While You are Waiting
A disconsolate woman is waiting for the train. She is cradling a baby.  The train station is empty and it is late at night.
The station attendant sees her there, most miserable weeping and crying. He approaches to offer some comfort. “There, there. What seems to be the trouble?”
“I have to leave my town, may family, and all my friends. They all keep making fun of my baby. I have to take my sweet darling baby to another place to live.”
“I’m so sorry for you. May God see you both to a happier place. Perhaps you would like a nice cup of tea while you are waiting?”
“Yes, that would be nice. You are most kind.”
The station attendant thanked her for the compliment, and added, “I’ll go and get your tea. And, maybe a banana for your monkey?”
Duck Soup
We were at a family picnic in the park and there was a beautiful pond with lots and lots of ducks. At one point we were missing Uncle Otto, and finally we found him at the side of the pond.  

He was dipping bread into the water and eating it. 

"Uncle, what are you doing?!" "I'm enjoying the delicious duck soup." 

We finally became "conscious" that Otto had gone quackers.
More for the file of Jokes Where Someone Walks In:

An old gent comes into a bake shop to buy a loaf of raisin bread. The pretty young thing waiting on him has to climb a small ladder to reach for that item on a high shelf.
When she is poised high aboveher skirt is rather short, and the fellow is enjoying the view—she turns to confirm, “Is it raisin?”

“No, but it tingles a little.”
Thumb in His Food

Breakfast at a cafe the waitress brings the man his coffee. She sets in on the table, but her thumb is right in the coffee. The man is concerned, but says nothing.

Then she brings his scrambled eggs; and, once again, now her thumb is in the eggs.

The man says, “Hey, what’s the deal? You served my coffee with your thumb right in it, and now your thumb is in my eggs?”

She replies, “Yes, sir, I know. I have arthritis in my thumb and the doctor said I should keep it someplace warm.”

 He says, “Try this. Why don’t you put your thumb where the sun don’t shine!”

And, she, “I do, I do. But, only when I'm in the kitchen.”

The Vedantist at the Diner
There’s no zeal like that of the newly converted.
Did you hear the one about the new initiate to Advaita Vedanta?

This fella stops by a local diner for a bite to eat. The waitress comes over to take his order. While she patiently stands there he goes over the menu and at each item he comments, “Not this,” “Not this,” “Not this,” “Not this.”

After he goes through the entire 6 page menu like that, the waitress asks: “So, what’ll it be?”

He responds, “I don’t know.”

She: “Well, if you don’t know, who should?”

He: “Precisely!”
Waiter, Bring Me Coffee Without Cream

Waiter, taste the soup.

In a Jam . . . or, Cake


Here is the lovely Michele T. Fillion with her latest find. Alas, not in the garden (yet!) but from an excellent mail order source.

Oh, did we tell you what that round thing is? No, it's not a watermelon. It's a citron melon. The word is that citron melon is to watermelon what quince is to pear.

Citron melon has the crisp juicy texture and taste of cucumber. It can be eaten as is cut into salads. Also, the main reason why Michele tracked this specimen down in the first place is to use it in canning preserves. Citron melon is right up there on top of the high-in-pectin list. Also, for homemade candied citron for Michele's killer fruitcake. She would grow her own wheat and distill her own rum and breed her own chickens for eggs and refine sorghum sap for syrup; yes, she is one homemade kind of girl.

You can get your own citron melon and/or seeds to grow your own from the Wild Pantry. The nicest people and what a great range of things to purchase.


Careful Not to Offend the Brussels Sprouts

When our friend David Wronski was coming up in his errant youth he attended the top rated University of Detroit High School in Michigan. It is a Jesuit institution situated in what was then a neighborhood of predominantly Jewish families. As one of the ever irreverent Jesuit teachers put it, "The land of the Hebees and the Jebees." This mention is not just a clever bit to mildy shock. It turns out to be an important part of what will ultimately become  if you can hang on through it all an excellent Brussels Sprouts recipe. And, suitable for Kosher cooks.

David spoke about his Biology classes in his senior year at his alma mater. Mr. Jim Lotze was his teacher there. As you may know the Jesuits are a teaching order. At that time Mr. Lotze was at the "Scholastic" level in his training toward the priesthood, and all Scholastics are addressed as "Mr." Well, Mr. Lotze (plain "Lotze" when we guys spoke of him) was not only an inspired and excellent teacher of science. Every day his students would show up for class and the blackboard(s) would be completely filled with amazing colored chalk drawings of what was being covered in that day's lecture.  

