“If you can’t stand the smell, get out of my kitchen.” ~ Kristi

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So, I was visiting with my neighbors last night and the gal, she’s 90 years old and is a complete hoot, asked me if I had ever had any recipes published in a cookbook before.  Had my family been anywhere near the vicinity they would have laughed until they peed themselves, but I simply stared at her dumbfounded for a couple of beats and then said:  “No, A.  I have never, and will never, have any of my recipes published…probably because most are found on the side of the box.”

There are some things I’m pretty good at in this life (divorcing comes to mind 🙄) but cooking isn’t one of them.  In fact…I wonder if there’s a connection there?  Anyhoot, I’ll never forget my first foray into baking something more than chocolate chip cookies. 

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Photo credit: Poshmark

When my first hubby and I were going out, his grandpa was turning 80 and the family was having a shin-dig about 90 miles south of where we lived.  Grandpa’s favorite dessert was lemon meringue pie and I was determined to make this for him to show M just how wonderful a wife I would be if he ever got the inclination to propose (shutty those mouths, peeps 😳).  Ma found a recipe for me; remember, this was before Google, grasshoppers, and there were these things called ‘recipe cards’ that were stored in ‘recipe boxes’ everyone had on their counter.  You might be able to see an example of this in a museum someday.  

I ran into trouble right off the bat.  Ma insisted that the only good pie crust was a home-made pie crust, but after kneading and rolling for an hour, all the while getting flour in every nook and cranny in our kitchen, she came to regret her thought.  And by the way, making my own pie crust is something I will never ever ever do again come hell or high water 🤨.  Then, for some godforsaken reason you had to use ‘egg whites’ and not the whole damn egg when making the ‘lemon’ part of the pie, so I got to learn the art of separating egg whites from the yolks.  This took me about 10 eggs to master, and ma stood by me the entire time giving me the stink eye and getting pissy because eggs were a dime a dozen then and I was on my way to putting us in the poor house.  Anyhoot, that was just the beginning of the afternoon.  I spent another hour mixing up the filling and cooking it without scorching it, while ‘tempering’ the yolks (whatever that means) into the lemon glop I was constantly stirring.  So far, I’d only cried twice, ma and I were still talking (in very loud voices), and I’d only told M 3 times that I hated his guts.

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Photo by FoodInc. and no, my pie did NOT look like this by a long shot!

Then the fun part…the meringue.  Did you know you have to whip and whip and whip this stuff until you want to throw your mixer out the window and never look back?  Did you also know that meringue can weep (hells bells, by this time, I was too 😕)?  Not only did I need to get this as ‘light’ and ‘fluffy’ as humanly possible to impress everyone, I also had to brown it so it would look picture perfect.  I was so scared of doing this after all of that work, I almost puked.  Or, maybe that was because I licked lemon batter with raw eggs in it. Hmmm.

Finally, the pie was done.  The kitchen was totaled, ma told me (in a very snippy voice I might add) that if I ever made one of these son-of-a-bitching pies again she’d personally ‘hurt’ me, and M said that grandpa would love it and this might become an annual thing he’d want me to make.  I wanted to kill him. 

We left for the party and I held that damn pie on my lap for the entire 90 mile ride with the air conditioner on full blast; but the vents were pointed away so the pie wouldn’t get icky and the meringue wouldn’t blow around (BTW, this was in the winter).  There were times on that ride I wanted to shove the pie in M’s face, but the thought of all of my hard work landing on his mug was something I just wasn’t willing to do, despite the temptation.  

So we pull up to the party, I climb out of the car with pie in hand, and totter over to the food table.  Where…wait for it…there were 4 other lemon meringue pies.  Four.  Since his parents were watching, I said with a smile on my face but in a ventriloquist’s voice:  “What the fuck?  Why didn’t you tell me there were going to be other people making this same pie?”  M replied:  “I didn’t check.”  Now, if that’s not grounds for an attack, I truly don’t know what is.  Anyhoot, I got grandpa a piece of MY freaking pie (I had pushed the others to the side and hid them behind the 5 tubs of potato salad 🤨) and he picked up his fork in his sweet, age-spotted, trembly hand and ate a bite.  He said it was great and I waited for him to take another bite, but he pushed it aside.  I asked M, once again under my breath: “What the hell?”  And M said:  “Grandpa can’t eat hardly anything anymore and his taste buds are about gone.”  Go figure.

