Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bald Peanuts

I've learned a lot after moving to the South. Mainly, that the people here have their own language, and it only slightly resembles English. Case in point:

Walking past a goober shack:
Southern Bubba (calling out): Hey, missy. Jew want sum bald pea-a-nuts?

Me (turning to Jay, whispering): Why does he think I'm Jewish?

Jay (absently): Jewish? What are you talking about?

Me: He said, 'Jew, want some bald peanuts?'

Jay: He meant, 'Do you want some bald peanuts.'

Me: Are the words 'do' and 'you' really too difficult to say?

Jay: That's how they talk down here. So, d'ya want to try some bald peanuts? They're kind of an acquired taste.

Me: Weird. I thought all peanuts were bald.

Jay: No, they come a lot of different ways.

Me (fascinated and a bit scared): All the peanuts I've ever eaten were bald, so I should probably be brave and try the hairy ones; just to say that I did. Can we buy them here?

Jay: Hairy what?

Me: Hairy peanuts.

Jay: What are you talking about?

Me: Hairy peanuts. Or unshaved peanuts. Or whatever they call non-bald peanuts.

Jay (smirking): They're boiled peanuts.

Me: They boil the hair off?

Jay: There is no hair.

Me: Well, then, I mean the peanut fuzz or the peanut fur.

Jay (snickering): There isn't any hair, fuzz, or fur on peanuts.

Me (exasperated): Well, whatever you call the stuff that's being boiled off of them so that they become bald peanuts.

Jay (laughing): There isn't anything to be boiled off. We're not saying bald; that's how they pronounce boiled down here. The guy asked if you wanted some boiled peanuts.

Me: No, he didn't. He said bald. (Turning to the man) Excuse me, sir? What kind of peanuts did you say you had?

Southerner: I got me sum bald pea-a-nuts here. Jew want sum?

Me (triumphantly to Jay): See!

Jay (almost on the ground from laughing so hard): Youhashodkha!

Me: Quit laughing, and make some sense.

Jay (still gasping): Hey, sir, you mind explaining to my wife how y'all fix the peanuts?

Southerner (taking five minutes to scratch his head and hitch up his pants): Wall, fist they need soaked. We soak them there pea-a-nuts in cold wattah fer 'bout an ar. Then we het up a pot of wattah 'til it be ba-eling. Then we throw salt an' a mess o' pea-a-nuts and ba-el it fer 'bout fer ars. That there's how we fix us sum bald pea-a-nuts.

Me: So, the peanuts aren't hairy or furry before they hit the boiling water?

Southerner (looking at Jay as if I'm drunk on moonshine): Ma'am? What chew talkin' 'bout?

Me (meekly): Never mind. I'll have some 'bald pea-a-nuts,' please.

Verse of the day:  (Job 2:10) “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?" Well, I'll accept anything from the hand of God, but a boiled peanut (shaved or unshaved) from the hand of Jay is something I now know to strenuously avoid. Acquired taste? Yeah, no, I don't see why anyone would want to acquire it.

To read why Southerners move at a much slower pace than the rest of the world, click here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hen Hazards (by Pammy Mae)

If you're considering getting backyard chickens, don't. Just don't. Yes, our Golden Comet biddies are friendly and sweet. Yes, it warms my heart when they happily follow me around the yard because they want a cuddle. Yes, I love the fresh, organic eggs they graciously provide.

The problem is not the hens, my friends. The problem is the greased slope you will find yourself sliding down with no hope of recovery short of hitting Homestead Rehab.

Here is the sad story of what happened after we brought home backyard biddies:

First, we began composting. It seemed like a trendy, "green" thing to do. We dutifully toted food scraps, leaves, and yard clippings to the far corner of our property to decompose and produce earthworms.

Yes, I encouraged decomposition and worm breeding in my yard.

I'm in shock, too. Keep reading.

It became such an obsession that when we passed a building site with felled trees on a field that had been vacant since the Civil War (which means it was chemical-free), I screeched, "Jay! Organic matter for the compost pile!" as he swerved off the road and stripped the brake pads. (To be honest, I'm not sure if the swerve was in thankful agreement of my helpful observation or if my shriek momentarily scared the sense out of him.) The construction crew politely tried to hide their snickers as they watched my husband do their job of hauling away piles of wood chips. 

