Posts tagged “madness

Dashboard Cookies ~ Disasterchef: Netherworld

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

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

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

A surly, sluggish, salty AF champ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A surly, sluggish, salty AF puddle.

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

DASHBOARD COOKIES

  • Cookie Dough of Choice, homemade or ready-made

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

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


Polynesian Pasta Salad ~ Justice for the Fortress

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

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

Twice.

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

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

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

That means Tallulah kicked her Fortress on purpose. Twice.

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

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

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

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

Sometimes her genius is frightening!

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

* For now, that is…

POLYNESIAN PASTA SALAD

  • 1lb Pasta
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar

DRESSING

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

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

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

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

 


Sichuan Wings ~ Sad Satan’s Toolshed

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

* Albeit, an adorable one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

* A safer, saner dimension. A Lovecraftian Dimension.

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

* Thanks, Me-Ma!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…it seems Sister Madly has missed her calling…

SICHUAN WINGS

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

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

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


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


Chana Matar Paneer ~ Possessd by the Holiday Spirit

The Holiday Spirit is an impish, little brat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHANA MATAR PANEER

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

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

THEME SONG: Mele Kalikimaka, Bing Crosby


The Goal

I Can’t Leave my House
Or Answer the Phone
I’m Going Down Again
But I’m Not Alone

Settling at Last
Accounts of the Soul
This for the Trash
That Paid in Full

As for the Fall
It Began Long Ago
Can’t Stop the Rain
Can’t Stop the Snow

I Sit in my Chair
I Look at the Street
The Neighbor Returns
My Smile of Defeat

I Move with the Leaves
I Shine with the Chrome
I’m Almost Alive
I’m Almost at Home

No One to Follow
And Nothing to Teach
Except that the Goal
Falls Short of the Reach

~ Leonard Cohen


Images: We Heart It


Marsala Chicken Wings ~ Saucepans and the Single Girl

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

  • Leonard Cohen
  • Vincent Price
  • Starfish
  • David Bowie

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

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

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

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

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

DUMB SUPPER MENU

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

SURLY STEAK

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

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

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

CHEATERS GARLIC BREAD

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

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

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

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

WILD RICE

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

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

Also, please note the most excellent presentation.

SCULPTOR’S SALAD WITH SOUR CREAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAYER CAKE

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

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

Truly, this is cookbook that understands the Single Girl.

MARSALA CHICKEN WINGS

  • 3-3½ lbs. chicken wings

MARINADE

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

GLAZE

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

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

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

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


Braised Chicken Marsala ~ Ballad of the Last M&M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRAISED CHICKEN MARSALA

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

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

THEME SONG: I Melt with You, Modern English


Pulled Chicken Parmesan ~ The Magical, Mystical Repo-Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Repo-Man politely declined.

PULLED CHICKEN PARMESAN

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

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

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


Image 1) Chris Clor


Sriracha Bacon Sticky Wings ~ This Used to Be My Playground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SRIRACHA BACON STICKY WINGS

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

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

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

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

THEME SONG: When I Grow Up, Garbage


Aloo Gobi Matar ~ Moving Finger Writes

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

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

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

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

And occasionally, these auctions go awry:

And the Postal Carrier still insisted she sign for that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALOO GOBI MATAR

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

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

THEME SONG: Working Girl, The Members


Carol of the Bean

…and when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto him gifts of Gold, Frankenstein, and Murder


The Wanton Moppet in a Pom-Pom Hat

Every December, Sister Madly’s mother would spend a week baking up to 40 loaves of bread while listening to Lawrence Welk and the Mexicali Brass. A young Sister Madly would then reluctantly deliver half of this bounty with her elder sister, Tallulah, to neighbors they hardly knew- many of whom lived far beyond the acceptable distance of ‘neighbor’- while dragging a red wagon through several feet of snow.

But this tradition was not limited to neighbors.

While no child looks forward to a school day, no morning was as dreaded as the day before Winter Break, when Mother Madly handed over a loaf of bread as a gift to the bus driver. When Sister Madly first heard the term “cruel and unusual punishment,” this scenario is what came to mind.

champagne

However, the argument of which Madly Sibling (the elder Tallulah or the most magnificent Sister Madly) was to give said Bread to the Bus Diver was beans compared to the argument of whom would carry the Bottle of Champagne the following day.

