Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Dear Reader,

This New Year's Eve finds me sick to death of holidays, coming down with a cold and feeling appropriately reflective.  On the first day of this decade I woke up at 6 PM with a crashing hangover, ordered a pizza from Domino's, watched Jurassic Park on television and went back to sleep.  So many horrific things have transpired in the years since, to be sure. But so many spectacularly awesome things, too.  Things I could never have imagined on that day, even if I had gotten out of bed.  I met my husband, got married, had children and published a book.  Tonight I will celebrate, not with all-night parties fueled by gin and irresponsibility - that's kid's stuff.  Tonight I will be with my family and copious amounts of champagne, because now I am a grown up and can't get a sitter.  Happy New Year!


New Year's Eve 2000


New Year's Eve 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa's Favorite Christmas Cookies for Know-It-Alls And Their Families

Dear Reader,

This recipe comes at the request of Erin, who is visiting her family in Ohio.

Enjoy!




Santa's Favorite Christmas Cookies for Know-It-Alls And Their Families

You probably already know you will need:

4 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp. each cream of tartar, baking soda and salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk (as needed)

Chocolate filling:
16 oz. milk chocolate
16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
large can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Sugar comes from the sugar cane and your body changes it into glucose.  Certain varieties of chicken can produce up to 300 eggs per year, but we only need three.  Beat them into the butter and sugar.  Add vanilla, which was originally harvested by the ancient Totonaco Indians of Mexico, but now either comes from Madagascar, Indonesia, Tahiti or Mexico.  If you have been to these places, provide family with points of local interest or aspects of their culture.  In a separate bowl mix together  dry ingredients including Potassium bitartrate, more commonly known as cream of tartar, which is a byproduct of winemaking.  Mix dry ingredients into wet.  Add as much milk as necessary to roll into a dough, divide in two and wrap in plastic wrap.  Put it in the refrigerator.

In the top of a double boiler mix the ingredients for the chocolate filling.  Chocolate, which comes from the Cacao tree, was disovered over 2,000 years ago in the tropical rainforests of the southern Americas.  But everybody knows that.  The chocolate chip was actually invented by Ruth Wakefield who ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts.  Massachusetts became a state on February 6th, 1788.  Steve Smith, the drummer from the band Journey, is also from Whitman, Massachusetts.


Roll the dough out to the size of a baking sheet.  Pour on the chocolate and then roll out the second piece of dough, to make the top layer - like a pie crust - and put that over the chocolate.  Brush with an egg wash - another interesting fact about eggs is that a chicken egg has about 17,000 tiny pores on its surface.  Also when you boil a duck egg, the whites turn a bluish color and the yolks reddish-orange, which is really gross.  Emu eggs range from medium green to very dark green and weigh 3/4 pound.  They are mostly yolk, and very mild in flavor.  Place in a preheated oven set to 350.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes.  Wonder where the heck everybody went.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Damn Ham For Angry Family Dinners

Dear Reader,

There are, of course, many differences between the traditional Hanukkah and Christmas feasts, but perhaps the most notable is ham.  This year my sister, who has boldly stormed out of restaurants all across this great nation and a few in Europe, and evokes the passion of Christ in her tears and tantrums to cap off the festivities, is coming to my house for dinner.  So here's something for Christmas!

Enjoy!




Damn Ham For Angry Family Dinners

You will need:

Half smoked ham
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
1 cup brown sugar
whole cloves
3 Tbs. honey
1 can pineapple rings
Maraschino cherries


Preheat your oven to 325.  With a large knife score skin of the ham, then quickly hide knife from youngest sister who has been drinking gin all day and ranting about how someone threw away her prom dress.  Hope she does not notice that you are now decked out in the finest Jessica McClintock the early 90's had to offer.  In a sauce pot, mix together mustard, brown sugar and honey.

When brother arrives with his three perfect and perfectly annoying children, count seconds until he enters kitchen to tell you a better way to make ham.  Tell him he's a big ham and to get the hell out.  When he says to watch your language, tell him that language is inanimate and cannot be watched, stupid, and that he should watch his own kids who are now pouring candle wax on the cat.  Smear sauce over ham.

Every time Mom takes a drink, entertain yourself by sticking a clove into the ham.  Stop if you can no longer see the ham under all the cloves.  Place pineapple rings over ham and stick a cherry inside each.  Secure all over with toothpicks and stick in oven for 12 minutes per pound.

Invite Dad and his girlfriend over for drinks and a fun round of The Blame Game.  No family dinner would be complete without one good storm-out and this would be your chance!  Seize the spotlight with your tears and hoarsely wail about your thirteenth birthday party when all your presents were bought at CVS and wrapped in newspaper.  Run to the driveway, grabbing a pillow as you go just in case they throw things at you when you return, or alternately, nobody comes to get you and you have to sleep in the car to prove your point.

When ham is ready, remove from oven.  Strategically leave near Mom so she can hit Dad over the head, getting the whole business over with so you can go to bed.  If Mediator or Interventionist has arrived, bring them with you to get them on your side.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Very Last Word About Gingerbread, I Promise

My son thought that our gingerbread house needed a neighborhood, so he made a store to go with it.


