Thursday, December 27, 2007

Food, Caroling, Beasts: A December Rundown

In the grand tradition of Dan, I am proud to announce that I have just invented what may be the strangest dessert of my career: break a banana into pieces, cook it in a saucepan with a little water until it's soft, scrape it into a bowl, mash it up, add unsweetened cocoa powder and blackstrap molasses to taste, mix, consume. It definitely satisfied some sort of craving, I'm just not sure which one.

Also, I seem to have become a bit of a crazy bread baker. If only Rebecca and I didn't live 1700 miles away from each other, we would have the world's most complementary cooking obsessions. Tragically, bread can't be preserved indefinitely in a glass jar, otherwise I would send you all a loaf...

And now for a few seasonal updates:

A bunch of us had ended up back at Bill & Quincy's house one evening a couple of weeks ago, and started singing for fun out of their caroling books (they're fabulous Christmas nerds and have numerous copies of these little paperback booklets - which always perversely remind me of haggadahs - full of carols arranged in four-part harmony). We were all kind of entranced by the idea of taking our show on the road, but none of us had actually ever been honest-to-goodness caroling before, so we decided to set up a test run. We met for one more practice session a few nights later, and then Bill set up a bunch of ringer houses in his old neighborhood and we made plans to carol for them, with the option of singing for additional people we didn't actually know if it seemed promising. Our first stop was a ringer house, where we were plied with rum and jalapeno-laced peanut brittle. En route to the second ringer house, our confidenced bolstered by the rum (or possibly the jalapenos), we decided to try our luck at a stranger's house covered in Christmas lights. We stood out on the sidewalk and started to sing (as seven-tenths of us are Sacred Harp singers, we weren't worried that they wouldn't be able to hear us). Since forcibly singing at strangers isn't really my style, I kept my nose buried in my music, and so missed most of the audience action. But to the best of my knowledge, it went something like: Incredulous man opens door. Watches us for a moment. Is joined by two naked toddlers. Sits on floor with toddlers in lap. Wife brings blanket and turns out light so they can see us better. Thanks us at end, as do the three people who've come out onto the porch next door to watch us. Really, it was enough to melt the grinchiest of hearts.

Now we were downright cocky, and we decided to stop at one more house covered in lights. Unluckily, it turned out nobody was home. Luckily, the house was inhabited by a kindly pastor and his wife who were just getting home from dinner and drove up behind us right before we started our first song. The pastor told us to wait until they parked before we started singing, and then they came up and stood on their porch and listened to us, beaming. Apparently, it was their anniversary. Aw geez. Also, he asked us at one point where we all sing, and we told him we sing Sacred Harp, and he replied, "I could tell" (?!?!?!). (And here we were trying to be all good and sound like actual choral singers with our round-note arrangements and everything!) After sufficiently recovering from the shock of someone actually knowing what Sacred Harp was, we sang 99 for him, just for fun. After that, we decided not to press our luck and sang for our final ringers. And thus concludeth our first annual evening of caroling. Now that we've got the hang of it, we're excited for next year. I'm not making any promises, but there may have to be costumes involved.

As if that weren't enough, B&Q held their annual caroling party last Saturday. Richard went to last year's and proclaimed it the best night of the whole year. Fortunately, it lived up to expectation. The caroling extravaganza involves dozens of people packed into the living room, where Bill spends hours at the piano and everyone requests carols from the giant photocopied packets that B&Q provide. Throw in lots of tasty food and massive quantities of homemade eggnog, and you've got yourself some quality entertainment. R&I were the last ones to leave, at close to 2am.

On the big day itself, we honored my ancestors by going to see a movie and then going out for Chinese food. The movie was highly satisfactory, the Szechuan chicken less so, but it was a good day.

Other recent accomplishments: We managed to make it through an entire week of dogsitting without our charges getting deathly ill! Now if they just don't die in their first week home again, we'll be 1 for 2... Also in exciting animal news, I got to gather my first eggs! My egg supplier (like a drug dealer, only I get to pay her in bread instead of lots of money, and we also probably won't get arrested if we ever get caught) let me collect six of my dozen eggs from her henhouse yesterday. Did you know that hens actually lay in nests??? It's just like in the cartoons!

In less exciting accomplishments, I've already consumed at least a quarter of all the dill bread I just pulled out of the oven less than an hour ago. There's nothing that inspires you to bake healthy wholegrain bread more than knowing exactly how much refined white flour you're eating with every bite. But damn, is refined white flour delicious.

I'll conclude with a picture of our new canine friends, Ringer and Boomer. Awww.

(Hey Amy, recognize that laundry basket? Proof of soji, proof of soji!)


  1. And what color eggs? We all know brown taste better. Did you need a glove to steal them? Sometimes old sitting hens are peckish !!

    (I've waited untold years to use this adjective in its seminal context!!!!)

  2. Dear Stu,

    You crack me up.



    P.S. Eggs were white, brown, and - my personal favorites - green. No gloves necessary, since the hens were all too busy wandering through the backyard to chase me away from their unborn babies.

  3. But damn, is refined white flour delicious.

    Sure is--it's the finest flour that e'er was known.

    (Actually, that'd probably be cake flour or pastry flour, but I couldn't resist the Cooper Book pun.)


  4. recipe for a festive blogpost:
    1 large bunch of carolers
    1 dozen multicolored eggs
    several loaves of bread (all purpose flour only)
    Optional: Questionable banana pudding

    Combine all items, publish, and wait for comments.

    (If your post doesn't look festive enough, add more caroling. Or cute dog pictures.)

  5. Yay, soji! And, double-yay, green eggs! I never knew they existed (at least, not from chickens), but they're my new favorite eggs.

    Tragically, I don't like actually consuming eggs, generally.