The marketing geniuses at 16 Handles promote squash-flavored ooze as “Fist Pumpkin” and invite the public to Size It!, Pull It! and Top It!. No, I am not kidding.
Tell me the truth. Is it me?
So, the other night, Mr. Slattern and I passed the local 16 Handles outpost on the way home from a delightful dinner and movie date that featured the magical combination of George Clooney, brick oven pizza and at least half a dozen Aperol Spritzes — each. As you might imagine, we were in a pretty festive mood. And so it was with some little merriment, and a fair bit of snorting, that we noted, and photographed, the promotional campaign for the newest flavor of the fro-yo chain’s petroleum byproduct dessert food, which is apparently chockablock with “pumpkin goodness.”
The next morning, with a somewhat clearer head, I wondered whether the whole incident had been a mere figment of my imagination — a sort of Lost Weekend moment. But then I scrolled through my messages and came upon the evidence in the form of a snap taken by my better half, who somehow managed to hold his camera-phone steady while laughing uproariously with a not insignificant load on. Just a guy, but what a guy.
Anyways, getting back to the pumpkin sludge we are being invited to fist…oh forget it. You take my point by now I’m sure, and if you don’t, you’re probably better off. File it under “What were they thinking?” and try to salvage what little regard for the intelligence of the human race you have left is my advice.
Ready to tie yourself to Martha’s whipping post?
Apparently fall is the time our pal Martha, fresh from a few restful weeks of torturing the locals for pleasure in Maine, really starts feeling ambitious and decides to crank up the domestic wheel of pain. Not content with flogging Louis Quatorze lawn parties and Gatsby-themed luncheons as the best way to throw a picnic, the evil one has recently shifted the MSL lifestyle dream-machine into overdrive. Her timing is, as ever, impeccable. Once fall is upon us, any reasonable adult can finally breathe free with the kids back at school, the house guests out of her hair and the in-laws safely stashed back in their golf community, at least until the Thanksgiving horror/torture begins. Unless, of course, you live in Martha world.
I don’t, but I like to peek through the keyhole from time to time, and in the past week or so I’ve had ample opportunity after receiving about a hundred emails from the Domestic Death Star
nagging inviting me to do the following:
Start your Halloween preparations early, like now.
Madame Stewart suggests using September to get a jump on updating last year’s party-planning spreadsheet, start crafting spiders from pipe cleaners and hot glue and prepare the fifty-piece pumpkin carving and microsurgery tool set for this, the most festive holiday of the year.
And of course it’s never too early to begin planning your costume, because there is nothing pathetic about a sixty-year old woman in a French maid’s costume or a fright wig.
Now I don’t know about you, but I hate Halloween, and frankly I’d rather set myself on fire than spend a full month gearing up for it, unless by that you mean buying and consuming six dozen bags of “fun size” Snickers bars, Twizzlers and mini Dove Bars, but somehow I don’t think that’s what she has in mind.
Create savory lunch box meals your kids “will want to eat.” Now, of course these days the little slattern is away at college and in charge of her own meals, but I can say with certainty that never, in eighteen years of lunchbox slavery, did I encounter a situation in which a “bento box” featuring cold Asian noodle salad, or an avocado-cream cheese-cucumber-sprout sandwich on grainy bread, or cute little lettuce leaf cups filled with apple and chicken salad would have been greeted with anything but misery followed by pitiful efforts to trade.
Let me tell you, nobody in the lunchroom is going to give up half a PB&J for anything that involves even the suggestion of a lettuce leaf. They might, however, tease your child unmercifully for the rest of her academic life on the basis of such a meal, so there’s that added incentive to provide it — as if you needed another reason to spend three hours every night preparing the next day’s lunch so that it could be thrown in the trash and your child could arrive home exhausted, bullied, and in the middle of a full-on low-blood-sugar meltdown. Parenting, the Martha way.
