Tag Archives: cooking

God in the Kitchen, Making Casserole

This is from The Far Side. Please don’t sue me.

This is the concluding post of the Miracles of Midwestern Cooking series.

Sometimes I think of the whole world as one big casserole, assembled in a glass dish God purchased at Wal-Mart and set to cook at 350 million degrees Fahrenheit, with all of the  creatures, both plant and animal, bubbling together for millions of years.

North America is the cream of chicken soup. England is cream of mushroom. France supplies the butter and cream, while Italy comes up with some carbs and Germany throws in its brats.

India and China add spice and Japan classes it up. North Africa brings the sweet with the salty, West Africa tosses in some peanuts, South America beefs it up and adds the lime juice and beans.

Other regions mix in their own special beats, the carbs and proteins they love best and all of the roasting and toasting and broasting they do to get them just right.

We’re topped with a combination of cheddar cheese ozone and fried onions that sizzle and melt under our very own star.

As the goop swims around we learn stuff, finding that some things are delicious on their own, but most often they taste better together. That’s why there should be world peace, because cream of mushroom soup is a physical abomination by itself and spices need something to go on.

I’m not advocating an Indian-spiced cream of mushroom soup, but you get my point.

And in the end maybe a casserole isn’t the best metaphor for earth, because casseroles can be kind of gross and uncivilized. Then again, so can humans.

Probably the best reason the casserole metaphor falls apart is because each of these regions developed at the same time over many years from the same primordial cream of human soup instead of being added separately. None of us could be where we are without the other.

But I still like the image of God in the kitchen, mixing together the most epic casserole of the day. I hope it tastes good.

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“I Will Believe in My Glittery Screen.”

Compy goes with me everywhere.

Today I was using the ‘ol computer, typing away at my reinvented hamster wheel and rollerskating through the nets like tomorrow hadn’t been invented yet and I had the life span of an Old Testament patriarch.

I felt magic coursing through my veins as the web opened its doors and welcomed me with the minty breath of an over-eager date. Opportunities pushed me over and grabbed me by the shirt collar, saying, “I’m for you!” Yes, today was different.

It was not like yesterday, when the internet’s waters were grey like grandfather’s liver and my eyes grew weary as they sifted through the words like picking over dance prospects at a honkey tonk after only one drink. Nothing was exciting.

But today, zoom! Bang! Whip! Smash! Crunch! It felt like things were happening.

And then I noticed that my computer screen looked different. It was shining, no, glittering as I sped across the web’s pages. I didn’t think anything of it except for how much of an improvement it was on the dust blanket that eternally covered my monitor in Cairo. And I thought the glitter looked really pretty. It reminded me of when I liked glittery things and the solution to any artistic or decorative dilemma was to rain glitter on that mother effer.

I thought of a conversation I had with my neighbor, a member of a “charismatic” strand of Protestant Christianity, when she told me about a revival at their church. Apparently at the height of the service, some members’ faces and hands started shining with what later turned out to be 24 carat gold.

Maybe I was experiencing something similar, except for it was my computer that was blessed by the Lord and had become a sign to the believers in this household that the Lord does exist and that my computer was an instrument of holy work and had been sanctified for its efforts, that it would now live forever, slowly becoming more and more covered in these glitter specks until it turned into a Mac Wafer, a kind of computer that doesn’t yet exist.

Then I saw a speck towards the right-most edge of the screen that was slightly larger. It looked like a water droplet or something of that nature, but that was impossible, because water evaporates and I hadn’t had any on my computer that day. Oil, however, does not evaporate, and I had been using my computer dangerously close to pots and pans filled with various things sautéing.

My computer screen was not dazzling with flecks of spiritual 24 carat gold. It was cooking oil, either olive or canola, that had splattered onto the screen. My miracle was nothing more than the result of haphazard placement of electronics.

I could choose to be disappointed to think that I merely have a dirty, oily screen that’s no better than the glasses of a fry cook. Instead, I will believe in my glittery screen, will appreciate it for the fact it looks pretty, and will believe that this was still a miracle in its own way, both the fact that I still have a working computer, and the fact the screen looks better now than it ever has.

