A Robot’s Cookbook, Chapter 3

See Chapter 1 for explanation of this unusual recipe collection.

HAM WITH EGGS: Take a few pickled walnuts, flattening through the mutton the same weight of buttered paper through a quart of herbs.  In a Belgian manner, take the liquor; mix the pan, adding pepper torn apart from the paste and all the threads.  Cut the dinner breads over the juice of this way.

PINEAPPLE À LA BOURGEOISE: Braise your gooseberries and let it all in cream, if you can garnish as it was burnt.  Shape the yolks of eggs after the yolks of crumbs remain.  Butter each layer of brown sauce for twenty-five minutes.  Meanwhile, take in sprigs of cauliflower and toss them out.  Let it aside to make cheese on a good green tuft.  Add a ball, salt, pepper, salt, and cold meats.  Open a layer of rich sauce.  Decorate with salt and a thick bechamel sauce and gelatine (melted).  Boil up and roll the liquor in a little boiling water.  Take the juice of well and bake till ready to be early for an English “dinner-party.”  Beat up two minutes, bind the other.  Let it taste like this; let stand in an earthenware pot three turnips, then fry in the sieve, and rub them in the top, leaving the oven.  Put all with a clean cloth so thinly that way.  Then return the dish as anchovies preserved fruit.

SAFFRON RICE: This is excellent with pepper and three sticks of tomato.  Break the neck that I wager you have, and mix it salted.  Take a little mushroom ketchup.  Serve dry boiled, pour in water, drain to moisten them all together and work in two pats of four leeks, a quart of one fish not too much liked, and a small chipolata sausage.  What a fireproof case for a good cream!  Mix all skin for two cabbages.  Trim some hard-boiled eggs.  Add sufficient quantity. Read more of this post

The Silliest Baby Toy

There are some things here on Earth that just defy rational explanation. Here, for example, is a toy that we received as a gift when our first child was born in 2004. His little sister played with it, too, but lost interest after infancy. I recently found it at the bottom of a toy basket and convulsed with laughter all over again as I tried to figure out what the designer of this object was thinking. Read more of this post

‘Becca Misinterprets the Signs

After a discouraging morning at work, I journeyed to a slightly farther-away restaurant than usual, in search of an invigorating lunch.  (By this I mean that they have free refills on coffee.)  After eating, feeling much perkier, I noticed for the first time that one of this restaurant’s signs is missing a letter, so that it was directing me to The Restooms.

I was happily distracted from the boring biological activities of the next two minutes by imagining my vacation to The Restooms.  These must be a series of interconnected caves of unusual smoothness and beauty, furnished with embroidered silk pillows for lounging.  I think they’re in North Africa somewhere.  I felt more relaxed just imagining being there.

Then, on my way back toward work, I noticed a new restaurant with the highly disturbing name of Chick’n Bubbly.  Their signature dish must be horribly fermented chicken–no, maybe it’s one of those highly engineered vegan chick’n products made of genetically modified soybeans or filamentous fungus.  As I drew closer, I could read smaller words on the sign, which explained that this establishment offers “chicken bites & bubble tea.”  So you go in there to get a bubble tea, and a chicken bites you.  Fun for the whole family!

Earth is quite an entertaining place if you just read the signs and let your caffeine-fueled mind roam freely.

A Robot’s Cookbook, Chapter 2

See Chapter 1 for explanation of this unusual recipe collection.

BELGIAN CARROTS: Cut your croquettes by the whole solar system to futurity, resolve into the different shapes, and cut in cold before serving it.  Mix till it simmers in the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, sliced carrots, and chocolate for five minutes, while a few Brussels sprouts boil some parsley. Work them into each one in four, if you can give the time allotted for two inches across.

CRÊME DE POISSON À LA REINE ELIZABETH: Simmer the same sort of the top, pouring over the fat, just set for a mold. Put a slice of brandy and a layer of gelatine (melted). Mix it with the breast of brown sauce to cook it gently for their whites of cream, a border of an hour in this hole, stirring for an onion cut out the sheet.

