Tiny Umbrella

Prompt: None

freddie

Hello Wednesday!

In a departure from tradition, this post is not related to a prompt, nor is the post meaningfully related to the images that accompany it. (Just call me crazy and wild!) It’s just that the following has rattled around in my head for over a day now, so it’s time to let it loose:

Your family’s home
They wanna be fed
But you are confused and tired and stressed 
And would rather be dead!

We are the caterers, my friends
And we’ll keep on cooking ’til the end
We are the caterers
We are the caterers
No time for stress dreams
‘Cause we are the caterers of the world!

Who knows what it means
It’s only a dream
But when it’s night after night after night
You just wanna scream!

We are the caterers, my friends
And we’ll keep on cooking ’til the end
We are the caterers
We are the caterers
No time for stress dreams
‘Cause we are the caterers of the world!

Do you have recurring, repetitive anxiety dreams? I do, and they get so frustrating— and so boring— that I am trying new strategies to keep them at bay.

The kitchen/ cooking dream had almost faded away, once I conjured up detailed images of a singing catering crew who would pop into the middle of the stress dream as soon as I saw the dreaded big kitchen. Now my dreams are getting sneaky. The big cookpots are only slowly revealed. The ingredients and guest list keep changing…

I suppose if I dealt with the cause of this particular recurring dream it would go away for good. But for the life of me, I can’t figure it out.

Apropos of nothing, may I present, since it’s Wednesday, a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon nice wave

cartoon leo-cullum-may-i-have-a-tiny-umbrella-in-this-ernie-i-m-on-vacation-new-yorker-cartoon_a-G-9184361-8419447

cartoon bliss-are-you-as-excited-as-i-am-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9269896-8419449


Wishing you an excitement-filled week—

~~FP

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Seasonal Mushrooms [Repost]

Prompt: Lie

two mushrooms

Jack wore a toupee that was obviously a toupee. It perched uneasily on the top of his head, the dark brown sides not quite blending in with the lighter brown of his own hair at the temples. The problem was, Benni noticed this on their first date but said nothing; now it was too late to point out that the hairpiece “wasn’t working” the way Jack or God intended.

They both ordered a scallop, lemon and sun-dried tomato entree, but when the server set the plates of food in front of them, it was obvious the sun-dried tomatoes were absent. There was nothing red or reddish in the dish at all. Jack had the grace to mention this to the waiter with a good degree of deftness.

“Well now, Jason is it? Jason this looks delicious, but it seems to be lacking an ingredient that was delectably described in the menu, which is to say, sun-dried tomatoes.”

Jason sighed, audibly. “We’re out of them in the kitchen. I can take it back, look for something resembling a sun-dried tomato, insist that it is one, and you eat a lie; or you can sit back and enjoy the scallops which are just fine without the sun-dried tomatoes.”

Benni said, “I would like the dish as described, and if that is not available I will have the Steak with Seasonal Mushrooms, medium rare, thank you, Jason.” Jack nodded his assent.

A louder sigh than the first one ensued. Jason begrudgingly swept up the two plates and left silently, rolling his eyes.

“What a dickhead,” said Benni. She wore a new dress, black and white, the pattern of which inadvertently made her look like a French maid. Benni noticed this had a slimming effect, but Jack’s first impression was that she was in costume. He said nothing except that she looked very nice, which she really did.

“I’m guessing they are out of Seasonal Mushrooms,” said Jack.

“I trust your intuition. There was a taco truck on the other side of the parking lot…?”

As they crossed the tarmac to Tio’s Taco’s (sic) Benni was rooting around in her black leather bag for some cash, since Jack confessed that he had none in his wallet, when they heard footsteps and shouting from the back entrance to the restaurant.

“Hey you mo-fuckers!” It was the unmistakable voice of Jason. He was waving a small slip of paper as he made what appeared to be a hostile approach. Jason was not a very tall man, but had the broad shoulders and meaty forearms of someone who worked out regularly. In truth, he had a girlfriend who was an employee at the women’s gym, She-Shape, who let him in during off-hours to use the equipment, providing he wiped it down carefully after use, which he usually did.

