Follow The Purple Primate

Within these columns, Gentle Reader, I must admit I’m guilty of my own presumption of sagacity far too often.

It’s all Petey’s fault…well, mostly his.  There is though, woven within my very blood cells, the understanding of how everyone everywhere should behave, and the need to share that knowledge.  I am, like Lisa Simpson, a know-it-all with a big mouth.

But back to Petey.

Not long after we got our first computer, when The Kid was a toddler, my ever-loving spouse asked me to help him send an email to a high school friend of his whom I had never met.

I happen to glance at the note, and spotted my name, “…and I married a wise woman, named debbie.”  Not only had he never said this to me, no one that’s ever known me said that about me.  So, you’ll understand why my reaction may have been slightly abrupt. 

“Whadaya mean by that?”

Then Petey earned himself a batch of cookies when he said, “Well, you are.”

And really, doesn’t wise woman sound so very much nicer than busybody?

On a related vein, I’d like to tell you a parable from my life. 

The Kid and I had gone to Wake Forest and were on our way home.

We were on Highway 98 when we started seeing these signs.  You know how sometimes your memory of something can have a weird discrepancy with the IRL events?

Well for some reason, I remember a purple monkey at this point.  But The Kid assures me with a slightly worried frown, that there was in fact, no monkey.  But, as the wise man said, “Monkeys make everything funnier.”

Anyway.

The sign consisted of two words and one exclamation mark: Go Ape!

Now, I don’t know anything about your life, Gentle Reader, but in the lives of The Kid and me, it’s been a minute since we were invited to “Go Ape!”.  So it kinda got us talking.  For probably 15-20 miles, we discussed, half-jokingly, about whether we should “Go Ape!”.

But it was a very academic question because in a happy coincidence, the path to going ape just happened to lie on our path toward home (it really wouldn’t have surprised if the signs heralded our house, in the way that in the 1930s one might find a sign proclaiming the existence of an eight-foot chicken playing the violin).  

But then.

Our primate provocation, “Go Ape!” gave us a heads up that soon our paths would diverge, we had a decision to make—if we wanted.

It’s nuts, right?  Two grown people, actually, seriously considering going ape.  Whatever that meant.

And then it was there, the divergence.  And we…

we…

we went team simian.

And, began driving further, and further, and further out of our way.  But we had thrown in our hand, and wherever this road led, The Kid and I, carried aloft by Agent Colson (The Kid’s wheels), were in it.

The road eventually led to the location of “Go Ape!”, a high ropes course of climbing, zip-lining, you get the picture.

And this time a possible dilemma had no horns; “Go Ape!” was closed.

We turned around in the parking lot and headed home, a little disappointed by the rather mundane nature of our destination.

But the charge we got from just going for it, just saying to the world, “Yeah, we’re following two-word road signs armed with equal parts abandon and ignorance, so what?”

So, every once in awhile, when you’re out with your kid, or squeeze, or squad, or alone; please, Gentle Reader, I implore you,

“Go Ape!”

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcitymom.

For Everything, there was a (Southern) Season

In November of last year, it was announced that Southern Season, a Chapel Hill institution since 1975, and friend to generations of lovers of food would be closing.  It’s been a long slow demise which began with the 2011 sale of the titan to TC Capital Fund.

But in its heyday, it was a fairyland for anyone fascinated by all things.  It was a juggernaut; almost a culinary amusement park.

When The Kid was in elementary school, I worked at the Waldenbooks at University Mall for a few months.  Whenever I could, I’d run down to Southern Season, at the far end, and pick up lunch.

In the salad bar was a pasta salad that I loved, I bugged the chef, and he finally told me the secret was water, it becomes a dressing that somehow lightly coats the pasta with flavor.

Artichokes…nooooooooo!

When The Kid was in high school, and Petey worked weekend nights at Duke, we would make a Saturday supper pasta that contained many ingredients that the absent Petey loathed, or were his personal kryptonite.

When we had our infrequent E-ticket adventures at University Mall, we always stocked up with plenty of pappardelle for our feast at Southern Season.

