Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Squeeze on

Yes, my lovely little dears, I am watching "Iron Chef". I just got off the phone with my bestest friend in the whole wide world (Keech) and she told me of the drinking game that she and her husband play when watching it. I think I may be more about the drinking than the game, because as she was telling me the rule "If chairman Kaga wears an animal print, you drink", my question was "Every time you see him, or just in the beginning?" It's just in the beginning. (Their rules... not mine). Another of my questions: "And you drink every time someone says 'squeeze on', right?" Her response: "Christ, Ang! You'd be wasted!" Heh...

"What are some of the other rules?" you ask. Ok... Keech, tell me if I'm wrong.

1. Any time someone punches a chef, sous chef or kitchen helper in the head... gulp.
2. Any time the one dude who predicts things and is wrong... gulp.
3. Any time the twitty actress judge says "Blah blah blah... I think"... gulp.
4. Any time the dragon lady judge says "I like it... not so much"... gulp.
5. Any time Sakai takes off his toque within the first five minutes... gulp.
6. Any time either contender makes ice cream out of something that ice cream should not be made from (eel is a good example)... gulp.
7. Any time one of the commentators says "Oh look! Riiiiice..." like it's something special... gulp.
8. Any time one of the special ingredients is foie gras, caviar or some damn mushroom I can't rememeber the name of... gulp.
9. Any time a contender says something to the effect of "I'll do the best I can"... gulp

Rules I might add:

1. Any time a commentator says "It's going to be a scrappy affair"... chug.
2. Any time a contender says something of the ilk "I just try my best to be creative"... chug.
3. Any time ANYone says the word 'gristle'... chug. Ugh.
4. Any time the commentator says "...cleverly masking the fishy smell"... chug. TWICE.
5. Any time the commentator says something so frikkin' oogy like "the stingray wafer adds a nice touch to the watermelon dessert"... chug. A lot.
6. Any time commentator says "The torch has been passed"... chug.
7. Any time, at the final tasting, that Chairman Kaga looks like a propped up hollow shell of Michael Jackson... chug. And then giggle.
8. Any time one of the judges spooges all over themselves... laugh heartily... and then chug.
9. Any time you think you might want to be a judge... think of "It's a tough liver to treat... so I used crown daisy leaves in the sauce" and think again. Do you really want to put that shit in your mouth? CHUG!

"Iron Chef America" has much simpler rules. Drink any time Bobby Flay:
...drops something.
...burns himself..
...yells at a kitchen hand.
...comes close to electrocuting himself.
...is a pompous prick.

Eezy peezy Japaneezy.

Who dat snappin' back? |

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hunting Safety and Other Guidelines

Odd, that when I was growing up in a small river town in southeast Iowa, I lived with more than my fair share of misconceptions. For one, I thought EVERYONE was Catholic. If you weren't Catholic, you were an atheist. Luckily, that belief was shattered by the second grade... right around the time I dropped out of CCD (for those of you who don't know, it's some brainwashing catechism class but I'll be damned if I remember what all those letters stand for...)

Another misconception was about morel mushrooms. I assumed that every spring, people everywhere would don their huntin' gear and get out to the woods and fencelines looking for the tasty little fungi. Little did I know that growing up chowing on these delectable tidbits and frog legs at family reunions was considered fine cuisine in many parts of the world. I thought we ate stuff like that because we were poor. Go figure...

What follows here are Cooter's guidelines for hunting morels. Nope, there is nothing here that will tell you where to find them or how to find them, but I hope the suggestions help anyone who goes out next spring to root around for 'em. 'Kay? 'Nuff said? Here we go...

First off, you need the proper gear. I cannot stress this enough. See, it just doesn't work to wear someone else's stuff. You might end up donning a pair of dungarees that belong to your stepfather, in which case, they will keep falling down and taking your panties for the ride. This is especially bad if you're constantly bending over plucking morel morsels from the earth. Luckily, chances are good you're not mooning anyone, though, because they prefer looking for fungus than at your lily white ass.

Leather gloves are a MUST. When you get lost and are fervently clawing your way back to the trail of breadcrumbs, they're almost (almost) better than your hunting staff for shoving any obstacles to the side. Trust me... when you're hell bent for leather to get back to a beer, a toilet and a hot shower, the primal urge to use your body takes precedence over any tool.

