Unpopular Opinion Coming Through

Over my lunch hour, today, I got caught at the chatty table. I’m not exactly sure how that happened. Poetic justice, really. I sat down at the empty table, and wouldn’t you know it? Ten minutes later, it was the social event of the season. Women talking about their sons and grandsons, and the wonderful world of high-school wrestling. I know next to nothing about wrestling, and I have no sons or grandsons, so you can imagine my role in the conversation. Mostly smiling and nodding, while I wonder if it’s okay to get out my earphones, yet.

So, the coach has announced that he will be very carefully monitoring the boys’ weights to be sure that no one is doing unhealthy things to get the weight class of their choice.

Yup. It was a conversation about eating disorders, but no one actually said “eating disorder.” Not even the woman who was describing her kid, who was compulsively chewing gum in order to soak up moisture from his body. (I’m not sure I totally got the process, but that’s the theory.)

You have to imagine a weird mix of pride and concern. Here and there, a mother setting her foot down, that her son is NOT going to endanger his future health so he can wrestle for a couple of years. Less clear about how, exactly, she intends to stop it.

Damn it, no! You cannot have a puppy eating disorder.

It’s weird how deep and dark and deadly serious high school sports are. And if you think they’re just a game… well, you’re either an optimist or completely out of touch.

The first time I remember anyone talking about this was several years after my older cousin stopped (football, wrestling, etc.) He’d played in high school. And college. And for what it’s worth, I thought he was pretty good. (what I could see from over the edge of my book, anyway.) I thought of him as athletic. Fit. Healthy.

And then, all of a sudden, people were talking about how much better he looked, now that he wasn’t trying to maintain his weight class… How much weight he’d lost. And they were right, of course. I’d just never thought of him as anything other than a “big” guy.  I was surprised by the comment, and more surprised to realize… well, wow… sports probably weren’t all that good for him.

Kids push themselves hard. Not just boys.

And they don’t always have a clear idea of whether they have an actual chance of being a pro football player or a prima ballerina.

The cost-benefit assessment is more an adult’s job.

The idea of a coach lecturing an entire team on “eat right or else?” I hope he was talking to one specific kid, but I don’t believe it. And honestly, I think a more recreational approach to high school sports might be wise.

Comic Books and Thanksgiving at the Hi-Way Diner

After four or five generations of togetherness, the “Family Thanksgiving” finally exploded a few years back. Nothing horrible ever happened. It was more of an old woman who lived in a shoe arrangement. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins’ spouses/significant others/crypto-others and their children. And if you’re doing math, that’s roughly two busloads full of people crammed into one three-bedroom house, where some poor woman who thought she was marrying well will try to seat and feed them all in a domestic kitchen. She will do this with less and less help, and more and more people, since not so many of the girls are learning to cook. (What? You mean I have to put my hand inside a turkey?)

Collapse was inevitable.

Even so, it somehow managed to survive for long enough that my legs and back are permanently contorted to fit at the kiddie table. (Yup. I’m the young end of the cousins.)

So, eventually, the obligatory invitation–and the equally obligatory acceptance–simply stopped coming. It would have been warmer, and fuzzier all around, if someone had had the sense to stop it years earlier (or break it down into the individual families at the generation that was doing the actual work.)

But there you go. It collapsed. It’s dead, and I’m glad it’s dead.

I took my happily child-free butt and went to the Hi-Way Diner. 24-7, and the only minor who’s gonna get near me is the one taking my order. I had a Ruben sandwich. My mother had an omelette. Nobody had to eat turkey, or Aunt Thelma’s Pinch-of-Salt Cookies. No one had to die so that I could finally inherit a big-people chair. Nobody asked me if I’d like a left-over straw of donor sperm. It was awesome.

Then, I came home and downloaded a couple of comic books. Because the sales really are amazing. And because my quest to read all of the Hugo&Nebula winning novels in the world needed another distraction.

And as soon as I’m done with the next chapter in my revision, I’ll read them. Right now… well, the scene’s perfect. Except that neither of the characters who are in it belongs there. And it’s in the wrong setting. And the motivations are completely off.

Other than that it’s perfect.

Should be done in no time.

Small Business Growing!

There are two old-school bakeries worth mentioning near me. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some really snazzy new places (most of them come and go) and if you want your wedding cake to look like a major sculptural extravaganza, we can certainly arrange that. I’m pretty sure some of them have sharks with lasers on their heads, too.

But in small-town bakeries, the kind that used to feed towns, and somehow, manage to have some staying power, there’s a 100 year old bakery that has mostly gone to doughnuts (beautiful, mixed, raised, fried, and filled in-store doughnuts served farmer-early) and a Czechoslovakian bakery that does things with prunes and poppy seeds. (with a small, but loyal following, and a summer festival that brings in a crowd.)