He wanted it to say, "Trade Your Unwanted Jewelry For Cash" but it wouldn't fit.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gingerbread Part II

Dear Reader,

     I touched yesterday on the seemingly insurmountable task of making a gingerbread house in which I have been mired all week.  I'm happy to report that, with a little tweaking, I have finished the job!  Here's how it went down.
     I don't have cupboard space for a standing mixer, and my husband goes mental if there is stuff all over the counters, so every year I make gingerbread dough using a hand mixer.  And every year, I blow it out, the dough being so thick, the mixer starts to smoke and then just conks out.  But thanks to my Black and Decker Power Pro mixer, this year did not find me making a late night run to Rite Aid for a replacement.  Even through the three batches of dough needed to replace all the walls that kept breaking.
     The recipe I followed is from the original Martha Stewart Entertaining.  I adore her, but let's face it, I am no Martha Stewart.  Her recipe creates what she calls a "Gingerbread Mansion" and it is supposed to look like this:




     The first problem I encountered was evident upon removing the front piece of my mansion from the oven. 


A CRACK!


And another CRACK!

     I thought that, perhaps, the crack would improve once I put in the windows, which I did with the aid of a Google search for how to make gingerbread house windows.  I used butterscotch, and Martha should really try it, as her method of boiling sugar and pouring it onto a sheet and then affixing the windows with royal icing is not only stupidly time consuming, but downright dangerous.



Alas, the cracks were only made worse by the addition of the glass.

     So I remembered what Martha advised in the introduction to her recipe:
      "Except for the exterior shaping, a memorable gingerbread house calls for last minute decisions and spontaneous invention."
     I heeded Martha's advice and made what seemed only reasonable with all my cracked pieces.


A gingerbread crack house.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gingerbread Hell House Part I

Dear Reader,

I am not able to write much at this time, as I have spent the past five days making gingerbread.  Way back when my children were really little, I thought it would be fun to make a gingerbread house.  If you have ever taken on this thankless and tedious and arduous task, you know what I'm talking about.  A word of warning to those of you without children, or whose children are very young:  think long and hard before initiating any activity that threatens to become tradition! Last night, at half-past midnight, my head pounding and eyes watering from inhaling noxious clouds of allspice and molasses, I had a vision wherein my daughter, now grown with children of her own, asks me to come over to make gingerbread houses with my grandchildren.  I weep as I tell you I fear I will be making these houses for the rest of my life.  The irony is that the houses I make aren't even very pretty.  Now I must rush back to the kitchen where three walls are sliding all over each other with royal icing, and I have to stand there, holding them, arms shaking, until it dries or I throw in the towel and get out the duct tape.

More on this tomorrow...


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

O! F*#?ing Christmas Tree!

Dear Reader,

I am fortunate to have very high ceilings in my apartment.  That means we need a big Christmas tree, which would be fine if we lived in the country, but we live in New York City, and a ten-foot tree costs upwards of $200.  A little absurd for what is essentially a glorified and very temporary houseplant.  I have a sister that lives in Connecticut who tole me about this thing they have there called a "Tree Farm."  It turns out that you can go to this farm, and not only chop down your very own tree, but take a little hayride and have some hot chocolate to boot!  All for just $40!  So, sometime last August, when cold weather was but a fond and distant memory, I told my children that this year we would chop down our tree.  Like pinoeers!

Usually in a family there is one designated "tool person," the go-to guy for fixing broken toys, assembling the IKEA furniture, etc.  In my home that is me.  Stupidly, early on in our relationship, I must have picked up a screwdriver or adjustable wrench, and sealed my fate without even realizing it.  I paved the way for my husband to look at me blankly when something requires assembly, giving him a free pass, as though he were incapable of following the illustrated directions that came inside the box with the pieces of the new lamp.  It's my job.

Years ago my grandmother gave me some advice that she herself was given by her mother-in-law.  My grandmother had gone over to her in-law's house and found her mother-in-law up on a ladder, cleaning out the gutters while her husband stood on the ground, telling her she was doing it wrong.  My great-grandmother reportedly climbed down and said, "Never let them know how much you can do, or you will be doing it all your life."  Of course, this wisdome didn't come back to me until it was too late.

My husband was all for the tree farm, at first.  After all, he wouldn't be the one hacking the thing down.  I did a Google search and found a farm in Easton, Connecticut, and this past Saturday, the coldest day of the year, we drove up there.  It turns out that Easton is pretty much a Christmas tree choppers Mecca.  Every car getting on the Merritt Parkway at Exit 46 had a tree tied to the roof, and some had two.  If anyone knows what the second tree is used for, I would love to know.  Backup tree in case one flies off the roof on the way home was my assumption.

I found the place easily enough, and pulled into the ice-covered driveway, skidding to a stop next to a family that clearly finds employment as models for the L.L. Bean catalog, happily tying up their tree, snow crusting the father's beard, and lightly dusting mother's.  I asked, "Is there someone that helps you chop the tree?"

They had a good laugh at that.  From what I could gather, we were meant to hike up this mountain, hack down the tree with a saw we were to have provided ourselves, and haul the thing back to our car.  My daughter, in her sparkly pink Converse, and my son, already complaining loudly, "I'm in danger of getting hypothermia, people!" weren't going to make it.  We got back in the car and drove up the road to another farm.

This one was nicer, with little warming huts and a hayride and some big oxen lowing behind a fence.  They also had hot dogs and cocoa.  Families in brightly colored parkas roamed the rolling hills in search of a beautiful Douglas fir or Blue Spruce.  Perfection.  Except that for some reason my husband hadn't brought thought to bring a hat and the sun was starting to go down and my son was again complaining of hypothermia, so the mission was declared "a nightmare."

