Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Case of the Giggles

I started to giggle this morning and I haven't stopped yet.

I was sitting at the kitchen table with Joshua, both of us reading the morning papers, when he sneezed and then snuffled. At which he yelled at the top of his lungs, "Stop that, damn it!" And all of a sudden the thought struck me - I am sitting at the kitchen table with a man who is yelling at his own nose. I don't know why this struck me as hilarious, but it did - and still does (if I had sound, you could hear my residual giggles).

I'm in a good mood all around. I got all the in-law and niece and nephew shopping done, wrapped, and in the mail (priority mail, of course, otherwise the poor beasts would be celebrating the arrival of my offerings some time in February). Now all I have left to do is: get three more presents, get them wrapped, buy all the food for Christmas Eve, Christmas breakfast, Christmas dinner, and whatever else we need, and clean the house. By Wednesday morning. Of course. I'll get it done (I always do), but I hate the thought. Next year I'll start in September. (This is another traditional facet of our Christmas celebration - I say it every single year. I don't DO anything about it, you understand, but I certainly SAY it.)

And now for something completely different. The other night I decided to gather up all the recipes I've been yanking out of magazines and put them in my homemade recipe book - the one which has all the recipes I'm certainly going to try one day. (Hey, sometimes I even make some of them.) I made the decision to do this because the house needs cleaning, naturally, and by gathering all these things up and pasting them in the book, I could make believe I was doing something towards cleaning while sitting on my ass - I'm good at this sort of thing. I make detailed lists, too (something else one can do while sitting down, you note) - I mean, if it's written down, it's done, right?

The recipe book (a looseleaf notebook) is fascinating. You can follow it along from when Sarah was little and growing up (there's a recipe for Impossible Cheeseburger Pie - I can't imagine what made me think I'd EVER make it), and lots of recipes for nice (cheap) family meals like Swiss Steak and pasta casseroles. Then suddenly things get more elegant and sophisticated (that would be when Sarah's grandfather died and we bought our house and had some money). It was around that time that I started clipping recipes for Roast Tenderloin with Shitake Mushrooms and whole braised fish. I had some vague notion that we were going to have elegant four course dinner parties, I think - this idea was just as silly as it sounds.

What fascinates me is that I never seem to be able to recognize that I already have about six recipes for something. There's one pasta casserole (I think it's ziti with bacon, tomato and ricotta - very good, too) that I must have six or eight copies of, at least.

And whenever Sarah gets near the recipe book, she laughs at me. This is because I have probably every recipe known to man for fried chicken. You have to understand that I have never in my life made fried chicken. I make sauteed chicken constantly - literally to the point where people politely request some bread and butter, for God's sake, anything but that damn chicken. But I have never fried chicken (unless you count the oven-fried with cornflakes, which I love). And I LOVE fried chicken.

Here are the problems. First of all, just about every recipe I have ever seen for it calls for a well-seasoned cast iron frying pan. I don't own a well-seasoned cast iron frying pan for the very good reason that I can't LIFT a well-seasoned cast iron frying pan. Now if I can't lift a cast iron frying pan up at the store when I'm thinking (as I often do) of buying one, I sure as hell can't lift a cast iron frying pan full of hot grease without causing a disaster of truly epic proportions, quite probably involving the fire department. And secondly, since I am a person who can speckle myself with hot butter while frying an egg, I really don't think I should get anywhere near anything with a recipe that starts out, "Put two inches of shortening in a well-seasoned cast iron frying and let it get almost to smoking point." This way lies madness and probably third degree burns.

And while I'm on that subject, what the hell is with that instruction - "let it get almost to smoking point?" How, exactly, does one figure this out? Can you perhaps just ask the grease to ring a little bell to announce it's almost there, or perhaps tug on your apron? (Oh, all right - I do know about a little bubble around the edge.)

These things are sent to try us. I suppose I will either have to conquer my fear of hot grease and cast iron eventually or just say the hell with it and go to Popeye's when I feel the urge...the latter, I think.

Anyway, I am going to laze around for the rest of the night, go off to my nice job tomorrow (the only one this week, of course), and then seriously consider housecleaning. I'm damned if I'm going to shop on Saturday or Sunday - since I know what my last bits of shopping are I can do them on Monday which will be SLIGHTLY less horrendous than the weekend, then the groceries early on Tuesday. So there.

Love, Wendy

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