Posts tagged “recipes

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

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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


Poblano Corn Chowder ~ One Wheel Short of a Bike

A few weeks ago, Sister Madly was on her way home from the Market when she was passed by a man on a unicycle.

Now, she knows what you are all thinking: how does one even begin to master the unicycle? Does one utilize training wheels? Where does one keep the spare tire? And who was the madman that came up with the concept in the first place? Indeed, it was this train of thought that momentarily distracted Sister Madly from the fact that the cyclist was completely naked.

Yes, Sister Madly had just wandered into the outskirts of the World Naked Bike Ride.

As it turned out, the World Naked Bike Ride- which began as a protest against society’s oil dependency while promoting positive body image- was meeting at the park in her neighborhood. The Good Samaritan in Sister Madly considered hunting down the Unicyclist to inform him that he was, sadly, one wheel short of a bicycle- it was the Naked Bike Ride, after all- but she was quite overdressed for the occasion.*

* The World Naked Bike Ride is bit of a misnomer, as riders are encouraged to wear shoes and helmets, making it the Nearly Naked Bike Ride with Special Guest: the Unicyclist Without a Spare Tire.

While the Ride itself was to commence at 9pm, a few carefree activists decided to get a head start on the demonstration by assembling at 2; and though Sister Madly is all for that Consume Less Fuel thing, she was unable to participate in the Ride as she, unfortunately, does not own a bike.

But even if one does not participate in the Ride itself, there is much to be learned from the demonstration; indeed, much to be shared:

– Riding a bike without certain undergarments can be extremely uncomfortable and is accompanied by many 4-letter words.

– Unicorns exist; they are environmentally conscious and roam about on their hind legs. Unfortunately, Sister Madly is unable to provide photographic evidence as Unicorns are also body positive, and roam about completely naked.

* Nessie and Sasquatch, however, are clearly gun-toting, non-Prius driving, cloth-wearing body-shamers as they were nowhere to be found at the Bike Ride. Savages.

– Fairies also exist: they tend to be 6 feet tall, have butterfly wings, and sparkly Peace Signs painted on their tummies.

– Barbecuing in the buff is an extreme sport due to errant ash and the potential to singe off more than one’s eyebrows. A child’s bike seat, however, is a perfectly legitimate way to transport a bag of charcoal, provided it is properly strapped in and wearing a helmet.

* Fully nudity does not appear to be addressed in the current Food Handler’s Handbook. It seems that the Health Department does not give a hoot about one’s attire as long as one wears a hairnet.

Extreme Barbecuer was not wearing a hairnet.

– Now, that man is wearing a helmet. That’s right sir: safety first.

– Not all hippies sit in a circle and sing One Tin Soldier while weaving flowers into their hair. Sometimes they sing the Scooby-Doo Theme Song while smoking dubious plant life.

– A pair of red stilettoes is considered adequate footwear, the lady with the ombre hair insisted. Sister Madly has to admit, there’s talent in stiletto cycling- after all, if she so much as even looks at a pair of stilettoes, Sister Madly will break her ankle; she’s sprained it twice just thinking about it these last few seconds. Hats off to the Stiletto Cyclist.

– If you order the cheesesteak sandwich from the Hawaiian Food Cart, just eat all the steak with a fork and feed the bread to the ducks: you will be minimizing waste while maintaining a healthy, low-carb lifestyle, and you just might bring joy to a lonely, hungry, down-on-his-luck duck. Just a friendly tip from the cyclist in a loincloth and equestrian helmet.

– A tutu is more often worn about the head than about the waist, something Sister Madly does not remember from Tallulah’s brief childhood stint in ballet- but then, neither were particularly fashion savvy in those days.

– Update: Stiletto-Wearing Cyclist was not a lady. Apologies.

POBLANO CORN CHOWDER

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 poblanos, roasted, peeled, and chopped
  • 2 cans creamed corn
  • 1-2 potatoes, cubed
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 1-2 celery, diced
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp turmeric (opt, for color)
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • coconut milk ~ or ~ heavy cream (opt)
  • lime juice, to finish

Sauté onion until translucent: 8-10 min
Add garlic and poblanos; sauté 2-3 min
Add celery and carrots; sauté 2-3 min
Add spices; sauté 30 sec
Add potatoes, corn, and broth; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until veggies are tender; 25-30 min
Blend soup to desired smoothness (opt)
Add cream (if using); simmer 2-3 min
Stir in lime juice and remove from heat

THEME SONG: Riders on the Storm, The Doors


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 tom 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


Teriyaki Chicken Wings ~ The Ladies of the Night

“I don’t wanna go to church- I wanna eat pancakes and watch the hookers.”