“Thank you Jason, for coming to say good-bye, and we do apologize for our abrupt departure, yet we are no longer motivated to eat any of the food you serve.”

“See this?” said Jason, as if he hadn’t heard Jack’s heartfelt apology. “This says, four dollars for one Shirley Temple and five-fifty for one rye and coke, seven dollars for one side salad with apples and nine-ninety-nine for the meatball/quinoa skewer, and fifty-two dollars for two Steaks with Seasonal Mushrooms, medium rare.” He put his nose only inches from Jack’s, and then slipped the receipt between them so Jack could clearly read it if he crossed his eyes.

“What are the Seasonal Mushrooms?” Benni asked.

Jason broke eye contact with Jack and stared at the French maid. “They are seasonal, out of a can, because there aren’t any growing, so they are seasonal canned mushrooms, and they are fine, as they are still mushrooms,” he growled.

“We felt the food and service lacked any justification for giving you money,” said Jack.

“Well that’s just too damn bad,” said Jason. He grabbed Benni’s purse out of her hand, found her wallet, and started pulling five and ten dollar bills from the banknote compartment. Benni simultaneously reached for her wallet and the cash, and a brief struggle ensued.

Jack then kicked Jason directly on the back of both knees, causing him to pitch forward, at which time Jack swiftly pivoted so that he could punch him in the forehead.

Instead of indulging in tacos, Jack and Benni quickly decided to get into Jack’s car and leave the parking lot while Jason was sputtering, spitting, and incapacitated.

Jack’s apartment was more professionally decorated than Benni would have expected or imagined. Muted, neutral tones combined with splashes of blinding colour, like a neon lime cushion on the grey sofa, and an original abstract oil painting in dizzying shades of yellow hung on the wall over the fireplace.

The kitchen had a concrete counter top, which Benni loathed despite best intentions. “I don’t like it, either,” said Jack, as he filled a stainless steel pot with water and set it to boil.

They had spaghetti with sardines and chick peas, which was better than it sounded, and sat out on the small balcony with their dessert Fudgsicles and coffee.

Later, Benni saw an ideal moment to bring up the bad toupee. They were having rather rough first-time sex in Jack’s king size bed, and in a moment of passion, Benni grabbed the hair at the back of Jack’s head and vigorously pulled, while gasping, “Oh Jack, oh Jack.”

Jack shouted in pain, and the hair did not come away. They stopped, and chests heaving, stared at one another. “I’m sorry,” said Benni. Jack’s hair was a mess, a strange blend of colours, and his own.

“You are not the first one to do that,” said Jack.


Simple Salmon Cakes

Prompt: Simple

salmon-cakes13-1

Guess what? I was making dinner tonight (I love to cook) and mulling over what to write for today’s prompt, simple. Guess what I was preparing? Simple Salmon Cakes. These are really easy and really good, so I thought I’d share.

Simple Salmon Cakes

Servings: 2

1 – 14 oz can salmon (preferably sockeye), drained
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 green onion, sliced finely
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
S & P
Panko bread crumbs
Butter or oil for frying

Mix all the ingredients except the Panko and butter in a bowl. Form into patties. If you have time, cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes while you make a salad or have a cigarette on the front porch. Coat with Panko bread crumbs, and fry in a little oil or butter until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Serving suggestions: Good with rice or curried rice, a wedge of lemon, and/or a quarter cup of mayonnaise mixed with lemon, hot pepper, curry powder, or fresh herbs.

Product Review: Hello Kitty Egg Ring

Prompt: Mystical

hello-kitty-at-window

There is nothing mystical about the Hello Kitty Egg Ring (though it has a mystical quality about it as it gazes out the kitchen window in the photograph above). It is a thingie composed of plastic/rubber, with the rubber part formed in a circle, that you crack your egg into to keep it in a nice neat circle as it fries. I understand you can also fry up some homemade crumpets in egg rings such as this— you know, those delicious crispy-on-the outside crumpets with the air holes that invite all that melted butter…

Anyway, are you tired of those random, spreading, Rorschach-shaped egg whites that fry up all unevenly? I wasn’t, but there you go. Things happen to your brain when you are in the dollar store.

