Juicero delenda est

Friends, it has come to my attention that you have no idea what to do with your money.

First, you went and spent $400 on something they openly and deliberately called a “Juicero.” I know that names aren’t everything, and we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Heck, I can remember when Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific was a product that normal people bought without shame. But when it’s a high end item that was in development for ten years, with millions of dollars in investment, for which they almost certainly employed a team of marketing and creative types to . . . you know, I once met a sedevacantist priest named Father Pulvermacher. I think that would have been a better name than “Juicero.” So that’s the first thing.

Second, I gather that the Juicero, or The Pulvermacher, if you will, is some kind of counter-top device that allows you to ingest the juice of fruits and vegetables in your very home, if you can imagine such a thing.

Previously, when we were hoping to have the liquid aspect of plant products find its way into our mouths, we would be all, “Oh! Ah! Here is an apple, and here is my mouth, but I simply cannot work through the logistics! Help me, Gwyneth Paltrow! You’re our only hope.”

But Gwyneth can’t always pencil you in, so maybe you would go ahead and, in a juice-deprived panic, buy some kind of peasant-style juicer, like at Target or something, which inevitably results in what La Goopessa terms a “nightmare of clean-up.”

Now, when I say “nightmare of clean-up,” I’m usually thinking more in terms of shopping for a new couch slipcover while muttering, “And that’s why we don’t keep prunes in this house.” But I think Gwyneth meant that Pilar, who is in charge of the west end of the kitchen, is a little put out over all the little bits that can’t go in the dishwasher.

So anyway, this Juicero solves all of your problems that you are pretending you have by delivering some kind of loathsome pouches of chopped-up fruits and vegetables. They are organic, non-GMO, non-pasteurized, and still lightly dewed with the sweat of Pilar’s nephew, who is nine and someday hopes to find out what those strawberries he picks for eleven hours actually taste like.

You ask your Juicero to open wide (it only speaks Esperanto at present, but the next gen will be more flexible) and drop the bag in and then you use the pinky finger of your left hand to touch the air next to a button, or something, and then guess what?

Juice comes out.

I know.

Truly, this is a century of marvels. The Juicero contains four hundred custom parts, a scanner, and a microprocessor, and it is, of course, also wifi enabled. It is very, very important to have very local fruit brought directly to your home so that you can then leave that home and remotely command it to make local juice, so when you get home . . .

No, Pilar’s face doesn’t just look like that. She really does hate you.

And think, you’ve only spent $400 on this astonishing machine, plus let’s say $7 on a single-serving produce pack called “Root Renewal+” which “may help keep inflammation at bay.”

Now, when I want to keep inflammation at bay, I put my feet up on a laundry basket while I drink my bottom shelf g-and-flat-t with the restorative juice of a quarter of a lime, if they had any at Aldi. If I still feel puffy after this rigorous treatment, I dash off an angry email to that bastard Fr. Pulvermacher. Lay off the Jews, man. And down goes the inflammation! Or it may. The FDA has not evaluated this statement.

So a few of the guys who didn’t know about my regimen were pretty happy with their Juiceros . . . until they discovered that you could actually skip the Juicero part. You could just go ahead and squeeze the pouches with your very own paddy paws, and juice would come out of them. And you really didn’t need to buy a machine at all, because you already have a machine, called a “hand.”

And this aggression will not stand, man.

What the next step is, I do not know. Probably a march on Washington. Those seem popular. And when you get home, you can very easily make yourself some nice, refreshing juice.

Or, you know what? You’ve been marching all day. Get Pilar to do it.

***
Image: Baldassare Franceschini [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When Ella Fitzgerald had no one to watch over her

Ella Fitzgerald’s voice means warmth, joy, careless brilliance, strength wrapped in velvet. But her early life was cold, rough, harsh.

