Blood-curdling Scream

I’ve made a few men cry out in my day, but this was different.

This was a blood-curdling scream.

I ran upstairs to the bathroom, almost tripping over the cat running the other direction. I burst through the door not knowing what to expect. Whatever it was, it didn’t sound like anything a kiss and a batman bandaid would fix.

“Stay away,” he yelled, holding his pants in one hand and brandishing the plunger in the other. When I followed his horrified gaze to the bathtub, I could see what triggered his panic.

“It’s just cheese,” I tried to explain, but he was hyperventilating and past logical explanations.

I had been making cheese that day. Instead of using cloth bags, I used pantyhose. I tied them in pairs and threw them over a rod I installed over the bathtub to let the whey drip out. The cat liked lapping up whey at the bottom of the tub.

They did sort of look like balls.

There were about a dozen pairs.

When I went to grab one of the sacks to show him, he bolted, still holding his pants. I heard the door slam and his car start. I got to the window just in time to see him peal out of the dirt driveway from my farmhouse to the county road, leaving behind a cloud of dust.

He took my plunger.

The cat packed his bags and went on a road trip.

Yesterday, a recipe I was looking at listed cream cheese as an ingredient. I didn’t have any. “Well, then”, I thought, “I’ll just make some.” Homemade cream cheese is rich and smooth, not like those gummy bricks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese you buy in stores.

Hanging up my balls reminded me of the blood-curdling screamer, poor thing.

30-day Challenge. Day 21: The Fragrant Kitchen.

Kitchen

Forget the boardroom.
This is where the power is.
This kitchen
filled with clutter and spice,
swirling and dodging,
collecting our lives.

It is here that we make
Big Decisions,
where Peace is restored
Hunger solved
Souls replenished.
Here, we make mistakes,
red-button catastrophes and, then,
apologize and hold one another
hoping to be forgiven, to forgive,
never really knowing.

This kitchen, bright and rambling,
a world in itself,
secures us, like a bouquet of rosemary
swinging lightly from the eves,
the fragrance of
our ragged dreams
our mingled prayers
sustain us as we move beyond
the porch steps.

– Anne Kundtz

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dessert Buffet

New Year’s dinner. I forgot to take photos, so these were taken by a friend. Dinner was the traditional turkey affair. (Yes, I finally got my turkey.) The photos are of the dessert buffet, which included five kinds of cookies, cranberry shortbread pie, candied orange peels dipped in chocolate, date-nut bread soaked in cognac, fresh figs stuffed with mascarpone and rose water and served on a rose petal, and Seckel pears served with tiny slices of Gorgonzola cheese. I made everything in one day, including a huge loaf of Challah. I love love love my commercial oven. NOW we can start our diets.

Image may contain: table, food and indoor
Image may contain: table, food and indoor

The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t

I ordered the turkey a week in advance, even called once to verify pick up-time on Monday. They made me wait almost 30 minutes before telling me that the bird wasn’t there. (Mexicans hate admitting a screw up.) They finally said that they had sold my bird to someone else.

They sold my bird? How the hell did that happen?

Later that afternoon, the manager called to say they could get me another one “mañana.” I told him I had lived in Mexico long enough to know what the word mañana meant.

So I wrote my guests that we were having leg of lamb.

Take it or leave it.

The good news was my commercial oven would be delivered in time to cook Thanksgiving dinner. The oven was coming from Mexico City. The delivery guy told me to be home all day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I told him Thursday was out of the question and that I was not going to wait three days at home for a delivery.

He said he would send me an email identifying the day it would be delivered.

I received nothing.

On Tuesday I got a call that the delivery truck was five minutes from my house. I ran all the way home from the university, at one point leaping over a little old lady who was sitting on the sidewalk begging. I got home just as the truck pulled up.

The oven weighed a ton. The delivery guys wrestled it inside the door and turned to leave.

“Wait!” I said. “It needs to go in the other room.”

“Not our job,” replied the one of the delivery men, and they left.

At the last minute on Wednesday, I managed to get my workers to come and move the oven and hook up the gas.

Thanksgiving morning, I decided to start the day swinging under a nice hot shower. I lit incense and candles, put on a Chopin Nocturne, took off my clothes, stepped under the water —- and shrieked .

No hot water. I was out of propane. It was 9 am. Dinner was at 3 pm.

I was at the mercy of the gas company, the only organization in Mexico more tyrannical than a cartel.

It took them two hours to get here. After they left, I showered and did my hair in record time. Screw Chopin.

Then I tried to light the oven. A huge fireball whooshed over me. I rushed to the bedroom to assess the damage. The hair on the top of my head was white. I almost sobbed. However, when I looked closer, I saw that it was the hair product that the flames had turned white. Only a small piece of one eyebrow and a tiny patch of hair on my head was burned.

Unfortunately, it was my cowlick.

Cursing like a marine, I raced back to the shower, and did the hair and makeup thing again. Then I stuffed my hair into a baseball cap, held my breath, and tried lighting the oven once more.

It lit.

My guests would not be required to gnaw on a bloody leg of lamp.

I pulled off dinner, but it was the Thanksgiving that almost wasn’t. Gary took a photo of me slumped in my seat at the table, with my head propped up by my hand and my eyes rolled back.

And that was the best photo. Clearly feeling sorry for me, Gary sent me a photo from last year.

We are going to pretend that the photo is me this year.

Got it?

THANKSGIVING MENU

ASSORTED APPETIZERS

Goat cheese, olives, various pates, cornichons, crackers

MAIN COURSE

Mangos, Raspberries, and Blue Cheese on Arrugula

Roast Leg of Lamp a la Provencale

Hand-rolled saffron noodles

Truffles, Morels, and Oyster Mushroom Gravy

DESSERTS

Homemade ice cream flavored with rosewater

Cranberry Shortbread Tart

Southern Sweet Potato Pie with Praline Topping

Bread, Art, and a Poem

Painting I did while living in Thailand.  The best incense is a fragrant kitchen.  The best music is someone singing in the kitchen.  The best dance floor is always the kitchen. 

bake bread

The Kitchen

Forget the boardroom.
This is where the power is.
This kitchen
filled with clutter and spice,
swirling and dodging,
collecting our lives.

It is here that we make
Big Decisions,
where Peace is restored
Hunger solved
Souls replenished.
Here, we make mistakes,
red-button catastrophes and, then,
apologize and hold one another
hoping to be forgiven, to forgive,
never really knowing.

This kitchen, bright and rambling,
a world in itself,
secures us, like a bouquet of rosemary
swinging lightly from the eves,
the fragrance of
our ragged dreams
our mingled prayers
sustain us as we move beyond
the porch steps.

– Anne Kundtz