I didn't want this whole exhausting journey to be a waste.  I just wanted to get a stupid tree, strap it on the roof and go home.  So I told my husband to wait with my son in the warming hut, grabbed my daughter and jumped on the hayride up the hill, thinking I would find a tree, chop it down and be done with the whole dirty business in less than twenty minutes.  I would save Christmas!  Except that on this whole entire farm there was not one tree over eight feet.  And an eight-foot tree in my house might as well be in a pot on the end table.  We got back in the car with lots of talk about how we should have just paid the stinking $200 and gotten the tree on 24th Street.  They deliver!


My daughter on the freezing cold hayride.

The next farm had not only the hot chocolate and hayrides and oxen but also pre-cut trees.  Hallelujah.  They even had one that was exactly ten feet.  We told the guys to tie it up and got the kids some hot chocolate.  Then we spent about an hour trying to figure out how to tie the thing securely to the roof, a task everyone else seemed to accomplish with no more difficulty than tying their Timberlands.  I had visions of the driver behind us on the Merritt Parkway being impaled on our White Pine, or a great gust of wind plucking us off the Henry Hudson Bridge and dumping us in the river.  My hands were raw from using excessive twine.


The tree, tied to the roof.  The boy, recovering in the car.

We made it home and even fit the tree in our building's old and crappy elevator.  Fitting it in the old and crappy tree stand was another matter.  After much cursing, and sending the children to go play computer games to shield them from all the cursing, and further discussion of how we should have just had the thing delivered by the guy on 24th Street who would also set it up for us, I ran down to see that guy on 24th Street.  I explained that at that very moment, my husband was standing in my living room, holding a tree that was in serious danger of bursting into flames being in such close proximity to the steam coming from his ears.  He sold me a bigger stand, and everything seemed okay.  We called the children, got out the ornaments and put on some Christmas music.  But the thing about a White Pine is it's sharp.  Really sharp.  It's needles may as well be hypodermic.  My son, now fully recovered from his hypothermia, declared that he was going to have to ask Santa for some Band-Aids.  Merry Christmas.


The effing tree.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tuna Noodle Kwanzaa Challah Baby Jesus Bake

Dear Reader,

Let's face it, the best part of the holiday season is the receiving of gifts.  Other than that it is expensive, fattening and exhausting.  Everyone knows that a good way to assure yourself lots of gifts is to host a holiday party.  It stands to reason that the more people you invite, the more gifts you will receive.  So make your holiday party as inclusive as possible.  This delicious meal is sure to become a new tradition in your home and will allow you to include absolutely everyone in the occasion!

Enjoy!




Tuna Noodle Kwanzaa Challah Baby Jesus Bake

You will need:

2 cans tuna
1/2 box elbow noodles
1 sweet potato, diced
4 1/2 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup cream
1 1/2 cups milk
5 slices day-old challah
Kwanzaa candles
Tiny baby Jesus
Dreidels

Some time in December gather all your friends round for a holiday party!  If they ask what they can bring a safe bet is to request booze or candles.  Make sure to have a Christmas tree, a Menorah and a Kwanzaa bush.  To be cost efficient and eco-friendly, just get a small fir tree that can serve as both O Tannenbaum and the bush.  Quick note: Avoid singing carols in German!  Place Menorah on top of tree.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Drain tuna from cans.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  Blanch sweet potatoes in boiling, salted water, then drain and combine with cooked noodles.  Tell holiday stories about freedom from tyranny and oppression and the joy of kindness!  In a saucepan, melt butter and add flour to make a roux.  Pour in sherry, cream and milk, stirring until the mixture has thickened.

Put challah in food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs.  Toast them in a pan with a little butter.  Mix all ingredients together, calling friends around to witness in the form of tuna,  the symbolic coming together we all do during the holidays, and pour everyone a drink.  Tell Kwanzaa celebrants that they are the sweet potatoes.  Tell your Jewish friends that they are the Challah, sprinkled over the top.  And for your Christian friends, take a little baby Jesus and hide it in the casserole.

Bake for thirty-five minutes, then top with Kwanzaa candles, decorate with Dreidels and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.  Tell guests that whoever eats the baby Jesus wins the special prize!  A beautiful embossed set of Al Hijra* cards!

*Islamic New Year

Friday, December 11, 2009

House Arrest Hanukkah

Dear Reader,

This time of year is difficult for people that are alone.  Never mind the fact that I often wish during the holidays that I were alone, for some, it is quite painful.  In particular for Josh who wrote me this letter:

Dear Heather,


This past year really stunk for me.  At this time in '08 I was making s**tloads of cash, and now I'm totally unemployed for pretty much the rest of my life and all because my former assistant was a total stoolie!  And now my MBA from Wharton is useless!  Nobody is coming over this Hanukkah, and it really sucks to be me.  Can you help?  And it has to be on the cheap.

-Josh

Of course I can help you, Josh, and maybe earn you some good behavior points to boot.  Happy Hannukkah!



House Arrest Hanukkah


You will need:

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and grated
1 large onion, grated
4 eggs
Netflix
Two handfuls herbs
1 Tbs. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Oil
Aquaphor Lotion

Invite over the last remaining friend you have, your probation officer, to help celebrate.  If he balks, tell him the Ghostbusters box set just arrived via Netflix.

