Posts tagged “madness

Bourbon Maple Chicken ~ The Power of Cheese

In Sister Madly’s experience, cheeses don’t just pop across the marketplace like champagne corks; so it was something of a surprise when she found herself assaulted by a wedge of Camembert. To find the source of the offending cheese, she had to look no farther than the dreadlocked gent now contemplating the Brie, who gave no explanation other than the Camembert had ‘bad energy.’

Technically speaking, sir, everything has energy, if only potential- Sister Madly learned that much as a wee little thing in Science Class.

But Science doesn’t cover Cheese Energy as far as she knows, except with respect to other objects or situations.

Take gravitational cheese energy, for example: Sister Madly can stuff you full of Brie and throw you off the roof; for electrical, that outlet by the sushi bar appears to be rather volatile.* However, if it’s thermal cheese energy you seek, Sister Madly will be more than happy to set the Brie on fire.

Sister Madly is all about helping her fellow man.

* A conclusion drawn by the presence of several bewildered electricians and lots of pretty sparks.

But the Dreadlocked Gent did not want the help of his fellow man, choosing rather to determine the energy himself by meditating with every Cheese- and she does mean every. He immediately bonded with a cheeky little Manchego from the discount basket, but did not jive with the Asiago nor the Double Gloucester with Chives; Sister Madly avoided those projectiles successfully.

Perhaps Cheese has properties she never realized, much like how the cancerous side-effects of radiation were of no surprise, but the subsequent arrival of Godzilla & Company was somewhat unexpected. Maybe Bad Cheese Energy has its own side-effects: it could be the reason why Sister Madly has 2 different-sized feet, or why her hair gets hair-band big after the rain, or why she is perpetually the 5th wheel amongst her friends.* Bad Cheese Energy may have been responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire, or the extinction of the dinosaurs; it could be the reason behind corruption in politics.

* Although that 5th wheel thing might have everything to do with Sister Madly being a proper lunatic.

But upon thinking about it, Sister Madly realized that she has experienced the Power of Cheese: once, a Provolone attempted to enslave her in the kitchen, while not too long ago she dabbled with Stilton, which is said to induce dreams. Sister Madly did dream that night, but it was nothing like the acid trip of pure imagination that was promised. Then again, perhaps Stilton is the LSD of cheeses, and the dreams will manifest as a series of magnificent flashbacks in years to come.

In fact, there’s one now…

Booyah!”

This most sophisticated salutation was accompanied by an insane proposition by the Happy Phlebotomist, who was in the field militantly actively recruiting for the local Blood Drive- at least, he was militantly actively recruiting Sister Madly.*

* Sister Madly isn’t sure ‘Booyah!’ is the best way to recruit souls for a blood-draining ritual… but then, she isn’t a professional.

Since the Phlebotomy Community of America has yet to figure out a needle-free way to extract blood (osmosis, for example- that’s a very science-y thing) Sister Madly was unable to accept his most intriguing proposition (apparently, the draining ritual comes with a free cookie!) but she was just fresh out of blood. It’s one of the more unfortunate side-effects of being a Moppet.

“But you’re all about helping your fellow man.”

Just when did she say that?

“About 10 minutes ago.”

… she was rather hoping you didn’t hear that…

BOURBON MAPLE CHICKEN

  • 6-8 chicken drums/thighs

MARINADE

  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 TBSP coriander
  • 2 tsp chipotle pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP lime juice
  • 3-4 TBSP olive oil, or as needed

BOURBON GLAZE

  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp lime juice

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

GLAZE
Mix together all ingredients except lime juice
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer to reduce (glaze will coat spoon)
Mix in lime juice and remove from heat

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Bake for 45 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

 THEME SONG: Meltdown, AC/DC

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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


5-Spiced Apricot Chicken ~ Forbidden Fruit on Rye

It wasn’t long ago that Sister Madly, after several gastronomical no-no’s which included the Great Ham and Banana Hollandaise Debacle, was indefinitely banned from the culinary process of party-planning. But this did not preclude her from being recruited to run essential errands, such as “picking up a couple of Swedes.”

Why Swedes specifically? Is not Sister Madly’s own Scandinavian heritage, as slight as it may be, enough of a cultural contribution to the party? Is it even possible to tell a Swede from a Norwegian? If she should bring home a Finn, would she be horribly punished?

Then again, just what kind of girl do you think she is? Do you think she routinely struts about in stilettos and a feathered boa down at the local Ikea? Sure, Sister Madly recently required that every single one of you be her Valentine– some of whom even had the audacity to question her technique- but there is a world of difference between demanding your companionship and wooing you with her dubious charm.

