Tag Archives: food

a note to manufacturers: not everyone likes rosemary so stop putting it in everything.

rosemary

WHY WHY WHY.

apropos of nothing (mental note: learn how to spell “apropos” so google can stop correcting you. also learn: synagogue, initiative, occasional. oh and aesthetic, which, hello, practically impossible.) — ANYWAY, apropos of nothing, i’m going to rant about rosemary, which, in my book, is long overdue.

first of all, if you have an intense love of rosemary, i strongly suggest you stop reading right now. just click the X and close out of this page. then run to your local produce department. once you get there, grab armloads of rosemary. throw it up in the air like you just don’t care. squeeze it between your fingers so the rosemary oil gets on your skin and then smell your fingers. that way holly and i can easily identify you. you, with the smell. sniffing your fingers in the supermarket. you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

so yeah, go ahead and buy all the rosemary in the world, we don’t even care. wanna know why? IT’S IN EVERYTHING ANYWAY. we can’t get away from it.

let me tell you a story. the story goes like this:

in my continuing effort to eat less grains in order to keep my blood-sugar steady, which therefore prevents me from getting hangry (i.e. so hungry you’re actually angry) while simultaneously helping me ward off type 2 diabetes, an affliction of the jews (the hiatal hernia i actually already have – OY. mental note: learn how to spell “hiatal” ), not to be confused with the bread of afflictionHEY OH! passover joke! (passover starts soon, biznatches! overeat pizza now so you don’t miss it. wait don’t. wait…nothing. forget i even said that.)

…so yes, in my continuing efforts to limit grains (SERIOUSLY I DON’T EVEN EAT PIZZA THAT OFTEN SHUT UP), i often purchase mary’s gone crackers, which, despite their odd name, are actually pretty good. they’re gluten-free and made of a variety of seeds, which, i don’t actually understand? regardless, they’re actually quite delicious. i usually buy the “original” crackers. they have served me well despite the fact that i continue to be confused about how they’re made.

at some point over the past two years, i decided to, you know, spice things up and picked up a box of the “herb” variety. BIG MISTAKE. listing “herbs” on an organic product (these crackers are organic like everything else we eat–yes, as i said years ago, we have truly become one of those households with nothing to eat, where you have to make everything. like a hippie. or a colonial person.) is not only vague but it’s also dangerous for those of us that don’t like rosemary. i feel like if an organic food lists “herbs” in its ingredient list, it probably contains enough rosemary to kill or at least choke a small to medium-sized mammal. oh and forget about salad bars. (YEAH WHOLE FOODS, I’M LOOKIN AT YOU. PEOPLE THAT DON’T LIKE ROSEMARY EXIST.) i’ll get to that in a minute.

anyway, as you can probably guess, the predominant flavor in these crackers was rosemary. it was like munching on a pine tree. ON A PINE. TREE. mary, (as in: of Mary’s Gone Crackers) would it be so hard to list ROSEMARY as an ingredient in your herb crackers? WOULD IT BE. SO HARD. no! i don’t think it would be!

i was recently reminded of this debacle yesterday when i delightedly opened a box of mary’s gone ALL NEW super seed crackers. which, hello, i was totally excited for! i mean, pumpkin seeds AND sunflower seeds AND poppy seeds in ADDITION to all the OTHER SEEDS. it was too much.

i bit into a cracker and at first i thought: oh my gosh. it’s almost like: an everything bagel! but then: NO. no no no NO. the familiar and unwelcome flavor of rosemary–of pine and soil itself–bloomed in my mouth. i shook the crackers at the sky. WHYYYYYYY. i shouted. WHYYYYYY.

no, i didn’t do that. who even shakes anything at the sky anymore? only people in biblical movies. i’d be more likely to throw the damn box across the room but i didn’t want to clean it up. anyway, it made me want to rant. so here i am.

why my intense dislike for rosemary? (oh hooo, this is going to get me in major trouble with some of you but whatever. it was bound to come out sooner or later.) first of all, if you break it up and toss it in things before you cook them–say, red-skinned potatoes, for example–it dries out and becomes these pokey little needles that can not only stab you in the throat, but choke you if they flip sideways in your esophagus! (go figure, i can spell esophagus.)

this very thing happened to me years ago. luckily, i was able to push the offending needle or needles down with a gulp of water or a slice of bread but it was touch and go there for a minute. it was touch and go. and it probably irritated my hiatal hernia.

and yes, if i wanted to gnaw on a pine needle, i’d gnaw on a pine needle. if i wanted to taste the earth’s rich, bountiful soil, i’d just eat a handful of rich bountiful soil.

and now for the kicker: THE WHOLE FOODS SALAD BAR. guys. c’mon. is it necessary to put rosemary in every single dish?? IS IT? i’ll tell you what: it’s not. because i don’t do it at home. this is the universe telling me to avoid the whole foods salad bar. it’s too damn expensive anyway. i already had words with the sushi guy. i should forget their prepared foods altogether.

