THE WICKED WITCH
of the Back Bedroom
I can't recall when I learned how to cook. It was out of necessity. My mother was the worst cook ever. We had the fire department visit a couple of times to put out a kitchen fire she started and I swear I came home from school one day to find a heart cooking on the stove. I swear, a heart!
It wasn't until I grew up and made my own Thanksgiving turkey that I realized the turkey wasn't supposed to taste like sawdust. I can't totally fault Mom for this; she did grow up with wood burning stoves where one had to slow cook the turkey. She did make pretty good stuffing, though.
On a trip to visit my brother, she came back with a recipe she had learned -- some Polynesian dish that consisted of bits of meat, pineapple, peppers, onions, MSG, and brown sugar. It wasn't bad, but it became her signature dish. This was not a good thing, especially when served five days in a row - including breakfast.
More times than not, the kitchen cabinets were pretty empty. A family friend once commented about there being nothing but a shriveled up peach in our fridge. When Mom got a charge account started at the grocery store, it was probably the kindest thing she ever did for me. I could walk to the store and get whatever I wanted. I admit I used and abused that little gift. What kid wouldn't have?
We went out a lot, and I do mean a lot. We didn't just do hamburgers, either. I've eaten at restaurants, nightclubs, and places most kids never walk into. Places where the waitresses wore fluffy bunny tails and bunny ears. I've eaten kangaroo tail soup and I can say with confidence “Don't try this at home.”
I've dined at the Muehlbach that Anne Morrow Lindbergh thought was pronounced “Mule Back.” The Savoy Grill, Top of the Tower, and many of the elite restaurants of Kansas City. Leona Yarborough's, where you have to write out your own order, and Regan's, that had the best French toast you've ever tasted.
I've been served a multitude of Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers. Complete with the maraschino cherry and sprig of mint.
On one occasion, my sister and I were having our first experience of Cherries Jubilee. It was great. We were given a show with the marvelous blazing extravaganza of cherries and flaming alcohol. Then it was announced there was no vanilla ice cream and we would have to have it on chocolate. I'll never forget the chef come storming from the kitchen, indignant that anyone would dare serve chocolate ice cream with Cherries Jubilee. When he was told there was no vanilla, he insisted our complete meal be free. If you've ever wondered - Cherries Jubilee on chocolate ice cream - to die for.
I pretty much took over any cooking done at home by the time I was in the 8th grade. I was the only one left at home by that time. I got quite good at it and was soon given requests for some of my better dishes. The key to great cooking is to apply flour to the nose and wear pure vanilla extract behind the ears. I swear by this technique.
I'm a self-taught cook out of necessity. Years of crunchy, overcooked pot roasts that even catsup couldn't penetrate taught me that valuable lesson.
Twisted Linguistics has some of those pesky WordVer words for your viewing pleasure today. And ... you people haven't written me any poetry in ages, so that's what I'd like for you to do with them -- turn them into poetry.
These are the words.
With them, you could, if you were so inclined, mangle poetry -- sort of like this.
I lie down again, reeprone,
In a reellit room, my dess so abysmally
And listen while the awingur
Rings the evening lingum --
Ahhh. So buitical.