Thanks for the memories, old friend, and thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at dm@bullcity.mom.

Walden Books Pasta Salad

1 pound pasta rotelle, bow tie, or cavatapi, cooked according to directions, then drained and cooled—do not rinse)

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

Salt & pepper

Dressing

1 ½ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons malt vinegar

Hottest tap water (have a ½ cup ready, but you won’t need it all)

1 cup Cherubs tomatoes sliced in half

1 bunch green onions, sliced thin

Salt & pepper

Whisk together mayo and vinegar.

A teaspoon at a time, whisk in water until the dressing is just a little thicker than bottled creamy salad dressing.  Stir in tomatoes and green onions.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, but no more than two.

Assembly

30 minutes before service: In large bowl, stir together pasta, peas, and dressing.  Start with a little dressing and continue adding until it is just a little too wet, it will tighten up, and as it does, coat the pasta.

*Salad pictured is a variation on the recipe.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and sit in a cool corner of the kitchen for 30 minutes before service.

Southern Season Krypto-night

1-approximately 16-ounce package of parpappardelle pasta

3 tablespoons salt

3 thick slices of pancetta

1-pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced uniformly

½ teaspoon dry thyme

1 bag or box frozen artichokes, thawed and halved

Many cloves of garlic, at least 8

1 cup chicken stock

½ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for service

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

Salt & pepper

Pasta water

Put a large pot of water on for the pasta.

In a large skillet, cook pancetta or bacon until it is completely rendered and crispy, remove from pan and set aside on paper towels.

Put mushrooms and artichokes in 1 tablespoon of the reserved fat.  Lower to medium-low, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes to facilitate the vegetables to release their liquid. 

Uncover and turn up to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until the veg has lightly browned.

Add garlic and lemon zest, cook just until the garlic starts thinking about browning.

With a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer pasta to skillet, stirring in a spoonful of pasta water at a time until everything’s coated, but not saucy at all.

Take off heat, add lemon juice and stir in peas.  Serve in large shallow bowls with a healthy snow shower of Parm.

Makes 4-6 very hearty servings.   

Rock of Ages

It appeared that some awful tragic event had taken place; an earthquake maybe, or victims spilling out of an airplane, and tumbling from the sky.

A man, woman, and toddler were immobile on the pavement, the landing spot of poor decisions and alcohol.

It was early May.  Petey and I had been dating since January.  We didn’t have a date that night because we were taking Mom out for her birthday. 

On the way, I happened to glance out the window at the surreal sight of Petey and our friend Pig, standing in the parking lot of the bank, which was closed.

They were pacing around Petey’s beloved Corolla, which was sitting at a 45-degree angle resting upon a large landscaping rock as if taking a short break from the business of ferrying Petey around Elizabeth City.

I think my whole family had taken in the bizarre vignette at the same time.  By the time I yelped, “Dad!”, he was already maneuvering the car into a u-turn.

As soon as we turned into the bank and the car slowed, I jumped out and ran.

Right up to two drunken, befuddled miscreants.  I was embarrassed, disappointed, and frustrated by the poor judgment of Petey and the Pig, and resulting havoc.

But I also knew I had to put that on hold, because when not being a drunken fool, Petey was studying to be a registered nurse, and would graduate in a few weeks.  The bank was in one of the most visible spots on the most traveled road in town.  It was only a matter of time before someone made a phone call and a man with a badge showed up.

This dumb mistake could very well ruin Petey’s career before it even started.

Even my parents agreed we needed to get Petey out of this pickle, then after the crisis, have a discussion.

Not the actual incident, but I guess Petey’s not alone.

The car was resting on its undercarriage, so backing down was not an option.  It needed to be lifted up and off.  And the Corolla’s jack wouldn’t go high enough.

We were gonna need another jack.

At that time, my dad volunteered as an EMT and a first aid trainer.  He worked on ambulances and taught CPR and basic lifesaving techniques.  He had a class to teach the next day and his materials were already packed in the trunk.

