An Absurd (But Ingenious) Proposal

So, I was watching Star Trek The Next Generation the other day.  Student Wesley Crusher came home to the Enterprise D on a break from Starfleet Academy.

He and the android, Data are discussing the social life of the academy.  Data asks if they still hold the Sadie Hawkins dance.  Wesley answers that yes, it’s still a tradition.

 A couple of things here.

Sadie Hawkins dance or day is inspired by a Lil’ Abner comic strip story about the father of the ugliest girl in Dogpatch trying to find a husband for her, so he organizes a race in which Sadie chases a pack of bachelors and gets to marry whomever she catches.  The term evolved into events where a woman was allowed to ask a man for a dance, a date, or on Leap Day especially, his hand in marriage.

That’s me, in high school. Already so very over the patriarchy.

How very thoughtful, allowing women an isolated opportunity to have a say in her own destiny.  But as someone old enough to have participated in Sadie Hawkins dances, the whole thing was seen as a joke; where menfolk pretended to let silly females have the power for something as low stakes as a school dance.

And the Star Trek thing?  This episode took place around 2368.  I’m sure, Gentle Reader, you can guess my thoughts about that.

A woman runs the Borg, but they still have a Sadie Hawkins dance? Sheesh.

But this anachronistic social convention brings me to my point and proposal (not of the marriage sort).

Leap Day, the February 29th that falls only once every four years, has long been considered an “extra”.  A day that falls outside normality. 

My proposal is to lean into the “otherness” that is Leap Day.  So, on February 29th, nothing counts.

This is NOT what I’m proposing.

When I told The Kid about my big idea, it gave my child pause.  Right away, what came to mind was The Purge, the movie where one day a year, everything is legal.  Rob a bank, steal a car, kill your annoying neighbor and burn down their house?  Yes, yes, and that’s kinda dark, but yes.

That is absolutely NOT what I am suggesting.  Think of this as more of a “Purge Light®”.

Not today, John Q Law.

The most serious laws my scenario would allow breaking are sixteen items in the express lane, taking the last doughnut without asking, and a little light jaywalking.

But the gist is that the folly of humans is not counted against them.

Calories?  Not on Leap Day.  Put away the healthy, no-fun food.

Have yourself some cotton candy and gin for breakfast.  Eat a stick of butter like a particularly buttery Snickers bar.  Polish off an entire jar of Goober Grape.  Eat a bucket of potato salad.  Have frosting for lunch!  Drink Hollandaise sauce out of a mug.  Eat your weight in caramel-cloaked toasted marshmallow frozen yogurt for dinner.

It doesn’t matter, because on this day, this magical day, no matter what goes into your mouth, every fork-full transforms into whole grains, veggies, and legumes.

Go shopping.  There are no price tags or credit limits on this day.  Buy all the shoes.  Go to a bookstore and purchase every book and magazine that catch your eye.  Start a cashmere collection.  You want diamond earbobs?  Buy yourself some darned diamond earbobs.  Buy so many new clothes that you have to have them delivered on a flatbed.

But be sure you get this wonderful Bacchanal of misbehavior completely finished by midnight.  Because come March 1, your actions once again have consequences.

But on this day, this special day that only comes every 1460 days, live your life like a giant drunken toddler who’s been given the car keys and a fake ID.

What do you think?

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at

Winning Black Friday

So Thanksgiving dinner has been served, eaten, and cleaned up.  Most of the relatives have gone home, and you’re reclining, semi-comatose, on the sofa.  Then Aunt Minnie from Altoona begins talking about Christmas shopping, and she Wants.To.Start.Tonight.

You’ve got a few options.

#1-Get up and toss her, Uncle Jasper, Cousin Viola, their luggage, and their 3 yappy, incontinent dogs outside, lock the door and turn off the lights.

#2-Get up, put on your shoes and jacket, and take them for 4 or 5 hours of bruising, shoulder-to-shoulder turkey night shopping.

#3-Get up, program their GPS for the best local retail Mecca, put some good music on in the kitchen, and while they’re gone get some relaxing, solitary prep done for tomorrow’s breakfast.

If you pick #3, I’ll guide you through the almost Zen-like process.  It’s simple and low-key, kind of a cool-down exercise from the earlier frenzy.

My breakfast menu consists of scrambled eggs, easy homemade hash browns, fall porridge, and awesome, delicious brown sugar pecan scones.

I made up this first recipe just this morning, for my own breakfast.  It was hella good and kept me full for hours.

Start with the hot cereal.  Any type will work, from instant oatmeal to slow-cooked grits (I used Special K Nourish).  What makes it special is this topping.  You can make fruit and cereal tonight, and heat them up in the microwave before service.

Harvest porridge

4 unpeeled pears, cored and cut into ½ inch cubes

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup chopped almonds

½ cup golden raisins

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat non-stick skillet and melt butter.  Put in everything except raisins and vanilla.  Cook on medium.  When the pears and almonds are browned, add raisins and vanilla, and stir ‘til hot. Spoon onto hot cereal.  Serves four.

     My dad loves them, but I never understood scones.  They’re not quite muffins, not quite biscuits.  They just seemed dry and weird.  That was before I tasted Chef Jason Cunningham’s brown sugar pecan scones at the Washington Duke (3001 Cameron Blvd, Durham).  They’re neither dry nor weird.  Flaky and tasty, these are what scones are supposed to be.  Thanks to Chef Jason for the recipe.

Make these the night before up to the refrigeration stage, and bake them off in the morning.

Brown Sugar Pecan Scones

Yield 18

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

2/3 cup light brown sugar

2/3 cup Butter

1 Tbl baking powder

Pinch Salt

1 large egg

½ cup whipping cream

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup chopped pecans

1 Tbl vanilla extract

Combine all-purpose flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly. Reserve.

Cream butter in a stand mixer until soft. Add brown sugar, salt and vanilla and cream until fluffy.  Add eggs and beat until fully incorporated.

Add cake flour and combine and then add the orange juice. Add half of the all-purpose flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Add the cream, incorporate and then the remainder of the flour mixture along with the pecans.

Do not over-mix! Once all ingredients are incorporated, wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate.

Once dough is thoroughly chilled, place on a floured work surface and roll to approximately ½ inch thickness. Cut into triangles.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake approximately 12-20 minutes until golden brown.

     These hash browns are so simple you can quickly make them in the morning.  It’s the only way I make them anymore.

Homo habilis hash browns

In a non-stick skillet melt 2-3 tablespoons butter.  Grate 1 unpeeled potato per diner directly onto melting butter.  Grate in about 2 teaspoons yellow onion per potato.  Salt and toss to mix.  With spatula, flatten in pan and cook on medium until golden-amber around edges (8-10 minutes).  Put plate on top of pan and carefully flip onto plate, cooked side up.  Slide back into pan and cook other side, 6-8 minutes.  Slice into wedges, and serve.

     You can go through all this, or do what I do.  Go to someone else’s house for dinner, go home and do most of your holiday shopping online in your pajamas, then sleep in on Friday.

Good luck, and happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for your time.