so. in closing, does rosemary have its place? yes. but in small doses. (and YES, it can be good in a roasted chicken dish, so please don’t mention roasted chicken to me. i already know.)

if you are a manufacturer of something PLEASE list it on your ingredient list as not all of us want to eat pine sol. and chop the damn stuff up dammit! you want a lawsuit or something?? i should not have to review a heimlich maneuver chart before i eat your food.

heimlich maneuver

“help…i have rosemary…stuck…in my throat.” “i gotcha, buddy. i gotcha.”

next up:  my recent-ish 30-minute flight from pittsburgh to baltimore, also known as I Took Too Much Xanax & Held a (Kind) Stranger’s Hand. until then, please don’t choke on rosemary. or at least avoid it if you’re with me because you know my ass isn’t gonna know how the hell to save you and before i can do anything, i’ll have to google “heimlich maneuver” and you know i’ll spell it wrong.

i went into a panic last night about the polar vortex and now we have too much food in the house.

so yeah, as you probably already guessed, i bought into the media hype about the “polar vortex” and kind of went into a panic last night.

the panic was similar to the widespread terror many of us here in maryland feel when we hear or read that it will snow except no snow was involved, just cold. this panic, of course, gave me an urgent, frenzied feeling that we were out of everything in the house and we needed to go to the supermarket immediately. i usually have this feeling anyway, because i’m jewish and we never feel like we have enough food in the house. it’s like, a genetic thing, so that when we have visitors we will feed them until they say NO MORE PLEASE STOP. this gives us great joy. anyway, i pushed holly out into the cold and off we went to the store.

when we made it there–THANK GOODNESS WE MADE IT, IT WAS SO COLD–before we got out of the car, she turned to me and said, calmly, that we were going to be ok. that there was no need to panic, we would be fine, we were only here to pick up a few things, we didn’t need to go into emergency mode, this wasn’t a hurricane, etc. i only heard her say “panic,” “emergency,” and “hurricane” so i panicked even more.

we get inside and the store’s…empty. it’s almost empty. OH MY GOSH WHY IS IT EMPTY? WHERE IS EVERYONE? clearly everyone else knows it’s extremely dangerous to be out in such cold. we’ve made a grave mistake but it’s too late to go back now. i must think fast. we must act fast. the temperature’s dropping.

lunch meats! we need lunch meats. MILK! TEA! PEARS! OH MY GOSH WE NEED PEARS.

CANNED FOOD! tuna! YES TUNA! and EGGS! OH LORD THE EGGS. we get to the eggs and THE EGGS ARE ALMOST GONE! the masses have already been here, i think. clearly there’s reason to panic, the eggs are gone! the only eggs left are three containers of those weird omega 3 eggs so we settle on a carton of egg whites. this is a valuable source of protein, i think. one that, i figure, we can cook up using a candle somehow, which i will light immediately when the electricity goes off because surely it will because we live in baltimore and nothing works here. AND OH MY GOSH WE’D BETTER CHARGE UP OUR CELLPHONES HONEY HOW MUCH POWER DOES YOUR CELL PHONE HAVE (i grab it from holly’s hands) OH MY GOSH ONLY 58% THAT WILL ONLY LAST US MAYBE HALF THE DAY. then i see mine is only at 20% and nearly faint.

we get to the cashier and we don’t even have to wait in line. it’s that empty. OH. MY GOSH. IT’S THE VORTEX. we need to move fast. YOU BAG, i tell holly, AND I’LL PUT THE FOOD ON THE CONVEYOR BELT.

the bill is $104 and i honestly have no idea what we bought besides milk and tuna and pears. i obviously blacked out while we were shopping. this is bad.

we go out to the car and the wind is howling.

HONEY! i shout over the swirling winds. HONEY! YOU PUT THE BAGS. IN THE CAR. I’LL. TAKE BACK. THE CART!

i want to shout SAVE YOURSELF! but i decide there’s no need to be dramatic.

we get in the car and start driving home and we see water gushing out into the street. WATERMAIN BREAK, i think. i immediately decide to hoard water when we get home, lest our pipes burst. first i’ll fill the brita filter. then all the pots. every one of them. the largest ones first. i’ll fill the crockpot, too. nothing’s off limits. if it can hold water, i will fill it. i made a stir fry earlier in the day and noticed a green pepper can hold water once you empty out the seeds. i suddenly wish i had bought another pepper. i’d fill that, too.

when we got home, i almost expected our block to be engulfed in flames but honestly, everything was fine (save for some drafty bedroom windows, which holly managed to fix).

it’s late and i want to keep things short so i’ll wrap things up:

the wind blew all night but we both managed to sleep. in the morning, we woke up and i found a cheese danish in the pantry. i’d like to say i was in my blacked-out state when i purchased that, but no, i totally remember buying it. i found beans and two cans of tuna, milk, the carton of egg whites, pears, frozen chopped spinach, and a number of other necessities.

what didn’t i find? what were we out of? toilet paper.