Rub Aquaphor Lotion under your ankle monitor to relieve chaffing.  Soak potatoes in water the way you soaked all the clients at your former hedge fund.  Drain and mix with grated onion.  If the onion should make you cry, leverage your tears and cry over your lost wealth at the same time.  Press between two paper towels to wring out any moisture left in them, then blow your nose.

Tie a rope around your waist (not your neck!), anchor it to the bed and reach out the window to the herb garden.  Grab a handful of chives and a handful of parsley.  Hoist yourself back in.  If you get stuck, don't ask for help!  You're not supposed to be out here!  Crack the eggs into a bowl and combine with chopped herbs and potato mix.  Season with salt and pepper.  Note that your hair now contains far more salt than pepper due to lack of access to Frederic Fekkai.

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet and pour some over ankle - that chaffing!  Drop heaping spoonfuls of the mix into the pan.  Smoosh it down with a spatula the way your face would be smooshed down into your pillow every night had you gone to prison like you deserved.  Turn over and fry other side until golden brown the way you would be turned over in the prison shower.  Repeat with remaining mix.  Eat with sour cream.  Give thanks for Ghostbusters.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'll Kill Her

Dear Reader,

If you have bought my book, Eat Your Feelings, Recipes for Self-Loathing, you know that the book contains a list of appropriate music to accompany the eating of the feelings.  I thought I would share with you another song, one of my favorites.  If you have not yet bought the book, what are you waiting for?
Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Want to know what I got for my birthday?

A few of you asked what my kids gave me for my birthday, so I thought I would share.  My husband took them to a store called, "Everything In Store $2.99" so they could buy me something with their own money.  Which they did.



They bought me jewels.  What appears to be a basket full of crabs is from my son, who is seven.  The girl, my five year old, got me the playboy bunny, natch.


Moving Day Mozzarella Panini

Dear Reader,

I received an emergency message from my friend Wendy:

I just finished packing up my SUV to be shipped cross country-- ready to relax before a flight in the AM-- then I got a call from the shipper saying NO PERSONAL ITEMS IN THE VEHICLE.  I am now sitting amongst them in my dining room... WaahHHHHHHHHH! Heather, what do you suggest I eat for my being cranky, exhausted and mmmmaaaad!!?

Oh boy Wendy! I feel your pain.  Moving is fraught with pain, both physical and emotional.  Especially if you are moving an entire family, and doubly so if you are the sole person orchestrating this move. While I am not moving any time soon, the threat of a potential move at some point in my distant future prevents me from collecting too much crap in my house and in my life.  I am a fan of throwing stuff out.  Of course I am talking about things and not people.  People should only be thrown out if they really deserve it.  Wendy, for you I prescribe a Moving Day Mozzarella Panini.  Enjoy!



Moving Day Mozzarella Panini

You will need:

mozzarella
tomato
tapenade
arugula
balsamic vinegar
dumpster
40 oz. beer of your choice.
ciabatta bread

Begin by sorting personal items into piles according to how necessary they are to your life.  Birth certificates would be very necessary, whereas the year's worth of your subscription to The New Yorker would not.  Don't kid yourself, you're never going to read those old issues and you only ordered it so people would think you're smarter than you really are.

Slice mozzarella to fit nicely onto your bread.  Spread one side with tapenade the way you tried to spread some twenties on the movers to let you pack all that stuff in the car.  Place cheese over tapenade.  Thinly slice tomatoes and dry them off on a paper towel so as not to create a soggy sandwich, which, as you have packed away all your plates, would be a big pain.

Drizzle balsamic vinegar over tomatoes and top with arugula and other slice of bread.  Fire up the panini press your sister-in-law got you for Secret Santa and which has been idling on Craigslist since January.  When it is nice and hot, place sandwich inside and squeeze the way you squeezed your entire houseful of furniture into one truck for the cross-country move.  Cook until cheese is melted and bread is toasty.  Enjoy with icy cold beer, then toss everything in the dumpster and walk away.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Eat Your Feelings Party at Mom's house!

Dear Reader,


Last week I was in the good old town of Kansas City for some book events and was fortunate enough to spend a little time with Mom, on account of that's where she lives.  Mom thought it would be a fun idea to invite some of the neighborhood ladies over for an Eat Your Feelings Party and she was right!  We had a blast and I have the photos to prove it!  She served Valentine's Day Party Ryes for Divorcees, Hamburger Casserole For When Nobody Loves You And Never Will, and Manic Depressive Brownies. Yum!


The essentials of good snack food:  pork products and cheese, await assembly.



Aforementioned cheese and sausage will soon find a home atop these tasty party ryes for the:



 Divorcees!  Okay, so they're not all divorcees, but they liked them anyway.



Paula from Rainy Day Books in Kansas City was on hand to sell books.  Hi Paula!



And it wouldn't be Mom's house without a great big bottle of wine.




These ladies were having so much fun their photo was all blurry. Or maybe the photographer had dipped into the wine.


 
Here I am distracted by the-



Rowdy bunch in the corner.



And voila les Manic Depressive Brownies.  Bravo, Mom!

If you spotted your mother in these photos I know what you're getting for Christmas!