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My Ear Infection: Party on the Inside

bring on the ear infection rock surfing

I have an ear infection. Yeah, I said it. My ear is crawling with infection. Perhaps that’s too much disclosure for the blogosphere. Just because I read the forums on Web MD religiously doesn’t mean I want to discuss everyone’s medical charts, especially my favorite authors on the web.

But now it’s out there. I’ve got an ear infection and it sucks. This is also not a ploy to get people’s pity. I don’t want or need your pity. I’ve already had cookies baked for me against my will and yes, they were inappropriately tasty. You see, I was raised on the plains of Oklahoma, where personal illness is usually treated as a case of sissy-hood. We believe most things can be cured by ignoring the pain and/or rubbing bacon grease onto the affected area. In the case of internal pain, the grease is rubbed onto the lymph nodes so the lymphatic system can carry its healing qualities throughout the rest of the body. It’s a highly developed system.

Unfortunately, bacon grease is hard to come by here in Egypt, so I was unable to pour any into my ear at the beginning of the infection and simply tried to ignore it. The infection proceeded to get increasingly hard to ignore, and I was forced to go to the university clinic, where I was given medicines of dubious names and qualities. I’m now taking a few  pills in a variety of shapes and colors and waiting for everything to go back to normal when I can pretend like this whole “being sick” thing never happened.

I feel like there’s nothing dumber than saying you can’t do something because of an ear infection. To me, it feels equivalent to saying, “Oh, my thumb hurts so I can’t come to your bridal shower,” or “My forehead is bothering me so I won’t be able to make it to the awards banquet,” etc. It’s such a small area of your body, but when it hurts, it hurts in spades. If you have healthy ears, kiss them both right now and be thankful. You could also have someone kiss them for you.

I was laying in bed last night, unable to sleep because of the bright, throbbing pain in my ear. I thought to myself “I am in hell,” as it crackled and sparked, reminding me once again of how awesome my other ear feels. (Again, I don’t want your pity. I’m just trying to use my pathetic example of hardship as blog fodder). Then I realized that I was seeing the pain in my mind’s eye as bright colors and shapes. I think at one point there was a recurring abstractly shaped fish figure that had pink and white stripes and I would see it as I closed my eyes even though I was still awake and wondered  if I would be able to skip school for this.

Now here I am in the morning and I’m not skipping school but I am going to the white desert again. At least I can continue my tradition of being sick before camping trips.

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Make Your Own Cairo Street Sludge

Just add water and blazing heat

It never rains in Cairo, but the ground is always wet. This is one of the great paradoxes of this country. From whence does the moisture come from, if not bequeathed upon us from the bounty of the sky? This man made street moisture is a conglomeration of air conditioning residue, also known as Cairo rain, car washing by-product, and people throwing water on the streets to keep the dust down. The final result is unwanted, unpleasant, gloopy, sticky, ubiquitous, puddles.

Personally, I hate stepping in puddles. This aversion is not limited to Cairo. I hate unprotected puddle stomping everywhere and especially so when I’m wearing open toed shoes or pants that leave part of my leg bare and thus unprotected from any stray drops of street water.

The puddles here, for a variety of reasons, are particularly unappealing, and I shiver every time I’m forced to step in the street goo. What if it splashes onto my pants, squishes between my toes, or (God forbid) somehow makes its way into my mouth. No amount of pure grain alcohol would be enough to make me feel clean again.

I was searching for what exactly makes Cairo street water so special, and found this recipe on allrecipes.com. I haven’t tried it yet, but it had great ratings and comments.

Extra-Foul Cairo Street Puddle

By-products of at least 3 animals (feral dogs and cats are acceptable)

Powdered garbage

Handful of trash

Motor Oil

Human Spit


Air-conditioning residue

Spilled Pepsi

One shard of glass (optional)

Dust (to taste)

Mix all of the above ingredients. Leave for years. In the morning, add an extremely inappropriate amount of water, making sure to waste as much as possible. Let sit in sun and reduce for 4 hours. Encourage cars to drive through. The mixture will be most foul before 4 o’clock pm, when it might completely evaporate. Does not keep well. Makes a great gift!

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