10 reasons why i’m actually a senior citizen

Older ladies in floral swimcaps smiling.

my people.

i have long suspected that i’m actually a senior citizen in a young(er) person’s body. and not, like, what aarp considers a “senior” (55. puh-lease! 55 is the new 35!) no no no, i’m talkin little old lady senior. like, little. the kind that gets her hair set, drinks coffee with lunch, and clears the way through the local diner with her cane. (that was my late gram. she was so totally and completely cool, it was kind of unbelievable.)

anyway, ever since i got my nighttime mouthguard (see “i got a retainer“) and started soaking it in efferdent, i started thinking: oh my gosh. i really am a senior.

i recalled my unbridled joy as i played bingo with italian-american octogenarians at the sons of italy lodge, this year and in years past, pining for the $13 “jackpot.” of my deep love for the golden girls, and my need to secure the boxed set, despite holly’s protests. my need to shout WHAT? at my spouse even when i hear her.

so i started making a list of all the reasons why i’m actually a senior citizen. because what else am i gonna do while i wait for the efferdent to turn from blue to clear?

ok, here we go:

1. i have hard candy in my bag at all times. including ginger chews “in case one of us gets nauseous.”

2. i also have “nerve spray” in my bag at all times. for nerves. it can also help with nausea if it makes you nervous. (which, yes. being nauseous makes me nervous. don’t even get me started.)

3. speaking of bags…i need to admit to myself that as much as i want to call what i carry around a bag, it’s…a purse. and i pretty much have it with me at all times. i strap it across my body “in case i get mugged” and freak the hell out if i can’t find it in three seconds, shouting to poor holly WHERE’S MY PURSE HONEY WHERE IN THE HELL IS MY PURSE. this is my grandma’s gene. her bag was full of crumpled tissues and hard candies with pennies stuck to them. i’m getting there. 

4. i always check the backseat when i get in the car. again, this is a habit i picked up from my gram who shouted CHECK THE BACKSEAT at me once i started driving. as a lifelong non-driver, it was the one tip she offered me. i guess this was a thing once? people hiding in the backseat? i also lock the doors immediately when we get in the car. “in case we get carjacked.” or rather: “to keep from getting carjacked.”

5. here are the three things i always have in my coat pockets: hand sanitizer, lipstick, and mace. see: “in case i get mugged.” also usually napkins. see #6.

6. i always take a stack of napkins when we go to starbucks or chipotle. and we go to these places often. not such a big stack that it’s obnoxious, but like, a decent, respectable amount. #1, you never know when you’ll need extra napkins! you could sneeze. you could spill something. you could find yourself in an emergency situation where you need to immediately blot your lipstick. #2, they’re good napkins! #3, you need them for your purse. what else will your hard candies stick to? #4, you need them for the glove compartment. #5, you need them to wipe off the seat after you spray the bastard that’s been hiding in your backseat with mace.

7. if holly is in the bathroom for more than 60 seconds i begin shouting HONEY ARE YOU OKAY? ARE YOU OKAY? (again, i picked this up from my grandma, who would shout ARE YOU MOVING YOUR BOWELS at the bathroom door if i was in the bathroom for more than two minutes. she would shout this to me even when i was four years old. before i even knew what “moving my bowels” meant.) this is the way i show my love. by shouting about my spouse’s health. see #8.

8. if holly coughs i immediately announce that she’s coming down with something and then hound her about zipping up her coat. i threaten to make her soup. i ask if she loves me. because if she did, she’d zip up her coat.

9. water aerobics classes featuring hits of the 80s, 90s and today. tried it, loved it, ready to get a floral swim cap so i don’t ruin my blowout.

10. if you visit, i will ask you 10 times if you’re hungry. if you say no, i will feed you anyway. if you still refuse to eat, i will send you home with fruit. old people love fruit. i love fruit. especially apples and oranges. and we all know those are the preferred fruits of seniors.

and…….a very special #11…..****drumroll please!****

if the weather’s too bad to walk outside, i’ll do laps in the mall!!!!

HAPPY 2014, ALL! LET’S MAKE IT COUNT!

happy new year!

me, left. holly, right. happy new year from balteemore, hons!

f*ck yeah, baltimore.

baltimore's famous domino sugar plant.

i took this photo from a sailboat. even though it smells terrible, hot damn i love that doggone sugar plant.

lord knows i’ve had my issues with this city. LORD KNOWS. I HAVE HAD. MY ISSUES. WITH THIS CITY.

for example:

  • a rat was living in our dryer vent, hoarding chicken bones and crab shells. after holly cleaned it out, she thought she had “rat fever” from breathing…rat dust? then i had to convince her she didn’t have rat fever. that was really something.
  • fighting parking tickets here is nearly impossible. as if that isn’t enough, everyone in the courthouse has the type of body odor that literally makes you feel like you might drop dead.
  • if you rent a dumpster for some kind of big home renovation project, everyone and their mom–literally everyone and their mom–will come to your dumpster, morning, noon, and in the middle of the night to drop off refrigerators, carpeting, and cribs. it will be a community event and you will get no rest.
  • then other people will come to your dumpster to dig through it and  haul off everyone’s junk. they will always do this in the middle of the night. and they’ll break a lot of glass in the process. cause why bother being careful when you’re already in a dumpster?
  • if it snows one inch, everyone puts, like, orange cones and chairs in their parking spots. and if you move a cone or chair, you will get stabbed. (note: please don’t move the cones and chairs. your life is worth more than a parking spot.)
  • these ancient little row homes have tiny ancient holes in the wall–invisible to the naked eye–that let in bad odors, like, for example, the smell of dead body next door. the smell will seep into every crevice of your home and your belongings. then you will have a breakdown. then you will spend months trying to get rid of the smell, which will only completely go away when the home is gutted two years later.
  • oh yeah. and a rat could get in your house, from like, a bigger hole you never saw behind your stairs. from your late neighbor’s house. right after your basement floods and it will jump in and out of boxes like a sick carnival game. and then you will really lose your mind.
  • there’s more but i’ll stop.

yeah. it’s kind of a party here. not like a good party either. no, the type of party where you wake up the next day somewhere missing a heel, your phone screen is cracked like a car windshield that’s been in a horrific accident, and you have raccoon eyes from makeup your best friend did for you the night before that you thought was ok, but now, in the light of day, you actually see was alarmingly sloppy and you immediately decide you will kick her ass the next time you see her.

so it’s a hot mess here. there’s random puffs of weaves on our curb and our alley looks like a thrift shop and a helicopter once temporarily blinded me with its searchlight.

BUT DAMMIT THIS PLACE HAS GROWN ON ME. like a mushroom. or…a wart. at first you don’t even know it’s there. then you see it, hate it, and want to rid yourself of it immediately. and then, as you contemplate wart creams at rite-aid, something strange and miraculous starts happening: you get used to it. and…start liking it a little? because dammit it’s your wart and it’s become part of you. and you could go to the dermatologist to get it removed but why bother?

folks, that’s baltimore for me. over the past seven years, i have cursed this place. i have screamed and shouted and chased cats, rats, and run from our neighbor’s beautiful german shepherd that continues to get loose. i have looked up at the sky, shaken my fist, and shouted WHHHYYYYYY. (really? geez, i’m dramatic.)

i honestly didn’t even know i kind of liked it here until i read this obnoxious dc response to the recent (and newest iteration of the) longtime baltimore vs. dc debate. (for background, first read this, then this.) since then, i have felt oddly protective of this hellhole of a city and i have come up with a list of my own.

mind you, it’s not a baltimore vs. dc list. as baltimore’s city paper points out, the dc vs. baltimore thing is lame. i have lived in both places and they are two distinct, very different animals, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

my list, aptly named F*CK YEAH BALTIMORE, is a list of reasons how this weirdass city has quietly and successfully wormed its way into my friggin heart. so here we go:

  • we may have some sketchyass people walking through our hood, but our neighbors are friggin awesome and we look out for each other and help each other out all the time. i have never experienced anything like it in my life.
  • we have a bread factory right splat in the middle of the city. the smell fills your whole damn car up for like three or four blocks. it’s pretty awesome.
  • old folks sit out on their stoops in the summer and can tell you what the neighborhood looked like 50 years ago. (you can read about one such old timer here. it’s an article i wrote on the late “mr. john” pente of little italy, who lived in the same one-block radius for 100 years–his entire life.)
  • carolers on your front stoop. really? yes, really!
  • big boyz bail bonds pens. they’re everywhere. and surprisingly good pens! gotta laugh or you’ll cry your eyes out.
  • formstone. also everywhere.
  • corner bars. yes, everywhere. go twice and you’re a regular.
  • playing bingo at the sons of italy lodge in little italy. 25 cents a card. i’ll take four, thanks!
  • speaking of italian, this place right here. dipasquale’s italian marketplace. best tiramisu (and everything else) you’ve ever had in your life. if that’s not enough, the owner, joe, is a huge madonna fan. and adorable ladies like this might be lunching there. come to our neighborhood, we’ll take you there.
  • speaking of food, this is best damn greek food you’ll ever have in your life. cash only, no reservations. get there early, and whatever you do, you must try the dressing.
  • sure, there’s blight here. but it’s beautiful in its own way.
  • and our little old ladies have some serious spunk.
  • you can take a free boat to the office and get a photo like this on the way home.
  • you can go out in your pajamas and no one looks at you like you’re crazy. and you know what? even in your pajamas, you’re still hotter than about 85% of the people here.
  • we are not cooler than you. baltimore is not one of those places with a reputation for being hip or cool. in fact, it’s kind of uncool. and you know what? that makes it kind of cool.

so there’s my working F*CK YEAH BALTIMORE list. have your own f*ck yeah baltimore? please share!

see, this place is MY WART. it’s my hot mess of a party. and if you’re gonna be dissin it, get ‘cho ass down here to southeast (SOUF-EAST) and tell it to my FACE. yeah that’s what i thought. PEACE OUT YO.