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's My Birthday Puff Pastry With Love and Affection and Brie

Dear Reader,

That's right!  Today is my birthday!  To celebrate, I am going to spend a little time with my very best friend, Puff Pastry.  Then, before the kids get home, I'm going to sit in a dark movie theater with all the other dirty old ladies and watch New Moon again.  I can if I want, cause like I said, it's my birthday!
Enjoy.



It's My Birthday Puff Pastry With Love and Affection and Brie


You will need:
Love
Affection
Puff Pastry
Brie
Egg
Fruits

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Hug the puff pastry tightly, whispering affectionate words until it is thaw.  Place the brie on the pastry and give it a kiss.  Then wrap the pastry around the brie like a little present.  Place on a baking sheet into the oven that is as warm as the love in your heart, on this day, my birthday!  Crack an egg into a bowl and paint the pastry all over.  Any leftover pastry can be cut into letters to spell out, "Happy Birthday Heather!  Enjoy the cheese!"  Pop into the oven for about 20 minutes and then bring to my house for me to enjoy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Reader,

For me the best part of Thanksgiving, aside from the stuffing, is that it is socially acceptable to drink early in the day.  No matter what sort of holiday you are planning for today, from my family to yours - Cheers.

Warm regards,
Heather


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Don't Give A Damn Yams

Dear Reader,

I have received another letter, this time from a gentleman that is truly in need of my help.  Please read:

Dear Heather,
I want a divorce!  Don't hate me, but my wife is a total nag constantly flirting with my friends.  Problem is, I'm not a total jerk and I don't want to leave her right before the holidays, right?  But we're going to her sister's house for Thanksgiving and they asked me to make the sweet potatoes.  I really couldn't care less and don't even like the stupid things.  Can you help me figure out what to make?
Fed up in Flagstaff,
Ted

Ted, you sound like a good guy and I would be happy to help!  For you, a recipe with a negative degree of difficulty is in order.  Enjoy!




Don't Give A Damn Yams

You will need:

3 cans yams
1 bag mini-marshmallows
Bourbon
Splash orange juice

Open up the canned yams.  If you can't find them at your grocery store, check the dollar store, as they are not an in-demand item, yet perfect for your needs.  Dump contents into some sort of dish.  Mash them down with a fork and have a shot of bourbon.  Spit some of bourbon over yams in the dish.  Stir with your finger.  Pour a glass of orange juice and stick your hand in it.  Then flick orange juice all over yams.  Eat some marshmallows because they are soft and yummy.  Scatter some on top of yams.  If you are feeling crafty, spell out "You People Suck" in marshmallow, then stick in the oven at 350 degrees until marshmallows are gooey and brown and as done as your marriage.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ultimate Family Fight Apple Sausage Stuffing

Dear Reader,

Get out your boxing gloves, put on your cloak of indignation and get ready to hurl some insults and air some grievances.  Thanksgiving is coming!  Here's a delicious stuffing to serve to your ungrateful and insensitive family.  Enjoy!




Ultimate Family Fight Apple Sausage Stuffing

You will need:

Pencil
Paper
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. sausage
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 shallot, diced
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
2 tsp. fresh sage, minced
1 bay leaf

1 lb. loaf French bread
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs. butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup cooked chestnuts
Escape plan

The day before Thanksgiving, make a list of guests who will be dining with you.  Included should be the usual unpleasant cast of characters, but their spouses and children as well.  Leave plenty of room between each name to write down the myriad ways they have belittled, embarrassed and taken advantage of you over the past year.

Heat oil in a large skillet and brown sausage.  Transfer sausage to another plate and consider asking for a transfer at work so that next year you can have a nice holiday spent either alone or with friends rather than family.  Note how sausage smells exactly like your cousin Jared, and plan to sit at other end of table from him this year.  Add celery, onions, apples, shallots and herbs to pan and cook until vegetables soften like the jowls on your manic depressive sister who totally denied putting a huge dent in the side of your car even though she was the only one driving it because your other sister was, once again, too drunk and needed a safe ride home, and neither of them have a job and so can't afford a car of their own.  Add sausage to vegetables.

Remembering the fistfight that broke out between your father and your brother at your high school graduation, tear bread into cubes with your bare hands and your anger.  Throw it in with the sausage like your mom threw out all of your old yearbooks and everything else that ever mattered to you in the whole world when she selfishly moved into that condo.  Crumble in the chestnuts, recalling that in the sixth grade your brother used to refer to your burgeoning breasts as "chestnuts" in front of the whole school bus.

Heat milk, butter and broth in a pot and pour over stuffing.  Crack eggs like you would the skulls of your idiot cousins who prank call you at work every day and mix it into the stuffing.  Season with salt and pepper.

Smear butter all over a large baking dish, the way your drunken sister apparently did with your Marc Jacobs pants she borrowed when she said she was going on a job interview but really was just going out with the guy who sells cell phones at the kiosk in the mall.  The guy that you saw first.

Throw everything in the pan and cook at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and realize that the best part of Thanksgiving is the stuffing. The ultimate revenge would be to not bring it to dinner and eat it all yourself.  Turn off phone, lights and oven.  Enjoy stuffing with peace and quiet.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Drunken Grandma Cranberry Sauce

Dear Reader,

It's that time of year again!  If your family is anything like mine, the holidays mean many things- coming together, family and that Grandma is hitting the sauce pretty hard.  This year, hit her back - not literally  - a broken hip is expensive!  But with a little sauce of the cranberry variety.