It’s Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday today, and on NPR’s Morning Edition, Susan Stamberg reports that Fitzgerald, born poor, was orphaned at 15. Her surviving stepfather was hard on her, and she lived for a time with an aunt, but then started skipping school, eventually living on the streets.

“She was on the streets of Harlem dancing for tips” [Smithsonian Curator of American Music John] Hasse says.

She earned more pennies as a lookout for cops outside a brothel. At one point, she was arrested for truancy and sent to a reform school, where she was regularly beaten. So she ran away — this awkward, gawky girl with skinny legs and old, cast-off boots — with no money, living on the streets and sleeping where she could.

Around this time, Fitzgerald used to say, she first began to sing on stage. She was 17, and found herself terrified in front of a brutal audience at Amatuer Night at the Apollo. She had been planning to dance, but her legs shook too badly; so instead, she sang. And everyone loved it, so she kept on singing. At least that’s the way she tells it.

Who can describe her voice? Instead of talking about it, let’s listen. The velvety ballads are my favorites. Here’s one of the greatest:

Oh, how I need. What a miracle of vocal engineering that she goes all high and hoarse without losing an ounce of power. Happy birthday, you beautiful woman. Someone I’d really like to know.

Image: Ella in 1940, photo by Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez did not die today.

Instead, it was his illegitimate grand nephew, Gabriel Garcia Garcia Marquez, who was eerily like him, except where the one was merely careless, the other was cruel — or is it the other way around, in the end?

Marquez (the other one), who was born at some point when the sky wept and was simultaneously full of turtledoves doing something unusual, spoke three languages by the time he was eleven days old, and had the penis of a forty-year-old gypsy. Nobody was sure what to do about this, but the nuns thought it was hilarious.

His wet nurse, a jungle woman, used to pass the steamy hours cracking nuts with her toes and teaching him mystical acrostics, until his overbearing father caught wind of it and sent the tyke off to the village priest to be instructed in Latin, brutality, and alchemy; but somehow, at age fifteen, he came home instead a man, a man in sweltering pants who knew how to dance in a way that made women’s hair grow long and savage at the mere sight of him.

Only one woman was immune to his charms, and this made him hunger after her with an unreasoning hunger. He thought only of her, in and out of days, through through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are, and also a shitload of prostitutes and barely pubescent girls that he banged and sometimes even loved, but honest to goodness, the whole time, he was only thinking of her. Those sweltering pants.

On the day he didn’t die, the crows wept. The tobacco leaves shivered in the windless field. The bells tolled at midnight, and no one knew why, but when they tolled, they smelled like jasmine. Ai, did they smell like jasmine. The woman smelled it through her veil, and she knew it was time to open that letter at last. A letter more stamp than envelope, having travelled swelteringly around six continents and back in search of her, who was living in his woodshed the whole time.

For she! She was that jungle woman. And now he had been dead, and it was too late, and had been for some time.

If he had died on this day, the children, all of whom were named “Gabo” or “Marky Mark” would have playfully mutilated his once powerful now impotent corpse. Instead, he died back in 2014, but people on Facebook think it just happened and are sad about it all over again. Which is just how he would have wanted it.

Marquez and his illegitimate grand nephew Marquez are survived by their mutual half-brother, who has the same name, but a different mustache.

***

Garbriel Garcia Marquez photo by Ver en vivo En Directo via Flickr (Creative Commons)

What’s for supper? Vol. 78: Hallelujah! Let’s eat!

Hooray, a Friday food post again! I actually spent last Friday, Good Friday, cooking and not tasting. IT WAS HARD. But I was way behind on Passover cooking, so that’s how it turned out.

Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY 

Holy Saturday is when we have our Passover seder. On the menu for the feast:
Chicken soup with matzo balls

The soup turned out much buttier than usual; no idea why. It’s supposed to be on the clear side, and “golden” (i.e. shimmering with fat). Tasted great, though.

Chopped liver


Gefilte fish (store bought) with horseradish


Charoset


Spinach pie


and Garlic cinnamon chicken and
A tiny bit of roast lamb (it hadn’t gone on sale yet!)