Besides, if Sister Madly was any good at wooing, would she resort to demanding?*

* Yes, actually. Sister Madly is lazy.

Naturally, her friends anticipated her childish tirade, and followed up with a clarifying text: Studebakers.

Well, maybe the Swede would be driving one.

Dammit… Rutabagas!

Rutabagas are a funny thing. Sister Madly has a hard time believing that the fool who first dug one up said, “Well, Son-of-a-Biscuit! What a delicious-looking thingamabob!” No doubt its history is more complicated, perhaps even stemming back to biblical times. It’s quite possible that something was lost in translating the Torah, that Eve was not tempted with the Forbidden Fruit, but the Forbidden Root.

But let’s face it: it would take an awful lot of sweet-talking on the part of the Snake to get Eve to chow down on a straight-from-the-dirt Rutabaga. Perhaps a verse was omitted from the original text in which God cursed the Forbidden Fruit by upping its carb count and reducing it to a Root, much like how the Walking-Talking Serpent was reduced to a slithering, hiss-happy Danger Noodle.

From a divine viewpoint, a Fruit-to-Root curse would have been absolutely necessary. No doubt the Forbidden Fruit would devastate the future of humanity by being a hit at the Farmer’s Market- why, just think of the incredible smoothies one could concoct, or all the lovely jams. Forbidden Fruit on a lightly-toasted rye would, without a doubt, be a most unholy way to start the weekend.

Being the cheeky little moppet that she is, Sister Madly brought up the subject to a Seminary Student later on at the party, one who got his kicks from taking himself much too seriously. She was curious as to what he had to say about her most excellent Rutabaga Theory.

He did not think it most excellent.

“If you consider the region and the climate of the Garden of Eden at the time, the Forbidden Fruit would have been similar to an Olive.”

And just what is so tempting about an Olive? It’s the only thing on this planet that can further contaminate a perfectly ghastly loaf of bologna! Olives have their place in the culinary world, make no mistake; but to bring about the downfall of all mankind- quite frankly, that tasty little wart just did not have the gumption. There is simply no way that a Serpent could seduce Eve with a beady-eyed little olive.

Unless it was in a martini.

Then again, who can say it wasn’t in a martini? How do we know that the Serpent wasn’t the local mixologist, wooing Eve with a posh cocktail? Savvy barkeeps have been making the same moves for generations- they must have picked it up from somewhere.

Speaking of which- would you like a drink, Soon-To-Be-Reverend No-Fun?

“There’s a reason they’re called spirits: being drunk with liquor is like being possessed by the devil.”

Spoken like a true fart.

5-SPICE APRICOT CHICKEN

  • 6-8 chicken drums/thighs

MARINADE

  • 3 TBSP soy sauce ~ or ~ coconut aminos
  • 2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 2 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 3-4 TBSP olive oil, or as needed

APRICOT GLAZE

  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 3-4 TBSP soy sauce ~ or ~ coconut aminos
  • 3 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Sriracha, or to taste
  • salt/pepper, to taste

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

GLAZE
Mix together glaze ingredients
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer to reduce (glaze will coat spoon)

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Bake for 45 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

THEME SONG: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Iron Butterfly


Image

My Funny Valentine


Fortitude

He was a Bold Man
That first ate an Oyster.

~ Jonathan Swift


Art by Gregory Halili


Lamb Masala ~ Voodoo Child

It’s said that everyone should work in Customer Service at least once in their lifetime, to appreciate what it’s like to work on the other side of the counter, to understand it’s about mutual respect not entitlement, and to master the art of maintaining a professional demeanor when you and your coworkers start toppling over like a flock of Fainting Goats.

Sister Madly never did achieve that last one.

It was at Utopia, and as was the winter custom, Sister Madly and Co. were passing around the common cold like a freshly-lit peace-pipe. These colds were typically nothing more than a nuisance, and this time would have been no different if it weren’t for one thrilling side-effect:

Vertigo.

Imagine, if you will, Sister Madly going about her day, selling crystals and reaping the souls of the righteous, when the floor beneath her right foot suddenly falls away into the abyss. Now imagine this being accompanied by a crushing bout of dizziness, resulting in a full-on face plant into the patchouli incense.

Or into a customer.

Or the Voodoo Fetish.*

* Nkondi, a grotesque statue covered with nails, whose function was to protect villages of the Congo by housing a spirit that hunts, harms, and punishes witches and other enemies of the tribe. Best not to anger it.