Drunken Grandma Cranberry Sauce

You will need:

1 bag fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
Vodka
Cointreau
Orange peel
Robert Goulet records

First, figure out where she has hidden the vodka.  Check the garage, the bathroom and her socks.  If you can't find it, try to remove Cosmo from Grandma's hand.  Be careful because the arthritis has made her fist into a pretty tight claw, and those fingers are brittle!  If it is not possible to remove tumbler, lure her over to the stove by asking to hear her stories about how much fun they had during the war.  When she is not expecting it, knock into her so the Cosmo in her glass tips into a measuring cup.

Grandma's yelling is going to frighten the children, so tell them Grandma just heard that some of them have been naughty, and she's going to get them if they don't sit quietly and wait for dinner.

In a sauce pot, heat cranberries with a half cup of water and the sugar.  Bring to a boil like Grandma's temper.  Play some Robert Goulet records and offer to dance with her to calm her down.  To get her out of your hair, spin her around really quickly so that she needs to go lie on the couch.  Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes while she "closes her eyes."

Pour sauce into a mixing bowl to cool.  Conspire with other family members while Grandma is sleeping.  A fun game is to switch names!  And calling Grandma "Jack" is sure to lead to hours of confusing fun after dinner!

When sauce is cool, stir in Grandma's Cosmo and garnish with orange peel.  To keep children from eating this sauce, stick a Brussels Sprout on top.  Enjoy with turkey, stuffing or a beer chaser.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Veal a la Volturi

Never mind the fact that New Moon has far too much of werewolves running around with their pants tied to their ankles with a little strap that they probably pee all over, today is November 20th!  Finally!  Women and their daughters have been waiting for this day for over a year, because today is the day we are reunited with our beloved Edward Cullen.  To endure the long wait on line at the movie theater, and build up your stamina for all the heart pounding, I offer you Veal a la Volturi.  Enjoy.




Veal a la Volturi

You will need:

Body glitter
1 large can tomatoes
Dried basil
1 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 veal chops
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, thinly sliced
Dried oregano
Dry red wine
Bay leaf
Diversion for boyfriend/ husband

Rub yourself all over with body glitter and stand in the sun.  When people start to stare, look longingly at them then abruptly leave.  Remove veal chops from refrigerator, or alternately, from small cow you have slaughtered to thwart temptation to feed on humans.  Pound chops thin with your amazing vampire muscles, cold as marble and strong as thunder.

In a skillet, heat butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil and saute onions until translucent as the skin of Aro, ancient Volturi who knows you are making this veal right now and planning on going to the movies later.  Add the tomatoes and simmer for two minutes.  Then take the dried herbs in your fingers and crush them easily into a powder, as you would a boulder.  Toss them into the pot with the minced garlic.

Get boyfriend/ husband out of the house and spend a little time on the computer looking at this, this, this and this.  Sigh.

Place remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil into another skillet and brown chops all over.  Then lay them gently, as if laying in a misty flowering meadow, and cover with red wine.  Let the wine pour all over them, running down the supple flesh.  Drink some wine yourself, feeling the rush of it burning past your throat, satisfying an overwhelming urge deep inside you and feeding you with life itself.  Add a bay leaf.

Simmer until most of the wine has reduced and enjoy while looking at this.





Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gitmo Gazpacho

Dear Reader,


A lot of people, even the ones that voted for him, are upset with Barack Obama these days.  They say he has not lived up to his campaign promises, and that nothing has changed.  Well, that may be true, and even considering that it takes a lot of time to change the world, people are frustrated.  However, I imagine that few are as frustrated as the denizens of a certain hell hole in Cuba.  In their honor I offer this tasty treat!  Enjoy!






Gitmo Gazpacho


You will need:


Sunscreen
3 beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
Attorney
2 clove garlic, minced
2 cups tomato juice, chilled
2 cups cold water
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. tomato paste
Dog biscuits


Begin by combining all ingredients except olive oil and tomato paste in food processor.  Pulse until mixture is chunky - not a smooth puree.  At least that's what you would do if you weren't chained to a wall in a hole in Cuba, surrounded by barking dogs with a hood over your head.  Remember Gazpacho Night in the eating club when you were a Student at Stanford.  Those were the good old days.  Wish like hell that you had just taken the job with Morgan Stanley and not chosen to do humanitarian work in Afghanistan.  Wish also that you hadn't told the villagers you could help them build an infrastructure in their remote cave.  Idiot!


Try to call out to guard.  "Lisa!  Lisa!"  When Lisa arrives, tell her that you want to make gazpacho.  Explain patiently that it is a soup, a cold soup, and not a chemical weapon.  Tell her to ask Pedro.  He'll know what you mean.  Try not to get angry when Lisa laughs at you and takes your picture to put on her Facebook page.


After you feel that three days have passed, call for the other guard.  "Stephanie!  Stephanie!"  Ask to see a lawyer.  When her laughter dies down, explain to her that you are a lawyer and you know your rights.  When she leaves, try not to be too downhearted.  If Obama ever gets to work, you'll be strolling on a golf course in Bermuda.  But make no mistake, it's going to be a long haul, especially for you, Saddam Mohammed Peterson.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ham Souffle for a High School Reunion

Dear Reader,


Apologies, but it has taken me some time to process this whole high school reunion thing.  First off, it was completely overwhelming.  The first hour was spent having the same two minute conversation thirty times.  And then one thing became painfully evident - people don't change.  If you were a douchebag in high school, chances are you're still a douchebag.  A fat, balding douchebag.  The one exception to this rule is nerds.  Nerds are great.  If you were a dorky nerd in high school, chances are good that you look better than ever - perhaps due to high earning potential resulting from proficiency in math and computer science, and chances are even better that you've got a winning personality, having honed your wit to prevent being stuffed in a locker.  Whatever stereotype you fit into in high school, I offer you not only something delicious to eat, but also some tips should you attend your own reunion.  Enjoy.