And while a blockbuster crowd once a year is great–and they’ve been staying in business–I was happy to see some of their pastries packaged up for sale at a gas station in a (different) nearby town.

I’m not sure if I got there late, or if they’re just starting out with flavors for tourists, but no… there’s not a prune or a poppyseed in sight. (The ones on the far left are blueberry.)

So, let’s all celebrate the niche market, and someone like us doing well.

(And someone like me getting a fork.)

Because, Yes… Quite Frankly… Too Lazy to Eat

I’m always on the lookout for the most convenient, least time consuming breakfast on the planet. Well… at least, I have lofty dreams of finding something I 1.) Want to eat and 2.) Have plenty of time to work on real projects during/after eating. I’m pretty sure the ideal would probably be a gastric tube of some kind. I could type, and nutri-ate at the same time.

I’ve converted my lunch hour into useable time by shoving a bar or two into my purse instead of getting actual food, and now, I’m moving on.

I ordered a case of Soylent off the internet.

Coffiest flavor, for those who are curious.

This is a meal-replacement of a non-weightloss variety. It’s 400 calories a bottle, with nifty vitamins, and well… in this particular version… coffee.

Of a cold and bitter variety.

It’s basically… well… edible.

And caffeinated.

The world around me appreciates me drinking caffeine in all its glorious forms. It’s amazing how much less bitchy my coffee makes them.

We’ll see how my bottled breakfast makes me feel in a couple of weeks. I expect the low sugar (did I mention bitter) and the absence of other sweeteners (bitter!) might make it a good choice.

No, Really. It’s Butter.

I actually can cook, when I feel like it, and when I’m paying attention, and this week, I’ve had the time to do it. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and usually… well, a protein bar and a vitamin pill counts, right?

No. Apparently not. I’ve spent the last week scrambling eggs in buerre noisette, and feeling all the better for it. I’m not sure if it’s the ritual of cooking, itself, or the food, or some combination of the two, but I haven’t burned the house down, and I feel pretty good.

Mmmm. Butter.

I spent most of my childhood being admonished about how easily butter burns. I’m not sure anyone ever mentioned how tasty it could be. But they did mention that you can fix that by using margarine. Or lard.

Greetings from the land of solid, nutritious, and mostly-safe food.

You just don’t ever-under any circumstance-allow other people in your kitchen. Yes, fine. I know they’d tell me the butter is burning, and probably turn the heat down for me so fast I wouldn’t even have a chance to stop them. Yes, fine. Margarine. Uh-huh.

They’ll eat it, anyway, and tell people you’re a good cook.

 

That Quaint Thai-German Cafe You’ve Been Waiting For

As soon as the storm passes, I’m going to run away to the nearest Thai Restaurant and order something so spicy it will melt all the rest of the snow for this year, and half of next year’s snow, as well. I know a place.

I don’t get there nearly often enough—it’s a little out of the way, for me–but there’s this cafe in Plattesmouth that does incredibly good, incredibly spicy food. If you’re ever in Nebraska, it’s worth the drive. Sisters Cafe.

The story–as I remember it–is that the sisters were born in Thailand, and wound up married to American soldiers. One of them wound up staying in Thailand, and the other was stationed in Germany. Then, the husbands retired, and they all retired to Plattesmouth–which is a really gorgeous little town by the Missouri River–and started a cafe where one sister cooks Thai food and the other cooks German food.

And I lived happily ever after. The end.

Most Americans don’t do spicy. And the ones that do, well… in general, what they mean is “I added a whole lot of cayenne pepper.” Which means that it will be spicy and also bitter as cold, icy death. It’s the cotton candy of spicy foods. Spicy. Just spicy. Maybe a little sugar to kill the bitter, but more or less… One flavor.

Sisters Cafe is an exception. They serve actual, nuanced spicy food. It has flavorS. Really, really nice.

And they’re nestled between a military base and elegant bed-and-breakfast country. Have been for several years. Good location. I don’t mind getting emotionally attached.

Some Days, It’s ALL About the Pie

Today, I have been–among other places–to the happiest place on Earth… Yup, that’s right. Marcon Pies in Washington Kansas.

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You can tell the pies are good, if there are people camping outside the kitchen. Every pie should have groupies. These pies deserve them.

I like my pies a little tart, and Marcon does that really, really well. They do things with gooseberries. (Yup. Plural. Gooseberry and Gooseberry sour cream.) And their sour cream raisin is phenomenal. If you like things tart, you know how hard that is to find. This is it.

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This pie was baked today. (It will likely be gone by tomorrow, but let’s just focus on the fact that it was baked today.)

They also make the most amazing, light, flaky crusts I’ve ever had in my life. (Sorry, Grandma.)

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That would be the gooseberry, if you’re wondering.

For those of you who like your pies a little more on the kinky side, here’s the topless sugar-free chocolate.

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(If you like yours topped, there’s meringue and whipped cream, but not sugar free.)