Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Spider That Wouldn't Die

I have feared spiders since birth. Well, maybe not birth. I was a trifle busy that day. But sometime after that I found out that there were spiders. I realized on my own that they were evil. Works, if you will, of Beelzebub, Satan, The Dark One Who Lives Below.

Up until I was nine my mother killed all spiders for me. In our house, in the car, in the yard. I made her kill spiders in stores. I could not suffer a spider to live. It freaked me out to think that they were still there . . . Somewhere . . . Probably plotting to crawl across my face as I slept. They had to be destroyed. My mother was the spider eradicator.

One evening, when I was nine, I was sitting on the floor of our living room watching television. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement. I turned. Time seemed to stop. There, standing not four feet from me, was a spider. I shrieked for my mother as if Freddy Kruger were breaking in to murder me. My mother, naturally, came a runnin’.

What greeted my mother’s panicked eyes? Me screaming in front of the television and pointing at the floor. The spider, you see, was so small that she couldn’t see it until she knelt down beside me…and squinted. She pointed this out to me. I continued to hyperventilate. My mother decided that this tiny creature would be my first kill. My practice spider, if you will. A warm up for all the times she wouldn’t be there later on in life and I’d have to squash spiders with extreme prejudice by myself.

My mother handed me a rolled up magazine. I took it with hands made shaky with fear. I took a deep breath, crawled up behind the spider, in case it decided to bolt (how did I decide what the back was? No idea. I just knew.), raised my arm and…THWACK! The magazine came down on the spider with all the miniscule strength in my nine year old arm. I looked under the magazine. The spider moved. I hit it again. I looked again. The spider crawled to the left. I hit it again…and again…and again. I looked. The spider crept to the right….And this, my friends, is when I lost my mind.

I grabbed my math book and began pounding the spider over and over again while screaming, at the top of my considerable lungs, DIE! DIE! My mother, who had gone back to the kitchen, came a runnin’ once again. She grabbed me up and sat me on the couch. I continued to stare, fixedly, at the book laying on top of, what I assumed was, The Spider Who Wouldn’t Die. She demanded to know what had happened.

Through my tears I looped up at my mother. “It won’t die,” I said. “It has to die.” My mother went over and lifted up the book. She took a tissue from the side table, scooped up the spider, and squished it between her paper covered fingers. “There,” she said. “Dead. Happy now?” I nodded.

I never had to kill another spider….

Sunday, March 28, 2010

F*ck Cinnabon!

I saw this recipe on PBS a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d give it a try. Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s a lot of steps but the smell alone is worth it. And the taste? See title of post.

Ultimate Cinnamon Buns courtesy of Cook’s Country

¾ Cup Whole Milk (heated to 110 degrees)
2 ¼ Teaspoons Rapid-Rise Yeast
3 Large Eggs (room temperature)
4 ¼ Cups All-Purpose Flour
½ Cup Cornstarch
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 ½ Teaspoons Salt
12 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (softened & cut into 12 pieces)

1 Medium Bowl - Greased
1 13x9 Inch Baking Pan - Lined W/Tin Foil (grease the tin foil)

1. Place oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 200 degrees & then shut it off.

2. Whisk milk & yeast together in measuring cup or small bowl until yeast dissolves.

3. Whisk in the eggs.
4. In bowl of stand mixer (trust me, you need a stand mixer…go buy one. Now.) combine flour, cornstarch, sugar & salt. Attach dough hook. Mix flour mixture on low till all ingredients are combined.
5. With mixer on low speed, pour in milk, egg & yeast mixture in a slow steady stream.

6. Mix until dough comes together.

7. Increase speed of mixer to medium & add butter, one piece at a time, until it’s incorporated (1 minute…maybe 1 ½).

8. Continue to mix, on medium speed, until dough comes away from bowl and is smooth (10 minutes…maybe 11).
9. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball.

10. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover it with plastic wrap & put it in the oven till it doubles in size (2 hours should do it).
The above will become the below. It's like magic. Only, ya' know, not.

1 ½ Cups Light Brown Sugar - Packed
1 ½ Tablespoons Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoons Salt
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter - Softened

11. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.