The Darrow’s, you see, lived 4-doors down (Sister Madly used to play- most discreetly, of course- in the weird tar-pit thing behind their house.) And every year, the Darrow’s would gift the Madly girls a bottle of cheap Champagne in return for the annual Loaf of Bread.

For Sister Madly, this was much worse than the whole Bus Driver thing; people might actually think the Champagne belonged to her. They might think that she, a wanton, 5 year-old Moppet, had wasted every cent of her allowance on its purchase, and there was no way that she could prove otherwise. And the Champagne didn’t even come in a proper paper bag, which is how it was consumed by the Elite on the streets; no, Sister Madly’s bottle had a shiny, red bow tape to it.

snowman

Then came the horrifying thought: what if her own Mother thought that Sister Madly bought the wine for herself? Her parents had stopped drinking some years before, and the bar in the basement now held a bizarre assortment of Care Bears and Cabbage Parch Kids… if a bottle of Champagne should appear within their midst, it would bring no end of trouble….

But there was no time for this worry, as one such delivery spree found a pom-pommed Sister Madly hauling 3 Loaves of Bread all by her lonesome. Tallulah had been forgiven of all delivery obligations that evening after befriending a classmate who had the cheeky audacity to be born on that particular date some years before, and who wanted to celebrate the fact with something called a “party.”

Even at the tender age of 5, Sister Madly had anti-social tendencies; she had absolutely no desire to knock on the doors of her Bread-less Neighbors, and succumbed to a magnificent tantrum somewhere between her front door and her Neighbor’s driveway. After spending an eternity (i.e., 2-3 minutes) fussing about, Sister Madly utilized her Red Wagon in such a way that allowed her to slide the Loaf of Bread into the oversized mailbox* without a word to her long-nosed neighbors.

* The other 2 deliveries slid much less easily into their respective mailboxes, but Sister Madly did it anyway. She had grit, that Moppet.

With her mission technically complete, Sister Madly trotted home, confident in the fact that she had rebelled against the unknown universe with her little Red Wagon and a knitted, Pompom Hat.

pointy tree

5 stupid hours of pointy hell later, Sister Madly’s apartment is
finally festive. She will be calling upon one of you next year to set
up this tree for her. She may even buy you a cider for your trouble.

* Re-post from 2014. Or somewhere around there.


Southwest Stuffed Wings ~ A Sixpence Sutra

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

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

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

* Or crestfallen. Nonplussed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“There is no such thing as KARMA!”

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

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

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

It was the classic no-win situation.

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

SOUTHWEST STUFFED CHICKEN WINGS

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

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

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

THEME SONG: Karma Chameleon, Culture Club


Ethos

When an Honest Man Discovers
That He is Mistaken

He will either
Cease to be Mistaken,

Or Cease to be Honest.


All Images: Pinterest


Chicken Shawarma ~ The Atomic Bread-Shepherd

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bread of Life.

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

  • Good Shepherd.

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

  • Light of the World.

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

  • The Alpha and the Omega.

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

  • The Resurrection and the Life.

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

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

* Sister Madly prefers Peanut Butter and Banana.

So Sister Madly suggested they call Information.

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

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

And that is what they did.

  • Bread of Life.

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

  • Good Shepherd.

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

  • Light of the World.

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

  • The Alpha and the Omega.

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

  • The Resurrection and the Life.

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

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

CHICKEN SHAWARMA

  • 6-8 boneless chicken thighs, whole

MARINADE

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

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

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

THEME SONG: Personal Jesus, Depeche Mode


Famous Last Words

Let’s play a game…

“Pop Rocks in the litter box!”

~ Sister Madly, which she accidentally sent to her accountant.*

* Sorry about that, Steve.


Korean BBQ Chicken ~ The Gateau From the Chateau

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

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

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

* Approx. 6 weeks prior.

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

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

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

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

This method was not successful.

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

Until now.

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

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

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

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

What is that?”

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

“What’s in it?”

Cake material!

“Interesting…”

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

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

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

KOREAN BBQ CHICKEN

  • 6-8 chicken thighs, bone-in

MARINADE

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

BBQ SAUCE

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

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

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

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

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

THEME SONG: Ri-co-la!, Various