To get to the jack, the classroom aids needed to be taken out. 

All three of them.

The entire family.

Imagine this troupe spread all over a parking lot…

The man, woman, and toddler dummies used to teach cardiac and pulmonary resuscitation.  

They were removed from the trunk and placed upon the pavement. 

All three of them.

The entire family.

Creating what looked like the scene of a massacre.

Somehow they succeeded in separating car from rock.  Moments after pulling the car into a regulation spot and replacing dummies into the trunk, a police car slowly drove past the now unremarkable scene of two cars and their non-law breaking occupants.

Dinner was forgotten as Dad drove Petey and Pig home in Petey’s Toyota and Mom followed with me and my little brother in our car.  We then went home, leaving Petey at his house to think about what was undoubtedly a blistering lecture from my dad.

The humiliating experience and “Dad talk” worked.  Petey stopped drinking and became a nurse that co-workers and patients all agreed was remarkably level-headed, knowledgable, and nurturing. 

But every once in a while, sitting around the table after dinner, while Petey sits with the most sheepish of expressions, the rest of the family will be nearly hysterical remembering “That Rock at the First Union Parking Lot.”

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom

Napoleon was Here

I like my cocktails the way I like my men; rich and sweet.

The Kid just nominated Chris Evans for the rich/sweet position. He has the added benefit of being hotter than a $20 Birkin bag…

That’s my colorful way of saying we had eggnog for Christmas and jazzed it up with a shot of brandy.

We decided spur of the moment, so we didn’t make our own.  We picked it up at the grocery store.

The Kid and I purchased what might be the best prepared version out there—from Hillsborough’s Maple View Dairy.  It’s really thick, creamy, sweet, but not too, and contains just the right amount of nutmeg.

We purchased the brandy at our local ABC store (a nightmare by the way, at 5PM on Christmas Eve). 

For most Americans that don’t have a butler or a bat cave, brandy is not a very familiar spirit.  Brandy is distilled wine.  This distillation changes the flavor to something deep, caramel-y, and not very fruity. 

Yes, it is served in a snifter, and warmed with the hands.  But for sipping you kind of need to buy the really good stuff.  To help you out, brandy producers have set up a system of achronyms.

VS-“Very Special”; at least three years old.

VSOP- “Very Superior Old Pale”; four years old.

XO or Napoleon-“Very Old”; at least six years old.

Hors d’âge- “Beyond Age”; at least ten years old.  This is the stuff Bruce Wayne and his squad sit around drinking, in really expensive crystal snifters.

For cooking with, or mixing into cocktails, the middle of the road that you’ll find at your local ABC is plenty good enough.  We payed $7 for a pint and it put the nog into our egg nog just fine.

The cream sauce recipe is a wonderful way to use leftover brandy.  The Brussel sprouts bring acid, freshness, and green to help keep the meal from becoming ridiculously rich.

Enjoy the sauce, enjoy the sprouts, and enjoy the new year.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Pub Sprouts

4 slices thick-cut bacon or pancetta

1 small yellow onion

1 pound Brussel Sprouts

2 tablespoons malt vinegar

Salt & pepper

Clean sprouts by cutting off ends and discarding any leaves that look funky.  Then either slice each very thinly, or using slicing disk, run through food processor.

Cut onion in half, then slice into thin half-moons.

Slice pork into ¼ inch wide strips (called lardons) and cook onto medium-low in heavy skillet until fully rendered and crispy.  Reserving fat in pan, remove crispy lardons to paper towel-covered plate.

Pour off fat from pan, leaving approximately 2 tablespoons.  Add onions and cook on medium until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add Brussel sprouts, cover, and cook for 3 minutes until veg are wilted and have released their liquid.

Uncover, add vinegar and cook on medium until the liquid has cooked off and the veg are lightly browned (7-8 minutes-ish).  Taste for seasoning, and reseason, if necessary.  Serves 4-6.

