An Ode To Spring

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Winter hath tyrannized and tortured with weather

So cold, so abrupt and so cruel.

The sparrow hath not sung, hath shown not one feather,

One shirks at the thought of a pool.

The chill and the frost, thinketh itself clever

Whilst children gawk through the casement.

Have we been betrayed

Perhaps Spring hath been slain

Perhaps it does hideth in my basement.

So Many Emotions All At Once

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Pizza. Is there a better food in the world?  No.  The correct answer to that query is no.  Absolutely not.  Pizza is cheesy and crusty, tangy and salty, bitter and sweet all at once.  Mortals display their happiness and delight by going out for pizza.

Do you eat pizza with your arch enemy?  No, I didn’t think so. And if yes, I don’t want to hear about it. Because pizza is pure.  Pizza is good.  Pizza was created for love, friendship, and the building of bodily bulk.

When its snowing out there

And you can’t stand your hair,

It’s pizza.  Yes, pizza.

When the sun glows and glistens

And nobody listens,

Turn to pizza.

Yes, you can.

Pizza for lunch, pizza for snack

Pizza for giving your best friend a smack.

Pizza to cry with

Pizza to gloat

Pizza to celebrate the buying of a goat.

Pizza for snacking

Snacking all day and night

Pizza for rehashing that serious fight.

Matters of life,

And matters of living

Combined with a pizza

Makes one forgiving.

So to pizza, I say,

Raise your glass in the air.

Pizza for ever, and never elsewhere.

POP!

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Popcorn is a food that is adored by all.  Still, it may be challenging to understand the importance and the rich heritage of this great food.

Popcorn was integral to the Aztecs in the 16th century.  The Aztecs held popcorn dances in which young girls wore head pieces made of popcorn kernels.  Popcorn was commonly formed into headdresses and jewelry, such as necklaces, finger rings, nose rings, and bracelets. Countless ceremonies were held for the god of popcorn.  Young and old prayed and danced to this god.

Hernan Cortes was first introduced to popcorn when he invaded Mexico and caused the fall of the Aztec Empire.  Popcorn was believed to have powers over fertility, rain, and indigestion.

Since the days of yore, the modern homio sapen has found other things to do with popcorn. One of those things is to eat it.  Or throw it.  You’re good either way.

Here is how to make it without a popcorn maker:

Pour some oil on the bottom of a pot

Turn the fire up till its warm, not bubbling

Dump 1/4 or 1/2 cup of popcorn seeds inside the pot

Put a cover on the pot

After a while, you will hear a popping noise.  Resist the urge to open the pot.  Wait until you hear the sound of gunshots coming out of your pot, like a gang war in your kitchen.

Open it now, because if you wait, your popcorn will burn and the popcorn god will ruin your harvest with a torrential downpour.  Or he’ll create the longest winter ever, forcing you to freeze your way through spring.  Oh wait, he already did.

 

Eat Your Way Towards a Better Body

 

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Considering my vast experience in the food world, (I’ve been eating since the day I was born), random strangers often request advice on how to attain a slender and extraordinarily strong physique.  This is a historical fact.

Out of pure generosity of spirit, I share with you, dear reader, the secrets of the universe:

1. Eat chocolate every day.  Be flexible with your chocolate.  Chocolate chips for when you’re feeling conservative, chocolate croissant for when you’re feeling French, chocolate babka for when you feel slightly Russian, chocolate cocoa for when you’re frost-bound, chocolate milk when you feel tropical.

2. Eat chocolate cookies at least every other day.  This will help you take your mind off of them.

3. If there is a day in which you forgot your chocolate, you can have either baking chocolate or chocolate pills.  Seriously, those were created for heart health (Reuters, March, 2014).

4. Lift heavy weights. Small to medium sized children will do.  When lifting for mass, lift child for 3 sets of 8-12 reps with ten second breaks.   Overhead lifts, deadlifts, curls, chest presses, children will do it all.  They do tend to cooperate better when given chocolate as they are lifted.

Chocolate is not only a tasty treat, it is a lifestyle and one of our basic rights as humans.

Do you have a chocolate story?  Has chocolate ever saved your life?

 

 

Musings on Hot Chocolate

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The region in which I live, the Northern tip of Siberia, has seen its coldest winter in 27 years and two days.  This frigid weather brings back memories of more frivolous times.  The days when children were allowed to play freely in the warmth of the sun.  When adults left their homes without the fear of losing a finger or toe to frostbite.  Let us reminisce the days of old, when children remained children, and when adults remembered the source of their joy.