You can find recipes for all of the foods above in this post.

The only thing I intentionally made different this year was to cook the spinach pies in mini muffin tins, rather than in a pie plate. I just don’t think you should hear “pie” and then taste spinach and onions. (For some reason “spinach muffin” doesn’t trouble me.) I thought they were cute and tasty this way, and will make them this way again.

I didn’t have a meat grinder this year (but am eyeing this attachment for my Kitchen Aid), so I made the four pounds of chopped liver in small batches in the blender. This was not a gratifying experience. It wasn’t velvety smooth, but still delicious.

Dessert:
Chocolate walnut cake with apricot
Lemon sponge cake
Four kinds of macaroons (store bought)
Chocolate-covered jelly rings
Chocolate-covered halvah (sesame candy)
Sesame crunch candies
Pistachios and almonds
Chocolate caramel matzoh

I moaned and groaned over not having any fruit slice candy this year, but we survived.
Both cakes were from new recipes this year. The chocolate one had a nice flavor, but it was squashier than I would like. Pretty, though.


The lemon one also tasted fine, but man, it was dense. No sponge about it. I just don’t have a light touch with baking, and baking without flour or yeast is just asking for some really compact treats! I think I used the recipe on the side of the potato starch can.

***

SUNDAY
Seder leftovers!

And boy, there were plenty.  And of course hard boiled eggs, and a world of Easter candy.

***

MONDAY
Matzo brei, salami, dill pickles, grapes

Matzo brei is a weird little recipe that everyone should know. You take a sheet of matzo, break it into chunks in a bowl, and pour hot water over it. Let it sit for thirty seconds or so, and then press the water out. Then beat up two eggs, stir in the drained matzo, and fry the mixture up in some hot oil, turning once, until the edges are crisp.

You can serve it with jelly, you can serve it with salt and pepper and fried onions, whatever. It’s SO GOOD. Worth venturing into the Jewby aisle to get yourself a box of two of matzo, believe me.

***

TUESDAY
Beef banh mi

Remember when I asked how to make Easter last for fifty days? You could do worse than making a lot of banh mi, especially if you just happen to have a lot of leftover chopped liver in the house. These sandwiches were out of this world.

In the morning, I sliced up some carrots as thin as I could, then put them in a jar to pickle with some white vinegar, a little water, and some sugar.

Then I sliced the meat (I used London broil) pretty thin and put it in a bag to marinate, using this recipe. I let it go for about six hours. My husband cooked up the meat — well, first he ran out for more bread, because I burned the first batch while toasting it. Then he toasted more bread, and then he cooked up the meat in a single layer on a roasting pan under a hot broiler, just enough to blacken the edges a tiny bit.

So, the smell. This marinade calls for garlic, shallots, and fish sauce. Benny spent the dinner hour hiding under a fleece Our Lady of Guadalupe blanket and weeping because the house smelled “wike dog frow up.” Which, well, she wasn’t wrong, especially early in the cooking. But it tasted so good.

Toasted rolls with mayonnaise, lots of cilantro, pickled carrots, sliced cucumbers, the meat, and then chopped liver. Oh, my stars. The sweet, savory meat frolicking with the snappy, sour carrots, and the strong, bitey liver cuddling up to the cool cucumbers and cilantro. It was so good, it was almost indecent.

***

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, chips

I spent the afternoon sorting winter clothes to be stored away. Four hours from start to finish:

so the kids made hot dogs.

***

THURSDAY
Instant pot mac and cheese

I made a triple recipe of this in my Instant Pot (associates link). The hot sauce and mustard give it a good flavor. This is miles easier and faster than cooking the pasta, cooking the sauce, and then mixing them together and baking it. Also, this time, I read the directions more carefully and did not shoot a geyser of yellow cheese at the ceiling through the steam vent.