Mushrooms in Brandy Cream Sauce

2 pounds mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

2 shallots sliced thinly

2 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon dry thyme

½ cup brandy

1 cup chicken stock

¾ cup 2% milk

¾ cup heavy cream

Salt & pepper

In a large heavy skillet melt butter and add mushrooms, shallots, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cover, and cook on medium for five minutes.  Remove lid and cook until the pan is dry and veg are lightly browned. 

Add brandy and cook until the liquid has almost cooked out.  Pour in stock, milk, and cream.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer (use a splatter screen if you have one because this sauce will—a lot).

Cook until the sauce has thickened and is glossy (around 8-10 minutes).  Serve on meat or starch.

In Search of a Perfect Year

Almost every single one has something to do with my mouth—either what goes in it, or what comes out of it.

I’m speaking about New Year’s resolutions.

Nobody with a belly button is perfect, therefore everyone could stand a little self-improvement.  The amount of fixing I need could fill the Grand Canyon with enough left to fill every mayonnaise jar in North America.

So, I decided to improve myself and my year by making a few resolutions.  And the making of them caused me to look back at past resolutions which is when I started to suss out a theme.  Many of them concerned not speaking, speaking (much more likely), and eating.

Oral fixation for $1200, Alex.

I resolve to forgo all those extra calories in my mom’s Christmas cookies.  So for the foreseeable future, I’ll be saving the calories by skipping lunch and supper and eating cookies in their place.

I resolve to remember that I am not the hall monitor of the world.  In the unlikely event, someone asks for my advice, I will happily give it.  But I will no longer offer unsolicited; my judgments, warnings, and wisdom. 

Unless I cut this out, and quick, I face the very real risk of becoming that person; the one who always knows what’s best, knows what you’re doing wrong, and knows the right way things should go.

Nobody likes this guy or is happy to see him.  The people around him are constantly looking for reasons to leave, “OMG, would you look at the time?  I need to pick up my friend from the airport, and help a co-worker move.”

That guy’s like the biter in kindergarten.  That kid never gets invited to birthday parties.

I vow to shut up, be present, and listen.  Far too often in a conversation with someone, I get very enthusiastic, and that causes me to interrupt them.  That’s rude and annoying.  And many times I only half-listen while I feverishly think about what I’ll say next.  Then I jump in by interrupting.  It’s a vicious, irritating circle.

I promise to put down that plastic and back away.  I might put it in cart, but I really need to stop proceeding to checkout.  I need no more bottoms, no more tops, and no more shoes (Really?  No new shoes?  Yes really.  Now shut up and pretend you’re a grownup).  I have enough dog walking/play clothes to walk every dog in North Carolina in clean clothes—twice a day.    

Who knew shopping in one’s pajamas could be such a dangerous proposition?  Amazon, thou art an evil temptress.

One year from today I’d like to have regained my fluency in Spanish.  When we moved to North Carolina in 1979, after three years in Puerto Rico and three more in San Diego, I could read a Spanish-language book and carry on a conversation in Spanish.  I spent a week in Mexico without speaking a word of English.

After decades of disuse, much of it has been forgotten.  My goal is to be able to freely converse  with the young woman at my local panaderia (bakery).  I’d like to be able to order a pastry without accidentally telling her that my cupcake has fleas (it totally doesn’t).

Finally, after years of writing about food, this year I want to learn the skills to make me a better photographer of all things edible.  I want people to look at my pix and think, “Holy cow that looks delicious!”, and not “I can never unsee that and I may never eat again.”

Here’s to growth and change in 2020!

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

New Year’s Reset

I’ve only seen my mother drunk once.  It’s not that she’s a highly successful secret drinker, she just doesn’t drink alcohol very often. 

But one  New Year’s Eve in Puerto Rico, we went to a party.  Everybody brought their kids, and we were relegated to a rumpus room with chips and sodas.

My brother and I were pretty well-behaved children, but I think my mom always worried that she’d turn her back and we’d grow fangs and become serial-killing-bank-robbing-jay-walkers.  So she frequently checked on us.

At first.

After a while, the space between visits got longer, and her demeanor changed into something, in any other human, would be considered silly.  But my mother doesn’t do silly, or goofy, or wacky—ever.