12. Roll dough out into as close to an 18 inch square as you can. Remember, you are not a professional pastry chef, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Put the ruler away. Why make yourself crazy?

13. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon & salt.

14. Leaving a ½ inch border (or thereabouts) around the edge, spread the butter on the dough. An offset spatula is your friend.

15. Sprinkle filling mixture over buttered dough. Press it lightly into dough so that it doesn’t fall out later.
16. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam to seal it.

17. Cut the dough into 12 rounds. The original recipe says this makes 8. I don’t know about you but I don’t happen to want or need to eat a cinnamon bun as big as my head so I cut it into 12. You can do 8 if you want. Good luck with that.

18. Place buns, cut side up, on tin foil covered pan.

19. Cover with plastic wrap & leave in warm place to proof (about an hour).

BREAK: Eat a meal. Run an errand. Paint a picture. Up to you.

20. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

21. Remove plastic wrap & place buns in oven.

22. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.

4 Ounces Cream Cheese - Softened
1 Tablespoon Whole Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 ½ Cups Confectioner’s Sugar

23. Remove buns from oven & place whole tray on wire rack.

24. Whisk together glaze ingredients.

25. The original recipe calls for you to glaze buns with ½ of glaze at this point & then, after 30 minutes, apply the rest of the glaze. Well, if you want to go into a sugar coma, you go ahead. The first application of glaze was more than enough in my world. But, like I always say, it’s up to you.

26. Serve.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Perfection Is Intensely Annoying." - Hugh Laurie

I don’t blog enough. I know. . . I know. . . I know! But, you should know that when people point this out to me it only hurts you, the reader. Why? Because you know what you get now. You all know what time it is, boys and girls. Say it with me…

Stream of Consciousness Time With Fury (insert theme song of your choosing)!

I really don’t think I have the energy to do this today. Why did I start this? Dumb. That’s why. Why did I decide not to ingest caffeine anymore? Again, dumb. No. That’s not dumb. That’s not dumb at all. Especially when you consider that I drank so much coffee last Monday? Was it? Whatever. So much caffeine that I was practically levitating above my bed like Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters and my heart was beating out a conga (CONGA! [sorry, that’s only funny if you’re related to me or have ever seen “My Sister, Eileen”. You probably haven’t. You should. Unless you don’t like musicals and then not so much.]) rhythm that could have powered Brazil through all of Carnival. OK. Fine. It wasn’t that bad. Happy now? It’s called colorful language. Learn to live with it. Where was I? Fuck. I forgot. Oh. Caffeine. It’s the devil’s work. But I need it. Need. It. Sleepy & yet still can’t sleep so well. Hello, insomnia, how you doin’? I get tired at around midnight. I lay down. I continue to lay there. Staring up at the ceiling. Or the wall. Or the other wall. Or the closet door. It’s good times. How does one count sheep? I can’t picture sheep jumping over fences in my head. Maybe because I’ve never seen a sheep do that. Wander around in a big cluster of smelly, stupid confusion? Seen it. Jump things? Nope. What kind of sheep go around jumping walls? I think they must be thinking of mountain goats. Or deer. Not sheep. Or maybe sheep were a lot more energetic back whenever that expression started. Now I want to know when that was exactly. I will not look it up. I have enough useless knowledge at my disposal without looking that…mid 19th century. Damn. It. You win this round OCD. Which should really be CDO. They only do it the other way to mess with us. I know it. Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me. They? Who is this “They” you speak of? Them. Oh. Them. Well, that explains everything. Have I lost you yet?

Great. Now that They’re gone and it’s just you and me, tell me, is it true what They say about you?

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Who needs astrology? The wise man gets by on fortune cookies." ~Edward Abbey

Horoscope For Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aries (March 21 - April 19) -

You need to be as honest as you can be today--someone needs to hear the truth and nothing but. It’s easier than ever for you to tell people what they need to hear, even if they don’t think they’re ready…or even if they don’t particularly care to hear it. Nobody wants to hear about how tired they look or that their baby looks like a monkey but, hey, as far as you’re concerned honesty is the best policy so who cares who gets hurt? Just watch out for violent reactions. Having your foot surgically removed from your mouth is expensive…and painful.