*Side Note:  Grandpa was truly a sweetie though, and he hugged me after the party and told me I was his favorite grand-daughter in law.  Of course, M and I weren’t married and I was doubtful I’d ever talk to him again, and the only other grandson, M’s brother, was 15.  But I was the favorite! 😊

So obviously, baking is not my thing.  But neither is ‘cooking’.  Hubby 3’s mom  was a GREAT cook, and her meatloaf was the best.  I heard, time and time again, how much R liked it so I was bound and determined to make one even better.  No mother in law was going to out-do me!  I think I must have made dozens of meatloafs, using a different recipe every time, and each one was worse than the last.  I don’t know if it’s a curse or what, but it doesn’t matter what the recipe is, mine are horrible.  When I would tell R we were having meatloaf that night for dinner because I had a new recipe, he would groan (literally) and when he’d come home from work on those evenings, I always thought I smelled a Big Mac on his breath, but who knows.   

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Very similar to what my meat-lump looked like.

Anyway, R finally put his foot down.  My last meatloaf was so bad, he told me: “Kristi, I will leave you if you ever attempt to turn perfectly good ground beef into a loaf again.”  He called my last attempt a ‘meat-lump’ and then this happened:  R gave Dottie, our little dog who has always loved to eat her own poop, a piece.  Dottie went over to the bowl with her backside wagging.  She sniffed it, licked it, her tail dropped and she walked away.  From meat.  Let me rephrase:  MY DOG WHO EATS POOP WOULDN’T EAT MY MEAT- LUMP.  I never tried again.

R is in an outlaw motorcycle club and every time the guys had a big party, us ‘ole ladies’ would cook.  The first time I did this, I was scared to death.  Here I am a prissy professor, and I was going to cook for 50 big, tough looking bikers with names like Snake and Igor.   So, I made pulled pork:  I put a pork butt in a big cooker…mashed it up…and poured BBQ sauce all over it.  When it was time for the party, I put the cooker in R’s van to schlep it to the clubhouse where hungry bikers were awaiting their only ‘meat dish’.

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Photo credit: motorcyclegearhub and this guy looks very much like ‘Killer’

I pulled up and a guy, at least 6’6″ and covered with leather and tattoos, was waiting for the food.  His name was Killer (I’m not lying…you can’t make this stuff up…😳) and I said I could handle getting it (I am woman, hear me roar).  I was shaking because these guys scared me (at first but then I got to know them and they treated me like gold) and I spilled the entire fucking cooker of sticky, BBQ pork in R’s van.  EVERY last bit.  I burst out bawling and Killer hugged me to him (he smelled very yummy…I wonder if he’s still single…or alive…hmmmm…) and said it was OK.  He scraped it up from the van floor (which was filthy since R literally transported Harleys in the back of it) with his hands, which had previously been holding a beer and cigarette, and plopped it back into the cooker.  He winked at me, told me it was our secret, and those guys ate every last bit of it that night.  I think part of my success with this cooking foray was that all of these bikers were either drunk or high.  

So, in answer to my neighbor’s question:  No, I’m not ever ever ever going to be featured in a cookbook.  Ever.  I have a better chance of winning the lottery or meeting Prince Charming than I do that.  However, I did come across a meatloaf recipe the other day…fail proof it said…and if you’re hungry just come on by.  I’m sure it will be a culinary experience you’ll never forget.  

Kristi xoxo

Diaper spelled backwards is REPAID. Go figure.

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So, whenever someone asks a parent about the happiest day in their life they’ll inevitably say it was the day their baby was born (actually, I think more dads say that than moms 🙄 but anyhoot…).  In fact, it’s almost sacrilege for a parent to not say that.  But since I swore to be honest with my peeps, I’m going to admit something to you:  going through 16 hours of back labor and pushing an 8 pound infant out of a hole the size of a walnut was, surprisingly, not the happiest day of my life.  Go figure.