Feeling that she was entitled to a little sit-down after that whole ‘face in the Fetish’ incident, Sister Madly lingered amongst the beads and mystery dust, wondering if she owed the Fetish an apology. She’d hate for it to foster a lifelong grudge over this little incident- that sort of thing is not healthy! Particularly not for the angelic, oh-so-plucky, shorter-than-she-deserves-to-be Sister Madly.

But her heartfelt apology was interrupted by Victor, who was crawling across the floor, pushing a shoe box ahead of him with a wooden dowel as though it were a fresh batch of nitroglycerin.

DON’T TOUCH THE BOX!”

Victor, being the throes of vertigo himself, refused to carry the box lest he drop it, refused to slide it along the floor with his foot lest he fall on top of it, and certainly didn’t want Sister Madly- who had violated the Fetish, uninvited- handling it, lest he be cursed by proxy.

It wasn’t nitroglycerin in that box, but it might as well have been to Victor: a fertility god the size of business card, carved from a single opal. Victor had a pathological fear* of fertility gods, afraid that he would upset one and be cursed with a litter of children without engaging in the enjoyable process of making those children.

* He also lived in fear of the Giant Squid.

Normally, Sister Madly wouldn’t be too concerned with angering the Fertility God- after all, she routinely used the African gods to fan herself when she was hot and has yet to give birth to anything other than some incredibly bad ideas. Still, she had to admit that she, too, didn’t feel much like having children at the moment. There was still so much she did not understand about the universe, like tire treads. Why are they so blasé? If Sister Madly had a monopoly on the tire market, she would implement a line of designer treads, like Celtic Knots. She’d like a set of tires with Celtic Knot tread. Or a string of poetry- just imagine all the joy of happening upon Lovecraft written in the snow.

That is not dead which can eternal lie…

Or perhaps Poe- the entire tread nothing but the word Nevermore in slick, gothic lettering.

Or Dr. Seuss.

I do not like green eggs and ham…

It was absolutely brilliant, this idea of Poetry Tire Tread- but a brilliance the world would never know if Sister Madly ended up annoying the Fertility God. She could combat whatever curse the Fetish was about to dish up- endless William Shatner on the radio, a plague of creepy-crawlies, cucumbers- by hiding in her sock drawer, but children could easily break through this line of defense (she ought to know, having once been a child.) Indeed, a litter of Sister Madlys would be a nightmare.

Victor chose to continue on his own. He didn’t want a litter of Sister Madlys either.

LAMB MASALA

  • 1lb lamb, cubed
  • 1 14oz. can coconut milk
  • 1½ TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1½ TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 1-2 chilies, chopped
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • ghee, for sautéing

Brown lamb in heated pan; set aside
Heat ghee in pan
Add mustard seeds; roast until seeds start popping all over town
Add onions; sauté until translucent
Add chilies; sauté 2-3 min
Add ginger and garlic; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; sauté until fragrant; 30 secs
Add tomato paste; stir to coat
Add lamb; stir to coat
Add coconut milk; mix, and bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until lamb is tender, stirring occasionally; 15-20 min

THEME SONG: Voodoo Chile, The Jimi Hendrix Experience


Wild Mushroom Stew ~ A Confederacy of Mukluks

During the time Sister Madly spent in their employ, Utopia obtained a reputation of small-time intrigue, from back alley business deals to  Kinder Egg transactions, to smuggling contraband inside of Russian Nesting Dolls. In spite of these rumors,* Utopia decided to venture into the seedy underworld of Alpaca Sweaters.

* Sister Madly might have been responsible for spreading those rumors.

Now Sister Madly knows that there are certain risks one takes when fraternizing with the Knitting Demimonde, from products of questionable origin (i.e., “Made in the Hinterlands”) to defects in the sweater itself:

As with all art, beauty is in the mind of the beholder. Clearly this was not a Backwards Flag; this was something deeper: a masterpiece of hypoallergenic fleece symbolizing the all the hardships a weary Knitter endures during a strong, eastern wind in the Hinterlands.

Eastern winds contribute to sweater-wearing, after all.

But Management, bereft of soul as is their wont, cast aside Sister Madly’s magnificent critique in favor of a far greater concern over why the whole of West Michigan refused to show their patriotism with a Backwards American Flag Sweater in the middle of July.

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, Management concluded that the only way to rectify this horrible situation was to bundle the American Flag Sweaters with matching American Flag Mukluks, thus revolutionizing the fashion industry, winning a Nobel Prize, and retiring to a luxury hut in the Maldives. And no doubt they would have done just that, had it not been for a slight deficiency in Old Glory.