Product: (Generic?) Hello Kitty Egg Ring, pink

hello-kitty-package

Purchased at: Dollarama, British Columbia, Canada

Price: $2.50 (I know right? At the Dollarama?)

Value: Seems expensive

How to Use: Clean all the Dollarama cooties off of it, dry, and then spray the inner part with non-stick spray, or grease it with butter. Firmly place it into a heated, non-stick frying pan. Crack your egg into a measuring cup, then pour into the ring. Press the ring down a bit, or watch the egg white escape through the bottom of the ring. When the egg is set, you can remove the ring and cover the pan to get a more even heat.

hello-kitty-pan

Did it work?: The egg was trapped inside a pink rubber cage. It did not like this and dug a tunnel to escape into the pan. Freedom! The egg was more compact in its little ring, instead of spread out, which meant it took longer to cook (I like firm whites and runny yolks), thus it burned on the bottom. The yolk was delicious, but Hello Kitty had nothing to do with that.

hello-kitty-final

Recommended for: People who can cook with egg rings and/or people who like burned eggs.

Stars: ** out of *****


Scorched and Day 20 of Nano

Prompt: Scorched

mr-bean-turkey

Are your memories of your first, really botched meals as pathetic as mine?

I rarely burned or scorched anything; in fact I had the opposite problem. On a long ago Thanksgiving I  roasted a turkey for my partner’s English boss and his wife. I was laying out a feast like the ones my mother used to do: the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, gravy, roast turnips– the whole shootin’ match.

It seems food takes longer to cook at higher altitudes, and we’d recently moved to Calgary, altitude 1050m (3445 ft). The damn turkey just would not cook.

Now at Thanksgiving, the appetizers are light and few, because of the massive feast to come, but our guests had eaten all the pickles and olives and neatly sliced celery. They were getting close to licking the dainty little plates they were served in. Everything else was mashed, buttered, stirred, plated, and bowled and inevitably getting dry and cold.

The turkey, about 7 kilos (or 15 lb) was gorgeous. Golden brown, glistening, plump– but mostly raw in the middle. Unless we planned to eat after midnight, we had to take it out of the oven. We put it on a platter and partner proudly showed it to our guests, by now sucking on the ice cubes from their drinks, and quite possibly biting their nails in hunger, before taking it into the kitchen to be carved.

The top part of each breast was cooked beautifully, so we carved that and put it on the platter. It was skimpy and would not feed four people. The drumsticks, thighs, wings, everything else were bloody at the joint, inedible, but they were duly carved and place decoratively on the platter. I put some parsley sprigs around it. Garnish is important.

We sat at the table and passed around all the delicious vegetables and stuffing to our guests, but when it came time to pass the turkey around, my partner and I were horribly rude. We picked what we wanted first! I took a drumstick and thigh and a wing, so did partner.  More meat than a reasonable person could consume. This left only a few perfectly cooked slices of white meat and several sprigs of parsley for our guests.

I remember the boss’ wife, let’s say her name was Vivian. Vivian could not hide how she felt– she tried, and said the right words, but her face always betrayed her. When they’d first arrived to our apartment that evening, she simply could not disguise that she found Calgary quite frigid and horrible, despite saying they were settling in “fine”.

So she looked at our plates heaped with turkey, and the meagre white slices given to her and her husband, and a look of horror and disgust briefly crossed her face.

“Dig in!” said my partner.

It was all very tasty, especially the gravy, and partner and I ate most of the skin from the drumsticks and thighs, and filled up on mash and stuffing.

We became friends with these people, but never told them about the raw turkey. Vivian just believes I am the worst cook and most piggish host ever.

Vegetables and Day 10

Prompt: Vegetal

poachedeggonavocadotoast-2

Don’t say yes to stress! How to have one day of peace!

I could have been a contender in the click-bait olympics, don’t you think?

Well, I’ve actually been fairly stressed-out this past while, what with NaNoWriMo and the elections and all that, and thought I would share yesterday’s diet and very simple routine that made me feel a LOT better, for at least a day and a half!