I loved loved loved being pregnant (and no, WE were not both pregnant…I hate it when couples say that.  Unless you have a vajayjay, you are not preggie).  I couldn’t wait to start wearing maternity clothes to show the world my bump (we called it a belly back then…bump sounds so much more posh).  In fact, I started wearing them around my 3rd month and walked with my back arched at a dangerous angle, shirt tucked into my stretchy, paneled pants before having anything to show off at all.  Isn’t it funny how when we’re preggie, we can’t wait to show off our bellies…and right after the birth (and forever there after) we are constantly devising new ways to cover it up again?  🙄

My OB was ok, but didn’t have much warmth or empathy.  For example, at my first appointment he told me and Hubby that I should only gain about 25 pounds.  Okey dokey.  No problemo.  The 2nd appointment showed I had gained the 25 pounds (I was quite proud I had already reached a milestone) and I was told, quite sternly I might add, that the pounds were supposed to be gained over the entire pregnancy.  Thanks for making that clear upfront, doc…like I’m supposed to have a M.D. myself and ‘know’ what he meant.

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Did you know that those greasy danishes with the glob of fruit like goo and white icing are the most delicious things in the world when you are growing a baby?  The BEST.  And did you know the greatest side dish you can have with those is Oreos?  Nothing better.  One day, Hubby came home for lunch and found me sitting on our brown carpeted floor, wearing an XXL t-shirt with his underwear, bawling my eyes out.  I had a sleeve of cookies in front of me and was shoving them into my mouth without stopping to chew.  When he found his voice again, he asked me what the hell was wrong and I said, “I’m getting so fat.”  For some reason, I didn’t make the obvious connection.

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OMG.  I just notices that Lyle looks a LOT like my last boyfriend.

Y’all know that I’m extra emotional and sensitive anyway (thank you bipolar for that nice symptom), and being preggers amped that up a notch.  I got so impassioned over things and Court TV (best channel ever 🤨) didn’t help.  I watched the Menendez trial religiously (what else did I have to do) and swore to Hubby I was going to go to law school and be the attorney to work on their appeals.  These 2 brothers were on trial for shooting their parents to death over alleged (I sound like a lawyer already) abuse and I was sure they were completely innocent.  OK, well come to find out they weren’t…but I still think I’d make a great lawyer with my mood swings and tendency to cry.  I also think the way I personalize anything and believe everything I’m told would also work in my favor.  (I’m going to download an application today).

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I also spent my afternoons watching All My Children.  I prayed (yes prayed 😐)  that I would not go into labor during the time where Erica Kane might leave Travis for his brother Jack who she was madly in love with even though he refused to lie about their affair which caused her to lose custody of her daughter and led her into the arms of Dimitri who was also married and who eventually married Erica and became her 7th hubby and then divorced her which led her right back into the arms of Jack where she started.  I mean, c’mon…I watched this story line for 9 months and knew if I missed a climatic episode, my life would never be the same; there would be a large gaping whole that nothing would fulfill (except YouTube).  Of course I prayed for a healthy baby too and all…but this was Erica Kane!  You know, now that I think about it, am I a nicer version of Erica with just a couple less husbands?  Hmmmmm.

One evening, Hubby wanted to get a movie so I said I would go the video store.  He had his Corvette in the driveway so I told him it would just make sense that I drive it instead of my 1985 Impala (which was also in the driveway)…a car that was often mistaken for an army tank.  He reluctantly handed his keys over and when I got to the store, I forgot to set the parking brake.  I also forgot to put it in gear since I wasn’t used to driving a stick shift.  I was traipsing into the store and some guy started yelling at me.  Yes, I was getting a catcall even when preggie and it made me feel just a bit smug.  Until the yell turned into a blood curdling scream and I looked to see Hubby’s pride and joy (it obviously wasn’t me) start rolling down the slope in the parking lot.  I had my yellow, Dollar General flip-flops on (the only ‘shoes’ I could wear) and started running while holding my belly to save it…all while 8 months pregnant and as big as a house.  I was successful, never told Hubby about it even though he asked why I was so sweaty and winded from just driving to get a movie, and was never allowed to drive the damn car again (I think Hubby was either more insightful than I gave him credit for or someone in our small town snitched).  Side note:  this beeeeeuuuuutttttiiiiiful apple red Stingray is now my son’s and is housed in my garage.  However, for some reason, O does not leave his keys in a place where I can get to them easily.  Or at all.  Go figure. 🤔