But she also never imbibes, so it took some time to realize what was going on.

My mother was getting snockered!

Her beverage of choice that evening was Cold Duck.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it: “The Cold Duck…recipe was based on a German legend involving Prince Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony ordering the mixing of all the dregs of unfinished wine bottles with Champagne.”

The Wenceslaus in question.

Now, if that doesn’t sound like a party, I don’t know what does.  Honestly, though, eww.

At some point, my mother and another guest decided that they were on one of those drunken, all-consuming, to-the-death missions to go Christmas caroling.  So six days after Christmas waving bottles of their sparkling abomination, they roamed the neighborhood, belting out carols that all seemed to come out sounding like “Feliz Navidad”.

Mom’s caroling was a tad more PG-13.

If, Gentle Reader, you’ve ever spent the evening guzzling cheap, way too sweet, effervescent wine, you probably have an idea of how this story ends.

Come morning, my abstemious mother was hugely hungover; every system in her body rebelled and punished her in the strongest possible fashion.  She took to her bed and late in the evening emerged, looking like a blinking, wincing piece of glass that would shatter at the merest sound or touch.

Mom eventually recovered but she’s never allowed herself to get even tipsy since.

So maybe you’ve also had a really, really good time ringing in the new year, but this is the South, and to keep the planet spinning on its axis, you are contractually required to eat greens, cornbread, and black-eyed peas.

But you feel as though instead of its axis, the planet is in actuality spinning on your head and in your gut, and you know, in your rode-hard-and-put-up-wet soul that there shall be no complicated kitchen maneuvers today.

That’s ok.  Because you, a few days ago, prepared.  And, today you have that traditional feast waiting for you, in the fridge and pantry.

A few days earlier, in that strange lull between Christmas and New Year’s make the easiest short ribs ever.  In the morning, season frozen, boneless short ribs, and wrap in a parchment pouch along with two onions and a few heads of garlic, halved.  Seal everything into a foil pouch, cook at 275° for 5 ½ hours, then toss, unopened into the fridge.

Next, prepare a batch of grits (cornbread substitution) and saute some spinach, finishing with lemon.  Refrigerate.  Make sure you have on hand, a can of Southern black-eyed peas (Lucks is the tastiest and most authentic).

Right before dinner, nuke grits and greens, heat up the beans, and toss the short ribs into a skillet to crisp edges and warm.

You can eat up, knowing that your adherence to tradition has saved the universe and given you good luck for the coming year.

Then go back to bed—you don’t look so good.

Thanks for your time, and have the happiest of new years.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Holiday Snapshot

It was taken taken with an old school camera, and the film was likely carried to the local department store to be developed, which probably took at least a week.

I was two, we were living in Traverse City, and the boys were the Brown brothers, from across the street.  All of this info comes from my mom, I have no memory of this event.  I thought this was from Alabama.  In fact I named this jpeg, “Mobile Xmas.jpeg”.

So, the tree.  It’s actually a pretty nice looking natural tree.  But of course, this was the wilderness of northwest Michigan.  Dad probably opened the front door and a tree just jumped into the house to get out of the cold.

If you look at the bottom of the tree on the left, you’ll see a little Santa.  I know that Santa.  It’s still hung on my parents’ tree every year.  It’s an ornament my mother brought from her own family, along with a very large silver ball and a golden bunch of German glass grapes.

You’ll notice that instead of garland, the tree is draped in tinsel.  It was also 1967, so that was lead tinsel.  They stopped making it in the seventies because of the risk of the lead harming developing brains.  But, I don’t think it had any affect on my couch seafood Liberace purple.

Decorating a tree with tinsel under my mother’s direction is a circle of hell even Satan himself would consider cruel and unusual.  My impulse was and remains to throw fistfuls at the tree, or better yet use a bazooka.  Mom’s rule was to artfully, painfully, place it one strand at a time.