(p.s. i’ve never had a wart.)
(but i’m probably going to get one now because i wrote this. and i’ll tell you what: screw the wart cream at rite-aid, i am going straight to the dermatologist to burn that sh*t off.)

remember that one time we were on a low-carb diet and robbed a dunkin donuts?

first, the (big gay) elephant in the room: i kind of (read: totally) fell off the face of the earth for a minute. i told you about holly’s short sweatpants back in march and then i left you hanging for months.

  • was she still wearing the sweatpants?
  • did she cut them into shorts for the summer?
  • did she forgive me for encouraging her to buy them in petite when she clearly should have bought them in regular, thus saving her from the type of shame that only comes from wearing any kind of pants that are obviously too short for you?

the short answers to all of these are a. no (it’s been too warm for sweatpants) b. no (they are still whole and intact plus holly would never wear cut-offs; i’m not saying this is the right way to be but this is how she is) c. yes, she forgave me but i have yet to forgive myself. they’re pretty damn short.

where did i go? well mainly i was working. (if you’re self-employed the way i am, being busy is a good thing) and also life just wasn’t seeming all that funny. i mean, there have been many many funny moments, but it just wasn’t feeling funny enough to sit down and write about things, which is a major bummer for many reasons. if this blog has a purpose, it’s to make you laugh. to help you forget about whatever you’re dealing with in life and just sit back and have a good ol friggin laugh.

so now that i’m back, let’s just launch right back into things, shall we?

here’s what’s been going on since march:

we went on a low-carb diet and robbed a dunkin donuts.
the details are fuzzy because i was so weak from low blood-sugar. all i remember is waking up  covered in crumbs (old-fashioned cake: my fave), vanilla cream (cream-filled: holly’s fave), and raspberry jelly (jelly-filled: mutual fave). i had bite marks on my arm, which, if i remember correctly, i had tried gnawing off the day before. i realize that my arm would be considered “low-carb,” but i  hallucinated that it was a hot dog bun, so i tried to eat it.

(no seriously: it was “phase 1” of the south beach diet. it went well but…yeah, after 10 days we totally fell off the wagon. however, it was a good learning experience. like, a good way to learn how to creep out of dunkin donuts on your hands and knees after you have no idea how you got there. also we learned how to make cauliflower pizza, an odd but strangely addictive low-carb delicacy.)

i got in a fight with the sushi guy at whole foods and can never get sushi there again.
it sucks but look: i don’t need to be buying overpriced sushi from whole foods anyway. it’s kind of awkward now, but whatever! don’t try to charge me $4 for single sheet of soy paper! so i don’t like seaweed! do you really need to punish me for that? jews don’t like seaweed. it reminds our collective subconscious of crossing the red sea, which you know was uncomfortable for everyone involved, especially us jewish women because, hello, our hair. anyway. next!

i brought more natural disasters to under armour.
last time i contracted on-site at under armour, there was an earthquake and i split my pants right down the middle. this time i brought a tornado. well it was actually a “waterspout.” either way it scared the sh*t outta me and i hid in the basement until it was over, where, oddly enough, i learned there was a much better snack machine than the one on the third floor where i was working. holla!

i accidentally gave holly caffeinated coffee for like two weeks.
she kept saying she felt nervous but we couldn’t figure out why. i think i switched the bags or something? or labeled them wrong? oh i don’t even remember how i did it. honey, i am so sorry!

i got a retainer.
well actually it’s a night guard but it’s funnier to say retainer. apparently, when i sleep my jaw clamps down like a vice, resulting in phenomenally bad headaches. i finally relented to the idea of a mouthguard, which i imagined would be this big behemoth of a thing, like the kind of mouthguards football players wear, and i was concerned that, you know, instead of helping me, it might choke me while i slept. but when i went to go pick it up, it was this cute, teeny-tiny, dainty clear thing. like, it should have an english accent or something.

going in to get it molded at the dentist wasn’t as bad i thought it might be. to avert a new-jersey-jewish-control-freak panic attack, i kept telling holly “THLLLL MAA AH NNNLK,” my mouth full of this weird kind of…blue goo? and a big plastic mold-type thing.

“babe, i can’t…i can’t understand you,” holly said, laughing, while the dental assistant shot us weird looks trying, but failing, to smile.

(if i could have spoken i would have told that assistant to mind her own bees-wax and that if she didn’t look away i would punch her in the throat.)

“THHLLLL. MAA. AHH. NNNLK!” i kept saying.

this, of course, meant “tell me a joke.” which holly never did, as she couldn’t understand me. the exchange was ridiculous enough to avert anxiety, and now when i go to bed, i’m super sexy. i put in my mouthguard and it mathhes me tawlk like thiithhh. nicethhhhhhh.

i got fever & we almost missed jamie & jamie’s wedding.
i came down with a mean 36-hour flu on friday, may 31st. the day before our friends’ jamie and jamie’s wedding. (yes, they’re both named jamie. i know. the gays, constantly throwing you for loops and destroying the universe.) it came on in the span of like 10 minutes. i swear my body felt like it was shutting down. holly was irritated because the wedding was going to be fun and she didn’t want to miss it. (hello, i didn’t want to miss it either!) she also said i was complaining a lot. however, i couldn’t hear her because i was under three layers of blankets, shaking so bad from how cold i was because i had a 101.7 fever.