Taurus (April 20 - May 20) -

For once, you’re totally certain you’re heading in the right direction. Let go of your illusions of self-control and just dive headfirst into the madness. Medication is for sissy Mary’s! Go au natural down that rabbit hole and let the chips fall where they may. At some point a friend or family member will have you committed & you’ll get a nice long rest out of it. Aaaahhh…vacation.

Gemini (May 21 - June 21) -

Beware of bossy pals. There’s not much you can do to shut them up so try to just smile and nod your head and wait for them to get bored. If that doesn’t work there’s always duct tape & a baseball bat.

Cancer (June 22 - July 22) -

You can’t make up your mind very easily today, and that may be driving you crazy. You need to get some advice, but deciding between advisors may pose its own little problems as well. Hot cereal or cold? Coke or Pepsi? Meth or Crack? Oh, my sainted aunt, how to choose?! Just lie down with a cool cloth on your head & decide tomorrow.

Leo (July 23 - August 22) -

You’re out on the cutting edge once again, making people wonder how they can keep going on with the same-old same-old. It’s not that you want them to feel bad…much. It’s just that you’re so much better than everybody else. Is it your fault that the lives of the peasants are unforgiving and uncool? We think not. Just slip on your shades and swagger away…you pop-collared fuck.

Virgo (August 23 - September 22) -

You’d love to skip the whole flirtation stage and go right into, say, living together, but this person doesn’t even know you exist yet. It’s probably time to overcome the tension (that exists perhaps solely in your mind) and, you know, say something to them. . . Or you can keep trying to send psychic messages and hoping that your aura will hover above the crowd like a neon arrow. While you’re at it why not try bending spoons with your mind? It’s a nice party trick.

Libra (September 23 - October 22) -

Even someone as balanced as you can feel a little frustrated or blue now and then. Enlist your sweetheart’s aid for a little cheering up -- or tell them to leave you the hell alone for two minutes for the love of God! Seriously! Back up! Can a person get some space? Damn, yo, what is their glitch? Ya’ know what? You may have to cut a bitch. We do not in any way endorse this…but we do understand.

Scorpio (October 23 - November 21) -

Are you still holding onto an old grudge? It’s time to forgive, even if you can’t quite forget. Even if this person is no longer part of your life, you are still letting them affect your current prospects. So, put the voodoo doll down and step away from the cyber stalking. ‘Kay? Take a deep breath. . . You can do it. . . We have faith in you. OK? Now, see? That wasn’t so bad, was it? Good job. Next we’ll work on sleeping with the light off!

Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21) -

It’s time to suit up for the game of love. This isn’t like seventh grade phys ed; here, everyone gets to play, no matter what…well, it might be a little like seventh grade phys ed. Somebody has to be picked last after all. I’m sure it has nothing to do with your hair lip. . . Or that funny, well, let’s call it an odor. No, certainly not. . . It’s your personality. Let’s face facts. It’s not them. It’s you.

Capricorn (December 22 - January 19) -

Despair is too easy to embrace today -- but if you do, expect to hang on to it for quite a while. You’re much better off enforcing optimism in yourself and…oh, who are we kidding. Life is pain. Life is earnest. Life’s a bitch and then you die…what were we saying? Oh, right. Optimism. Sure. Try that. See where it gets you!

Aquarius (January 20 - February 18) -

Help is needed! Hold on, it’s on its way -- if you can get it together enough to ask your partner for it. The stars urge you to do so -- your honey can provide a badly needed reality check. For instance, you will never get out of debt if you keep using one credit card to pa off another. And, listen carefully to this one because it’s key, you don’t look good in skinny jeans and guy liner if you’re a 46 year old gym teacher named Burt.

Pisces (February 19 - March 20) -

You’ve got quite a lot going on right now, so see if you can get your friends and colleagues to help out. And by help out we mean do the whole damn thing. Because, let’s face facts, they’re better at this stuff, whatever it is, than you are. Also, why deprive people of the greatest gift of all? The gift of helping others. It ups their karma quotient and you get to take a nap. It’s win win, by God!