The Brown kids are wearing the standard Beach Boys/Kingston Trio striped button downs.  To give you an idea of how popular and unbiquitous these shirts were, this photo was taken in Michigan, in December, where their average high temperature is 32°, and the average snowfall during the month is 20 inches.

I now reluctantly turn my attention to the monkey child in the pink footie pajamas.

I accused my mother of being the mastermind and trimmer of those tragically unfortunate bangs.  She insists that the hand that weilded the shears was trained and payed for their service.  She should have gotten her money back. 

I don’t know who actually gave me that punishment of a haircut, but I do know one thing for sure—Scotch tape was somewhere in the equation.

At first glance I look to be a happy little girl, excited for Santa make his annual visit.

But look closer, Gentle Reader.

That look in my eye is pure super villain yearning for world domination.  Examining the original photo, it’s entirely possible my eyes are actually glowing.  My mouth is making an expression somewhere between demented lunacy and demonic glee.  It’s a look that seems to be saying, “Yeah, I eat kittens, push little old ladies into the paths of buses, and put the milk back with an 1/8-inch left.  You got a problem with that?”

I look like I should be hanging out in an elevator in an empty mountain hotel with my equally creepy twin sister.  I look like I should be stealing all presents from the children of Whoville.  I look like I should be working with an FBI agent while wondering where my next bottle of chiante is coming from.

But it’s ok.  I grew up to be perfectly normal.

noRmAl…

NOrMal…

 Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Nutcracker Sweet

Baking and cooking from scratch forces you to slow down.  To put out a successful product, you need to take a breath, be in the moment, and pay attention.  

I know I bang it like a drum every single year, but during the holidays we do need to step back, slow down, regain our composure, and be deliberate in our actions and interactions.

Maybe me, more than any of you, Gentle Reader.

This week, I had a plan.  This would be the week that I shared the annual Christmas cookie recipe.  I was on top of my business.  I was a holiday role model.

Eagle-eyed readers, or indeed anyone with a memory just a tad longer than a hummingbird may have noticed a little flaw in my big plan.

Because, my cookie column ran a few weeks ago.  A.FEW.WEEKS.AGO.

So, this week I offer a totally scratch made pie.  With four components that aren’t dificult, but to be successful, you must be present in your own mind and kitchen.

As for me?

I’ll be busy checking to make sure I paid the light and cable bills.

Thanks for your time, and have the happiest of holidays.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Pecan Caramel Apple Tart

Crust

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup plus ½ of 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

¾ cup roasted pecans

¾ cup (1 & ½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°.

Mix flour, sugar, and pecans  in food processor until pecans are finely ground. Add butter. Cut in with short pulses until mixture forms clumps.

Prepare 9-inch tart pan by lightly spraying with cooking oil spray. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of pan. Pierce crust all over with fork. Freeze 15 minutes.

Bake crust at 425°(400° if using dark colored or non-stick pan) until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Transfer crust (leave in tin) to rack and let cool. When crust has cooled, fill.

Apple Filling

¾ cup gran. sugar

¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

12 gratings of nutmeg

½ tsp. salt

4 pounds apples, cored, peeled and sliced

4 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. cornstarch

2 Tbs. brandy

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup water

Mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and nutmeg.  Toss with apples. 

Heat butter in skillet until browned. Add apples, cover and cook until apples soften and release juices.  Uncover and continue to cook until pan is almost dry and fruit’s browned around the edges. 

Meanwhile, whisk liquids and cornstarch together and stir into apple mixture and bring to boil. Remove from heat.  When completely cool, pour into crust.

Caramel Topping

¼ cup milk

12 Kraft caramels

¼ cup chopped toasted pecans

1 teaspoon flaky salt

Combine milk and caramels and heat in microwave until caramels melt, then let cool.  Drizzle cooled caramel mixture over apple filling and top with toasted pecans.  Sprinkle top with sea salt

Cream topping

8 ounces cream cheese , room temperature 

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract  

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt  

2 cups heavy cream  

WHIPPED CREAM: Place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow, steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 ½ minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 ½ cups).