Ham Souffle for a High School Reunion


You will need:


Honesty
Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
2 1/2 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 egg yolks
Facial 
5 egg whites
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup diced Prosciutto
Limo
Photographer


Look yourself in the eye, either by standing in front of a mirror or by staring at a recent photo of yourself, and honestly answer the question, "Have I ever been happier than I was in high school?"  If the answer is, "Are you kidding?  Of course I have!  High school was alright, but kind of a nightmare sometimes."  You'll be fine.  If you answer,  "Of course not.  High school was the absolute most best time of my life.  Everybody loved me.  I ruled the school and all those dorks wished they could be just like me," get ready, because your upcoming reunion is going to be a very BIG NIGHT for  you, and you've got work to do.


Begin with your body.  It's true that nobody looks the same as they did in high school, but trust me, some of these stay-at-home moms have been doing non-stop Pilates instead of rooting around in the fridge like you have.  Spare no expense and put yourself on a juice fast starting right after you eat the delicious souffle that is as full of ham as your campaign for Student Council President.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Call old high school friends to see who is planning on attending, and most important - what they will be wearing!  Grease a souffle dish with butter, dabbing a little bit around the eyes to soften your crow's feet.  Pour Parmesan cheese into the dish and tilt to coat all over.  Speaking of coats, do an assessment of your marriage.  If it is falling apart before your eyes, purchase a gigantic jewel or great big fur coat to distract from your evident loneliness.  Warm the milk in a pot.


In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and stir in the flour.  Whisk vigorously for two or three minutes to tighten and tone your wobbly triceps, then pour in the milk and keep whisking until as thick as your high school boyfriend's skull.  Season with salt and add the yolks one at a time as you remember all your greatest moments - when three boys on the lacrosse team asked you to the prom; the talent show where you received a standing ovation for your hilarious send up of Principal Foster; the graduation party your parents threw - 4 kegs!  Set saucepan aside to cool.


Whip the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the yolk mixture alternately with Gruyere and Prosciutto.  Pour into the prepared dish and decide what to wear.  Obviously this will be determined by your household income and your sense of self-worth.  If you are fortunate to have come from a wealthy family, make a list of all that your wealth has allowed you to accomplish for yourself and the world.  If you spend part of the year, say, handing out mosquito nets in Uganda, then it really won't matter to you.  However, if you spend part of the year in St. Barths and the other part hanging around the house and shopping, what you wear makes a big difference!  Keep it understated, to minimize your selfishness.


Pop souffle into oven and turn the heat down to 375.  Bake until golden brown and puffed up like your high school boyfriend is now.  Eat entirety while reading old yearbooks and crying.  Do not forget the old adage: The less you have to offer, the more you have to prove!  Depending on how sloppy drunk and slutty you acted the last time you saw these people, the more time you are going to want to spend with your hot rollers.  Book daily sessions with a personal trainer, a facial and hire a limo to take you to the prom, I mean reunion.  Also book a professional photographer, because this is going to be the last great night of your life.  Well, for the next ten years anyway.













Saturday, November 7, 2009

National Bookstore Day at last!



I know! I know, HURRAY!  You have been waiting for months and it is finally here - National Bookstore Day is TODAY!!!  I can't think of a more perfect way to celebrate than to run down to your local independent bookstore and buy a copy of Eat Your Feelings: Recipes for Self-Loathing!  If you already have a copy, then buy one for your friend!  



On another note, check back tomorrow for Ham Souffle for a High School Reunion as I will be attending my own this evening.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Poached Eggs Brulee to Avoid a Terrible Mistake

Dear Reader,

I have had another letter that demands my attention!  See for yourself:

Dear Heather,


Last summer I got engaged to my boyfriend Josh.  We've been together for about three years and I really wanted to get married.  All my friends are married already, so I kind of put the pressure on, leaving pictures of engagement rings lying around and all that.  Problem is, he is driving me NUTS.  I can't stand being around him.  When he eats, he chews and breathes really heavy through his nose at the same time.  Gross!  And he reads comic books, which I used to think was cute and alternative, but now I just see it as another factor in the long list of what makes him a dork.  And the worst part is his throat hair!  It's like his chest hair keeps right on going up to his ears.  What do I do? My mother would kill me if I break up with him.  She's paying for the wedding.