(holly, you’re mean. if you weren’t so cute i’d punch you in the throat, too.) 

i tried dry shampoo.
total bullsh*t. i felt like i had lice for like four hours and it made me smell like old lady.

i made a short-lived decision to become a charm city rollergirl.
i announced this in the car last week. it was a sudden decision but seemed like a sound one at the time.

“i mean, i’m not really athletic enough. right now. but i could, like, train to be,” i said, twirling my hair thinking of my cool future rollerderby name (Jersey J.? Jess The Jerk?) and all the tattoos i’d get and then have to hide from my parents.

 “i’d also need to learn how to skate backwards. and learn how to stop.” 

“you’re not tough enough to be a rollergirl,”  holly said.

“yes i –”

then she poked me in the arm.

OW! HEY! THAT HURT! THAT WAS LIKE, A PRESSURE POINT OR SOMETHING.”

“see? you’re not tough enough. you can’t be a rollergirl.”

“yes i am!” i said, rubbing the spot she just poked. “that’s going to leave a mark.”

and then, just to emphasize how i upset i was, i added the clincher:

“i’m going to blog about this.”

and so, here i am. blogging. again. gettin fevers. robbin dunkins. cussin at whole foods. makin tornados waterspouts. pullin out weaves. cuttin b*tches who be frontin me. wearin pajama t-shirts in public.
(note: i only did one of the last three things listed here.) (you’d never even know. it’s like, a regular t-shirt.)
(we also never actually robbed a dunkin donuts.)
(i’ll tell you what: if we did ever rob a store, it’d definitely be whole foods. and i’d rob the sh*t outta their sushi bar.)

what is it with jews and seltzer anyway?

if i have a choice between plain water and seltzer i will always choose seltzer. why is this? i really have no idea. for starters, seltzer doesn’t even have a taste. second (secondly?), it has virtually no advantages to one’s health, only disadvantages, namely gas.

i’ve been thinking about seltzer a lot lately, as my parents very kindly gave me/us a seltzer-maker (a sodastream) for my birthday. well actually, it’s more of a soda-maker (you add flavored/colored powder), but since neither of us really drinks soda, it’s basically a seltzer maker.

we got it a while ago, back in the fall, but only started using it a few weeks ago. i think holly may have forgotten we had it at all. i, on the other hand, was simply scared of the carbon dioxide canister exploding in my face. anyway, it turns out it’s not all that scary (and quite simple to use, i may add). and let me tell you: since then, i have been drinking a lot of seltzer.

as i walk around the house hiccuping wildly proclaiming to holly you know, i probably shouldn’t drink so much seltzer, it’s got me thinking: what the hell’s up with jews and seltzer?

for some reason, there’s an inexplicable link between the jewish people and seltzer. or maybe it’s just jews in the northeast? or tri-state area (ny/nj/ct)? i have no idea. but i’ve met very few people in my life that drink plain (or flavored) seltzer that aren’t jewish. even the word seltzer sounds jewish. like it’s someone’s last name. as in: “honey, who was at synagogue today?” “oh, you know, the usuals: the rosenbergs, the greeblatts, the goldsteins, the seltzers.”

i honestly think there’s a jewish seltzer gene (JSG, if you will). i really do. every jewish household has or has had seltzer in the fridge. and it’s always “seltzer” to us. not “club soda.” it’s seltzer.

sometimes when we go out to a bar, since i’m not much of a drinker, i’ll order a “club soda with lime*” because we’re not in kansas anymore (kansas, of course, being new jersey). but truly, in my mind, i’m the jewish grandma shouting GIMME A SELTZER WITH LIME, DAHLINK. OY VEY DOES YOUR MOTHA KNOW YOU WORK AT A BAR? YOU’RE VERY PRETTY HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT MODELING INSTEAD?

*please note that i won’t be ordering anything with sliced lemons or limes at a bar or restaurant until at least april, as most, if not all, restaurant or bar-sliced citrus have norovirus all over them and, as G-d as my witness, i will do nearly anything to avoid the norovirus. 

the JSG (jewish seltzer gene) makes no sense to me, since jews, by their very nature are a) gassy (ok i made that up but it sounds about right) and b) complainers. we have very sensitive systems and complain about everything. why would we be inexplicably drawn to a beverage that will not only give us gas but compel us to complain to our spouses, friends and family about how gassy we are? it seems all wrong. and yet….we just can’t stop ourselves.

(is it because we’re bad swimmers? an…evolutionary adaptation to protect us in the event of a shipwreck? so we float to safety?)

one of my earliest and fondest memories of my late grandmother is the two of us standing side by side at her apartment’s kitchen counter–yellow formica speckled with gold–as she taught me how to make “orange soda,” my curious five-year-old eyes just barely making it above the counter.