Pipe on top in decorative manner.  Refrigerate for 2 hours before service, and keep refrigerated.  Pop out of tin and place on cake plate for service.

Serves 8-10.

A Modest Proposal

Hi everyone,

I just this minute made a decision.

While the incomprehensible beliefs and opinions of the “Other Side” confuse, sadden, and infuriate me, for the next week, I’m going to be the girl from the snowman movie, and ‘Let It Go’–all of it.

I am forward-facing with love and patience. We are all much more alike than not alike, and that’s what I’m focusing on this week. Everybody loves someone and wants good things for the world.

Please let’s remember this, and just for the next week, let there be peace on earth, and let it begin; right here, right now, with me.

Let the children in the halls of government and the toddlers in media who make money from strife do their thing. But let us remember we all belong to the family of man, and please, let’s act like it.

Merry Christmas, Gentle Reader, and joy to the world!

Now, excuse me, I’ve got some baking to do!

And yes, I am in fact, wearing antlers for our 45th annual Cookie Day

Thoughts While Walking The Dog; Yule Log Edition

AM-

Petey and I alternate getting up and walking the dog.  I know we do.  It’s his turn every other day.  So why is it that it seems like it’s my sleep-deprived carcass rolling out of bed and pulling on my sneaks every single day?  Is it some kind of Jedi mind trick Petey’s working on me?

“Easy Crowley…the UPS man is going around the corner.  It’s okay, Buddy.”  How does a dog have a super hero-level nemesis?  Is it the big brown truck?  The knees?  Why and how does every person in this neighborhood get five or six packages every single day?  If it’s not UPS, it’s FedEx or the Amazon guy. 

Do people never actually go into stores?  Have they never experienced the joy of eating cold sub-par pizza while sneaking peeks of the cute guy at Orange Julius?  How did they fall in love?  Where did they work soul-sucking part-time jobs for gas and tennis shoe money?

All of these deflated blow-up Christmas decorations around here.  It looks like the last stand of the Santa Village massacre.  They might take up a lot of space when they’re all inflated, but they get no credit in my very own Griswald Christmas decoration lunacy scale.  They take no work or creativity. 

I want holiday decorations that take time, sweat and possess the very real possibility of falling off a ladder and spending Christmas in traction.

When I left the house I was freezing.  It’s warmed up so much that if I take off any more layers and tie them around my waist I’ll be arrested for indecent exposure. 

“Crowley!  That is not a dog.  That is a plastic reindeer, it does not want to be your friend, and you’re making us both feel uncomfortable.  Knock it off, and get over here!”

PM-

How is it so dark at 5:30?  It seems like just a few months ago it was light ‘til 8:30 at night.

“Crowley, I am happy to take you to visit your friends.  But you need to make up your mind whether or not they actually are friends of yours. I will not stop and visit with somebody so that you can stand six feet away from them and bark for ten minutes.  That’s just plain rude.”

That guy’s lights over his garage are listing like a sinking ship.  He’s either really unobservant or had imbibed in a bit too much Christmas cheer before he got up there with a stapler gun.  I don’t know, maybe it was intentional—it is kind of festive, in an amusing, too much egg nog kind of way.

That “As seen on TV” searchlight, holiday flood light thing is unsettling.  I think it’s supposed to be holly and berries sweeping back and forth over the front of their house.  But it looks disturbingly like a radioactive swarm of extra-terrestrial termites at an all-you-can-eat wood buffet.

“It’s too dark to play ball right now, Buddy.  I’m sorry…ok, we’ll play right here under the street light.  Nope.  Too dark.  I just picked up what I thought was the ball, and it turned out to be a big, slimy, exploding toadstool.”

No way!  The crankiest, most anti-social guy in the neighborhood; the man about whom everybody will say “we absolutely saw it coming” when the news shows up;  the misanthrope who I only heard laugh once and which scared the heck out of me, has decorated for Christmas and put up lights.  This I never, ever saw coming.  Crowley my big baby, I think we may be witnessing a Scrooge redemption moment. 

It’s a Christmas miracle!

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.