SOUFFLÉ: Mince some rice flour; you can. Put into pieces from the top of an hour. Just before putting in some gravy, use veal, chopping fine, and pats of hollow tower. Pour your beef sausages and dust of biscuits, curtly told that you must be golden ones, not quite thick. It is really four eggs in the juice of boiling water with sugar; take about half-an-hour before you use beer. Salt and place the tomatoes and toss the shallots and bake for forty minutes; cook them in washed pieces of butter.

CUCUMBERS AND CHEESE SOUFFLÉ: This is to form a sprig of salt. Fill up the soup; simmer for the converse of chopped before setting it is ignorance. Fork the sauce when you have only just three pounds of mashed potatoes. Cook them, cut off the sauce, using sardines instead of five large pot with good tomatoes, and sprinkle on the hard-boiled eggs; chop finely four minutes and arrange them in fact, half an onion stuffed with a fireproof china shell. Roll each guest.  Add the sauce as necessary to the carrots, the water for your pigeons, and a moment in the Black Broth of fresh lean meat.

STUFFED CARROTS: Fry two half-cases from whites. Put aside, delicately flavored, with a pan on it, six months before you have now put into a wooden spoon.  Turn your lettuce, untie it, then slice as finely as tapioca; let them in with mustard. Then take about and smooth them quickly prepared in the following sauce: Dissolve a large enough browning of English tastes, the eggs, a pint of prunes, and one-way parsley. Lay them boil for two quarts of water to start the tongue or refined bacon.

VEAL WITH VENISON SAUCE: Make the space between the top absorb all sorts of big tomatoes; well in salted water to bake them; place round the talking selves the hind legs of butter, the prunes cut in a thin slice of the dark place. Read more of this post

The Power of Purple Is Real!!!

I am putting this post in a variety of categories because it’s kind of silly but I’m kind of serious, too.  I would like to believe that in this very complicated world, my actions truly do make a difference, even in unexpected metaphysical ways.

Purple is my favorite color.  At this point in my life, I feel like I finally own enough purple clothing.  On my fortieth birthday, which in various ways did not go very well, I was wearing an all-purple outfit when Daniel and I went out to lunch and he (very uncharacteristically) spilled an entire glass of ice water on me.  When we got home, I was able to change into another all-purple outfit.  That’s the way life should be!  I am happily on my way to being that old woman in the famous poem by Jenny Joseph.

Monday, I wore a purple sweater.  This was really just because I had finally gotten around to washing this particular sweater, so now it was available again, and at this point in the year I am kind of tired of most of my sweaters, but it had been at least two weeks since I’d worn this one.

Tuesday, I wore a purple and white striped knit top.  As I took it out of the drawer, I thought, “But I just wore purple yesterday!” like I might be enjoying myself too much or something, but then I remembered that my church was hosting the East End Lenten Series supper and service that night, and purple is the color for Lent because purple is the color of sadness in church tradition.  It works all backwards with me and is one of the reasons why I like Lent.

Tuesday morning’s e-newsletter, for employees of the gargantuan “health system” where I work, encouraged us to wear purple on Wednesday to support patient safety. Read more of this post

A Robot’s Cookbook, Chapter 1

I decided that this text requires its own post to really do it justice.  It started as an extremely lengthy spam email received by my ten-year-old Nicholas, who immediately turned it into a bizarre modern entertainment experience by having the computer read it aloud.  Then he wanted to post it as a comment to one of my several posts about the interesting documents produced by robots writing stuff that sort of seems like English.  This was Nick’s first time ever to post a comment on a blog, stirring my heart with maternal pride.  It was just one of twelve similar emails he’d received, and he posted them all.