Perhaps she’d better explain…

It was over ten years ago that Sister Madly left the great state of Michigan for stranger lands. Her Mother had accompanied her along the journey, and as it was the Mater’s last day in town- which she faced with a most suspicious good cheer- they arranged to meet Tallulah that evening a pub that had once been a Chapel* back in the 30’s.

* Actually, it began as a mortuary, only to include weddings later on- after all, if a marriage ends at the Chapel, it should begin at the Chapel.

As Tallulah was working at a most sophisticated and respectable boutique, Sister Madly and the Mothership were free to pop into the neighborhood bar for a pre-dinner cocktail- after all, it was 5 o’clock somewhere.

It was a classy joint with its plastic lawn furniture, AstroTurf, and life-size cutout of Liberace in the corner. Even the cocktails were nothing short of sophistication, with Sister Madly’s margarita lacking everything but the tequila, and the Mothership’s wine presented in a single-serving bottle with a neon bendy straw.

It was nothing short of superb.*

* Although Sister Madly was compelled to have a stern tête-à-tête with the jukebox: not everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting. Sister Madly surely wasn’t.

Now the occasional bar fight is to be expected even in the classiest of joints- sometimes over a lady, sometimes over a game of billiards- but the epitome of class is when a heated discussion erupts over Martha Stewart and her decision to add bacon to pancake batter.*

* The epitome of class is also when the patrons demand to watch the Cooking Channel over sports or CNN.

Classier still was that this discussion was spearheaded by an absolute philistine who declared he ate nothing but raw. Sister Madly made the assumption that when he said this, he meant Raw Vegan.

That is not what he meant.

As it turned out, the Philistine was an ex-vegan of 6 years who now eats only raw meat organ meat in particular. He seemed equally disappointed in Miss Martha’s decision to cook the bacon as he was in her refusal to serve raw pancake batter.

Sister Madly must confess that, despite her many angelic qualities, she is not a raw meat-eater… more like a medium, medium-rare meat-eater. No doubt this sin is what will keep her from attaining sainthood in the afterlife.*

* Which is perfectly fine, as a naughty Sister Madly fully intends to haunt each and every one of you upon reaching said afterlife.

What fascinated the Mothership, however, was not the unconventional diet of the Philistine, but the fact that he was in search of a companion who was willing to be Raw with him- and by ‘companion’ she though he meant ‘hooker’- but then, she was a few bendy-straw wines into the afternoon.

Now even Sister Madly, who had only been in town for a few days, knew where to find the Ladies of the Night; Tallulah often saw them while working at her most sophisticated and respectable boutique, and told many a tawdry tale. One more bendy-straw wine later, the Mothership decided that pancakes and spying on the Ladies of the Night was more appealing than an evening at the Chapel Pub.

“I don’t wanna go to church- I wanna eat pancakes and watch the hookers.”

TERIYAKI CHICKEN WINGS

  • 3-3½ lbs. chicken wings ~ OR ~ 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs

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
  • 1-3 TBSP oil, or as needed

SAUCE

  • 2-3 TBSP honey, or to taste
  • 2 TBSP ginger, grated
  • ½ cup sake
  • 1 cup coconut aminos ~ OR ~ soy
  • 1-2 TBSP rice vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced

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 sauce thickens

BAKE
Preheat oven to 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Bake:
~ 30 min (WINGS)
~ 45 min (THIGHS)
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: One Sin Between Me and the Lord, Peter Murphy’s Carver Combo


Thai Basil Lemongrass Wings ~ A PhD in Small Talk

What training does one need to be an Executioner?

Admittedly, Sister Madly has never seen Executioner listed as college major, so the courses one must take for this profession must be wide and varied- business management, for example, and art theory- much like how one needs a degree in Philosophy to be a professional dog-walker.*

* The employment ad for aforementioned dog-walker position stated, ‘degree in any field,’ which clearly meant Philosophy.