Learn the venerable art of découpage with Martha’s five part video tutorial after which you can run out and buy all fifty items in her new découpage product line. Yup, DECOUPAGE. Look!
Those of you who have succeeded in repressing memories of sleep-away camp — where arts & crafts classes were the only alternative to swimming in a freezing lake, hiking fifty miles carrying a two-hundred pound pack or spending a sleepless night on the ground quivering in a stinky sleeping bag all the while freaking out about bugs, bats and snakes — will no doubt be pleased to revisit this wonderful crafting activity via Martha’s instructional videos.
In FIVE installments!
I mean really, what is there to say beyond, cut some pictures out, glue them on something then shellac the hell out of the whole mess? I’ll tell you what else, NOTHING, except maybe, “Here’s how to spend a hundred bucks and three days making a shitty old picture frame/lamp/piece of furniture look like a craft project you did at Camp Wankaweewee in 1979.”
Okay, that’s enough. I’m going out to get a pizza and a six-pack for lunch, then I’m going to toilet paper and egg that witch’s house but good. Happy freakin’ fall, Martha.
Recipe: One-pan roasted veg (per “The Plan”)
As I may have mentioned, I’m not one for complex, time-consuming, fiddly cooking. In fact, if I had my way, I’d never make another meal again. The bank balance being what it is, however, neither permanent-guest status nor live-in domestic help appear to be in my future, and as such the evening meal must be slapped on the table one way or another. Night after night after night.
Regular readers will recall that my dieting struggles are legendary, even in Hell, as they say. So what I try to do is leverage my aversion to all tasks culinary as a useful weight-loss strategy. Most days, Mr. Slattern arrives home to an exciting supper of grilled fish or chicken accompanied by a large salad, which, through the miracle of ready-washed greens, is as easy to prepare as it is to clean up. Fine. Of course when followed by half a cherry chocolate cheesecake and washed down with a bottle or two of white wine, even the most blameless of meals tends to lose its slimming properties. Still, labor has been saved and vegetables consumed, which counts for something.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, healthy meals, easy to fix. So the salad meal is great for summer; however, often, as the warm weather wanes, the body yearns for more substantial fare, and a cooked veg can be just the thing. Now I hate screwing around with vegetable prep, I won’t lie. The washing, peeling and chopping wreak havoc with my manicure, and you really do have to be careful when working with knives, which puts an unwelcome damper on the mid-afternoon cocktail hour. I have, however, partially solved this little dilemma by buying butternut squash and broccoli already cut up. These I mix with a chopped onion, a red pepper and some garlic (all of which have to be prepped, but really it’s not that bad). Just drizzle the whole mess with olive oil, salt and pepper and a couple of pinches of dried oregano, fresh basil or herbes de Provence, pop the pan in a 400 degree oven for half an hour or so, et voila, Lyn Genet’s Italian vegetables as detailed in The Plan, the latest diet I have failed to follow, but which I am certain would have wondrously transformed both my life and my figure had I but been able to choke down flaxseed granola rather than Boston cream donuts at breakfast for more than a week.
So anywho, what I do is make enough of this stuff for about forty people and just reheat it in the ‘wave all week or throw it into rice or pasta. If you have higher culinary standards than me — and really, except for Sandra Lee, who doesn’t? — this may not work for you; however, for the sufficiently slatternly this system can really take the sting out of being a hausfrau and put the zing back into sundown…speaking of which, I believe the portable bar is calling my name.
Merry Christmas everybody!
The holidays are once again, unavoidably upon us, and as you might expect, Christmas Eve finds me a tad behind schedule. As such (and because last year at this time I had approximately four regular readers) I’m going to go ahead and recycle 2011’s Christmas advice post. I hope you’ll all forgive me, but it’s nine am and already the stove is smoking, the tree is listing and I’m eyeing the Jameson’s bottle that’s dangerously close to my coffee cup. I’m afraid something fresh and new is completely out of the question at this point, and in truth, has been for some little time. So, for your skimming pleasure…..