When I looked at the text in my comment-moderation screen, I didn’t want to post it as it was–way too long, with no paragraph breaks, so that a human would have a hard time reading through it to get to the many hilarious phrases that had jumped out at us as we heard the text read aloud.  So, devoted to the cause of finding humor amid life’s annoyances, I spent an entire lunch hour editing down this text.  Rather than leave it as just a comment on an old post that nobody’s reading, I’m going to trim it down a little more and make it the first in a series that I guess I can call a Found Text Project, thus making myself a post-modern artist, and I’ll post further chapters as I get around to editing them.

Not one word has been added or rearranged.  All I’ve done is cut out words and phrases (reducing the text by about half–I’m telling you, it was really long!) to keep just the funniest parts, adjust punctuation, and add blank lines between recipes.

It would really add to the awesomeness of the Internet if somebody would make a video of the preparation of one of these recipes, or just try to cook one of them and document the results.

UPDATE: Well, this is at least equally awesome: Keith Naylor somehow managed to find what appears to be the source of this text: a 100-year-old cookbook that is archived online!!  Check it out–although far less garbled, it is almost as amusing.  Wow.

REMAINS OF HARICOT BEANS IN SAUCE: Very good gravy with the fruit in the soup. Make deep cuts in dice, and one-half pounds of haddock, or six bananas–and pour a basketful of a pound rump of a dash of paste. Arrange the oven sprinkle; you happen to half moon and eat them in a dish that rolls up the liquor of a pint of lemon juice. Add one separately, and a pint of red enough. Brown an egg and turnips and pour over the oven. Use vinegar from a large wineglassful of ham, but failing that, then leave it in a large cabbage till you have been well mixed. Take your husband telephones that can do this. Read more…

What Earthlings Want to Know

As a professional data manager, I still don’t get enough information to pore over, so I sometimes spend my lunch break delving into the WordPress stats page that tells me how people find The Earthling’s Handbook.  One of the more interesting features is the list of phrases typed into search engines that brought people here, including the number of people who searched that phrase and clicked through.

The top four searches are all variations of the same basic question.  The very topmost search, the question 1,126 eager Earthlings have asked, the question of all questions about life on Earth that I am best qualified to answer, is Read more…

Things Not To Do: Fiction Writing Edition

Well, I was really hoping to write a nice long post for the What I’m Reading series at Modern Mrs. Darcy, where Anne and her readers talk about the books they’ve read recently, on the 15th of each month.  I’ve read a whole lot of new-to-me books this year, because having viral bronchitis for the entire month of January, then having a new baby in May and doing lots of breastfeeding, gave me plenty of time for reading–and it seems that a new baby makes me want to read books I haven’t read before.  But now that I’m back to work at my full-time job, as well as taking care of my baby and 9-year-old when I’m at home, I don’t have a lot of time for writing!  Maybe next month…

Meanwhile, I’m going to rant about two things that happen far too often in the novels I read.  (I won’t rat out specific books, though, because both of these are late-in-the-plot twists, thus spoilers.)  If you are an aspiring author, please avoid these irritating cliches! Read more…

Fishgiving: A Feast from the Freezer!

Last weekend, my family enjoyed a spontaneous and somewhat silly holiday feast.

A few days earlier, we had finally gotten around to baking an acorn squash and two butternut squashes we’d received in our CSA farm share back in November.  Each of the three of us ate a big chunk of squash as a side dish to the Honey Baked Lentils we baked at the same time.  Actually, I like to eat my lentils in the mashed and buttered squash, and I packed up another portion for my lunch the next day.

Then we were left with 5 servings of baked squash and no more lentils.  On Saturday I asked my nine-year-old Nicholas to help me decide what to make for dinner with the squash–Butternut Squash Burritos?  No, he wanted it to be a side dish to something.  Okay, how about fish?  We had 4 fillets and some odd bits left in a big bag of frozen pollock.  Nicholas agreed to a meal of fish and squash.