Then again, does one even need a degree in Execution? Or does the discipline provide on-the-job-training? Is it all based upon experience? There’s a small arsenal of medieval weaponry under her bed ready to be used at a moment’s notice; perhaps Sister Madly ought to add a few souls to her repertoire thus expanding her resumé. Execution-ing is quickly becoming a lost art.

The Professor, however, with his undetectable sense of humor * and a crippling fear of Cheeto dust, clearly disapproved of this rumination.

* Make no mistake, the Professor had a sense of humor- just not a detectable one.

So Persephone can declare at which strip club she saw her first cockroach- and do so without reproach- but Sister Madly cannot speculate about a career change? What if she’s a natural? She was pretty good at axe-throwing at the Ren Faire back in the day… surely that means something.

The Professor, however, indicated that he was not interested in discussing Capital Punishment on his night off.

Who said anything about Capital Punishment? Perhaps Sister Madly doesn’t want to be a government employee; perhaps she wants to freelance. She could contract her services, be her own boss- the entrepreneurial spirit runs strong through the Madly Family Tree. No doubt her own sister, Tallulah, would utilize these talents from time to time- everybody knows how cutthroat retired, part-time antique dealers can be.

Still, the Professor wanted to change the subject, and Sister Madly is nothing if not accommodating.

…Sister Madly had a dream the other night that Tallulah got a French Bulldog, whom she named Johnny Popcorn…

While said Professor was unable to follow the storyline, he did manage to question why it was a French Bulldog.*

* Sister Madly wondered that, too, as she would’ve chosen a fox or an otter; but it was Tallulah’s dog in the dream, so clearly it was Tallulah who chose a French Bulldog and he should ask her.

…Ever try oyster sauce straight from the bottle? Sister Madly won’t be making that mistake again…!

Nope. Too controversial.

What would you do if you found out that Sister Madly was actually your imaginary friend?

Oh no- that was just too traumatizing to consider.

… A few months ago was Sister Madly’s half-birthday…

Apparently, the Professor was unfamiliar with the Half-Birthday, a phenomenon Sister Madly’s encountered quite frequently ever since leaving Michigan. It seems nobody outside the Midwest is interested in celebrating the halfway point to their next birthday. Sister Madly, however, is much more diplomatic and graciously allows people to buy her ciders on that magnificent day.

You see, that is why it’s important to determine the avenues one must take to be an Executioner: to give those launching down the destructive path of tasting oyster sauce straight from the bottle- and the subsequent discussion thereof- the means to a brighter future! As it stands, Sister Madly is one tedious tête-à-tête away from a PhD in Small-Talk.

… but seriously, about that Executioner thing- does one need a degree, or is it all about experience?

THAI BASIL LEMONGRASS WINGS

  • 3-3½ lbs. chicken wings ~ OR ~ 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, finely minced ~ OR ~ 3 TBSP lemongrass paste
  • 3 TBSP fish sauce
  • 3 TBSP coconut aminos ~ OR ~ low sodium soy
  • 1 TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Thai basil, finely chopped *
  • 2-3 TBSP oil, or as needed

* Thai Basil substitute: fresh basil, plus pinch of anise.

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

BAKE
Preheat oven 400*
Place chicken on greased baking rack in tray
Coat chicken with any remaining marinade
Bake for:
~ 45-50 min (WINGS)
~ 55-60 min (THIGHS)
Remove from oven; let rest 5 minutes before serving

THEME SONG: Psycho Killer, Talking Heads


Autumn Harvest Tagine ~ To Catch a Falling Star

So, Starfish, we meet again…

“Is it alive?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ * DUMB SUPPER 2019 GUEST LIST * ~

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

AUTUMN HARVEST TAGINE

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

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

THEME SONG: Starman, David Bowie


Banana Curry Pizza ~ Disasterchef 2: Chaotic Neutral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would be Sweden, Professor.

Domestically.”

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

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

Yes she can.

“It’s pizza- there are rules.”

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

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

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

“Chaotic neutral.”

