Tag Archives: secrets

Dirty Little Secret

I have an addiction.

Average housewife

What I look like when I cook

For some reason, I can’t pass by an old cookbook at a garage sale, flea market, used book store or secondhand store without picking it up. Flipping through the pages. Unfolding the hidden scraps of paper to decipher the faded penciled lines of a forgotten recipe (an amazing number of which turn out to involve Jello). All too often, I end up buying the darn thing.

Community cookbooks are the worst. I always think they’re going to be a treasure trove of cherished family recipes. The cold reality is molded salads, cheese balls and 8,000 or so ways to use Cream of Something Soup to fool your ingredients into thinking they’re something exotic.

Hint: exotic food does not often begin with a pound of ground beef and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Nope. Doesn’t matter if you stir in a whole quarter-teaspoon of garlic powder or a half-cup of water chestnuts. It’s still as exotic as Aunt Dottie’s bunions. (And why water chestnuts? They’re in half the meatball recipes ever written. Usually coupled with a daring dash of soya sauce.)

I don’t know where “The Pilgrim’s Cookbook II: Ye olde Recipes of Ye Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and Marietta Colony” came from. I also can’t believe this is the second volume.  And yes, I typed the title exactly as it appeared. Maybe I bought it for my daughters, thinking there would be reproductions of Pilgrim fare. The first recipe is for Serbian Spinach and contains frozen spinach and “Velvetta” cheese, two ingredients I don’t think the founders of this country had access to.

Another one I’m culling from the collection is “Favorite Recipes of New York,” compiled in 1964. I almost kept it just for this photo.


Would a nice chicken from a nice family have to rely on so many gaudy accessories?

So someone out there thought that after you trussed and roasted your chicken, you needed to put frilly little anklets on it, garnish the bondage with a lemon twist, and stick olives into every crease. Sounds like a really bad date I had in the 80s.

I’m also jettisoning a book about Asian markets, the Midwestern Farm Bureau Family Cookbook and a handful of spiral bound community cookbooks.

This is not embarrassing. What’s embarrassing are the ones I’m keeping, including entire books devoted to Bundt pans, sandwich presses, fondu and pancakes. I treasure the Better Homes and Garden volume that my mother gave my grandmother for Christmas the year I was born, along with the first cookbook my mother bought for me, a compilation my cousin Hal made of his mother’s recipes, my Joy of Cooking, several Weight Watchers cookbooks (who am I kidding?), and a quirky little tome called Mood Food that tells you what to eat when you’re bored, depressed, tired, celebratory, hung over, amused, scandalized, up to late or just hungry.

And you’ll take my Alton Brown collection when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.






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All of MB’s Secrets

We all get those forwarded emails from our friends, asking/begging us to play along and post our answers and share with the world. So I figured that here, I’d just answer them all at once, and save everyone the time of forwarding to me in the next cycle. Of course, if I’ve left out anything important, ask away!

Name as it appears on birth certificate: Sorry, it was obscured when my mother spilled a glass of water on the document after reclaiming it from me because I wasn’t responsible enough to have custody of it. I was in college. True story.

Nicknames: MB, embah, Mabel, Fred

Pierced body parts: Each ear, once.

Most recent movie you have seen in the theater: The Help

Eye color: Blue, not as pretty as my brother’s though

Place of birth: Canton, NY, although my sister maintains I was found under a cow patty

Favorite food: Vietnamese bun bowls

Ever been to Africa? Not that I know of

My uncle once: ditched his car while driving three hours to deliver my HS graduation cake.

When I was five: I was queen of all I surveyed.

Previous Jobs: Kitchen help, library aide, teaching assistant, bulk mail processor, market research supervisor/call center manager/project director, call center supervisor, telemarketing supervisor, A&E writer, food writer, Pampered Chef consultant, trouble maker

High School was: Not over fast enough.