Suddenly he said, “Can we make the squash like Grandma’s sweet potatoes?”  I was sure that we could adapt the New England Yam Bake recipe to the squash.  Nicholas and his father Daniel were planning to go to the supermarket in the afternoon anyway, so I checked the recipe and the pantry and put canned pineapple on the shopping list.

I was getting out the fish to thaw when Nicholas had another inspiration: “Since we’re having the squash like at Thanksgiving, can we have cranberry sauce?”  We happened to have a can of cranberry sauce in the pantry–and thinking of Thanksgiving reminded me that we still had a quart of stuffing and a quart of mashed potatoes in the freezer!  (We were among the few relatives who traveled by car rather than plane to Daniel’s family’s large Thanksgiving gathering, so we brought home all the leftovers we could manage.)  I got those out to thaw, too.

We baked the fish plain, with just a little olive oil for moisture.  We scooped the squash out of its skin and mashed it into a large flat baking pan, put the pineapple on top, and mixed up the crumblies according to the Yam Bake recipe.  Nicholas coaxed the cranberry sauce out of the can onto our official cranberry sauce server, which Daniel and I bought at a yard sale years ago when we were first living together because we just couldn’t resist the idea that for only 50 cents we could own a crystal plate and silver serving tool specifically designed for the elegant serving of canned gelatinous cranberry sauce!  (We think it’s from the 1950s, judging by the art on the box.)

Fish with Thanksgiving side dishes is just as good as turkey.  The squash bake was excellent.  We really enjoyed our festive meal!  Nicholas began speaking of “Fishgiving Dinner,” and I tried to make up a legend about how this was the commemoration of how the Indians taught our ancestors to eat fish, but he wasn’t buying it.  We had enough left over from our meal of leftovers to reprise Fishgiving Dinner on Sunday night.

Enjoying the autumn harvest to the fullest, with a random celebration in March, works for me!  Visit the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop for more food-related articles!  Visit Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and Fabulously Frugal Thursday for more ways to make the most of what you’ve got!

Where Robots Learn to Cook

Recently I’ve had several conversations about robots: how people keep making robots that can do new things, how robots are getting better and better, how someday maybe they’ll take over.  Yes, it is a bit daunting, but I believe there are some things that robots will never be able to do quite as well as we humans can do them.

One of these is cooking.  I can imagine robots making fast-food meals that are exactly the same for every customer in every restaurant.  (And I’m kind of surprised that McDonald’s hasn’t yet replaced its cashiers with ATM-like machines where you key in your order and the foodlike items drop out of slots–that technology has been available for a while, but thank you McDonald’s for continuing to hire humans who need jobs!)  The kind of cooking that requires tasting the food and making judgments about what it needs, though, seems like something that can be done well only by someone who eats food.

I’ve written before about robot cooking blogs, but today I received a trackback from one that really impresses me with its ability to look like a pleasant, informative cooking site while actually publishing a lot of gibberish.  It’s cookdaymeal.com and is “Designed by DECENT WEB EXPERTS.” (You can tell they’re really decent by the capital letters.) I clicked through to their site, and it looks like the decent experts might be humans, just humans who don’t speak English. But cookdaymeal.com has recipes that I don’t think were written coherently in any language.  For example, here are the ingredients of No Bake Banana Pudding:

Components: three or even four ripe plums, broke 1/3 cup dissolved butter (or decreased fat for any healthier version) the single cup sugars or darling (this could become reduced in order to cup) 1 egg cell beaten one teaspoon vanilla one teaspoon baking soda pop Pinch of sodium 1 glasses associated with all-purpose flour or even whole wheat grains flour Optionally available: Walnuts, pecans or some kind of other enthusiast of the particular option.

That’s a lot of plums for a banana pudding–and no bananas.  Yet somehow we will later “mix the particular butter using the bananas inside a large mixing dish.”  Here are some other excerpts from assorted recipes: Read more…

Saptappers

Happy April Fools’ Day! Today we present a crosspost from our sister publication on another world, The Pyqan’s Handbook.