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

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

The Professor had but one response:

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

BANANA CURRY PIZZA

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

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

THEME SONG: Anything by ABBA


Moroccan Roti John ~ Hashtag Believe

No doubt you’ve been wondering what Sister Madly does all day. It’s true that she doesn’t have much of an online presence, but that is for the benefit of the species as envy has been known to destroy nations. Still, that does little to dissuade the more curious amongst you, and as curiosity has been responsible for killing many a cat, Sister Madly has graciously provided a snapshot narrative of her quaint yet fashionable everyday life:

Gorgeous Sunrise! #Nature

Morning Devotionals w/cuppa sour cream. #SpiritualWalk

Cuteness overload! #Pets

DMV Heart Hands! #BestDayEver

Molecular Gastronomy at the hottest new bistro, Chomp. #YOLO

OMG so delish! #CleanEating

#ShowTheLove

Woo-Hoo! My Amazon Prime has arrived! #Blessed

What?! He knows he’s not supposed to play in the wok! #FollowYourBliss

Or wear my jewelry- why is he being so naughty? #Fashionista

A High-Society Girl at   #KnowYourWorth

Gorgeous Sunset! #Beauty

Well, look who’s sulking! #Introvert

Looking forward to a long soak in my favorite pothole. #HotMess

Unwinding with a glass of bay leaf water. #Believe

Now you may think that Sister Madly romanticized her daily routine, but truth be told life in the Madliverse is every bit as glamorous as depicted. While modesty may play a small factor in why she doesn’t engage in social media- and a most modest Moppet she is- Sister Madly just doesn’t have the patience to deal with all the haters who would criticize her spiritual walk or report her to the Humane Society whenever she makes Pet Dragon Fruit into a popsicle. The burial ground just isn’t big enough.

Yet.

MOROCCAN ROTI JOHN

  • Oil/ghee, for sautéing
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1-2 chilies, chopped and seeded to taste
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1lb lamb mince
  • 1 TBSP Ras el Hanout
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • crusty bread, such as baguette
  • yogurt, smoked gouda, harissa, for garnish

FILLING
Sauté onion until translucent; 8-10 min
Add chili, garlic, and ginger; sauté 10-15 min
Add ras el hanout; sauté until fragrant; 1 min
Remove from heat; set aside

Add lamb to skillet; sauté until cooked through
Add onion mixture to lamb; sauté 1-2 min
Remove from heat; allow to cool; 5 minutes

Add beaten eggs to lamb; mix well

PREPARATION
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat
Spoon egg mixture over slices of bread
Place bread slices filling-side down in skillet
Fry for 2-5 minutes, or until eggs are cooked
Flip bread over to toast outside (opt)
Remove from heat; add garnish
Serve open-faced or as a sandwich

THEME SONG: Pictures of You, The Cure


Mediterranean Chicken Soup ~ The Wisdom of the Teacup

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

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

Tallulah knows her so well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow Sister Madly to elaborate:

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

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

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

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

Then scramble to appease her demand for an offering…

No doubt Sister Madly is pleased…

… nope, not as pleased as she could be…

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

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

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

MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN SOUP

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

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

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


Images:

 10) Jill Greenberg


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


Champagne Chicken ~ The Merchant of Menace

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

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

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

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

* Unsuccessful, and even more unsuccessful.

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

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

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

Thanks a lot, fellas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAMPAGNE CHICKEN

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

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

THEME SONG: Haunted, Maya Kern


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


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


Roti John ~ Saluting the Magpie

Morning, Mr. Magpie…

Sister Madly first learned this of custom from the Professor after listening to his lengthy and completely unsolicited dissertation on superstitions. He was saluting a tree- or so she thought- which is not entirely odd in itself; Sister Madly herself has been known to talk to strange things, such as people.

As it turned out, the Professor was not saluting the tree, but a creature he called a Magpie. Sister Madly had to admit that she didn’t know what a Magpie looked like, but if she were to speculate, she would assume this:

Turns out, they look like this:

The Professor told her that it was unlucky not to salute the first Magpie of the day, which was a bizarre ritual for him to adopt; he was a scientific creature completely without whimsy, living an academic life while selfishly refusing to allow Sister Madly to sell his kidneys on the black market. He seemed to imply that if she were to embrace the Saluting of the Magpie, she could forever live a blissful life in a lovey-dovey, vegan butter-spread commercial.

But this raised a few questions for the most rational Sister Madly; to begin with, how is one to know that this is the first Magpie of the day? There may have been a conga line of 57 birds on her windowsill in the wee hours of the morn. And what if the Magpie she salutes is not a Mister, but a Missus? If the idea is not to anger the old bird, knowing its proper title is an absolute must!