Let’s see if you can spot the error:

This sent Management into the throes of an existential crisis.

Fiddlesticks!” *

* Sister Madly apologizes for the graphic language.

While nobody could deny that the Flag had American roots, it would have, perhaps, behooved Management to have been a bit more specific when placing the order.

Upon being promoted to Marketing Director a few seconds prior, Sister Madly was enlisted to find a way to promote the Confederate Mukluks in a positive light, as Utopia would rather utilize the errant Mukluks than complain about the product- Knitters, as you know, can be particularly cutthroat.

Not wishing to be shish-kabobbed on the nearest knitting needle, Sister Madly pitched her usual poppycock: Sweetest Day was just around the corner, after all, and what better gift for your sweetheart than this knitted ensemble depicting America’s Civil War?

Then again, why not bundle the Sweaters with a full-length mirror (gilded frame optional) as the Flag would no longer appear reversed in this reflective apparatus? As for the Mukluks, they could easily be marketed to some disgruntled butler as cheeky little dusting cloths- knitted Mukluks clean up dust almost as efficiently as they create it.

Sister Madly even enlisted herself as visual aid, modelling the lovely* ensemble in a beam of sunlight.

* In marketing, even the most hideous of products becomes ‘lovely.’

But even as Sister Madly pitched this most excellent campaign, the sight of her posing most artistically in the latest Civil War Couture*- thus violating every city ordinance in the process- was enough to convince Management to donate the ensemble to the local shelter down the street. Utopia, despite its questionable reputation, was nonetheless generous with its clutter.

* Sister Madly also apologizes to the lady passing by the window during this unfortunate exhibition: you didn’t deserve to witness that.

WILD MUSHROOM STEW

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16oz wild mushrooms
  • rainbow carrots, chopped
  • pearl onions, peeled
  • baby potatoes, quartered
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 3-4 cups veg or mushroom broth
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire (vegan substitutes here)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • oil, for sautéing

Sauté chopped onion until translucent
Add garlic; sauté 1-2 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Deglaze with Marsala Wine; 2-3 minutes
Add tomato paste; mix
Add potatoes, carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms; stir to coat
Add broth
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; cover
Simmer until veggies are almost tender, stirring occasionally
Uncover; simmer to reduce/thicken
Add Worcestershire; mix
Adjust seasonings to taste

THEME SONG: Quiet Americans, Shearwater


Grand Illusion

Losing
An Illusion

Makes You
Wiser

Than Finding
A Truth.

~ Ludwig Borne


Artwork by Guido Daniele


Pomegranate Glazed Chicken ~ To Hobnob with the Dead

It’s said that around the end of October the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, allowing the Living to hobnob with the Dearly Departed. One unsettling tradition this time of year is a Dumb Supper: a silent dinner held in honor of those who have passed on. Since there would be many such delightful celebrations on Samhain, Sister Madly decided to host hers early.

Now last year’s attempt was fraught with problems, including an uncertainty as to how to invite the Dead to dinner, and not having enough space to accommodate the guests. The latter of these issues was easily solved this time around as Sister Madly would be house-sitting for her sister – the impeccable Tallulah – and her husband while they venture off and do saintly anniversary things.

As for inviting the Dead… there are Spells specifically tailored for summoning the spirits, but spelling was one of Sister Madly’s weaker subjects when she was a school-aged brat and she is proud to say that she hasn’t improved much since. And as neither the Dead nor Sister Madly is on social media, she resorted to verbal invitations, arbitrarily shouting them out these last few months regardless of the hour, especially when passing a cemetery.*

* She also invited a cow, a vagrant in plaid pants, a scrub jay, and a tow truck while utilizing this method.

The arrangements were nearly perfect: the house is set back from the street, thus away from the prying eyes of the HOA should calling up the Dead be in violation of the Bylaws. Also, should the more impish of the Dearly Departed choose to stick around after the Supper, they will be haunting Tallulah and possessing her 2 toffee-nosed cats.

And perhaps an appliance or two.

When hosting a Dumb Supper, one is required one to feed the guests; not only is it polite, it speaks well of one’s upbringing. Naturally, Sister Madly decided to raid Tallulah’s pantry to fulfill the menu- no doubt Tallulah would be pleased to find her cupboards stripped bare for the sake of the Dearly Departed, just as she would be happy to find that her humble abode ransacked for the event.