Jay even bought manure from a man who raises organic, grassfed cows to add to our compost pile. He (Jay, not the cowman) washed the bed of the pickup truck six times after the cow poo was unloaded, but it was months before I'd ride in the cab because of the lingering smell wafting up from the back.

The next logical step was to create a raised garden bed. What else were we going to do with all that compost? And it seemed harmless enough. We made a raised vegetable bed (because you don't have to weed it) thirty-four feet long and four feet wide. To grow food for two people.  

Yes, I said two people. 

By God's grace, some of the vegetables actually liked our compost swill! (I mean, organic soil.) Only half of the GMO-free seeds we sowed actually sprouted, but I was absurdly proud of the abundance we received from the plants with an unusually strong will-to-live. 

Once I realized that our neighbors were hiding when I bounced up their porch steps with armfuls of produce, I figured out how to use a dehydrator. I dried enough kale and basil to last at least 15 years. I may put some of it in little linen bags to hand out at Christmas as "potpourri."

By this time, my husband and I often found ourselves chewing toothpicks and inexplicably referring to each other as "Jay Bob" and "Pammy Mae." It just sounded right.

Before backyard hens
After backyard hens

One morning, while eating some of our biddies' orange-yolked, super-vitamin-charged, free-range eggs, I thought, Fresh bread would taste good with this. So, I began making bread. From scratch. Yes, me. Stop laughing because it gets worse. Then I thought, Organic eggs eaten with non-organic bread just isn't right, so I began ordering GMO-free flour from a local farm.

One night, when I was exhausted from making 137 cups of organic pesto to freeze for the winter (okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but it felt like 137 cups), I accidentally ordered wheat berries instead of wheat flour. Instead of returning it, I thought, Hey, I could grind this into flour myself! It will be cheaper, and the bread will taste even more fresh.  

I discovered that a good flour mill costs $250-350, and since I'm not baking for a family of twelve, I couldn't justify the cost. Which means that I milled the wheat berries in our little coffee grinder. How did this work, you wonder? Well, I could only grind 1/3rd of a cup at a time. Then I had to let the coffee grinder sit for 10 minutes to cool off. So, it took about 3 hours to mill enough wheat into flour for a few loaves. And then I still had to make the bread! 

But am I still doing it? Of course. It's a backyard-chicken-owning thing to do.

Now I'm begging Jay for a goat. Yes, a goat. Goat's milk is rich in vitamins and contains more protein than cow's milk. As if our diet lacks protein. Its calcium can be absorbed through skin to help maintain a natural pH balance. My arguments run along the lines of, "But, Jay Bob, I could make goat milk moisturizer. And goat milk shampoo. And goat milk conditioner. And goat milk cheese!" 

Model: Leroy
Photo credit: Troy Leslie, goatman

Can you see me milking a goat? 

Me, neither. 

And yet, my brain keeps telling me that I need one.

Jay has been the voice of reason rejecting my pleas for a goat. Only because he'd rather have bees.  

Now I'm thinking about making my own soap. Why? Don't ask me; ask the chickens. They started this. One of the ingredients of homemade soap is lye. I discovered you can actually buy lye on Amazon.com. Yes, lye. That I understand, from reading Little House on the Prairie, is made from ashes and animal lard. You heard me right. Ashes and lard! Who is making lye to sell on Amazon?

And why would I buy their lye when I could probably make it myself by rendering fat and collecting ashes the next time we barbeque steak? (Oh, please stage an intervention before I try this!)

Yesterday, I found myself reading about how to make herbal tincture. I don't even know how to pronounce "tincture" let alone know why I'd need some. But I read the recipe with enthusiasm, thinking, Hey, I have some of these ingredients. I bet I could make this! 

Any day now, I expect to look in our backyard and see Ma and Pa resting by their covered wagon wrapped in a quilt (sewed with cloth woven from my organic cotton), eating pone that I made for supper by grinding organic corn into meal between two rocks (and cooked in the fireplace--so I could save the ashes for lye, of course), and waiting for me to bring homemade lineament to ease the ache in their rheumatic joints.

Yes, this post is a desperate cry for help.