Please help,
Denise
Morristown, NJ

Oh, Denise.  These feelings, the impatience with your boyfriend; your disgust at the way he eats; the utter disdain for his lack of intelligence and fascination with boyhood culture, are all completely normal.  Unfortunately this knowledge usualy comes to a lady after five or six years of marriage.   Your eyes have been opened too soon!  Never fear, I can help.  By the time your wedding date rolls around, Josh will have headed for the hills with his Sasquatch brethren.  For you I offer:






Poached Eggs Brulee to Avoid a Terrible Mistake

You Will Need:

Eggs
Grapefruit Juice
Turmeric
Sugar
Coca-Cola
Ipecac
Blowtorch
Beets

When fiance goes to bed at night, eat beets.  Eat at least one pound of beets, some of them boiled and some raw, like an apple.  If you start to feel sick, picture dressing your future children for their school pictures and combing their throat hair.  Choke down those beets!  In morning, when you begin to feel effects of beets in the form of visible gas rising in your abdomen, stand very near finace and let loose. When he wakes with a start in a cold sweat, terrified, wink at him and head to kitchen.

Heat a pan of water and get ready to boil his eggs.  Add in a hefty glug of grapefruit juice and a generous pinch of turmeric.  When the water is boiling, crack in his eggs.  Don't try any chef tricks to keep them together in the pot - the messier the better!  While his eggs boil you have a little time, so make yourself look as much like your mother as possible.  For me this involves donning a blue suit with a matching blue pump on one foot and black loafer on the other, and always Loreal A La Mauve on the lips.

Down a Coca-Cola before he sits down to breakfast.  Use phrases like, "Sooo glad I can just let it all hang out now that we're getting married," and, "It's such a relief to just be me!" and if you should have sex, "Sooo much better than masturbating," punctuated by belches from Coke.

Take his eggs out while the whites are still nauseatingly translucent.  Place them on a plate and top with a good amount of sugar.  If the turmeric hasn't make them yellow enough, drip a bit of green food coloring in the center of each.  Turn on the blowtorch and stomp around the kitchen with it while you point out all of the projects he has started and not finished, with increasing anger, farting beets for added emphasis.

Go to bathroom and chug Ipecac.  Vomit in center of kitchen.  Burn the sugar on top of eggs to make a nice crust.  Serve him this dish explaining that it is not part of a "diet plan" but a "lifestyle change."  Wait.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eat Your Feelings Party



Dear Reader,


I recently returned from a fun-filled week in Los Angeles. The highlights of my trip included a reading at Book Soup, which is a totally awesome bookstore, even if you're not a nerd; sleeping as much as I want (kids were home with Daddy); and an unforgettable night spent with friends enjoying the first ever Eat Your Feelings Party.


My good friend Ben Mandelker writes the very funny B-Side Blog and he posted about the party here.  You really must check it out as it was a great night, and like I said, he's very funny and not bad looking either.


If you host your own Eat Your Feelings Party be sure to tell me about it!  Customize the menu to suit your woes, or to make you feel better by laughing at woes you don't have (yet)!  Send me your pictures and I just might put them up on this here blog.


With warm regards,


Heather



Hey guys, it's Danny DeVito!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Breakfast of Wannabe Champions

Dear Reader,

As most of you know, the NYC Marathon was today and it was won by a man from the good ole’ US of A for the first time in 27 years.
Still in my pajamas, drinking coffee and nibbling on bacon dipped in syrup, I sat on the couch and listened to the commentators as Meb Keflezighi ran his last 2.6 miles to the finish line. They passionately described his struggle, how his family fled war ravaged Eritrea and his parents raised their eleven children in the US, all of whom graduated from college. With tears in my eyes, I watched him cross the finish line as the commentator said, “A great champion and a wonderful person.”



I would like someone to call me a great champion and wonderful person. But that’s not going to happen unless I get out of these pajamas. I have never had any desire to run a marathon, fearful of course that that I would be one of the runners to lose control of their bowels. But perhaps, with a little precaution and some proper training, I, and you too, may one day be great champions. So today I offer a little training advice and some sustenance in case you are thinking about running in next year’s marathon. And as I watched the women runners, noting that they have glutes where I have a booty, the idea has some appeal.






Breakfast of Wannabe Champions

You will need:
Eggs
Bacon
Running Shoes
iPod (or other mp3 player)
Sweat pants
Bathroom



On the first day of the rest of your life, spring out of bed and immediately put on gym clothes. Gym clothes should be the ratty old variety for reasons to be made clear momentarily. Since you are now a marathon runner you can eat a big breakfast so crack five eggs into a bowl. Heat up the stove and place six strips of bacon in a pan and fry, turning once until nicely crisp. While the bacon fries, load up the iPod with motivational music of your choice. For me this includes Duran Duran, Jai Ho and songs by skinny women like Madonna and the Spice Girls, also some of my kids’ soundtracks like Madagascar (I Like To Move It) and of course the theme from Speed Racer. Put a lot of butter – remember you’re an athlete! into a non-stick skillet and dump in the eggs. Scramble over low heat as you scramble to find the running shoes you bought two years ago on your last fitness kick. When done, plop the eggs onto a plate like you normally plop your fat ass onto the couch about this time of day. Place the bacon next to the eggs and drizzle with syrup (trust me). Eat entirety with coffee or red bull and a Gatorade.



Go to the bathroom! Make sure that you eliminate all contents of bowels lest they do they job themselves while you’re on the treadmill. In case of incontinence, either due to age or vaginal delivery, place some sort of diaper-like device such as a Poise pad or a kitchen sponge into your undies. Then hit the gym!



On treadmill, start at a good pace like a 16-minute mile. Gradually increase by one minute per mile until you reach six miles or vomit. Afterward, don’t forget to stretch! If the pain is unbearable do not fear – tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life, and it’s never too late to take up competitive eating.