However, this did not go as planned. The only fare that had potential was a can of Spam,* a post-ripe mango, half a bottle of vodka, and a tin of Oh, My Cod! cat food- it was not unlike the Peanuts Thanksgiving of jelly beans, popcorn, and buttered toast- and that was unacceptable. After all, the Dead might be gluten-free, and it would be inhospitable of Sister Madly not to accommodate the dietary needs of her ephemeral guests. It was most impolite of the impeccable Tallulah to have not been more prepared for the Dumb Supper she didn’t know Sister Madly was going to host.

* The Spam was a wedding gift to Tallulah 3 years prior, and manners forbid Sister Madly from revealing the giver.

Just as she was mentally rehearsing her Why-Is-There-No-Food-For-The-Dead Reprimand (complete with dramatic eyebrow-arching at appropriate intervals) Sister Madly became aware of a low and oh-so mysterious hum somewhere at the dark end of the house.

Sister Madly does not like the dark end of the house, not when there’s mysterious hums and no curtains on the windows (seriously, Tallulah, that last one- what gives?)

But then, she became indignant: the Supper was not for 2 days yet! While simple etiquette tells us that fashionably late to a party is acceptable, 2 days early is nothing more than outrageously boorish, regardless of one’s mortal state. Sister Madly will have to see about leaving a Book of Manners at the cemetery the next time she passes by.

Armed with the adorable Ebenezer (ghosts, she decided, become weak in their nebulous knees at the sight of a grumpy Persian,) Sister Madly investigated this ghostly transmission and soon discovered the source: standing upright at the edge of the bathroom sink was Tallulah’s electric toothbrush, at full-power on its own accord, slowly rotating in its place.

If this was not the early arrival of the Invite, then this must be a transmission* of a wretched soul who had passed on in this very room. Everybody knows that ghosts commonly haunt the place of their death, particularly if that death was tragic.

And Sister Madly knows exactly how that happened:

* The transmission was a request of Chinese Takeout. Sister Madly, of course, obliged.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
~ * ~ * ~
~

POMEGRANATE GLAZED CHICKEN

  • 8-10 chicken drumsticks/thighs

MARINADE

  • 1 Tbsp sumac
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

POMEGRANATE GLAZE ~ (yields approx. ½ cup)

  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbsp honey (to taste)
  • ¼-½ tsp harissa or sriracha (to taste)
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • salt, to taste

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

GLAZE
Mix together all ingredients except Worcestershire
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer to reduce (glaze will coat the back of spoon)
Add Worcestershire; mix and simmer 2-3 minutes
Adjust honey and harissa/sriracha to taste
Remove from heat; set aside

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken in a baking tray (for crispier chicken, add baking rack to tray)
Bake for 45 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

 THEME SONG: Ghost Story, Charming Disaster


Pambazos ~ Doomsday Steppers

Is it too much to ask that bandits not steal the fire escape in the middle of the night?

This isn’t the first such heist in the Madliverse; once a tree outside her window disappeared for no good reason that she could tell, and Sister Madly has endured the morning kiss of the nuclear sun ever since.

For those psychotics who are contemplating a similar caper, do have the courtesy to leave the unfortunates some sort of warning- such as caution tape, or employing a limbless, black knight declaring that ‘none shall pass’ at the site where the staircase used to be. Had the aforementioned bandit embraced these basic underworld civilities, his feat would have appeared as a cozy little blurb in the apartment newsletter to be marveled by the tenets over a cup of cocoa.

Instead, Sister Madly and Co. discovered the architectural deficiency in the most astonishing manner possible.*

* T’was even more astonishing to the tenet below, at whose feet was dropped a bag of putrid trash, along with Sister Madly’s shoe.

Judging by her neighbor’s slit-eyed glare, it would seem that Sister Madly, herself, was widely considered responsible for the heist. Sure, some say that her mind is as twisted as a pretzel, and she has been known to have a teeny-tiny problem with pyromania*- hardly worth mentioning, really- but that doesn’t mean she has the capability to waltz off with a fire escape at a moment’s notice. In fact, such a heist would be nearly impossible for anyone shorter than a Sneech- and Sister Madly is hardly a Sneech.

* The untimely flambéing of that lone corn fritter, that German Christmas Pinwheel Thingy, and New Year’s Day 2014 were all accidents- happy little accidents.

But that doesn‘t mean such allegations are unfounded. As the more devout amongst you know, August 8th is the most significant festivity of the year: Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night, and Sister Madly can be counted amongst the faithful.