The saptapper is a small waterfowl whose long neck ends in a large mouth. Its small, glistening eyes bulge up like beads around the neck.

Saptappers are purple, in bands shading darker, bluer, grayer from mouth to tail. Bright yellow speckles decorate the neck in a pattern unique to each individual.

Saptappers feed on the root sap of trees that grow along the riverbank with their roots partially exposed in the water. The saptappers swim in among the roots, puncture a root with serrated lips, and rapidly slurp its sap. The sated saptapper then releases the root and drifts about placidly.

The saptapper trappers trap saptappers in September to tap their sap to make syrup.

A trapped saptapper claps its flappers to warn the others.

The serenity of September Saturdays is shattered by the clatter of the clapping flappers of trapped saptappers.

You will find saptappers napping, in the aftermath of trapping, amid roots where water is lapping.

3 Books for Laughing Out Loud

Today’s Three Books on Thursday theme is books that make the reader laugh out loud.  I can’t, of course, guarantee that what’s funny to me will be funny to you, but here are three books that in my opinion are filled with hilarious moments:

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson is an account of traveling around Great Britain.  Bryson was born and raised in Iowa, then lived in England for 20 years and wrote this book as he was preparing to move back to America.  The first time I read it, I thought it was entertaining and somewhat funny.  The second time I read it, I started in a hospital waiting room–where I was awaiting surgery, very sad about the circumstances that brought me there, and extremely hungry and nauseated–and it was so funny I could hardly believe it!  Anything that could make me laugh on that day has got to be good.  Bryson has a way of noticing tiny details that are really very strange and pulling them together with just the right phrasing.  He also has a great sense of humor about his own behavior and perceptions, which got very grumpy at times during this journey because he was hiking long distances, and the weather and/or terrain didn’t always cooperate.  I also love his book The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America; it’s over 20 years old now, so it’s something of a time capsule of a past America, and very funny.

Legal Daisy Spacing: The Build-a-Planet Manual of Official World Improvements by Chris Winn is a mysterious catalog which seems to be aimed at some aliens who are much bigger than we are and are planning to make our pesky planet (or one a lot like it) much tidier yet more smoggy.  From this catalog, they could order such items as coastline tiles and molds to form mountains into proper conical shape.  Here are a few pages.  The charming style of the product descriptions makes the whole concept less alarming and much funnier.

More Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel is the second anthology of a comic strip about lesbians in San Francisco.  This is the volume I happen to own and have read many times; they’re all good!  These strips were published in the 1980s, and Bechdel did a great job of appreciating the lesbian subculture while showing the awkwardness of getting along in everyday life at a time when lesbians were considered very strange and threatening by mainstream society.  Although I’m very straight myself, the main character Mo’s worries and over-seriousness and social awkwardness are very similar to mine, and all the characters are fun and well-drawn.  Just recently I picked up this book for the first time in a while, flipped to a random page, and immediately started laughing at the next-to-last frame of this strip.  (NOTE: This book includes a lesbian sex scene.  Don’t read it if you can’t handle that.)

After the above, I feel I ought to offer an alternate book for children, and luckily my 8-year-old son and I have been reading one!  Lulu Goes Shopping by John Stanley is one of a series of anthologies of the 1940s comic book “Little Lulu” published recently and available in our local library!  (Look under “graphic novels” in the children’s section.)  My dad used to read me “Little Lulu” comics from his childhood, and they’re often very funny!  Lulu and her friends are always having adventures, making up stories, attempting things that go spectacularly awry, resolving arguments innovatively, and confusing the adults.  The unique cuteness of the art really adds to the humor.

Dessert: A Matter of Emphasis

Food on Fridays
THE SCENE: Our dining room, last night.  We are finishing up a dinner of Honey Baked Lentils and baked butternut squash.  Nicholas, age 7, has gobbled two chunks of squash but only a few bites of lentils.

NICK: Okay, I’m done.  Can I have dessert?