Then again, why would Sister Madly salute a bird whose only purpose in life is to poo hellfire missiles all over poor Itty Bitty whenever parked beneath a tree?

It didn’t take long for her to find out.

At the pub later that night, they encountered the Happy Phlebotomist, whom had recently returned from a trip to Canada and was giddy to show off his souvenirs. He led them to the dark end of the parking lot, where he revealed a trunk full of Ketchup Chips.

“If you’re not going to buy Ketchup Chips, why bother going to Canada? That’s what the country was made for!”

No, Canada was created so that Alaska won’t float off into the Bering Sea, flex its muscles at its newfound freedom, and shack up with Hawaii- everybody knows that, Chipper. It would be most devastating for the caribou.

Since the chips tasted as one might expect, it became clear that the Happy Phlebotomist was fascinated not only by the chips themselves, but the brilliant innovation of this time-saving measure.

You see, much of a Canadian’s life is wasted writing that extra ‘U’ in words that need no extra ‘U’; thus the Ketchup Chip was invented not only to save time, but prevent the excruciating fatigue of dipping said Chip into said Ketchup, hence allowing Canada to continue this curious tradition. Of course, food is so much more flavourful with that superfluous letter, everyone knows that; but nearly 6 years* is squandered in composing that character over a single lifetime. The Ketchup Chip makes that loss much more bearable.

* According to Sister Madly’s estimate, which of course is most excellent.

But that was not his only memento.

But before the Professor could question the logic behind selling non-refrigerated Milk in Bag like a Boss, Sister Madly decided to test the strength of the bag by dropping it to the asphalt.

Bag O’ Milk promptly became Sprinkler O’ Milk.

You know why this happened, don’t you, Sister Madly? This happened because you did not salute the Magpie first thing in the morning after your merry frolic through Sunnyside, which has more Magpies than you can shake a stick at.*

* Not that Sister Madly wanders about town, shaking sticks at things willy-nilly. She’d like to think that she’s still a few years away from that particular mentality.

After the Milk-Sprinkler Dance of Panic, Chipper attempted to correct this by sticking ballpoint pens through the tears. It would seem that the Happy Phlebotomist’s solution to every problem is to stick a pointy object into said problem- which is far from comforting.

Apparently, Canada has yet to learn about the science behind the Pencil-Thru-the-Bag-of-Liquid, because this did not work in the least.

“You should have Saluted the Magpie.”

The Professor clearly has no heart- at least, he isn’t using it.*

* In which case, he shouldn’t mind if Sister Madly sells it on the black market.

On the plus side, Sister Madly did get her recommended daily serving of dairy.

While she can’t say the Magpie was responsible, she did leave him an offering of Ketchup Chips, just in case.

ROTI JOHN

  • oil/ghee for sautéing
  • 1lb beef mince
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 chilies, chopped and seeded to taste
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 TBSP ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • crusty bread, sliced
  • spring onion, cilantro, sriracha aioli, cheese (opt, for garnish)

FILLING
Sauté onions until translucent; 8-10 min
Add chili, garlic, and ginger; lightly caramelize; 10-15 min
Add spices; sauté until fragrant; 1 min
Remove from heat; set aside

Add beef to skillet; sauté until cooked through
Add onion mixture; stir until combined; 2 min
Remove from heat; cool 5 min

Add beaten eggs to beef; mix well

PREPARATION
Heat oiled skillet over medium heat
Spoon egg mixture over sliced bread
Place bread filling-side down in skillet
Fry for 2-5 minutes, or until eggs are cooked
Flip over to toast outside (opt)
Remove from heat; add garnish
Serve open-faced or as a sandwich

THEME SONG: Surfin’ Bird, Ramones


Arepas Chile Chicken ~ The Sweet Hereafter

So, can just anyone buy a submarine?

It’s not like she isn’t qualified to command one; after all, Sister Madly has a boating license- got it when she was twelve. Officer What’s-His-Name said it was all she needed to operate motorized watercraft- sure, she may have forgotten a few things in the intervening years, but surely beneath the water those laws no longer apply.