Verse of the day: (Proverbs 12:11) "A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense." And those who are a weird combination of the two will find themselves, surrounded by stacks of dehydrating zucchini chips, rendering lard and fermenting herbal tinctures.

Follow up: Two people took pity on me and gave me a real flour mill for Christmas. The lovely and gracious people at www.pleasanthillgrain.com (awesome customer service!) let me return one, so I exchanged it for a Bosch Compact Mixer. I'm giddy! Possibly from excitement but more likely from motion sickness as I plunge further down the homesteading circular slide.

For two other stories involving chickens, see "Daylight Nightlight" and "Happy Chicken Lady Day." 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

House Guest Hash (not a recipe)

Background: If you haven't read the post Look Bad Taste Good, Seungmin and his parents Youn and Myeong adopted us as their American relatives shortly after they moved to the USA from Korea.

It's not unusual (for me) to have a house guest come for a weekend and stay two weeks. Or to have someone show up on our doorstep saying, "Hi! I'm friends with Lauren. I'm driving from Florida to Nashville, and she said that if I got too tired, you'd let me spend the night at your house." Jay has learned to not ask where I meet people, because often the answer is, "I met them on our front porch, just now."

Last summer, Myeong (my friend from Korea) stopped by, and we had the following, rather startling, conversation:

She: You know I have nephew?

Me: Didn't his parents move to Japan before he was born? Do they still live there? If he is a year older than Seungmin, he should be, what, fifteen now?

She: Yes, he always live in Japan. He turn fifteen. (Pause.) I ask favor.

Me (agreeably): Sure! What do you need?

She: Jihun get bad grade in English, so my sister send him to America for summer. I want you teach him.

Me (predictably): Sure, I'll tutor him! When he comes, we can figure out which days and times would work for lessons.

She: Not favor. I mean, yes, you tutor Jihun is favor, but I want different favor. 

Me (in generous ignorance): Sure. What else do you need?

She: He must stay with you to learn English. 

Me (confused): I guess he could hang out and do homework until you pick him up at night.

She (getting frustrated): No! Not like that thing. Favor is he stay with you.

Me: (articulately): Huh?

She: He stay with you.

Me (light dawning): Wait. You mean you want him to sleep at our house?

She (happily): Yes! He stay with you.

Me (taken aback): Oh. Okay. Um, I guess Seungmin and Jihun could share the guest room--they're cousins. Then you wouldn't have to do all that driving back and forth.

She: No. Only Jihun stay. If Seungmin not here, Jihun must speak English.

Me (alarmed): No, wait. He can't stay here without Seungmin to translate. The only Korean I know is "kimchi." The only Japanese I know is "teriyaki." Neither of which would help me communicate with a teenage boy if he's living here!

She (cheerfully): No, is okay. Is punishment for Jihun.

Me (snickering): Living here is a punishment? That's a new one. What in the world did you tell your sister about me?

She (satisfied): Yes. You are punishment. He stay with you. For one month.

Me: A month?

She: Yes. Maybe more.

Me: Maybe more?

 She: Maybe two month. He come Wednesday.

Me: This Wednesday?

She: And I bring him your house Thursday.

Me: This Thursday? 

Yes, y'all, we had less than a week's notice that a Korean teen who'd been raised in Japan was coming to live at our house for a month (maybe more) so I could teach him English. 

To punish him.

I found the whole situation wonderfully amusing and couldn't wait for Jay's reaction. He gave a long-suffering groan and told me that things like this do not happen to normal people; only to me.

Jihun arrived a couple of days later, looking completely miserable.
We didn't know if he could smile
Until our first English lesson.  

I handed him a box of brownie mix and told him to follow the directions.
This is English homework?
His punishment continued. I forced many cookie breaks during tutoring. 

Between lessons, he played with, I mean, worked with power tools while he helped Jay (and sometimes Seungmin) build the chicken coop. I called it "studying practical math and applied geometry."

He was compelled to attend culture training (baseball games), sweat through instruction in strategy techniques (board games), survive tactical education (paintball in the woods), and endure many other (unconventional) learning experiences.
He stayed two months, and then called his parents to say, "I don't want to come home. I want to stay in the USA." 

They were not pleased with me.

Apparently, as a punishment, I'm a complete failure. 