***

FRIDAY
Roast lamb, challah, maybe asparagus if I remember to get some

Today is Friday within the octave of Easter, or, as it’s traditionally known, Meatster Friday. Leg of lamb was at the astonishing price of $2.99 a pound, so I got a niiiiiice big one. Gonna stud it with slivered garlic and rosemary, slather it with white wine and honey, and roast it.

Gonna try out this challah recipe. Here’s a pic of the last time I made challah:

And now I’m running out to buy some yeast. Benny says, “Yeast makes everything rise! God thought of it! He thought of everything! He made friends and family! He made sisters and brothers! And cousins! Well . . . I’m not so sure about cousins.”

Sorry, cousins. I don’t know how you earned a place in Benny’s theodicy, but there it is.
Happy Easter! Happy Meatster! He is risen! Let’s eat.

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Hey, faithful Catholics, why are YOU here?

This plea goes for sinners whose souls are heavy with old-fashioned sins of the flesh, and also for sinners whose souls are heavy with the even older sins of pride and presumption.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly here.

The speaker you need is Simcha J. Fisher!

Planning a conference, retreat, lecture series, or any other event that needs a speaker? I’m pretty sure you’re looking for me, and I have some open spots on my calendar.

I have several years of experience, and have given talks at every kind of event, from enormous conferences drawing audiences in the thousands, to a gathering of a dozen ladies in someone’s living room, to the monthly meetings of various Legatus chapters, to pro-life fundraisers, to the World Meeting of Families. I’ve spoken in Portland, Wichita, Syracuse, and everywhere in between, and I’d love to come to your city next.

My speeches are funny, passionate, and sincere, and they aim to entertain you, make you think, and come away with a practical plan. Some recent popular talks include:

Your Family Is an Icon
What did I learn from having a photographer follow our family around, documenting large family life? My family — and yours too — is an icon, a beautiful and powerful evangelical tool to bring people closer to God. And it is so because of its imperfections, not despite them.

Beautiful Stranger: Making Contact with the Mother of God Mary, to me, was Our Lady of Maybelline: pretty, demure, pristine — and nothing to do with messy, slobby, crabby me. One terrible year, everything fell apart, and I abruptly came face to face with the actual Mother of God. Here’s what happened.

Swimming in the Dark: Spreading the Good News When You’re Feeling So Bad Pope Francis has made it clear that evangelization is an obligation, not an option. But what if we’re not feeling joyful right now? What if we’re shy, or depressed, or suffering? How do people like us evangelize?

Not what you’re looking for? I have several more talks prepared, or I’d be happy to tailor one to your audience.

Drop me a line at simchafisher@gmail.com and let’s see what we can work out. And spread the word!

Fr. Zosima on active love

Time to re-read The Brothers Karamazov again, don’t you think? Any time someone asks me to name a book that changed my life, Brothers K is top of the list.

I linked to the Constance Garnett translation, since that’s the one I first encountered in college. I’m open to suggestions! See The Translation Wars for a fascinating essay on various translators and how they came to approach Dostoevsky in the way they did.

And now for the passage I wanted to share, where the holy Fr. Zosima counsels a woman in despair over her lack of spiritual progress. He recounts a conversation with a famous doctor:

‘I love mankind,’ [the doctor] said, ‘but I marvel at myself:  the more  I love mankind in general, the less I love human beings in particular, separately, that is, as individual persons.  In my dreams,’ he said, ‘I would often arrive at fervent plans of devotion to mankind and might very possibly have gone to the Cross for human beings, had that been suddenly required of me, and yet I am unable to spend two days in the same room with someone else, and this I know from experience.  No sooner is that someone else close to me than her personality crushes my self-esteem and hampers my freedom.  In the space of a day and a night I am capable of coming to hate even the best of human beings:  one because he takes too long over dinner, another because he has a cold and is perpetually blowing his nose.  I become the enemy of others,’ he said, ‘very nearly as soon as they come into contact with me.  To compensate for this, however, it has always happened that the more I have hated human beings in particular, the more ardent has become my love for mankind in general.’