Now if our dear Moppet took the term ‘neighbor’ literally, she need only open her door and chuck a zucchini across the hall- an act that has been deemed ‘less-than neighborly’ by tenets in the past. Zucchini Night is one of the few times a year that Sister Madly embraces the ‘all mankind is your neighbor’ metaphor, before reverting to that customary petulance that is much beloved.

However, due to a recent trip to the coast (in which she overstayed her welcome) Sister Madly was obliged to celebrate this sacred holiday a few days late- and in daylight. Although her impeccable stealth guaranteed the ceremonial Leaving-of-the-Zucchini went off without a hitch, Sister Madly was unable to bask in the satisfaction of a job well-done as there just happened to be a crucial witness bumbling down the street:

Google.

Sister Madly knew these sort of things happened, but they happen to other people: desperadoes busted for their negligence, for flinging their DNA over murder scenes willy-nilly while the BBC watches from a nearby Pringle can. Moppets are much less sloppy, crushing all Pringle cans before embarking upon a murder most foul; but Google does not heed the way of the Moppet, choosing rather to defiantly photograph humanity without so much as a how-do-you-do, and this peeves Sister Madly.

Now it’s well-known amongst the local demimonde that it’s best to ‘do away’ with a witness rather than allow said witness the liberty to resort to extortion- blackmailers, you see, can never be bought; one can only hope to even the score. So Sister Madly engaged the intrepid Itty Bitty*- her trusty accomplice, lookout, and sleepy-eyed assassin- to properly attend to the matter.

* A handsome Smart Car.

And so it came to pass that she and Itty Bitty embarked upon a mission to silence Google, dodging speed bumps and toddlers lurking in the fray until foiled by a family of ducks crossing against the light, behind which the Duo watched Google peter off into the summer haze with a nonchalance that bordered upon the sinister. Yes, Sister Madly is an extremely ineffective do-away-with-er.

But not all hope was lost; due to its inability to mind its own business, it is possible that Google witnessed the heist of her fire escape, and for that Sister Madly would pay a pretty penny- or at least, a very shiny one. Google would be coughing up the info in no time; Sister Madly can be a sadistic interrogator, you know.

Then again-

PAMBAZOS

  • 1 regular or sweet potato, peeled, cubed, and cooked
  • 1 lb chorizo, casings removed and crumbled
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste
  • Red enchilada sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • Brioche/Kaiser rolls, or similar
  • Oil
  • To Serve: sour cream, guacamole, queso fresco, lettuce

FILLING
Cook chorizo in skillet; approx 5-7 min
Add onion, cook until softened
Add potatoes; mix, crushing slightly

ROLLS
Heat oil in clean skillet
Brush outside of rolls with enchilada sauce until well-coated
Pan-fry rolls in skillet, coated side down, until browned
Add filling and desired toppings
Serve immediately

THEME SONG: The Last of the Secret Agents, Nancy Sinatra


Sweet Potato Lamb Samosas ~ Book Club Phlebotomy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Cookie Monster.

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

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

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

And that’s just what they did:

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

* In the original Kanamit, of course.

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

“None of these books exist!”

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

SWEET POTATO LAMB SAMOSAS

PASTRY

  • 2 sheets Puff Pastry, thawed
  • Egg, beaten

SWEET POTATO

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

LAMB

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

* ~ *  FILLING PREPARATION * ~ *

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

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

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

Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen w/Philip Glass


Madeira Lamb Stew ~ Monastic Skullduggery

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

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

* Washing soap (don’t ask…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then, who is she to judge?

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

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

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

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

Pop Rocks.

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

The highest happiness.

A state of perfect serenity.

Pop Rocks.

MADEIRA LAMB STEW

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

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

THEME SONG: Happy Together, the Turtles


Curried Sumac Pulled Chicken ~ The Perks of Being Invisible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CURRIED SUMAC PULLED CHICKEN

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

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

THEME SONG: Invisible, U2


Image 4.) Anna Spencer Photography


Tunisian Vegetable Soup ~ Stilton Dreams

Now Sister Madly knows better than to believe every rumor that crosses her path; otherwise, she would be locked in the pantry, wailing in sackcloth over the fact that the world did not end in 2012. However, when the Professor cited an article that claimed Stilton Cheese has been known to induce dreams, she was most intrigued.

The idea of vivid dreams was like catnip to the starry-eyed moppet, as her sleep has been rather dreary as of late: even Rambunctious Shadow Kitty has been tame these last few weeks. A dream of epic proportions would be a welcome change to the recent nights of intermittent insomnia: dreams of travel, of sparkly things, of encounters with legendary creatures- anything that deviated from the current ritual of staring up at the ceiling fan at 3 AM would be greatly appreciated.