“orange soda” was, of course, just orange juice and seltzer. but oh i adored it. anyway, i have continued to make it ever since (and think of my gram every time i do).

in conclusion (is there a conclusion here?), seltzer does have a taste. it tastes like seltzer! yes, it tastes like bubbles. thousands of teeny tiny bubbles. which beats the hell out of regular water. i’ve also started to make a less carbonated seltzer (two shots of carbon dioxide from the sodastream instead of four) to protect my sensitive jewish system.

p.s. about downton abbey (the subject of my last post)

WHY LADY SYBIL? WHY!!!!!!!!!! she was the nicest one! DAMMIT THIS IS WHY I DON’T WATCH SHOWS LIKE THIS.

also: lord grantham is an idiot! he’s always making the wrong decisions! AND THOMAS IS CREEPIER THAN EVER! WHY CAN’T THEY JUST GET RID OF THAT GUY? HE’S IMPOSSIBLE TO GET RID OF! LIKE A ROACH! HE JUST KEEPS COMING BACK!

did i tell you how holly cut her fingertips off on christmas?

oh, i didn’t? yeah that’s right because i tried to and then i fainted.

warning: if you have problems with blood (like i do) i suggest you stop reading and go watch funny cat videos.

really. right now. do it.

(i know you’re still reading. i can see you.)

(fine. keep reading. but don’t say i didn’t warn you. i’m dizzy and i haven’t even started writing yet. just try not to hit your head on anything on the way down.)

so it was just an average christmas in butler, pennsylvania (or “pee-ay” as the locals say). and by average i actually mean less-than-average. a ray of light in the darkness was holly’s fancy new french au gratin recipe, which she saw on the cooking channel, her second favorite tv channel after bravo.

she decided she’d try it out on christmas day. i should note that holly has a habit of trying out new recipes on holidays, when we’re having visitors, on special occasions, etc. it doesn’t always go so well. but i digress.

this recipe, it’s actually called, get this, pomme de terra a la boulangere, french for “potatoes a la bakery,” which is equally as vague, if not slightly ridiculous. it calls for a lot of thinly sliced potatoes and onions. a whole lot of them. especially onions. so holly packed her oxo brand “v-blade” mandolin slicer and off we went to pee-ay.

at the time, holly had only used this slicer (pictured below) one time. and the entire time i felt myself getting dizzy and paced around the downstairs saying things like babe, we really don’t need julienned beets. i can do without the damn julienned beets just come here so i can hold you.

the slicer features an alarming array of sharp blades, all of which could easily slice off and/or shred one to four of your fingers and/or digits. what i’m saying is: just looking at this thing makes me picture pints of my blood on the floor, which, in turn, gets me light-headed and forces me to frantically search for a hard candy in one of my thousand purses to distract me and raise my blood sugar, which drops in times of severe stress. (hard candies are a jewish thing used to treat all ailments. kind of like windex for skin problems in my big fat greek wedding. don’t ask me, i don’t get it either.)

oxo v-blade mandolin slicer

anyway, holly and i are alone in her parents’ kitchen. the rest of her family is downstairs in the basement hanging out. as she’s slicing onions with the mandolin, i’m peeling potatoes with an ancient peeler repeatedly inquiring about how many i should peel. i should note that holly was not in the best of moods. she really shouldn’t have been using anything sharp and dangerous. (and i probably shouldn’t have been asking her annoying questions.)

i hand her potatoes and she slices them into gorgeous, even, thin slices. things are going well. she double checks the recipe, and it turns out she needs even more onions. she switches from slicing potatoes to slicing onions, reducing the depth of the blade since they’re thinner than the potatoes. this is the move that probably saved her fingers.

she’s in a hurry and grabs the onion and begins slicing it without the guard. if you’re familiar with mandolin slicers, you may already know that the first rule is to use the damn guard. that’s why they make it! the guard (the round thing in the photo above) attaches to whatever you’re slicing, thus protecting your hand and fingers from complete annihilation.

i’m not sure how long it took for her to hit the blade since i’ve already repressed the memory of almost the entire afternoon. all i remember is her suddenly shouting F*CK! F*CK! F*CK! then jumping up and down holding her hand and me shouting WHAT WHAT WHAT!

i went into panic mode immediately, ran to the sink and put on the cold water, shouting PUT YOUR HAND UNDER THE FAUCET, which, of course, didn’t help at all seeing how she had just cut both nail and flesh off her left middle finger, ring finger and pinky. (i had done something similar, in the very same kitchen, over the summer, cutting off a significant chunk of flesh off the right side of my right thumb with a (*gulp*) apple corer, and the first thing holly did for me was put my thumb under cold water. i almost fainted but couldn’t since her little nephews were there, so we played “i spy with my little eye” in order to keep me conscious.)

by the third “F*CK!” her younger sister, heather, thank G-d, ran up from the basement, followed by her parents.

