Thursday, March 22, 2012

Iron Chef

I'm running away from my kitchen right now.  I'm keeping my bra; but burning my apron.  I protest!!! I've never been a "foodie" nor have I ever loved cooking the way some people do.   Cookbooks get me about as excited as bathroom scales do, least I could hold my own in the kitchen. I could definitely perform the needed culinary tasks with confidence that it was all going to be worth the effort in the end.

 But that was back when my cooking was actually kinda good.  Back when dinner was tasty.  That was before every fourth person I met became allergic to gluten, before every twelfth person I met became allergic to nuts and back before my husband became allergic to... everything else.

So, I look at Iron Chef America a little differently now.  This is a show where two chefs from the elite cooking class are given a "secret ingredient" (like fish or cucumbers) and a kitchen filled with every other edible ingredient known (and unknown) to mankind and they have an hour to create three or four dishes using that secret ingredient.  Whomever produces the yummiest, most attractive meal is named the winner by a panel of somewhat-celebrity judges and they hold the title of  king high Iron Chef, at least for that episode.

It can be quite the entertaining show, but given the ever-growing list of  restraints I have beeen given in my own kitchen arena, I fail to see the real challenge there.  Wouldn't it be more amazing if there was more than one secret ingredient and if those secret ingredients were things that they could NOT use?  Yah!...let's see someone who can whip up dinner at my house, every night without using any dairy (including cheese), soy sauce (or soy anything), onions (how do you cook without onions?), citrus (bye bye lemon zest), sausage, ham, bacon, nuts, msg, or Red 40, and...make it yummy! 

Do you know the secret behind Julia Child's success?  Butter and wine.  She's a culinary icon because she stuck butter and wine in everything and it tasted good.  Bravo Julia, you're not only a genius, but somehow a superhero as well.  Imagine what she could have done with bacon drippings and sugar?  We'd have a Nobel Laureate for sure.

Once again,  show me what you can do with one hand tied behind your back...then I'll be impressed.

It's not like I'm Paula Deen.  I am not actually trying to kill people with my delicious cooking, I just want to use an onion now and then...maybe a little soy sauce once in a while. Cheese, please? There has got to be some way to keep my inner Italian happy without giving my husband a brain tumor.

Tonight, we had Lemony Lentil Soup with Greens...but of course, minus the lemony, minus the onions. wasn't that bad...for me.  But for the kids?  Sometime, you should just see their faces.
Talk about pleasing a panel of judges.  Could there be a more cruel jury than the undeveloped tastebuds of youth?
"Why anyone would want to have food allergies is beyond me." (Carol Burnett in Annie...well kinda)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

When You Facebook on Three Hours of Sleep

I really went outside to fix the spout at 3 am and we really (reportedly) do have coyotes.  It was a little scary but I had insomnia and hearing that stinking pump go off every 15 minutes drove me to do this death-defying act of plumbing.   As far as the rest of the post goes (comments between Rachel and I from 8:30 on)  Rachel had left her facebook account open on one computer and I was checking my account on another...something about only having three hours of sleep and access to two accounts, brought out the mischievous in me and I just couldn't produce a single serious comment.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Up, Up and Away

You'd like my son if you met him.  He's got a great smile and a personality to match.  He's always walked to the beat of his own drum, a trait that I find irresistable in most people.  Perhaps the best way to sum him up is with this story: 

When he was three years old, we went to a family reunion where someone had supplied helium balloons for all the little children in attendance to have.  On our way to the van at the end of the day, we passed one of our cousins who was unsuccessfully trying to console her little boy whose balloon had just come loose and had begun to float away.  This little tike was unconsolable.  My son followed his tearful gaze up to the sky and in wonder, watched the escaping balloon float higher and higher. 

Suddenly my little guy looked at me, held up his wrist and asked me to untie his balloon.  I thought he was going to give it to our distraught little relative.  Nope.  He took his balloon by the ribbon and let it go as well.  Standing there, his little neck craned back as far as it would go...watching in double the wonder as double the balloons floated away. 

To him, seeing the balloons float up, up and away was much more fulfilling and magical than walking around with one tied to his wrist, and watching it die the next day.  I think he may really be on to something and although I can't quite tell exactly what it is all the's been a joy trying to figure it out with him.

On The Record with Greta

One cool autumn morning while sitting at our kitchen island, my phone rang and on the other end was a guy who said he was the producer for some news show in New York.  "On The Record with Greta VonSuster..something"  I had never heard of it and had to ask him to repeat it one more time (which somewhat insulted him).  Assuming this show was some little local, public access news show, I accepted his invitation to be interviewed live...that night.