Mr. Lotze also taught the Chemistry class. That class was held in a room with amphitheater style seating and multiple blackboards at the front, the kind that could be raised to reveal another chalkboard surface just behind. Now Mr. Lotze took full dramatic advantage of this system of blackboards and was fond of shooting one board quickly upward to reveal the new material behind. Boys being boys, one day someone secreted an obscenity behind one of his boards and the class got quite a laugh when Mr. Lotze stood there with a satisfied grin as he revealed with his usual flourish the amazing new information. The board came down just as quickly.

Mr. Lotze also shared from the breadth of his experience with his students; sometimes far afield of the core curriculum. David remembers during one Chemistry class session being engaged in a lively discussion on the question "What is Art?"; a conversation he (claims) continues to develop to this very day.  It was during the Biology course that David was exposed to Philosophy by way of Paleontology when Mr. Lotze recommended The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.  You should know at the time de Chardin's works were severely criticized by the Catholic Church, some even banned. Those Jesuits! But, in recent times both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have spoken favorably.

The Wikipedia entry for The Phenomenon of Man calls it, "a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos". Pope Benedict "praised Teilhard's idea of the universe as a 'living host'". The idea of a scale of consciousness embedded throughout creation in every blessed thing. Rocks, even. And a progress in evolution to a point of Oneness, de Chardin's "Omega Point". As the qoutes ascribed to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin following this will show, clearly they have stayed with our Mr. Wronski in his own development in this here God's Creation.

Huh, you ask? So what does this have to do with Brussels Sprouts? 

Recently David came upon the first Brussels Sprouts of the season at a nearby Farmers Market. A traditional (usual?) recipe is to pair them with cooked chestnuts. For a big flavor boost, browned lardons of smoked cooked Polish bacon (Boczek Gotowany - Wedzony).

But, David also likes to cook vegetarian style dishes and it occurred to him that Tempeh (a fermented soybean food product, typically sold in 8 ounce packages) would be a good substitute for both the chestnuts and the bacon, texture-wise and flavor too. An idea he could also share with his Kosher cooking friends.

Regarding Tempeh, the late Marcella Hazan, in correspondence with David, made this blunt and direct comment: "Forget about tempeh, please."

The concern, however, owing to David's understanding of the nature of things in the cosmos that there is consciousness in all things  was about shocking or offending those Brussels Sprouts by introducing such a non-traditional accompaniment as ... Tempeh.

It is a delicious alternative and here is the work-around for any fussiness from those easily offended Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts with Tempeh . . .

(One package of Tempeh is enough for four servings when used as an accompanying ingredient.)

First cut the Tempeh loaf in half at the middle, then slice each half (carefully) in half again from the edge to create thinnish slabs. Fry until golden brown on both sides in butter or a vegetable oil. Important: as soon as the tempeh sheets are browned douse them with a good tamari. (What is a "good" tamari? Peruse the aisles of any well stocked Jananese food store and you will see "good" tamari. It also costs more.) Cut the finished tempeh in cubes sized to your liking and combine with steamed buttered Brussels Sprouts. Whole, halved, or chiffonade. (The chiffonade style can also be prepared uncooked into a cole slaw type salad.)

As Mrs. Wronski used to say, "None the wiser." That is the people who are used to always having the chestnuts and bacon. Even the Brussels Sprouts themselves. Not to mention the Tempeh which the addition of Tamari should keep it from any fussing on account of the cultural affinity.  

This little step of adding Tamari to browned Tempeh seems to produce a transformation which, to our palate anyway, competes with that bacon gold standard. If you have a hard time accepting this, then prepare the Tempeh as above and cut into thin strips to add to a spinach and mushroom salad. Oh, Boy! Umani!

Also, the recipe above is a "basis" recipe. You can add garlic and/or browned fresh bread crumbs to bring the fancy.

Now, let's get philosophical . . .

 Quoting Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S. J.

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist and forever will recreate each other.

The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one's self to others.

Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.

In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.

You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.

Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven't committed.

The world is round so that friendship may encircle it.

Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world ... Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis.

Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.

Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come to being.

It doesn't matter if the water is cold or warm if you're going to have to wade through it anyway.

It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.

He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend must have a long head or a very short creed.

The universe as we know it is a joint product of the observer and the observed.

Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.

Source Brainy Quote


Cooky Cat Says . . .

We all know the next line so well we'll not even bother to write it down. "When life hands you lemons . . . "

But, what about when life hands you stale pączki? Oh, you say you don't know from pączki. Pączki are Polish jelly donuts. They can be so good that you could go nuts. Stessing, can be.