Verse of the day: (Ecclesiastes 12:12b-13) "...too much study wearies the body..." I totally agree. "Honor and respect God and keep His commandments for this is the duty of every person." 

For a previous Korean post, see "Look Bad, Taste Good."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Land(fill) of the Free, Home of the Brave

I don't know if you know a man like this, but my husband is obsessed with free stuff. I'm all for recycling and re-purposing, but within reason. Jay thinks it's his responsibility to keep landfills empty by collecting things others want to throw out.

He has scored a few wins over the years (mostly by accident). Like the 1930's bedroom set from his grandparents. And an antique sideboard someone discarded. But the rest, well...

Most people have a junk drawer. Jay had a junk room. After we were married, I bravely ventured into this cave of horrors. Under mounds of clutter (out-of-date car dealership calendars, old magazines and newspapers, box tops, discarded clothes from friends who were never his size, textbooks from classes he never took, warped Tupperware, etc.), I found at least eight broken office chairs.

Me: Um, honey, what exactly do you plan to do with all these chairs?

He (enthusiastically): I'm going to fix them!

Me: And do you know how?

He (shrugging): I'll figure it out.

Me: Have you ever fixed an office chair? Or anything similar?

He (undaunted): Not yet.

Me: Do you know where to get the missing parts? Or how much the parts will cost? Because it would probably be cheaper to buy a new chair than to buy a missing arm, back, or wheel.

He: I can piece them together.

Me: Sweetie, they're all different styles. Which means that the armrest on this chair is a different thickness than the other chairs. And the back rest on that chair won't fit the screw holes of the others. And the wheels are all different sizes...

He also had two desks that Office Depot gave him for free because entire sides were broken or missing. These weren't solid wooden desks worth salvaging--they were banged up particle board and laminate atrocities. 

He tried to donate the furniture, but it was refused. So, with a heavy heart, he bade them goodbye at the junkyard. Which, by definition, is where junk should be released to pasture.

Months later, we remodeled the bathroom in our 1974 home. Jay was supposed to take the old sink and toilet to the above-mentioned junkyard where they could live out their latter years with the broken office furniture. A month later, I found them in all their harvest gold and avocado green glory under our back deck and filled with dirt, rainwater, and mosquito larva. 

They actually look better in the photo than they did in real life.

Me (able to only point and stutter): What are...Why, why are...

He: Oh, these? I'm saving them in case our new sink and toilet ever break.

Me: Yeah, no. Um, honey? I don't know how to express this strongly enough, but I will move out the day either of these come back into our house.

He (protesting): They're still good.

Me: Yeah, no. They're functional, but they're definitely not good.

He finally decided he wanted a wife more than old bathroom fixtures and reluctantly hauled them away.

On another day, Jay came home from work really excited about a coat someone gave him. I agreed that it was well-made.

Then he tried it on.

Me: Honey, that's a great coat, but it's way too short on you.

He: But it was free. And the sleeves fit.

Me: Yes, the sleeves fit, but the rest of it is length-deficient.

He: But the sleeves fit.

Me: Your ribs will freeze.

He: But the sleeves fit.

Me: It only works if you're moving to Spain to become a matador.

He: But the sleeves fit.

Me (exasperated): Sweetie, you don't have to keep a coat just because a short guy with monkey arms gives it to you.

He (laughing): Okay. Should I donate it?

Me: Yeah, to the zoo. Their hairless, pygmy ape will thank you all winter. 

Verse of the day: (Proverbs 12:27b) "...the diligent make use of everything they find." Jay takes this verse way too literally, God bless him.

Disclaimer: Jay wants me to add that he's better than he used to be. Yes, he is (thank God).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

She Came, She Saw (Almost)--Post from Jay

Today is Wife Appreciation Day, and I would like to state for the record that I truly love and appreciate my wonderful wife.

I will also add that she's given me gray hair before my time.

The other day, Pamela called the Fire Station. One of my firefighters answered the phone. She said, "Do not repeat my question out loud, especially if Jay is around. Just answer 'yes' or 'no.' Can you tell me how to turn on a table saw?" 

Verse of the day: (Proverbs 4:15a) "Don’t even think about it..." 