‘But then what is to be done?  What is to be done in such a case?  Is one to give oneself up to despair?’

[and Fr. Zosima responds:]  No, for it sufficient that you grieve over it.  Do what you are able, and it will be taken into consideration.  In your case, much of the work has already been done, for you have been able to understand yourself so deeply and sincerely!  If, however, you have spoken so sincerely to me now only in order to receive the kind of praise I have just given you for your truthfulness, then you will, of course, get nowhere in your heroic attempts at active love; it will all merely remain in your dreams, and the whole of your life will flit by like a wraith.  You will also, of course, forget about the life to come, and you will end by somehow acquiring a kind of calm.

[…]

Never be daunted by your own lack of courage in the attainment of love, nor be over-daunted even by your bad actions in this regard. I regret I can say nothing more cheerful to you, for in comparison to fanciful love, active love is a cruel and frightening thing. Fanciful love thirsts for the quick deed, swiftly accomplished, and that everyone should gaze upon it. In such cases the point really is reached where people are even willing to give their lives just as long as the whole thing does not last an eternity but is swiftly achieved, as on the stage, and as long as everyone is watching and praising. Active love, on the other hand, involves work and self-mastery, and for some it may even becomes a whole science. But I prophesy to you that at the very moment you behold with horror that in spite of all your efforts, not only have you failed to move towards your goal, but even seem to have grown more remote from it – at that very moment, I prophesy to you, you will suddenly reach that goal and discern clearly above you the miracle-working power of the Lord, who has loved you all along and has all along been mysteriously guiding you.

 

How do you keep Easter going for fifty days?

Happy Easter! Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Remember, the Church is not like Walmart. We don’t celebrate a holiday for a day and then tear everything down the very next day as if it never happened. The Easter season lasts for fifty days, until Pentecost.

So, how do we observe Easter?

I realize that some of you live in bizarro land, and are already going swimming and using the AC and stuff; but here in the northeast, Easter comes as spring is just getting a foothold. The birds are newly hysterical with love, the streams are exuberantly throwing off their last loads of ice and rushing to meet each other, and there’s an almost audible glow around every bush and tree as the hard, closed buds finally burst into the first fresh greens of the year.

So I do feel like we’re celebrating Easter, resurrection, refreshment, renewal, and general hopefulness and fresh starts as we do the things that naturally go with the seasons: putting away boots, mittens, and snowpants, sweeping mud out of corners, clearing out flower beds, cleaning up the yard, planting window boxes, and finally opening the windows again. The hammock and trampoline are back in service.

There is, of course, also tons of special food in the house, and I bought a truly insane amount of matzoh, which we’ll turn into matzo brei.

But I’d love to add some overtly religious practices into our family routine, to set Easter apart from the rest of the year. What has worked in your family? A special prayer you only say during this season? Maybe candles at dinner? Maybe a song added to evening prayers? Music during meals? This year, we read the Easter homily by St. John Chrysostom on Easter day, and followed the orthodox tradition of having the kids shout back “He is angered!” every time that phrase came up, and then “He is risen!” every time that phrase came up. They loved it, but I think it would be less spectacular if we did it more than once a year.

Any ideas? Simple is good!

***
Image: Norway maple bud via Max Pixel

 

And why are you at Mass?

The elderly gentleman thinks Pope Francis is some kind of pinko hippie, and there hasn’t been a real Pope in Rome since Giuseppe Siri, and he will tell you alllllll about it if he can get you cornered in the foyer.

The nun next to him is headed to a pro-choice rally after Mass, and is chilling some champagne for the day when women priests will finally be approved.

So … why are they at Mass?

Because Jesus is here, and He’s giving Himself away.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly here.

***

Image: Christ revealed in the breaking of the bread, photo by Ted via Flickr (Creative Commons)