From 5 months on, ma would call me everyday to see if I had packed my bag yet and was ready for the hospital.  To get her off the phone so I could see what Erica was wearing to yet another formal dinner, I lied and said yes (sorry ma, it’s the only lie I ever told you…I swear 😳).  Every night, Hubby would ask me if I had packed my bag yet and was ready for the hospital and I lied and said yes.  Actually, it just seemed like a hell of a lot of trouble to pack a bag for having a baby which is something that some women in world do in a field.  When Hubby asked to see it, I’d mumble something unintelligible and he knew better to question me since I would either start bawling or stomp off in a huff for him not believing I’d packed it…which of course, I hadn’t.

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My favorite place to eat from 6 months on was a place called “Sirloin Stockade”.  It was one of those places where they had a buffet with hot dishes on it as well as a salad bar.  It was actually my favorite place because it was the only place Hubby would take me since I was getting pretty expensive to feed.  Anyhoot, we were having a late dinner one night and we were the only ones left in the place.  The servers knew us by then and instead of them having to watch me get my big belly out of my chair so I could totter over to get yet another plateful of food, they said that since it was the night the food would be tossed away so they could start fresh the next day, I could save myself some steps (it’s good to know that I was basically eating leftovers meant for the garbage) .  Two of the busboys scooted a chair up to the buffet, helped me into it (Hubby was eating his 8oz steak and watching agog to see what was going to happen next) and let me eat directly from the buffet itself.  Good Lord in heaven, please let it be like that when I get up there.

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One night, Hubby was feeling generous and took me to a fancy Chinese restaurant.  I ordered the platter for 3 which was 3 full servings of General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour chicken, and chicken and brocolli.  The Chinese server insisted that this was a dish meant for a group and not just 1 person.  His english was broken and I just couldn’t help him understand that when you’re pregnant, you’re eating for 3.  Anyhoot, I licked the platter clean, gave a nice juicy belch which is acceptable when you’re preggie, and asked Hubby if we were getting ice cream on the way home.  I’ve never seen a look of such stupefaction on anyone’s face before.

About 4 a.m. the next day, I awoke to a puddle in the bed (note:  if you want to go into labor, eat huge amounts of fried Chinese food) and while I was trying to get dressed, Hubby was asking me where my packed bag was since this was IT.  I yelled at him that I didn’t know…my water was breaking for fuck sakes.  He yelled louder and said “KRISTI, IS IT IN THE CLOSET?” as if I was hard of hearing and English was my 2nd language.  So I screamed back and said, “B…FOR FUCK SAKES, I’M IN FUCKING LABOR.  GET ME TO THE FUCKING HOSPITAL.  NOW.”  We left…without a bag.

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Fast forward 16 hours later (yes, 16 my sweet peeps…and no, my son has yet to thank me) and I was told to start pushing my baby out.  I said, “No.”  Doc said, “Kristi, you need to start pushing,”  And very sweetly, I said “No.”  Doc said, “Kristi, if you don’t start pushing you are not going to have your baby.”  I said, “OK.”  Finally, Hubby said, “For the love of Christ, push him out, I’m tired and need sleep.”  Gee…that was great motivation.  So eventually I started pushing and an hour later out popped my O.  It was just bliss…like you see in the movies.  I was puking over the side rail at the same time I was peeing and pooping and bleeding and expelling vast quantities of juices in the bed all while O screamed like a banshee and Hubby was trotting around like he had just created the universe. 🙄 Yes, B…you did all the work.

So, having O wasn’t the happiest day in my life.  It was a painful, sweaty, painful, difficult, painful, scary, painful, horrifying day that I wanted to go through hypnosis to forget.  But, just so you don’t think I’m a cold-hearted “Mommie Dearest” mom I will say this:  everyday after that I spend with my son is the happiest day of my life.

Kristi xoxo