It's actually a chop saw. And God bless the man who invented the chop saw safety latch. 

Note from Pamela: I would like to state for the record how appalled I am that our local firefighters are flatly unwilling to answer a simple question. Appalled, I tell you.

For more contributions from Jay about Pamela, check out Panic-Inducing Pamela. For stories about Jay, check out Finders Seekers, Delectable Disagreement, Land(fill) of the Free, Preplanned Packing, and She Said, He Heard.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

But She Likes It!

Disclaimer: Posted with Zoe and Jay's approval.

Speaking of fathers and daughters, when we first welcomed Zoe, a Bichon Frise mix, into our home, she was two years old and weighed nine pounds

She hadn't lived with us long before her girth slowly increased. Caleb, our Korean Jindo, regulates his own weight (he'll stop eating if he gains a few pounds), so this was new to me.

I carefully monitored Zoe's food intake and made sure we exercised her regularly with long, brisk walks. (And by "we" I mean "Jay," of course. Hey, walking is good for him!) 

Yet, she still did not lose weight...

She gradually grew chubbier until she eventually weighed almost twenty pounds!
To: Resembles a beached manatee
From: Wouldn't hurt to gain a couple pounds

Actually, a baby manatee may have been smaller than Zoe
(photo credit: http://ambergriscaye.com/photogallery/121005.html)
I fed the dogs when Jay was at the fire station, but on the nights he was home, he insisted on serving their dinner so he "could bond with them." One night, I realized that he had been giving Zoe half as much food as he gave Caleb

Me:  Jay, she shouldn't get that much food!

He (shrugging):  I couldn't remember the exact amount to give her.

Me (logically):  Honey, Caleb is forty pounds. If she eats half of his portion size, then she'll be twenty pounds. She should be ten pounds, so you have to feed her less.

He (illogically):  But she likes it.

Me:  Jay! We have to make decisions based on her health. We're the parents.

I marked a measuring cup and put it in the dog food bag. Jay claimed he was adhering to the guideline.

Yet, she still did not lose weight... 

Matthew 10:26 says that "there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known," so it was only a matter of time before I noticed that Zoe always followed Jay with unusual enthusiasm when he went in the kitchen "to get a drink" before bed. The next time they went, I hazarded a guess.

Me (calling out, suspiciously):  Jay, what is Zoe eating? 

He (after a long pause):  You can hear that?

Me (suspicions confirmed!):  What did you give her?

He (after a longer pause):  Just some butter.

Me:  Butter! Jay, you can't feed her butter. No wonder she's so chubby.  

He:  But she really wanted some. She even sat up.

Me:  I don't care if she puts on Highland Tartan and dances a jig; don't give her butter.

He:  But she likes it.  

Me:  No more butter!

I thought that would solve the problem, and, when questioned, he assured me that he'd stopped feeding her butter. 

Yet, she still did not lose weight...

A few months later, I saw what looked like white paint on Zoe's ear and chin.

Me (puzzled): Jay, are you touching up the paint somewhere in the house?

He:  No. Why?

Me:  It looks like Zoe has white paint on her face.

He (after a long, long pause):  It's probably sour cream.

Me:  Did you say sour cream?

He (lamely):  I thought it might be getting old, so I mixed a little with her food.

Me (with my left eyebrow raised):  Yeah. And how much of this "old" sour cream did you give her?

He (vaguely):  Not much. Whatever was left.

Me (with both eyebrows raised):  Yeah. And e
xactly how much was that? 

He:  Only like a third of the container.

MeA third of the container? Did you say a third of the container?

He (reluctantly):  Well, it probably wasn't the best thing to give her.

Me (looking at the dietary info):  Not the best thing? Since this little dog just consumed about 300 calories and 25 fat grams, I would wholeheartedly agree. And all this time you had 'no idea' why she was so overweight?

He (stubbornly):  But she likes it.

This, my friends, is why God did not give Jay daughters.

A sour cream-smeared Zoe winking (literally) at her Partner-in-Crime

Verse of the day:  (Proverbs 22:9) A generous man will be blessed, for he shares his food with those in need." 

For those ready to call Pet Protective Services:  Thanks to my daily monitoring of Papa Pushover, Zoe might still be a bit chubby, but at least she no longer looks like a miniature fuzzy hippo.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

She Said, He Heard

(Disclaimer: Posted with Jay's approval. He knows he's not the only one.) 