The craft shouldn’t be difficult to figure out, no doubt just an ignition key and a bright orange button to make it go forward. It will have no reverse gear, but that won’t be a problem on the ocean’s floor where U-turns are permitted willy-nilly; after all, the Germans call these magnificent vessels U-boats, which is clearly in honor of the U-turn.

But most importantly, one need never parallel park a Submarine between an obnoxious Prius and a wood-paneled PT Cruiser, which is a most unnatural and debauched maneuver straight from the pit of hell.

She doesn’t need all the fancy u-boat upgrades, such screen doors and nuclear warheads; your standard get-out-of-the-way torpedo will do. Sister Madly will, however, insist upon flocked wallpaper, disco lights, and a badass stereo system; David Bowie will sound especially haunting inside a submarine.

As for the intermittent, man-your-stations-you’re-under-attack buzzer (complete with flashing red light,) that will make a most excellent alarm clock for any early morning appointments Sister Madly is foolish enough to make.

Also, a conveniently placed shark’s fin will not go to waste.

It shall be called the USS Sweet Hereafter.

* But secretly, she will call it Myrtle.

There are one or two things that will need to be addressed- her negative sense of direction, for example. Officer What’s-His-Name used to talk about this apparatus called a compass, but Sister Madly finds relying upon magnetic poles so 1987. She would utilize a state-of-the-art navigational system,* not prehistoric tomfoolery.

* A few sober friends and a map.

You may be wondering where Sister Madly will store the vessel when not in use. She is certainly glad you asked! Her elder sister, Tallulah, has a creek running through her back yard- no doubt she would be happy to let sweet little sis park Myrtle at the end of the dock. The HOA doesn’t address the subject of submarines, thus one can only assume that they are allowed on the property.

Also, Sister Madly would be most responsible with the torpedoes: she will only use them on spiders.

But all this is nothing more than a pipe dream if civilian submarine ownership is beyond her reach. Sister Madly couldn’t go on wasting her night glamming up Myrtle if she wasn’t allowed to buy one.

So, at 2:41 AM:

Can just anyone buy a submarine?

Now some of you may cluck your tongues at the 2:41 timestamp, but it’s not like she was texting something frivolous, like celebrity death notices. This was important; Sister Madly’s entire future depended upon it.

And rest assured, she was completely sober at the time.

Why?

Come on, Professor- can’t a person ask about submarine ownership without being accused of plotting something nefarious? Sister Madly encountered the same skepticism last year when inquiring about a steamroller. Have a little faith.

The Professor never answered.

So… can just anyone buy a Submarine?

AREPAS CHILE CHICKEN

CHILE CHICKEN

  • 6-8 boneless chicken thighs, whole
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp chipotle pepper
  • salt, to taste

Heat oil in Dutch oven
Add onions; stir to coat
Lower heat, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized (30-45 min)
Mix in spices, stock, and chicken; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked (25 min)
With 2 forks, shred chicken in sauce
Simmer to reduce and thicken

AREPAS

  • 1 cup Harina de Maiz (pre-cooked cornmeal, such as P.A.N.)
  • 1 cup water or milk, room temp if possible
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP oil

Combine arepa flour and salt
Mix in oil and water, until mixture is smooth
Knead a few times, dividing dough in four pieces*
Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten about 1/2 inch thick
Heat greased pan over medium heat
Add the arepas; cook until golden brown (about 6-7 minutes)
Flip; cook another 3-5 minutes

* Coating hands in oil will help prevent sticky-dough rage.

TO SERVE:
Split arepas horizontally
Fill with chicken
Top with cotija, guacamole, and sour cream

THEME SONG: Under Pressure, David Bowie/Queen


Perfection Salad ~ DisasterChef Theatre

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

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

And she found it.

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

SHOPPING LIST

  • 2 packets unflavored gelatin.

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

  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage

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

  • ½ cup chopped green pepper

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

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

  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

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

  • 4 oz chopped pimento

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

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

24 hours later… Behold, her genius!

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

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

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

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

All she needed was a birthday candle.

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

Happy Birthday.

PERFECTION SALAD

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

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

~ From McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection

THEME SONG: Sweetest Perfection, Depeche Mode


Pork Udon Curry ~ The Coquettish Maiden Fair

So apparently, this is a thing now…

…which is totally unfair. No one has ever made Sister Madly into a beer.