The routine: News-free day. No checking out websites for any kind of news, local or international. No newspapers. No TV news hour. No discussions except about how cute your dog looks when he sleeps on his back. Take a walk if you can. Pay attention to your breathing, and breathe in lots of cool, fresh air. Read something— a comic book or Mark Nepo or how about tinybuddha.com‘s Quote of the Day? Today it is:

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. ~Alan Watts

The diet: Avoid sugar, caffeine, and too much alcohol.

Breakfast: Avocado and Egg Toast for 2

2 pieces whole grain bread, toasted
1 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced
Squeeze of fresh lemon
2 poached or fried eggs
Lots of salt and pepper
Mush half the avocado on each piece of toast and squeeze lemon juice onto each. Top with an egg, season well and serve with a hot cup of tea with honey. Note: this is delicious.

Lunch: Peanut butter sandwich, a banana, and a tall glass of cold milk.

Dinner: Grilled Salmon, curried brown rice and spinach salad with goodies of choice like feta cheese, tomatoes, cuke, sprouts, etc. (or make salmon cakes from a can of salmon mixed with egg, bread crumbs, lemon zest, and cayenne pepper). Have some dark chocolate for dessert, with a cup of milky chai tea or your favourite warming spice tea (I like Bengal). Avoid drunkenness.

Binge-watch a mystery series on Netflix, or channel surf for sit-com reruns (remember, no news). Play with your dog. Read Jane Austen or Jack London before sleeping; no mobile devices. After lights out consciously relax every part of your body, concentrating on your jaw, neck and shoulders. Have peaceful dreams.

It worked for me.

How to Grow Tomatoes You Won’t Want to Throw Across the Room

Prompt: Live to Eat
Some people eat to live, while others live to eat. What about you? How far would you travel for the best meal of your life?

bloody mary

I was about to write that I am baffled by people who say they only eat to live. We in the West take our plentiful food supply for granted, and except for writing occasional cheques, most of us keep the knowledge of hungry or starving people tidily compartmentalized and out of mind. Let us always be both thankful for what we have, and do as much as we can to raise awareness and to support efforts to end hunger globally.

Since we have the resources to eat well, I think it’s imperative that we enjoy and appreciate what we consume. Think of the truly fine taste experiences you’ve had. Were they in a fine restaurant? A small town diner? At your grandmother’s table? From a street vendor?

A very small trattoria in a town in Italy that I’ve forgotten, served up pastas and salads with ingredients if not grown in their back garden, were sourced in the town market or nearby farms.

We shared an Insalata Caprese, which is simply a tomato and mozzarella salad, with fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil. Except that it isn’t really simple, because you need the freshest local ingredients, as this trattoria served: local vine-ripened tomatoes, soil-grown fresh basil, soft, fresh mozzarella, and a fruity extra-virgin olive oil.

It was one of the best plates of food I’ve ever eaten.

Every once in a while I’ll slice up a tomato for a salad, taste it, and want to throw it across the room. Because supermarket tomatoes have no damn flavour. I’ve been growing tomatoes in the summer, with spotty success, and recently did some research to see how I could grow delicious, juicy, sweet, flavourful tomatoes, before I completely forget what they actually taste like.

I’m sharing the fruits of my labour here. I’m going to work at it this summer. How about you?

How to Grow Tomatoes with Flavour

  • Plant in rich, preferably composted, and lightly acidic soil.
  • Don’t overwater.
  • Tomatoes with lots of bushy foliage tend to have better flavour. Heirloom tomatoes typically have a high foliage to fruit ration, for example.
  • Choose a variety that thrives in your area.
  • Look for disease resistant varieties.
  • Give your tomatoes lots of heat and sunshine.
  • Use a trellis or cage to allow more exposure of the leaves to the sun, and minimize the leaves touching the soil.
  • Fertilize steadily during the season, with a slow release fertilizer or a foliage spray.

My mother use to make tomato juice with all her leftover tomato crop at the end of the season, and can it. A bloody Mary in the middle of winter with fresh tomato juice is heaven. Just thought I would throw that in.

Hurry up, spring!