Take a big stick. Oh yes. You're gonna need it. They come in very very handy...
1. ...on the muddy slope down to the crick (that's creek for non-hicks). If it's been raining, things tend to get a little slippery. Case in point, one misstep can land you on your ass sliding through soggy underbrush grasping at every sapling, sticker bush or rock on your way down in order to halt the descent. Take my word on it, watch where you're going, walk sideways down slickery slopes, and USE. THE. STICK. Otherwise, don't complain to me about your bruised butt cheeks.
2. ...conversely, on the muddy slope up from the crick. In this case, rely on a secure planting of your sturdy staff more than anything other than rooted trees to help you up the slope. I stood helpless as I watched my mother go ass over teakettle down a hill because she grabbed 'hold of something that was not one with the earth. She was ok. Go ahead... laugh. I sure did.
3. ...for donking the mayapples out of the way. Ok, there's a clue; morels like to hide under these little umbrella plants and if you're in a clearing of a gazillion mayapples, two hands do not a stick make.
4. ...for shushing saplings, stickerbushes and a variety of other verdant flora out of your way. Little bastards.
5. ...for taking a whack at that person on the path in front of you who let an entire stickerbush thwack you in the face.

This leads me to a few general guidelines...

For one, never, under any circumstances, assume the person on the path in front of you WON'T let that branch snap back into your face. It's a lesson learned the hard way, but if you just remember what I say, hopefully you'll get to keep your front teeth.

Also, while you obviously need to keep your eyes on the ground, it would behoove you to make certain there are no low-lying black locust branches (avec THORNS) to poke out your eye or knock off your hat... for the seventeenth time.

Lastly (and this may be the best bit of advice I could give you), keep an eye on your FEET. You'll feel extremely awful when, after three hours of no luck, you squish the life out of the one and only morel you got to "find" all season. Ah well... praise be to my mum, who (in my humble opinion) is still the best morel mushroom hunter in the world.

Who dat snappin' back? |

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Count on me to miss my own birthday/anniversary/whatever-the-hell-you-wanna-call-it... but yesterday 'Cootersnap' turned one year old. And damned if it ain't potty-trained yet...

Who dat snappin' back? |

Thursday, May 05, 2005

These hands

I'm looking at my hands.

This is something I do from time to time.

Right now, they are stained from soil. They smell good to me, like *green*, yet look unappeasing to others. Stabbed and bleeding cuticles from clearing the earth of weeds and last year's cover. Dirt under the nails. I'm unsure whether I should touch my bread with them.

I love my hands.

Who dat snappin' back? |

Monday, May 02, 2005


A week ago Sunday I drove ‘home’. Home to the town I lived the first seventeen years of my life. It’s been a year and half since I have been there. The saying ‘you can never go home’ isn’t as true for me as ‘going home is like stepping in quicksand’. Driving south on 103, a highway that curves and dips much like a ride in an amusement park, all I could think about was how it seemed like going back in time. But oddly enough, the closer I got, the older I felt. It’s an emotional imbroligio that only driving south on 103 can bring out. Then there’s that one last curve before descending into the river valley… that brief 15 second moment when Old Man River is visible through the trees… that one moment where everything washes over me and I feel a sense of awe mingled with sadness.

My grandmother is 93 and lives in the same house in which she raised her five children… and later, two grandchildren. She’s hunched over with age and severe osteoporosis; pale because she never leaves her house. She sits in ‘Grandpa’s chair’ by the window and watches the world go by. If someone doesn’t call her in the morning, she’s liable to sleep through the entire day. She forgets to take her medication and if it wasn’t for Meals on Wheels, she’d probably forget to eat.

Back in 1970 when my parents divorced, Grandma suddenly had her only son’s two small daughters foisted upon her. Closing in on 60, she raised us as her own. She fed us, clothed us, went to our parent/teacher conferences, nursed us through the chicken pox and various childhood illnesses, and taught us respect.

As I was leaving on Sunday I bent to kiss her on the cheek as she sat in the armchair by the window. Grandma looked at me somewhat beseechingly and asked “I did a good job of raising my five kids, didn’t I?” I told her she had, indeed, but that she needed to keep her whip handy for when Dad was around. She laughed, looked at me with a little twinkle in her eye and said “I think I did a pretty good job raising my two granddaughters, too.” All I could do was smile, kiss her cheek again and tell her how much I love her.

I cried as I headed north on 103…

Who dat snappin' back? |

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