She knows how this happened; she need look no further than to a Renaissance Faire some 10+ years ago, when her friends stole her Medieval Love-Finding Bingo Rock and gave it to the Dodo.

Everybody knows that Bingo Rocks are enchanted; after all, they’ve united love-seeking desperados across many millennia who might otherwise have never realized that a talking tree was their Soulmate. Sister Madly’s willy-nilly selection of Rock 88 was no mistake in the Love-Finding Universe; the Fates knew that she was just as likely to read the stone upside-down as right-side up- 88 would all but guarantee that Sister Madly connected with her Soulmate instead of a wandering pudding.

However, after a tedious encounter with a cheeky Thyme Lord, Sister Madly began to suspect her friends had not been forthright with her. It was only a hunch, of course, but that is the best way to solve a mystery- clues and evidence be damned, a hunch is always the preferred method according to the movies- and Sister Madly had a hunch that this scheme was the brainchild of a master scam artist.* The Scott’s claimed they gave her Medieval Love-Finding Bingo Rock to the Dodo, but Sister Madly had seen neither hide nor hair of the Ol’ Bird all day.

* Although ‘artist’ may be a bit generous… More like scam finger-painter.

So she thought to herself, Self… do you really want to place all your starry-eyed dreams on the whims of a Ye Olde Bingo Rock? Let’s face it: that’s a few steps away from seeing the Virgin Mary in a Poptart. Are you so far removed from society that you don’t understand how Romance works?

Probably.*

* Sister Madly always responds to her own questions, otherwise she gets miffed at herself and will refuse to speak to herself for days.

But even though she bailed on her own Romance, Sister Madly was no less curious as to what the Fates had in store for everyone else. Thus she began calling out numbers at random- perhaps luring a few unfortunates with the false hope of her siren’s song- but that is the risk one takes when dipping a toe in the dating pool. During the course of this lovey-dovey investigation, Sister Madly learned that the Fates paired Bingo Rock 45 with a Spanish Inquisitor:

… 67 with the Living Embodiment of Dark Matter:

… and lucky number 13 with what can only be described as a Lump:*

* It might have been a Troll.

Having been most successful in locating the Soulmates of those unfortunate chumps, Sister Madly decided not to give up on love altogether, and took a crack at finding her own- she may not have the Medieval Love-Finding Bingo Rock on her side, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t win her True Love over by playing the coquettish maiden fair. Apparently, flirting was quite popular in days of yore.

But Sister Madly was created with a bit of a design flaw: she is completely incapable of playing the Coquettish Maiden Fair without looking like a psychotic Miss Piggy with a bad case of the collywobbles, and that had a catastrophic effect on flirting… never before had a Reaper dropped his scythe and run like that…

She blames it on her recessive genes.

Sister Madly didn’t know it that day, but had she retrieved her Rock, it would have been she – not the Dodo – who met her True Love, who frolicked happily around a maypole, and who would now be a local beer.

Instead, she contemplated the clouds while lying in a field of buttercups- having properly filled herself with cider, of course.

PORK UDON CURRY

  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 chili, chopped and seeded to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 bay
  • udon or ramen noodles
  • sliced pork
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • lime juice, to taste
  • chives, for garnish

Saute onions in hot oil until translucent
Add garlic, ginger, and chili; saute 2-3 min
Add spices; saute 30 sec
Add pork; brown slightly; 2-3 min
Add broth, coconut milk, and fish sauce; bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer until pork is cooked through
Add udon/ramen; simmer until tender
Remove from heat; add lime juice and garnish with chives

THEME SONG: Lover, Lover, Lover, Leonard Cohen


IMAGES:

1) Black Plague Brewing
2) Christopher Lovell


Rustic Chicken Stout Stew ~ A Betta Fish in a Sequined Bag

The problem with having a local business is that it’s often frequented by enterprising locals, all hoping to sell their wares.

Utopia was no different.

Now Sister Madly had heard tales of these free-range entrepreneurs but thought them as mythical as the Sasquatch- that is, until the winter when they descended upon Utopia in droves, pitching products from handmade jewelry to glass-blown bongs suggestive in their design, to local music unsuitable for human absorption. Sister Madly obtained an extraordinary amount of patience in those years, listening to horrific demos while dogs howled from the alley.

