Posts tagged “writing

Harmony

What is Happiness
Except the Simple Harmony

Between a Man
And the Life he Leads?

~ Albert Camus


Art by Michael Grab (GravityGlue.com)

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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


Critique

Most people do not listen
with the intent to understand ~

they listen
with the intent to reply.


~ Stephen Covey


Art by Silvia Cordedda


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


Thievery

Comparison
Is the Thief of Joy.

 

~ Theodore Roosevelt


Images: Tumblr


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


She Had to Go and Lose It at the Astor

A cautionary tale for Valentine’s…

We’d like to tell you a story
About a young girl,
About eighteen years old, about five feet two,
And about to go out.

Now, her Mother,
Realizing it was her first time
Out with a young man,
Called her into the bedroom and said,


“Minnie, you’re all dressed up in your finery,
Your very best clothes, and you look beautiful,
You’re gorgeous, You’re alluring…
(You look swell, baby!)

And now, Minnie,
I want you to remember everything
I’ve always told you,
And above all
I want you to be very, very careful…


But she had to go and lose it at the Astor
She didn’t take her mother’s good advice.
Now there aren’t so many girls today who have one
And she’d never let it go for any price.

They searched the place from penthouse to the cellar
In every room and underneath each bed.
Once they thought they saw it lying on a pillow
But they found it belonged to someone else instead.


But she had to go and lose it at the Astor,
She didn’t know exactly whom to blame
And she couldn’t say just how or when she lost it
She only knew she had it when she came.

They questioned all the bellboys and the porter
The chef appeared to be the guilty guy
And the doorman also acted quite suspicious
But he coyly said, “I’m sure it wasn’t I!”


But she had to go and lose it at the Astor
It nearly killed her mother and her dad
Now they felt as bad about the thing as she did
After all it was the only one she had.

They just about completed all their searching
When the chauffeur walked up with it in his hand
All they did was stand and gape,
There was Minnie’s sable cape-
And she thought that she had lost it at the Astor.

… always remember your sable cape, ladies, lest you displease Mama.


Images:

1) WeHeartIt
2) WeHeartIt
3) WeHeartIt
4) WeHeartIt
5) Cecil Beaton


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


The Good, the Bad, and the Ukulele

Winds blowing,
The Creatures of the Night are abroad,
And over there in a ruined Churchyard, in a ruined Church Steeple~
The cracked Bell is being activated by the Night Breezes
Suddenly, I heard the plaintive cry of a young, Mexican girl…


Performed by: The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain


Carol of the Bean

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


The Wanton Moppet in a Pom-Pom Hat

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

But this tradition was not limited to neighbors.

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

champagne

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

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

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

snowman

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

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

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

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

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

pointy tree

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

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


Southwest Stuffed Wings ~ A Sixpence Sutra

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

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

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

* Or crestfallen. Nonplussed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“There is no such thing as KARMA!”

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

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

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

It was the classic no-win situation.

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

SOUTHWEST STUFFED CHICKEN WINGS

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

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

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

THEME SONG: Karma Chameleon, Culture Club


Paragon

The World is Changed
By your Example,

Not by your Opinion.

~ Paulo Coelho


All Images: WeHeartIt


Ethos

When an Honest Man Discovers
That He is Mistaken

He will either
Cease to be Mistaken,

Or Cease to be Honest.


All Images: Pinterest


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


Famous Last Words

Let’s play a game…

“Pop Rocks in the litter box!”

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

* Sorry about that, Steve.


Korean BBQ Chicken ~ The Gateau From the Chateau

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

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

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

* Approx. 6 weeks prior.

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

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

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

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

This method was not successful.

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

Until now.

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

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

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

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

What is that?”

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

“What’s in it?”

Cake material!

“Interesting…”

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

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

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

KOREAN BBQ CHICKEN

  • 6-8 chicken thighs, bone-in

MARINADE

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

BBQ SAUCE

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

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

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

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

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

THEME SONG: Ri-co-la!, Various