I had been getting a few phone calls from the local papers for interviews so this didn't register to me as any big deal.  A few weeks prior I had appeared before our city council and proposed a new resolution, which they ended up passing (or adopting or whatever they do to resolutions to get them on the books).  The resolution was basically a statement indicating that the citizens of Spanish Fork wanted a child-friendly community.

Such resolutions have been deemed necessary by the Supreme Court if a community is ever to have a chance against stopping business owners from displaying non-child friendly advertisements in public places. Think Victorias Secret and Abercrombie and Fitch's bigger-than-life-steamy-hot-sexy type ads.  Yeah...those.
There's more to it than that, volumes more, but for the sake of this post, we'll move on.

My New York producer friend called back several more times that day with questions and clarifications and then finally with instructions on when the limosine would be at my house to pick me up.  Limosine?  Wait a minute.  Rinky-dink local news shows don't send limos.  So I told my husband what was going on and...what the name of the show was. He recognized the name immediately and immediately let me know using no uncertain terms that this was not some basement production.  This was NATIONAL, LIVE, big-time stuff.

So later that evening my parents came down so my dad could go on this little adventure with us and so mom could watch the kids watch their mom on TV.  Before I knew it, the three of us were speeding down the interstate in the back of a limo.  We were happy and confident and excited.

When we arrived at the studio that would patch me into the New York studio, no one was there.  When the technician finally did arrive, his placid, non-chalant manner only reinforced my own relaxed and confident state of mind.   This was going to be fun!  What a great opportunity to spread awareness!

I was seated in a tiny, closet sized room with a fake Salt Lake City city-scape behind me.  I was wired inconspicuously and then the door was shut.  It was just me and the tech, the wires and the camera.  At that point the camera seemed to be only inches away from my face, and it suddenly became my whole world. My heart picked up pace.  Then the audio from New York kicked on in my ear piece.  I could hear all the behind the scenes instructions and countdowns and coughs and comments from the New York crew that happen right before you go live.  It was then that I noticed I could not move my face.  I wanted to smile for the camera, but I literally could not.

Now my heart REALLY started beating fast. The countdown continued, "5-4-3-"....wait!  If I couldn't smile, would I be able to speak?  Terror.  Terror like I had never before known or since.  The tech fingered to me "2-1" and then I was on.  On camera for millions to view.  No script. No idea what I was doing or how I was going to do it.  And did I mention that millions of people were watching?

There was no split screen image of Greta so I could see her talking to me and there seemed to be some sort of delay between when I answered her question and when she responded back.  Both of those elements were a little unnerving.  But we finished the interview and I didn't stutter and I didn't draw a blank and I knew my First Amendment stuff front and back.  But I didn't pass on the little nuggets of wisdom and light I had hoped to share with the world either.  I just answered her questions and kept breathing.  That was all I was capable of.

Mark and Dad had been watching the actual show in the green room so I asked them if I looked as terrified as I had felt.  Mark said that I looked fine, but that he didn't watch much of it because they kept flashing examples of racy, half-naked women all through-out the interview.  As if the audience didn't know what inappropriate advertising looked like.  I can't tell if they were jerks for doing that or idiots.  The very images I wanted children not to be exposed to, were exposed at least twenty times in the five minutes that the interview lasted.  I'm going with jerks.

The next day the phone rang again.  I was secretly hoping it was another news show, so I could have a second chance and say what I wanted to say the night before.  But it was not.  It was a woman who had worked extensively with the U.N. was best buddies with Ronald Reagan and was a directing member of the Eagle Forum during the 80's.  Her name started with "The Honorable" and I had a feeling she was rich, not just because her personal secretary got me on the phone for her, but because when she talked about me coming out to visit with her, she referred to her residence with a name, like Jefferson and Monticello. 

She invited me to speak at an Eagle Forum meeting the following spring and gave me Phyllis Schlafly's direct number.  She also gave me Orin Hatch's direct number too and said that I needed to connect with him as well, that he could use me as some kind of "opening act" when he went on speaking engagements. 

I wondered if I should really call those people.  I looked her up on the internet and she was the real thing, but she was also in her eighties.  What if she was a little kooky?  I finally decided to make the calls and the response I got from the personal assistants I spoke with in both offices was an unmistakable "don't call us, we'll call you."  Uugh.  I wanted to scream "I don't go around calling famous people, I swear!  It was all "The Honorable ________ __ _________'s idea!"

Well, that's the end of my big, long story.  My 15 minutes of unintentional, un-sought after fame.  This all led to my campaign for city council, but that's another blog for another time.
I have a DVD of my illustrious appearance on Greta's show, but few have seen it because those images I mentioned before....REALLY racy, scandalous!  I'm talking PG-13.  You have to bring a note from your mommy before I'll let you watch it. 

PS.  This was the post I was planning on writing when I initiated My Unintentional Life in the first place.  But before I could memorialize my 15 minutes of fame, cancer came and stole the show.