But even this did not quite compare to the brainchild of the wayward Fashionista, whose poorly executed British Accent* pitched her personal line of sequined handbags. These bags, each the size of a cigar box, seemed normal enough- that is, until the Fashionista flipped the purse around to reveal the small compartment containing a live, and rather surly, Betta Fish.

* Like many Americans attempting a British accent, the Fashionista could mimic nothing better than southern Alabama.

Now Sister Madly is all for chasing one’s dreams; she herself has aspirations that border the utterly insane- like one day eating a salad- but not one of those dreams include strutting along Bourbon Street with a Betta Fish in a Sequined Handbag. Clearly, her face reflected the WTF that she was thinking, as the Fashionista went on to emphasized certain selling points, including a self-contained LED light (with multiple twinkle settings) and the fact that almost any freshwater* fish from goldfish to guppy could be substituted for the Betta.

* This was blatant discrimination against all saltwater creatures- after all, what femme fatale wouldn’t want to tote a halibut with glowing pride?

Being a humble clerk, Sister Madly was no more authorized to make wholesale purchases than she was to dispose of bodies in the company’s dumpster- and she campaigned for both during her employment. In fact, Management rarely purchased anything local, preferring rather back alley transactions and mysterious shipments from China * to the dubious wares of the native psychopaths.

* Sister Madly eventually gained the confidence of Management, who assigned her the task of ripping the labels off all shipments from China in an attempt to conceal the identity of their suppliers. It was useless, really- the return addresses were written in Chinese.

After the regulation We-Don’t-Want-Your-Wares-Weirdo-But-It-Sounds-Like-You-Have-A-Chance Spiel (which Sister Madly delivered most diplomatically,) the Fashionista said something quite lovely in British-Alabamian, smiled in this same language, and sashayed her glamorous self out the door- leaving handbag behind as a ‘sample.’

Make no mistake, Sister Madly likes presents; she likes finding books on the side of the road, or lotion samples in the mail, and has been known to dine quite handsomely toothpicked meatballs at the market. But all these are a far cry from being saddled with a surly Betta Fish by a Fashionista with a bad accent.

Then again, if Sister Madly can properly care for a Betta Fish, she would be prepared for the day the Humane Society drops off a sample Corgi. She would be the first civilian sought to test-ride a luxury Zeppelin cross-country, and would be the prime candidate to care for the sample case of premium Hard Cider expected to arrive the following week. It wouldn’t be long before Sister Madly proved herself worthy of a galaxy or two, with unlimited dimension-traveling privileges.

In the meantime, Utopia now had a Betta Fish who, judging by its disposition, did not like the poky accommodations of the Handbag Aquarium- and Sister Madly knew all about the unhappy conditions of poky accommodations.

So she transferred the surly Fish to a shiny, new, Tibetan Singing Bowl.

But new digs meant little without nutrition in terms of survival; so Sister Madly took it upon herself to feed the Surly Fish and even went so far as to do it with a smile.

But what does a Betta eat? Aside from giving her the evil eye, it’s been rather uncommunicative, and try as she might, Sister Madly did not speak fish. Taking into account the dietary lifestyle commonly found in poky accommodations, Sister Madly assumed (quite correctly, no doubt) that a Surly Fish would enjoy the same fare.

So she bought the Betta two large pizzas and some olives, knowing her coworkers would assist in finishing what the Fish could not consume as to avoid unnecessary waste. Her coworkers were most resourceful when it came to all things edible.

She also bought a small canister of Fish Food- you know, just in case.

RUSTIC CHICKEN STOUT STEW

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-6 chicken thighs, cubed
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 1½ cups stout, divided (1 cup + ½ cup)
  • bacon, cooked and crumbled (opt)
  • pearl onions, peeled
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • carrots, cubed
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp sage
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • heavy cream (opt)

Sauté chopped onion in bacon grease/oil until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic; sauté 1-2 min
Deglaze with 1 cup stout; 2-3 min
Mix in spices; 30 sec
Add vegetables; stir to coat
Add chicken; stir to coat
Add stock, Worcestershire, and remaining stout; mix
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer 1-1½ hour
Add cream (if using); simmer 10 min
Remove bay leaf; garnish with bacon before serving

THEME SONG: Dream On, Aerosmith