there was a lot of blood, most of which i didn’t see because i had to turn away. as holly’s stepdad (once a cop, always a cop) went through the sliced onions looking for fingertips to put on ice  (she didn’t cut off enough flesh to reattach; all he found was (ugh) fingernails), heather and holly’s mom tended to holly’s bleeding and i ran around in circles panicking.

it was quickly decided holly would go to the emergency room to stop the bleeding and for a tetanus shot. holly, of course, was fairly calm. she was mostly a) in an extreme amount of pain and b) irritated at the thought of getting a tetanus shot–and the fact that she had had the accident at all.

i, of course, was far from calm. this was not the type of health crisis that called for a hard candy.

after handing holly–who was standing near the door waiting to leave–a superfluous amount of paper towels to replace the blood-soaked ones she was holding and promptly running away from her, i ran around the house in tears looking for what she’d need on the way to and at the hospital.

i grabbed her cell phone, a charger and her driver’s license. remembering she hadn’t eaten lunch yet, i also found the rather large square of what could only be described as artesian caramel we purchased at the wexford, pa whole foods the day before. because when you’ve chopped off both nail and flesh in a mandolin slicer the thing you really need most is artesian caramel.

“heather,” i said to her sister, who works in the medical field and who was therefore acting normal, unlike me.

surely i had ramona crazy eyes by this point. the fact that heather did not run from me is a testament to her love for her older sister.

“here’s stuff holly’ll need at the hospital: her cell phone, charger, driver’s license,” i plopped everything down in her open hands.

“and caramel. she hasn’t eaten and her blood sugar’s probably low.”

heather looked at me, blinking. she may have laughed a little, i have no idea, i’ve blocked it out.

then it was time for holly and heather to go to the hospital. i couldn’t hold it together any longer. i grabbed holly around her neck and blubbered something about how much i loved her, i’m so sorry this happened, i’m so worried about you, i love you so much, i love you and i love you and etc. i swear you’d think she was about to go into battle.

her mother may have had to pull me off her. again, i have no idea, i’ve blocked it out.

once they left, i sat down on the couch and sobbed into my hands. it was a crap week and this was the cherry on top. she was bleeding and in pain and i couldn’t do a thing to help but hand her sister a piece of artesian caramel.

her mom told me that it was ok and not to worry, that’d she be fine. susan (her mom) and frank (her stepdad) threw out the onions holly had been slicing, cleaned up the accident scene, finished up the recipe, and went to visit with family downstairs.

i stayed upstairs, immobile with worry. incapable of doing anything else, i picked up my phone and played words with friends, then walked around in circles. honestly, i don’t really remember what i did until they came back. luckily they weren’t gone for long (about an hour).

when i saw holly’s fingers (below), of course i burst into tears again.

holly's fingers after her mandolin accident

as instructed by heather, i met them both at the door with two glasses of guinness –and a rather large shot of whiskey for holly.

soon, more family came in for christmas dinner. despite her cooking injury, i’m pleased to report that almost everyone ate the pommes de terre a boulangere. the ironic thing is that most people thought it was “too onion-y,” so i guess holly didn’t need to cut up all those extra onions after all.

i can say with great certainty that this was our worst christmas ever. however, there is much to be thankful for: her injury could have been much, much worse. if she had been cutting the potatoes, she would have sliced off way more and this would be a much different blog entry.

since christmas, holly has changed her bandages many, many times, and, now that the bleeding and oozing has stopped, i’ve forced myself to take a deeeeeep breath and look her fingers and i gotta say: it’s pretty damn bad. seeing them kind of makes me want to hold her and tell her to never slice or julienne anything ever again.

when she got home from the hospital, i told holly we’d be throwing out the slicer. but frank said it was “operator error” and that there’s nothing wrong with the slicer. it was, in fact, the operator. which was holly. so, despite  my pleas, we brought the damn thing home.

last week, when i was upstairs, and holly was downstairs and therefore unsupervised, she secretly julienned zucchini and yellow squash for a pizza. i got kind of mad that she was using it again, but what can i do? she’s a chef, she needs to express herself through her culinary creations and has vowed to never, ever use the mandolin slicer without the guard again. i, on the other hand, am investigating blade-resistant gloves.

this concludes what i hope will be the bloodiest lunch at 11:30 post ever. if you fainted, you can wake up now. here are two funny captioned hamster pictures to help ease you back into consciousness.

funny hamster picture

funny hamster picture 2

haha. until next time! happy 2013! and if you need to use a mandolin slicer USE THE DAMN GUARD.

p.s. if you live in the baltimore area, be sure to pick up the current issue of baltimore bride, which features my essay, “Four Weddings And a Referendum: A love story about two women and their many weddings,” which chronicles our multiple nuptials (including some of the less-than-perfect things that happened on the way to our first wedding–the BFGW, if you will. kind of like the “dvd extras” you never got to read the first time around.) the entire issue is pretty goshdarn gorgeous and i’m honored to be a part of it. (plus they drew a picture of us!)

holly and i as CARTOONS!

us! as cartoons! (look at my shiny hair! FABULOUS!)