There was, of course, the possibility that she would end up with equally vivid nightmares, in which case Sister Madly would spend the rest of the night with her eyes propped open with toothpicks.

But that is the risk one assumes when dabbling with Stilton Cheese.*

* Along with the most atrocious morning breath. Indeed, it is not a Cheese of Romance.

So to ensure a night of unparalleled adventures in slumberland, Sister Madly decided to hit up the local Stilton-Dealing demimonde: the neighborhood grocer.

It’s quite sci-fi, really, the way the supermarket doors slide apart before her. She has long-since perfected her majestic stride, parading in and out of the market like a demented Grand Vizier- until that afternoon, that is, when the doors slid apart with all the speed and enthusiasm of continental drift.

Which Sister Madly failed to notice until it was all too late.

After the usual bout of stars and bluebirds circling about her head, the first thing she saw was a pair of bacon socks and bear claw slippers standing before her. Further on up, the celestial vision gave way to the wool skirt and orange poncho of the jolly transient who collects bottles from bins and feeds granola to the pigeons. He was particularly chipper that day, having just heard of a possible 5¢ bottle deposit increase, and was eager to tell Sister Madly all about it.

He then mentioned that the doors were defective as of late, and she should take care when challenging their position.

Once inside, she made her way over to the cheese counter, where she effectively avoided all staff due to the glossy ‘don’t even try talking to me’ veneer inherent in all feral Sister Madly’s. Unfortunately, the market was rather limited on their selection of Stilton; but then, certain American proprietors are rather skittish when it comes to unconventional cheeses.*

* Especially in regards to that cheese infested with maggots– seriously, Italy, that is so uncool.

While the cutesy little sign recommended a cheeky wine pairing for foodies and romantics alike, there was no advice on protocol for inducing dreams (how unthoughtful!) Apparently, dream-seekers were completely on their own when pursuing a round of nocturnal adventures.

And yet, this revelation was nothing compared to the terror Sister Madly endured when confronted by the mother of all social horrors:

The self-checkout was gone.

There is a reason that the gods created self-checkout, just as they created texting, single-passenger cars, and carrier pigeons: to pass their divine blessing upon lovely, antisocial behavior.

You know what this means, don’t you? Sister Madly has to talk to people!

And she has to talk to them about a wedge of stinky cheese.

Now this was a high-risk scenario: would the cashier deny Sister Madly this cheese knowing she was using it for recreational purposes? Were there guidelines on how to consume this delicacy for maximum dream lucidity? Is she allowed crackers? Cured meats? Some people put Stilton in a port wine sauce; however, Sister Madly wasn’t too keen on the idea of drinking her cheese- that all but guaranteed unforgivable nightmares. And what about the rind? Was there a certain magic contained within that outer layer?

But these questions answered themselves when Sister Madly woke the next morning, all tangled in bed sheets and with the world’s most terrifying bed-head.

There had been a dream, all right, one of a plucky Sister Madly sticking pins in ginger root as though it was a voodoo doll, all the while singing ‘All I Have to Do is Dream’ to her pet pinecone (affectionately named, ‘Pinecone.’) There was a vague awareness that the constellation Sagittarius was being held hostage by a man named Doug, but this was of no consequence as Sister Madly was a Gemini.

In other words, your run-of-the-mill dream. So disappointing.

TUNISIAN VEGETABLE SOUP

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
  • Sweet potato, cubed
  • Rainbow carrots, chopped
  • Celery, sliced
  • 1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked (opt)
  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbsp Harissa, to taste
  • 1 tbsp Ras el Hanout
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 cinnamon powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil, for sauteing

Saute onion and garlic until translucent; 5-8 min
Add carrots and celery; saute 3-5 min
Add spices, tomato paste, and harissa; mix
Add potatoes and mushrooms; stir to coat
Add stock and bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25-30 min, stirring occasionally
Add couscous (if using)
Cover and simmer until couscous is cooked; 8-10 min

THEME SONG: All I Have to Do is Dream, Everly Brothers


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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, it’s nice to be included.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, most of the alpaca…

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

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

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

…with babies?

“No, with cinnamon.”

Well, that’s alright then.

CITY CHICKEN SKEWERS

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

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

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

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


Tom Kha Gai ~ Romancing the Stone

People would take pains to tell her that beauty was only skin-deep, as if a man ever fell for an attractive pair of kidneys ~ Terry Pratchett

The last time Sister Madly went on the prowl was at the Renaissance Faire some years ago. The outcome was less than favorable.

