Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chuck Norris, My Kitchen Needs You

The other day, my holiday task du jour was to reduce 3 1/2 pounds of whole dates to a mush the texture of which would hold a spherical shape when mixed with brandy and covered with chocolate. It is my third year making this particular confection, having met with varying degrees of success in previous attempts, all of which were delicious, if not texturally and structurally ideal.

The first year, my Black & Decker 750 watt blender proved unequal to this task; the motor is powerful enough to pull a wagon holding three small children and a medium pig, but the blade assembly is badly angled for food chopping. I did not blame the blender, and quietly reassured it that as long as it continued to make me margaritas, it would always have a place in my home and heart. I finished the job with a large knife and some of the most exquisite strings of profanity ever uttered in my kitchen, already planning how different things would be next time.

What I needed was a good food processor. What time and budget constraints netted the following December was a small appliance cryptically labeled a multi-purpose chopper. I only needed it for one purpose, which proved fortunate because one was all I got before I burned out the motor on the third of my 3 1/2 pounds of dates, again finishing the job with my trusty swearing knife.

This year, I had a 7 cup capacity, 3 blade assembly, 600 watt motor food processor. And everything was going to be different.

I filled the work bowl with dates and brandy, secured the lid, hit the switch, and... listened to the old familiar sound of a kitchen appliance motor struggling with the task I had set before it. And as I stood next to my food processor yelling “IS THAT ALL YOU GOT?!” I realized three things; there are things very wrong with my head, I was going to have extra brandy, and the people who really should be making food processors are not the people who have been making food processors.

Celebrity chefs are all very well and good when you need to know how to poach a duck breast or comparison shop crème fraiche or create a scale replica of Buckingham Palace with salted caramel and turnips. But when your food basically just needs the shit beaten out of it, you don’t need a chef. You need a professional shit-beating-out-of-things-er.

So before I attempt to chop another 3 1/2 pounds of dates next year, I really hope I’m able to find one of the following:

Mr. T's "I Puree the Fool"
Reverberations from the volume-enhanced motor begin to break down foods before they even make contact with the eight-armed gold-toned blade assembly. Includes instructional DVD for uploading hors d’ouevres to your World of Warcraft team.

Bruce Lee’s “Fists of Foodie”
Foods left within three feet of the work bowl will be reduced to 1/4 inch cubes. Foods placed in the work bowl will achieve a liquid state in a matter of seconds, followed by a several high-pitched exclamations after you thought the motor had stopped. You will not be able to decipher a word of the instruction booklet, but you won’t have to.

Bruce Willis’s “Dice Hard”
Any foods not broken down by the blades hidden in the secret compartment above the work bowl are redirected to a second compartment, where they are blown up.

Chuck Norris’s “Mincing in Action”
Between the time you put your groceries in the car and the time you arrive home, anything you had planned on putting in the food processor will already have sliced, chopped, pureed, or liquefied itself. It knows, and doesn’t bother with false hopes or illusions of mercy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Once upon a way-back-when, I was asked to make a baby blanket for a newborn whose parents were about the most rabid Raiders fans the world has ever had to bear the weight of knowing. The task was simple enough; I found some licensed NFL fabric, a gray striped baby-friendly cotton for the backing, satin quilt binding in pale gray, threw a layer of quilt batting in the middle and Bob, as the kids say, was somebody’s uncle. Not this kid’s, his uncle was Chet. Or something like Chet. I don’t remember.

And Bob is my cousin, for the record. But I digress.

Flash forward a few years, and one of my favorite fellow Sharks fans was having a baby. Well, his wife was, but he helped. And I thought “Hey, Sharks blanket, nifty!” and was out the door to the fabric store before you could say “babies are non-self-aware creatures who don’t care what they’re wearing or wrapped in”, already picturing my masterpiece in its completed state.

Except. There was no Sharks fabric.

I go to this particular fabric store pretty often, so I knew the lady at the cutting table. In response to my query, she said yes, they’d had some a while back but it sold and they never got any more.

Because, really, why would anyone restock a product that sold?

Flash forward a few more years, and another Sharks fan was having a baby. Same scenario, same disappointing end.

I’ve looked for Sharks fabric on a few other occasions over the years, and always with the same lack of result. Today, I received an email from another fabric store, saying it is not too late for me to make gifts and they have the perfect sports fabric not only available but ON SALE! To say my manner when I opened the email was blasé would be an insult to blasé. My cursory scan of the email’s content and subsequent clicking of the sale link made hipsters look exuberant. Because I already knew what was waiting for me at the other end of that click.

Licensed NFL and MLB fabric. The only licensed sports-related fabric that anyone seems to make.

And I know it isn’t just that I haven’t been looking in the right places. My search has not been limited to fabric stores to whose email lists I happen to subscribe. I have scoured the Internet in vain. The fabric does not exist.

A search for “San Jose Sharks fabric” on eBay brings us this:

Not only is it not fabric, it is not even close to what springs to mind when I put “my shower” and “the San Jose Sharks” together in the same thought. Although I suppose I could get a couple of them and make myself a pretty spectacular cape.

That same search phrase on Google unearthed this little gem:

Which, while just about fantastic enough to make me want to get married tomorrow, is still not fabric. Which begs the question, why?

Why, NHL? Why do you hate helpless infants and seamstresses? Why can’t we have licensed fabric of our very own? We’d make you proud, we’d make really super ultra mega awesome things, you wouldn’t be sorry, we promise.

Just give us a chance.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Harlean's Head-Shaving Hexstravaganza - A Fundraiser

Which actually has nothing to do with hexes, I just got caught up in the alliterative-subject-line excitement of it all. But I am shaving my head. Or at least cutting my hair pretty short. Unless you tell me not to. Here's the scoop:

Ask any 10 people what they think the number one cancer killer among women is, nine and a half of them will likely say "breast cancer". October, as I’m sure you know, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and in no way do I ever want to diminish the importance of that awareness.

But when the 3-Days have been walked, the pink ribbons tucked back away in jewelry boxes and October is over for another year, what remains is the fact that breast cancer is not the answer to that question, not even close.

Lung cancer kills twice as many women as breast cancer does, every year. It accounts for more than a quarter of ALL cancer deaths. And that, in a word, sucks. So this is me, doing my little part to change it.

Oh, and did I mention I’ll be cutting my hair as well?

Yes, the crazy waist-length mane of red insanity shown in this photo

will, at the end of this fundraiser, be donated to Locks of Love.

Or will it...?

When I first mentioned the possibility of donating my hair, reactions were pretty evenly split between “Yay, awesome!” and “OMGSTFUNOOOOOOOOOO!!!” because apparently my hair has its own fan club and the members, while few, are pretty devoted. So, I have devised a simple yet evil plan that will let everyone have their say, raise some money for a great cause, and take the decision out of my hands completely.

Donate to this fundraiser, even if it’s only a dollar. When you donate, you will be given the option of leaving a comment. In your comment, leave your vote for or against me chopping my hair off. On December 31st OR when the fundraising goal has been reached, whichever comes LAST, votes will be counted and the fate of my mane shall be decided.

To further reward you for your support, everyone who donates any amount will be entered into a drawing to win 1 of 5 prizes like journals and tote bags from our CafePress shop.

Here is the donation page

And here are the nifty drawing prizes, selected by people just like you

And thank you, as always, for your support.