When you’re sick of the cold

When you’re hating the ice

When you’re missing the sun

When you don’t think it’s nice

That you are forced to wear layers

Of scarves, hats, and coat

When you’re blood boils over

As your Floridian friends gloat,

Remember the drink

That is there at your service

To come to your aid when your are quite nervous.

The drink, my dear friend,

Champion of justice

Is very hot chocolate

Since the days of Augustus.

To create this serum, refreshment, this brew,

You will need a pot and milk,

You will need chocolate, too.

Boil the milk, throw the chocolate in the pot.

Pour the drink in a cup

And drink while it’s hot.

 

Some People Consider Rice A Food

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Some people consider rice a food.  Technically, rice is a food. It is easily absorbed within the human digestive system.  It’s taste is palatable to some members of the human species.  However, according to unscientific observation, I have come to the understanding that rice is a food much like quinoa is a food.  Who eats quinoa?  Don’t be ashamed, raise your hand if you do.  Raise it!  Eaters of quinoa eat food because they are either on diets, or because they are on diets.  If they do eat for taste, it is because they have customized the palate to bear the bitterness which quinoa brings.

Withstanding personal preferences and opinions, I hereby withdraw my particular sentiments.  This blog is dedicated to rice and the humans who adore it.  Despite obvious bias, I will admit that rice is a lovely grain.  All who eat it understand that it grows best in extended periods of warm weather.  Rice thrives in heavy, moisturized soil.  The soil is moisturized through water, not lotion, which, perhaps, is the reason it has gathered a bevy of admirers.

Yes, rice can be conjured into a dish which is somewhat agreeable.  Below you will find a modest list of uncomplicated ideas to encourage the consumption of rice:

1. Fry onions first and add them to the (cooked) rice

2. Fry onions and peppers and add them to the (cooked) rice

3. Fry onions, peppers, and mushrooms and add them to the (cooked) rice

4. Fry onions, peppers, and mushrooms and add them to the (cooked) rice, sprinkle with salt

5. Fry onions, peppers, and mushrooms and add them to the (cooked) rice, sprinkle with salt and pepper

6. Fry onions, peppers, and mushrooms and add them to the (cooked) rice, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic

7. Fry onions, peppers, and mushrooms and add them to the (cooked) rice, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin

8. I trust that your imagination can take your rice recipe to places no other rice recipe has gone before.  Be brave rice lovers!  Be bold with your rice!

Au revoir rice enthusiasts of the universe,

May we meet again, under happier circumstances.

-Monteith.

Pink Bubble Gum

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For many people in today’s society, gum is at once a crushing reminder of dreams unfulfilled and a snack which never does fill the stomach.

The history of gum is long and gory, filled with triumphs, disappointments, and gruesome deaths.  As usual, it all began with the Greeks.  Seriously, Greeks used to chew the resin from mastic trees for entertainment.  Try it, you may like it.

Since the resin and mastic tree trick, various inventors have tried their hand at creating gum, yet the gum always broke up and became pretty gross after just a few chews. Finally, in 1928, a 23 year old man named Walter Diemer set out to create a gum that could blow bubbles without breaking apart. He was an accountant and that was only part of his good luck.  He was also lucky because he worked for the Fleer Chewing Gum Factory.  Who wouldn’t want to work for a gum factory – named Fleer?

Well, Walter came up with a succesful recipe.  How did he come upon the winning recipe you ask?  The answer is, as usual, by accident.  What do we learn from this?  The importance of accidents.

Walter accidentally created the most awesome gum ever, which could blow strong, lasting BUBBLES!  The only problem was that the gum was white, so it looked a bit nauseating.  To make it more appealing, he dyed it pink.  Why pink, you ask?  Ummmm, it was the only color available to him.  Seriously, I am not making this up.  What do we learn from this?  When in doubt, choose pink.

The next step for Walter was to sell his gum. At the end of the day, it always comes down to money.  So, Walter taught his salespeople how to make huge bubbles.  Let me say that again.  He TAUGHT his people how to blow bubbles.  In a classroom.  This was one class that you did not want to fail.  Did he give out certificates?

Anyway,  the schooling payed off because the enormous, flamboyant bubbles of the salespeople caught the attention of customers who also wanted to look cool by walking around with huge pink bubbles coming out of their mouths.  Another check for our buddy, Walter.  What do we learn from this?