Perhaps unwisely, Sister Madly found herself Romancing the Stone, a quest where one picks a numbered stone from a basket with the goal of finding the individual with the corresponding number from another basket. It is the one weekend at the Faire where the wandering minstrels are drowned out by the sounds of a medieval-love bingo game. Yet despite the pretext of feral romance, this venture was not without risks; she was just as likely to end up with a starry-eyed inamorato as she would this salty gentleman:

Or this one:

Or this:

Yes, even this:

As you can see, the risk was hardly minimal.

But the quest took a dark turn a few hours later when Sister Madly, who had been sharing a pint with the Scotts of Clan Picnic Blanket, noticed that her Stone was missing.

But even more mystifying was how long it took for her to realized that Dum Dums had been left in its place.

Seriously? Sister Madly’s future happiness is to be at the mercy of a corpse-bird in a black negligee? That’s as safe as an ejection seat in a helicopter! The Dodo was an absolute philistine when it came to all-things whimsical; the only reason he would carry a heart-shaped rock was if he was attending a stoning in the square.

Nevertheless, one can’t discredit a fact just because one doesn’t like the reality of it- and judging by the adolescent snickering across the way, Clan Picnic Blanket was a party to this latest bit of skullduggery.

You know, Snickering Scotts, you could have said something when you saw someone pilfering her Stone- you know the Dodo’s fondness for Sock Trafficking; now he’s going to sell her Stone to some little love tart and leave Sister Madly to die an old maid! She might as well go home right now and start collecting kittens.

Then again, how did you not notice the theft, Sister Madly? The patterns in the picnic table were not so interesting to have missed the Big Bird of Creepiness looming over your shoulder. A creature like that should have stuck out like a cactus in a pancake.

While the Scotts freely admitted their part in the theft, they insisted that they were doing her a favor: they didn’t give her Stone to the Dodo to guarantee her spinsterhood, but to secure her a soul mate. Sure, the Dodo had his faults- an unsunny disposition, looks that were in league against him, not to mention that whole ‘plague’ thing- but at least Sister Madly knew what she would be getting herself into, unlike most blind dates. She could still look for the original suitor if she wished, but should she find that suitor, well, unsuitable, she had a backup- how many people can say as much? Just write that number on some random rock, and make all your soul mate dreams come true!

Besides- had she seen the other wandering romantics?

You know, Scott, if Sister Madly had a chalupa, she would so throw it at you right now! She doesn’t take kindly to people who steal her rocks- her vegetables, yes, but not her rocks. And isn’t the reason 2 individuals are set up because they are believed to be compatible?

“Romance isn’t meant to be easy, Sister Madly. Besides, it’s the Dark Ages- you take what you can get!”

No doubt this was intended to console her, as condescending arrogance is wont to do; unfortunately, all Sister Madly heard was a dare…

Yes, the Dark Ages- what a time to be alive!

TOM KHA GAI

  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2” ginger, minced
  • 2 chilies, chopped and seeded to taste
  • 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp green curry paste
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • (2) 14 oz. cans coconut milk
  • 3-4 cups broth
  • 1/4 cup Thai basil, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste
  • Ghee/Oil, for sauteing

Saute onion in a stockpot until translucent, 5 min
Add garlic, ginger, and mushrooms; saute, 3-5 min
Add curry paste; mix
Add chicken; stir to coat
Mix in coconut milk, broth, chilies, and fish sauce; bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked; approx 30 min
Mix in lime juice and basil; remove from heat

THEME SONG: Made of Stone, The Stone Roses


Images:

2.) Pinterest
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4.) Tumblr
5.) Pinterest
9.) Tumblr


Moroccan Pulled Chicken ~ To Catch a Truant

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freshmen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOROCCAN PULLED CHICKEN

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

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

THEME SONG: School’s Out, Alice Cooper


Lighthouse Photo by Thomas Zakowski


Meditating with the Swans

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

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

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

* Knock-off souls look much like nougat.

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps it was angered by your fancy pants.

“…”

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

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

Professor… that’s a goose.

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

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

Swan.

Swan.

Punk Swan.

Checkered Swan.

What-Was-Evolution-Thinking? Swan.

Extinct Swan.

Hoppy Swan.

Spitting Swan.

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

* Aka, She Who Manned the Beverage Cart.

“I thought Canadians were polite!”

That’s stereotyping, Professor. Shame on you.

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

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

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

Someone like Sister Madly.

And she will.

Someday…

 

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