I've heard many women complain that the men in their lives don't listen. But, ladies, it's not personal; it's biological. A scientific study proved that men only hear one-third of what is actually said. So, instead of balking against this apparent reality, just accept it.

I must admit that I'm fascinated by how this works. How do men choose which words to hear and which words to discard? Do they only hear the long words? Do they only hear nouns? Or verbs? How can they hear only a third of a one-word sentence?

After 11 years of studying Jay, my current conclusion is that there is no formula; male hearing is entirely random. 

Which I find rather funny.

To prove the point, following are some conversations that took place between Jay and me. (Which happened, by the way, when all the televisions, radios, phones, and computers were off, so, there were no distractions.)

One fine morning...

Me: Do you want something for breakfast?

He: No, I didn't.

Me: You didn't want breakfast?

He: I didn't have any.

Me: Yeah, I know; we both just got out of bed. I asked if you want some.

He: Some what?

Me: Breakfast.

He: No, I haven't had breakfast. 

One afternoon...

He: I need a snack. I think I'll get a bagel. Do you want one?

Me: Yeah, a bagel sounds good. I'd like an untoasted, plain bagel with nothing on it. Thanks, sweetie!

He: Got it.

Later, he handed me a toasted, blueberry bagel smothered in cream cheese. 

Me (genuinely intrigued): Honey, 'a plain bagel' doesn't sound remotely like 'a blueberry bagel.' How does that get switched in your head? Especially since I emphasized the word 'plain.'

He (shrugging): I guess I heard 'bagel' and stopped paying attention.

At least he admits it.

Me: Yeah, and I could understand if I'd asked for cream cheese and you confused it with something like 'green peas,' because they at least sound similar, but I said I wanted nothing on my bagel.

He: Sorry, I must have only been half-listening. I'll eat the blueberry bagel and get your plain bagel with green cheese. (Pause) What is green cheese? Like sour cream?

At this point, some of you might be thinking, Perhaps the poor man has hearing loss. He does not; I've had him checked. And he has no problem detecting when I climb on a kitchen counter or strike a match. Even if he's outside, he miraculously hears and comes in to bust me. The holes in his hearing only appear during conversation.

I've even tried speaking in two word sentences to see if that helps.

One day, he came home from the grocery store...

Me: Want soup?

He: No, I didn't.

Me: Didn't what?

He: Buy soap. I don't even remember you asking me to buy soap.

Me: I didn't.

He: Didn't what?

Me: Didn't ask you to buy soap.

He: Well, then why would you expect me to get any?

Me: We don't need soap. I said soup. I made homemade soup while you were gone. Do you want some chicken soup for lunch?

He: No, I didn't.

Me: Didn't what?

He: Buy chicken soup. I don't even remember you asking me to buy soup.

When he asks why I burst out laughing throughout the day, I tell him it must be a laugh track because we're clearly on a sit-com. 

Verse of the day: (Matthew 11:15) "If any man has ears to hear, let him hear." I'm not preventing him. Honest!

To understand why Jay can hear a match strike from the other side of the property, click here to read Panic-inducing Pamela.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Four Blunks and Swishy

My mom was born in Romania where she learned to bake astonishingly marvelous desserts. When people are done weeping for joy after consuming one of her pastries, they usually ask me, "Did your mom teach you how to make this?

The answer is no.

 Not because I lack interest in baking. I love to bake.

Not because I lack ability. I'm actually not bad in the kitchen.

And not because she won't share her recipes. She's thrilled to give them to anyone who asks.

The problem, my friends, is that her directions are impossible to follow. You doubt me?

Let me illustrate the point:

Me (eagerly): So, you're finally going to teach me how to make your famous torte.

She (cheerfully): Sure, sweetheart. It's easy. First, get out a big bowl. No, a bigger bowl. Now add a couple of eggs. 

Me (confidently cracking the eggs and then carefully writing): Two eggs.

She: Those eggs look small--add another one.

Me (amending my recipe): Three eggs.

She: Now throw in some flour.

Me: How much flour?

She: You know. Just put flour in until there's enough.

