Wednesday, June 26, 2013

5 Ingredients to Help You Feel Like You're a Witch in the Kitchen

Cooking is so much more interesting when I think of myself as a culinary witch, brewing up deliciousness. I especially feel this way when I'm using my biggest black pot, or when I'm using any of the ingredients listed below.

1. Bay leaves. Or call them "leaves of bay" because I think that way they'd rhyme better in an incantation. Ex: "Beans of garbanzo, leaves of bay! Let this drought, your fortunes sway!" It's so fun to add an entire leaf to a recipe.

Leaves of bay.

2. Fish sauce. Because it smells like death but makes your Thai dishes taste amazing. Black magic has to be involved. It's made by fermenting anchovies in the blood of small Thai children. Or something like that.

3. Star Red Wine Vinegar.

Because the bottle makes me feel like this:

4. Blackstrap Molasses. This tarry potion is delicious, but it just looks sinister. The magic factor is substantially increased with the brand I currently have, Brer Rabbit (pictured below), because having an anthropomorphic rabbit as your mascot is a sure sign of witchcraft. (Fun fact: the antonym of "mascot" is "hex.")

It also reminds me of a scene from the most disturbing movie I've ever seen, Spirited Away. Watch at your own risk. There are two types of people in this world: those who loved this movie, and those who have a normal relationship with reality. And disclaimer: the clip below devolves into some weird edited youtube version, but you get the horrific idea.

5. Ginger Root. I love the taste of ginger, but it looks like a nightmare wrapped in mummy bandages. If I were really a witch I'd call it something more exotic like "dragon knuckle." "Knuckle of dragon" also has a nice ring to it, but per the bay leaf argument above, "dragon knuckle" has better rhyming potential: ie "To your brew add two parts dragon knuckle, then stir in the feet of a sow and the piglet she suckled." This is too much fun.

What kitchen tools or ingredients make you feel supernatural?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Real Mommy Wars

No, this isn't a commentary on the latest op-ed by some disgruntled SAHM/working mother/lizard trainer/etc. This is about something more important than whether the answer to the analogy "working mom: goldfish crackers :: SAHM :  ________" is "hemp hearts" or "mung beans." This is an essay on something very close to my heart ... or rather something very itchy on my ankle. This is about the eternal warfare between two kinds of mothers: human and mosquito.

Did you know that only female mosquitoes suck blood? Males prefer the bouquet of flower nectar, but females need the protein in blood to create their spawn. So when a filthy mosquito is buzzing dangerously close to my little Ruby, she is baby-hungry in more than one way. Meanwhile, I want nothing more than to obliterate every mosquito in the state of Texas by the sheer force of my maternal rage.

Who hates mosquitoes? This girl.

It's no secret that I have a hate affair with mosquitoes, which is funny because they can't seem to get enough of me. On family camping trips as a child, I would get as many bites as the rest of my six family members combined. A month ago I got twenty bites in as many minutes spent outside talking to my neighbor. Not five minutes ago I got three bites across my ankles, courtesy of the mosquito wench I initially failed to kill because I was holding/protecting my newborn and so couldn't use both my hands to hunt her. It isn't impossible to kill an in-flight mosquito with one hand (indeed, I've done it many times), but it is more difficult, especially when mobility is restricted by something like holding a baby. You'll note my earlier use of the word "initially" ... once Ruby was securely nestled somewhere safe, I handily killed the still-lurking mosquito and wiped her corpse (mingled with my freshly-harvested blood) off my hands and onto a flier from LA Fitness, which sits beside me as I type.

It's like "Where's Waldo," but the red stripes aren't so neat.

Complicating matters is another protein-related issue, a lingering side effect of pregnancy known as "floaters"--little chunks of protein (collagen, specifically) that float across your retina and make you see little dark spots darting around in front of you ... kind of like how a bug would appear. This wasn't so bad while I was pregnant with Graham, but this last time around I've been in southern Texas, where I'm always expecting to see a bug, whether it be a cockroach skittering across the floor or a mosquito zipping by in the air. So I've been constantly jumping and jerking around like a crazy person, thinking I'm being ambushed by bugs.

So the war rages on. The mosquitoes are determined to mother their spawn, and I am determined to protect myself and my children from their blood-thirsty advances. Sometimes I lose the battle and itchy red bumps rise on the soft skin of my babies, and sometimes I have to wipe crushed mosquito bodies off my palms. And they ask me what I do all day ...

Would you rather sleep in a room full of mosquitoes or cockroaches?