I once met: Stanley Elkin, author, oldest person I ever heard drop the f-bomb

There’s this girl I know who: Acts like a tough broad, but jumps on a chair and yells “eeek” if she sees a mouse.

Do you have a website? Hello? Do you know where you are?

At a bar: I feel old. And I complain bitterly about the prices while trying to talk other people into buying my drinks.

By noon I’m usually: Well caffeinated.

Last night: I had a two-dollar glass of iced tea and a free piece of pie.

Favorite body part: My collar bones, because they seem to be the only thing not succumbing to gravity.

When I turn my head left: I see a snowdrift of papers, CDs, cameras, office supplies, a flamingo cup and a bra, all  threatening to topple off my desk.

When I turn my head right: I usually see my big orange cat, Pogo, getting jiggy with his afghan. I think they’re engaged now.

If I were a character written by Shakespeare: I would sound a lot smarter.

By this time next year (January ’13): I’ll have a teenage driver in my house.

I have a hard time understanding: Televised sports and anything requiring spatial reasoning (except loading the dishwasher, which I excel at).

If I’d ever go back to school I would: Pay more attention.

You know I like you if: I give you my cell phone number.

Take my advice: Everyone needs therapy. Everyone.

My ideal breakfast is: A bacon sandwich on buttered, toasted homemade bread.

If you visit my hometown: You would be lost.

Random fact: Johnny Depp and I were born in the same year.

If you spend the night at my house: Tipping is encouraged.

The world could do without: Leaf blowers.

I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: Teach small children. They frighten me.

If I do anything well, it’s: Make people laugh.

And by the way:  Hang up when you’re interacting with a cashier, a clerk of any sort, or any other human being. Hang up when you’re driving, because you’re way less coordinated than you think you are.

The last time I was drunk: I rearranged all the furniture.

If you were me: You’d be good-looking. (Bonus points: what movie and what song?)

The best decade to live in is: The one you’re in. Like you have a choice?

My graduating class is/was: 1981 (HS), 1984 (college).

The best kind of parties are: the ones where I’m not the designated driver.

Ten years ago I: was filled with guilt about being a stay-at-home-mom and not bringing in any money. (I got over it.)

Ever been toilet papering: Kind of. Never went cow tipping, though. That’s mean.

Ever love someone so much it makes you cry? Yup. I have children–they make me cry for all sorts of reasons, one of which is crazylove.

Been in a car accident: Bike vs. car–broke my arm. Car vs. ice–ditched the car. I get parking tickets like nobody’s business, though.

Croutons or bacon bits: Bacon bits, but only if it’s real bacon.

Favorite day of the week: Tomorrow.

Favorite restaurant? The Jewish Mother in Virginia Beach. Or Josie’s in Canton, NY.

Favorite Flower? Silk.

Favorite sport to watch: Other people driving on ice, but only from a safe distance.

Favorite drink? Arnold Palmer.

Favorite ice cream? Chocolate, with stuff in it.

Favorite Fast Food: Garbanzo’s. Although the sweet potato fries at Crave are divine.

What color is your bedroom carpet: Dust-colored.

How many times did you fail your driver’s test? None.

Before this one, from whom did you get your last email: My sister.

Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? A book store, a thrift store, or a gourmet grocery store.

What do you do most often when you are bored: Hm, I don’t really have time to be bored. Probably read a book. Or write one.

Bedtime: 10:30-ish

Favorite TV shows: So You Think You Can Dance, House, Bones, Eureka, Being Human (both versions) and anything with Alton Brown

Last person you went to dinner with: My husband and our two daughters.

Ford or Chevy: Mazda.

What are you listening to right now: The hum and thump of the washing machine.

What is your favorite color: Green.

Lake, Ocean or river? Rivers. I grew up in the Adirondacks where there’s water everywhere. Colorado doesn’t have enough water to make a good puddle.

How many tattoos do you have: Don’t you wish you knew? If I told you, I’d have to kill you.


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