Me (pause): Yeah, um, how about I just add flour, and you tell me when to stop, okay?

She (watching me pour the flour in the bowl a half of cup at a time): That's about right.

Me (meticulously writing): Okay, three and a half cups of flour.

She (stirring the batter and then throwing in another handful of flour): Maybe more.

Me: Mom! How much was that? A fourth of a cup? A half of a cup?

She: Yes.

Me: Yes, it's a fourth of a cup? Or, yes, it's half of a cup?

She (shrugging): Sure. One of those.

Me (protesting): Mom, you can't add anything unless I measure it so I'll know how much to use next time. 

She (waving me off): I can't waste time with all this measuring. Now, you need four glumps of milk.

Me: Did you say 'glumps'?

She: You know, 'Glump, glump, glump, glump.'

Me: Wait, what?

She: Then two bangs of salt. But not from the clear salt shaker--you need two bangs from the silver salt shaker.  

Me (perplexed): Two bangs?

She: And then mix the batter. If it's too thin, add half a handful, maybe a handful, of flour. If it's too thick, add half a glump of milk.

Me (completely confounded): Half a glump?

She (lowering her voice to a mysterious whisper): The secret...

Me (leaning in): Yes?

She (looking deep into my eyes): ...is to stir only in one direction. If not, you confuse the batter.

Me (massaging my forehead): The batter is confused? 

She (resuming her normal voice): Then add a swish, swish, swish of white sugar.

Me (bewildered): How much is a swish of sugar? 

She: No, no! I said a swish, swish, swish of sugar. You need three swishes or it won't be sweet enough.

Me (completely lost): Three swishes?

She: Then a quick wooshy-wooshy of oil and a bloomp of vanilla. 

Verse of the day: (Ecclesiastes 8:1) "How wonderful to be wise, to be able to analyze and interpret things." Indeed.

Anica's Egg Nog Cream Puffs
(the easy version for us mortals)

For the puffs: 

1 ¼ cups of water

¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
½ cup of butter or shortening (but not margarine or oil)
1 ½ cups of flour
4 eggs 
  • While stirring, bring the water, salt, sugar and butter to a boil on the stove.
  • Add the flour and stir vigorously. Cook and stir until the dough leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball.
  • Take the pan off of the stove, cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let it cool in the pan.
  • When cool, add one egg at a time, stirring well by hand with a wooden spoon. Expect the dough to be difficult to mix. Mix it only in one direction or you’ll "confuse the dough."
  • Drop egg-sized clumps onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Do not open the oven door, but turn the temperature down to 325 and bake the puffs for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Cool.
  • Cut the top off of the puffs, making a lid. Scoop out excess dough in the middle leaving the hollow shell.
  • Fill puffs with cream and replace the lid. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate glaze.
For the Egg Nog Cream:

3 boxes of Instant vanilla pudding (3 ¾ oz. size box)
4 envelopes of dry Dream Whip
5 cups of milk
1 tsp. of rum flavoring (or vanilla)
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg 
  • Beat all the ingredients together with an electric mixer for three minutes.

For the Chocolate Glaze (optional):

2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. rum or vanilla flavoring 
  • Melt butter and chocolate on the stove in a double boiler (or in a regular pot on low).
  • Add corn syrup and flavoring, stirring continuously.
  • When blended well, drizzle sauce over filled puffs.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Panic-inducing Pamela--Post from Jay

I adore my wife, Pamela. She's sweet, loving, and generous. She's good-natured and doesn't complain (even though she's often in a great deal of pain). She's kind to animals, children, and the elderly.

But, like us all, the woman does have limitations. Her underdeveloped sense of danger is giving me gray hair before my time... 

(Walking into the kitchen in time to see her standing on top of the counter, slightly swaying as she starts to lean over...)

 Me (near panic): What are you doing?!

She (covering her guilty look with a disarming grin): Oh, hi, darling. I didn't realize you were in the house.

Me: What are you doing?!

She (shrugging): I couldn't reach this bowl. It was on the top shelf of the cupboard. 

Me: You're supposed to use a chair. Why didn't you use a chair? Or call me?

She (patiently): I just said I didn't know you were in the house.

Me: No excuse. Use a chair.

She: I don't need a chair; you're here. Catch me.