Our advisor David D. Wronski knows from pączki [say "poonch-key"], singular "pączek". As a teenage youth he dutifully dragged his young butt over to his uncle Phil's Northtown Bakery in Detroit directly after school on Friday's (and during Summer break, can you believe the dedication and determination of this young man?) and would assist the bakers with all manner of chores long into the night, the last of which was filling jellies and Bavarian creme into the freshly fried pączki before being released from servitude at 6:30 in the morning. (Here's the whole lamentable tale on his blog When I Was a Boy.)

Uncle Phil's pączki were delicious. Dark fried brown on the outside, eggy yellow and puffy on the inside. And, when D.D.W. was at the jelly dispenser, filled with prune butter, raspberry jelly, or Bavarian creme. As in, brimmingly filled. He liked the filling and made sure you got your money's worth. (He recently bought a pączek from a local Polish store and found only the smallest amount of jelly inside. How little, you ask? We'll, to put it bluntly, if you had a spot on your tuxedo shirt the same size you wouldn't give it a second thought.)

But the thing is that pączki like Phil's in olden times had what they call in the trade a short shelf life. Eat it right away, first thing and it is heaven. As the hours pass, you got closer to hell. Exponentially faster.

After 12 hours out of the bakery you got one stale pączek. What to do? French Toast.

That's right, Cooky Cat says, "when life hands you stale pączki, you make French Toast." Especially if you get one with the aforementioned negligible amount of jelly. Even if it is Rose jelly; ever heard of that? Tastes like roses.

So now for the French Toast. At David's home the lovely Michele, who is French by ancestry, makes the world's best French Toast.

World's Best French Toast Recipe . . .

No big deal, really. Just an egg or two, or more (depending on egg size and how many servings you are making) with a little milk or cream, and a generous amount of ground cinnamon. Whisk together then soak your bread / stale pączki in this custard mix, then fry softly in butter until golden brown. With a pączek, of course, you slice it in half to make a top and a bottom.

The trick though is letting the bread and/or pączki soak up lots of the custard. Repeat, let the bread soak up lots of custard. Think, soaking wet.

We have all but given up French Toast in just about any restaurant. Except maybe the B&H Diner in New York City's East Village. Fresh baked-on-premises Challah bread, sliced thick, then dipped liberally in a rich custard. 

By the way, if you want to sample the definitve pączki the Polonia Bakery in Passaic, New Jersey is the pinochle. Their pączki are fried jelly-in, and only one kind: prune butter, powidła in Polish [say "Po-veed-wa"]. Here's a superlative write up for the Polonia Bakery. 

Also, the pączki from Polonia Bakery don't apply to this what to do with stale pączki question. They are liberally coated with an orange zest infused sugar glaze with enough jelly to keep them moist for a long shelf life. But still, like any pączki, best to get 'em while they're hot. 

A shout out to the one and only Michele T. Fillion whose proofreading and editorial oversight make this Kitty look like a Harvard graduate (her term).              


Our friend David Wronski writes . . .

I Laid an Egg at the Farmers Market

This season we have been regular and enthusiastic customers at a local Farmers Market. Not the kind that comes to your suburban town in some vacant lot one day a week. They're fine too, I suppose; but what's with the "boutique" pricing? No, I'm talking about the kind that I remember from my youth where my mother and father would shop on weekends. The kind with a dedicated central location with a permanent roof, open at the sides, with spots for the growers to back up their trucks loaded from which they sold their fruits and vegetables. I even remember tagging along with mom and dad and seeing kittens and the occasional puppy for sale. Think, Old School.

Occasionally on my weekly religious visit to the Paterson, New Jersey Farmers Market I would see something that was pretty big compared to what's usual. Radishes, for one. Beets. Recently arugula with leaves as big as my hand. More than a few times when I saw such over large items I would ask, "And where do you keep the really big ones?" (That's a joke, or an attempt at one, if you must be told.)

It must be that I'm an urban sort and not living the simpler rural life. Unfailingly my question would be met with either a blank stare or, "this is all we got." I knew I had laid an egg when the poker faced farmer lady said to me, "We only have big ones. I don't know what you're talking about." Evidently irony is not everyone's cup of tea.

With jokes, as in all of life, not everyone is your customer.


Cooky Cat Says . . .

"Don't send a microplane to do a grater's job."


Chile Pepper Vodka
The incomparable allure and appeal of vodka infused with fresh Serrano chilies. Great with a chaser of home made dill pickles.

Choose 3-6 perfect red Serrano chilies. Leave whole, but cut a slit down the length of each (what to for getting the spicy goods into the vodka). After the vodka is flavored to the level of your taste the "pickled" peppers can be used in cooking. 

It takes about one week for the chile magic to show up in the vodka. The longer the chilies are left in, the bolder the heat. You can remove the chilies at whatever point, or leave in.