I can never quite remember, ’cause I’m not in my right mind
Since I met you
No one corrupts the way you do
You know it’s true

Oh, it’s what you’ll do to me
Oh, and all humanity
Oh, you’ll rise up from the sea
Oh, kill everyone slowly
Except the ones like me

Hey there Cthulhu, I’ve been studying your gospel
The Necronomicon, it gives me nightmares something awful
Where I see
The death of all reality
It fills me with glee

So when the stars are right, you’ll come and do your worst
But that’s okay because I know you’ll eat the cultists like me first
When you get here
I know that day is drawing near
I have no fear

Oh, it’s what you’ll do to me
Oh, and all humanity
Oh, you’ll rise up from the sea
Oh, kill everyone slowly

A billion light years seems so far
Below the sea, beyond the stars
Of these humans’ putrid souls you’ll drink your fill
The fools will all make fun of me
But I’ll just laugh maniacally
’Cause no one’s ever suffered like they will

Cthulhu, I can promise you
That by the time this cult gets through
The world will never ever be the same
Praise your dark name!

Phn’glui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wagh’nagl fhtagn
Boy, that’s really quite a mouthful, can’t quite cram it in my noggin
Not today
I try to say it anyway
I feel my soul being to fray
Still I away that frabjous day
Cthulhu calay!

Oh, it’s what you’ll do to me
Oh, and all humanity
Oh, you’ll rise up from the sea
Oh, kill everyone but me
Everyone but me…


Original Music by : Plain White T’s

Satirical Lyrics by: Eben Brooks

Images: 1) Pinterest
2) tumblr
3) tumblr
4) DanielBDemented @ Redbubble


Consistency

The Truth
May Not Be Consistent


With What You Desperately Want
To Believe.


Images:

1) weheartit
2) adipose620.deviantart.com
3) tara mckinney


Jamaican Beef Patties ~ The Darkside of Suspended Animation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAMAICAN BEEF PATTIES

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

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

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

THEME SONG: Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen


Medicine Show

Charm is a Way
of getting a ‘Yes’

Without asking
a Clear Question.

~ Albert Camus


Images: Mark Osterman


Image

My Funny Valentine


Fortitude

He was a Bold Man
That first ate an Oyster.

~ Jonathan Swift


Art by Gregory Halili