A. The importance of peer pressure

B. If you want friends, buy lots of gum and

C. learn how to blow bubbles.  No, not in the pool.  Did you even read this article?

Love and Gum,

Monteith

Julius Caesar’s Favorite Salad

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When one takes a bite out of Caesar Salad, it is not at all uncommon to dream back to the days of Julius Caesar, the Roman general and statesman, who inspired the play entitled Julius Caesar by Shakespeare.  In fact, it is quite common to entertain thoughts of Julius Caesar while munching on Parmesan coated romaine lettuce.Image

Caesar salad was created during the Gallic Wars.  It came about as a solution to the hunger pangs of soldiers stationed between the Jura mountains and the Rhone river.  Unfortunately, rations were scarce, and the soldiers meager diets consisted of salty fish and muddied waters. This diet caused many soldiers to lapse into a hallucinogenic state.

The solution became obvious to Marcus Junius Brutos, who demanded that the residents of Rome hand over all parmesan cheese to govermental authorities.  Romaine lettuce was an easily obtainable item, as lettuce leaves thrived in the soils of Rome.

So it was that starved soldiers crumbled dry, old bread atop  lettuce and cheese, thus creating the Caesar Salad, aptly named to induce the name of the great warrior upon their lips.

I’m just kidding, Caesar salad was created by a chef named Caesar Cardini in 1924.  He needed a salad quick, and threw together the following ingredients:

1/2 cup of live oil

4 cloves of crushed garlic

1/4 cup of lemon juice

1 handful of shredded parmesan cheese

Romaine lettuce leaves

Salt, pepper

Old bread cut into bite size pieces

He did not add anchovies or cherry tomatoes into his salad, that idea was somebody else’s, possibly his brother’s.

If you want to make this salad, mix 1/4 cup of oil and garlic, let that sit for like 15 minutes.  Pour it on the bread and broil the bread for around two minutes so that it becomes brown.

Whisk the spices together with the leftover olive oil and some mayonnaise.  Pour over torn lettuce. Add broiled bread and cherry tomatoes at will.

As you eat, please do include the Roman tradition of shouting “Hail Caesar!” after every third bite.

Haman’s What?

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Hamantaschen are one of the most common gourmet foods world-wide.  They are sought after for their gooey goodness intertwined with a scrumptious cookie texture.  Indeed, the beauty of this food is rare, and it is a favorite of artists throughout the globe.

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This still life oil painting rendered by John Vander Stelt illustrates the comfort and amusement one can derive from a seemingly simple food item.

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Hamantaschen originated in the former Persian Empire, currently known as Iran.  At the time, Persia was a vast empire, having conquered most of the civilized world.  Haman was a barber turned royal advisor to King Xerxes I.

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Xerxes I did not enjoy having his hair cut.

There was much political intrigue during the reign of Xerxes, which included back stabbing, finger pointing, and copious amounts of assassination.  Fortunately, fine people remained amongst the living and Hamantaschen were created amidst this tumultuous epoch.  This warrants a lot of noise.

If you have no bakery which sells hamantaschen, gather the following:

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

5 cups flour

2 tsps. baking powder

strawberry or apricot preserves (everyone knows strawberry’s the best, but I’m just giving you options here)

greased cookie sheet

If you have all of those things in addition to a kitchen with a working oven, do this:

Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl, then mix everything else into that bowl EXCEPT for the PRESERVES.  Save those for the filling.  As we were saying, mix that whole recipe (except for preserves) and it will form into a dough. Flatten your dough on a floured surface.   Cut your dough into circles using the opening of a cup or a round cookie cutter. Place  1/2 tsp. of preserves/filling in the middle of each circle.  Lift the bottom, right, and left sides of the dough to form a triangle.  Place on greased baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

Traditionally, hamantaschen are eaten in noisy localities, so if you do not have friends who are willing to scream in your ears, eat your hamantaschen in a subway station, airport, or elementary school during recess.  Other, admittedly less comfortable, locations include outside during a thunderstorm, on a speedboat in middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and from the center of a random demonstration.

<3

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He was a soldier, pure of heart and fresh out of Afghanistan.  She was a mild tempered pre-school teacher with a knack for finger painting, krav maga, and acoustic guitar.  He stepped off the plane and into the airport, bogged down with  thoughts of  death and destruction, hoping for peace of mind.  She was at that very airport, retrieving her aging grandmother.

Yaakov’s bag was red.  Mushky’s grandmother had a red bag, too.  Yaakov accidentally took home Grandma’s bag, Grandma took home Yaakov’s.  Yaakov opened his bag and was rather surprised upon discovering asthma inhalers and various sized negligee. Grandma found phylacteries and um… stuff. Stuff that clearly did not belong to an eighty year old asthmatic woman with a love for cats and garden snakes.  Mushky and Yaakov retraced their steps.  They met at the airport. They have remained met ever since.  Mazal Tov Mushky and Yaakov may you find peace and joy in one another and illuminate the world.