Me (lunging to grab her before she hits the floor): Next time use a chair. I mean it!

She (agreeably, as she walks away): Next time...you hope I...use a chair. Got it.

Me: I heard that! Use a chair.

I'm not just worried about her falling.

Me: What's that smell?

She: What smell?

Me: I smell something burning.

She: That's a Tahitian Vanilla candle.

Me: I'm a firefighter. I know when something other than a candle is burning.

She (sniffing): Did you change your clothes after you got home from the fire station?

Me: It's not me. Something is burning.

(Walking into the bathroom just in time to grab a scorched and smoking towel before it burst into flame...)

Me: Pamela! You can't put a lit candle on a shelf right below cotton towels!  

She (ambling in, unconcernedly): Oh, was the flame too close? Oops. Relax, darling, next time I'll put the candle somewhere else.

Me: No! Don't light candles!

She (frowning at the burned towel): Great, now I have to buy a new towel. I doubt they still carry this color.

Me (exasperated): Forget the towel, and listen to me. No more lighting candles!

She (agreeably): You don't like me lighting candles. Got it.

A week later... 

(Walking into the kitchen in time to see her with one foot on the steel wiring of the bottom shelf of the pantry, hauling herself up with fingers entwined in wiring of the top shelf...)

Me: What are you doing?!

She (innocently): What? Oh. I couldn't reach.

Me: Then use a chair! Or call me!

She (patiently): Honey, you said I couldn't climb on the counters. This isn't a counter.

Me: Don't climb the shelves either!

She (dismissively): Well, this is your fault, anyway.

Me: My fault?

She (with female logic): Yes. You put the Cheez-It box on the top shelf. If you didn't want me climbing, then you shouldn't have put it out of my reach. See? Your fault.

Me: Use. A. Chair.

She (eying the kitchen chairs dubiously): They're too far away. I have limited energy.

Me: Pamela! Those shelves weren't made to hold your weight. If they broke, then you could get hurt.

She (with a feigned injured air): So, you think I'm too heavy? Fine. I'll lose weight if it makes you happy.

(She walks away cramming Cheez-Its into her month.)

Me (calling after her): Use. A. Chair. I mean it!

In the evening...

Me: What's that smell?

She: What smell?

Me: I smell something burning.

She: Oh, I sprayed perfume in our room.

Me: I'm a firefighter. I know the difference between perfume and smoke.

(Walking into the bedroom just in time to snatch a scorched and smoking scarf off of a lamp before it burst into flame...)

Me: What is this?!

She: Oh, that? I felt bad about climbing the pantry shelves, so I was going to apologize in a romantic way. The scarf was for mood lighting.

Me: Mood lighting? Burning the house down is not the way to put me in a good mood.

She (dismissively): Well, this is your fault, anyway.

Me: My fault?

She (with female logic): Yes. You told me that I couldn't light candles. So, I had to improvise with a scarf. See? Your fault.

Me: Pamela! 

She (frowning at the scarf): Now I need a new scarf. 

Me: Listen to me. You can't put flammable material near a light bulb. 

She (blithely): Relax, darling. Next time I'll use a scarf that isn't flammable.

Me: No! Don't put anything over a light bulb, whether you think it's flammable or not. Just stay away from candles, light bulbs, lighters, matches or anything else that produces light or flame.

She (agreeably): Sure, honey. Don't climb on counters or use shelves as a ladder. Don't light candles or put things, flammable or otherwise, over light bulbs. Got it.

  A few days later...

(Following the odor of smoldering cloth into the kitchen in time to see Pamela standing on the stove, reaching into a top cupboard...)

Me: What are you doing?!

She (patiently): Relax, darling. I used a chair to get up here, and I am not climbing on the counter or up the shelves.

Me: I don't want you climbing on the stove either! You could get burned!

She (clearly offended): I'm very careful. I took precautions so I wouldn't burn myself.

Me (relieved): Well, that's good. 

She: I put a towel over the hot burners.

Verse of the day: (James 1:2-3) "Consider it joy when you encounter tests and trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." I think of this verse when Pamela casually says, "The good news is that I'm giving you a wonderful opportunity to grow in patience, but the bad news is that while I was accidentally on the roof..."