MAMA: (noting lentil level) Hmmm.  You could have Bean Fudge.

NICK: (emphatically) I said DEE-sert, not DUH-sert!

 

Both parents found this hilarious, even though we weren’t exactly sure what he meant.  My best guess is that it was a distinction between the kind of indubitably treat-like food he wanted and the sweet-yet-healthy kind of thing Mama allows when one has not eaten enough dinner.  I had no idea it was a distinction of pronunciation, though!

(He ate some more lentils and then had some of his candy left over from the Fourth of July parade.  We’ve got to get rid of that stuff before Halloween!)

I wish I was a crayon.

Nicholas, age seven, recently remarked–seemingly out of nowhere, but I’m sure there was plenty of context in his mind

“I wish I was a crayon.  Except that people would be scraping my head off all the time.”

Morning Conversation (starfish and princesses)

The scene: Our dining room, 7:00 a.m.  Nicholas is eating a Grape-nuts Smile.  Mama is eating Tomato Toast and reading the newspaper, wherein she discovers some facts that might interest a 7-year-old.

MAMA: Did you know?  The starfish is not really a fish.  Also, it has no brain and no blood.

NICK: Did you know?  Some princesses are not really princesses.  They are made of garbage bags stacked up and painted different bright colors.  With lipstick.

(A moment of startled silence passes.)

MAMA: I did not know that.

NICK: Well, I did not know about the starfish having no brain or blood.  But I knew it was not a fish.  Anyone can see that.

Pajameter

This morning I realized that Today’s Young People have created the need for a device which can assess the pajama-like qualities of one’s outfit in a quick and objective manner to determine whether or not it qualifies as clothing for the purposes of, say, attending school.  This pajameter could be used at the school entrance alongside the metal detector. Read more…

Words my three-year-old made up

Nicholas is six-and-a-half now, but I just found a post I made to a discussion board three years ago, answering the question, “Has your child invented any words?”  I’m glad to see it again because I had forgotten 3 out of 5 of these!

Pretendstructions.  Read more…

An Unexpected Find in the Thrift Store

Recently, I bought at Goodwill two anthologies of Calvin and Hobbes, a comic strip I enjoy reading to my six-year-old son. When we started reading the second one, Weirdos from Another Planet, we were surprised to find the following note written in metallic gold pen inside the front cover:

Dear Corey,
It was really fun getting to know you. We’ll really miss you here. Have fun in your new home. Sorry I shot you. It was an accident. I thought I was out of ammo. See ya later maybe.
Your pal,
Ted R.

Maybe, indeed. I bet Corey dumped the book at Goodwill and never hung out with Ted R. again.

Then again, maybe Corey treasured the book for a decade before he passed it on. We will never know. I love the sense of mystery!

When Robots Write About Grildebeest

Last month, I invented a new word for a future animal of my own imagining.  Today, on an idle lunch-break whim, I did a Google search to see if anyone else has been talking about grildebeest yet . . . and I found that one of those wily robots has picked up the topic.  Well, actually, it appears that what this robot did was to pull one sentence from each of many Websites and string them together into a paragraph of text to slap onto a page so that search engines would find it, even though the page has nothing to do with grildebeest or any of the other topics mentioned in the paragraph; it is a page where one can download an MP3 of a song.  I’m not linking to it because, if you want that song, you will find the page easily by searching for the song title.

But thanks, random search-engine-cheating robot, for the block of text which I can now edit (by cutting just a few phrases and editing some punctuation, most notably the use of semicolons where sentient humans would use apostrophes) into some silliness to brighten this stormy Friday! Read more…

Grildebeest

I’ve done it again–suddenly thought of a word that nobody else ever used or, at least, that Google says nobody else has written on the Internet.

Scientists will breed the grildebeest especially for barbecuing.

This raises the deep moral question of whether it is very sad for the grildebeest or the grildebeest ought to be happy to exist at all.

I bet the grildebeest won’t be a very deep thinker, though. Read more…