Human Cheese?

I at first thought that the vague wonderment that crossed my mind a few months ago was simply a silly idea that happened to pop into my head for unknown reasons. It crossed my mind that human milk, being no more or less biological and nutritious than the liquid sustenance produced by other forms of mammalian life for their young, could be manipulated in similar ways to manufacture other products. Most specifically I pondered whether or not human milk could be used to make cheese.

Don’t judge me. I had no intentions of acting on my ruminations and was actually a little disturbed that I had ruminated about it in the first place. Still, I happened to mention it to some co-workers. I enjoy the looks on their faces when I spout off randomly about the “bizarre” things I think about. On this particular occasion the ploy backfired and a co-worker, in an attempt to bewilder me as she had been bewildered, alleged to have found online a restaurant that served cheese made from human milk. It seemed perhaps the strange thought I’d had may be more than just the wonderings of a mind bored with the mundane.

I began to look into it a little further and found a few accounts of cheese and even ice cream having been produced from human milk. I didn’t research it enough to be able to confirm that any of these were true accounts. I didn’t read any reviews on taste or texture or any such things as that. All I did was confirm that the thought didn’t originate with me. Afterwards I began to develop some serious concerns.

Let’s assume that there exists a restaurant that serves human cheese. The first concern of such an establishment is to locate a lactating woman willing to sell her milk. Such a request must be extremely meticulously worded, especially in our country’s prevalent politically correct environment. Once such a request is satisfactorily devised and successfully deployed, many more concerns come into play. Chief among these being how do you compensate someone for such an odd and certainly uncomfortable endeavor. When the issue of pay is settled, many strictly culinary concerns come into play. How many years must be devoted to discovering how the diet of the woman providing the milk affects the taste of the cheese? What wine pairs well with it? How much makes up a serving? Is it a small dab on the side of a main course or is it in itself a dish? How much time and money are you willing to spend to answer these questions?

Then we get to the human aspect of it. Many people like knowing where their food comes from. Many restaurants use locally produced meat and vegetables and this goes a long way in building trust between eating establishments and eaters concerned about the quality of food they’re served. Would this not be much more the case when their food is made from a human by-product? How is this accomplished? Would the woman providing the milk be required to include her medical records with the menu? Would she personally greet those that had ordered her dish and inquire as to whether or not they are enjoying her cheese? And what diner wouldn’t experience some discomfort when confronted with such an inquiry?

I suppose an easier way to go about it would be to get a research grant and then develop some sort of human cheese in a spray canister. All personal aspects are thereby removed from the end recipient making it more likely that a higher number of people will try the product. Milk would also be easier to come by, I assume. It seems to me a woman might be more willing to donate some milk for science than to make a career of milking herself for a restaurant.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…be adventurous when you eat…to an extent you are comfortable with.

A don’t…get a research grant. Please. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was my way of ridiculing the idea of using human milk for anything other than it’s intended purpose of nourishing babies.

Living Jack-O-Lanterns; In Answer to Why I Say Why Not.

The picture above is of a budding pumpkin. It is the first to have appeared in my garden and is of a variety that boasts the ability to grow to upwards of half a ton if properly cultivated. I don’t hold any misconceptions about my first attempt being successful at growing it to maximum size, but my research shows that this variety of pumpkin consistently produces fruits that weigh a few hundred pounds. If I can successfully grow just an average pumpkin of this variety, which I now realize I haven’t mentioned is called Dill’s Atlantic Giant, it should be sufficient to satisfy my goals.

Goal one is to make a living Jack-O-Lantern. I’ll hollow it, carve it, coat the inside with something to control the slime factor, then place my kids inside with flashlights. Not only will I have the first ever (as far as I’m aware, anyway) living Jack-O-Lantern with the potential for responsive lighting, I’ll also have the first Jack-O-Lantern that I know of with intuitive sound effects. I think that the kids will enjoy this greatly. They can pop out and scare people and just have a generally entertaining Halloween experience.

Goal two is to figure out what to do with the pumpkin shell after the holiday. I need an idea that doesn’t involve carrying it anywhere. So far I’ve entertained a few ideas for using it as a planter. I could either coat it with some sort of resin and attempt to make a permanent pot or just fill it with dirt and let it serve as a planter that will also provide some food to the plant I plant in it as it rots away.

Perhaps, if my neighbors don’t begin to complain, I can turn it into some sort of time lapse art project. Or it could serve as a combination bird bath/street side urinal for the homeless. This is the least desirable of all, so I hope one of the other ideas will work.

I likely wont have to worry about any of this at all because my green thumb is more brown with a greenish tinge.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…try new things even if you expect only very limited success.

A don’t…pee in my pumpkin if I am somehow successful.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed; A Story in Seven Parts

Part 5

The One Activity

If you’ve read the last few posts under this title, you’ll know that I recently took my wife on a birthday weekend away. You’ll also know that I planned, and antagonized my wife about, a secret activity. The One Activity. The reason I chose Wichita KS in the first place.

Now let’s get on with wondering why my wife didn’t kill me. If you’ve been following the story, prepare for fulfillment! After we left the haberdashery type establishment we decided that since upon the morrow we’d be off home, we should go ahead and participate in The One Activity. Initially I planned to complete it after dark, but we knew that darkness had recently been falling rather late. Also, if we’d sat in our hotel room to wait out the daylight we would have ended up engaged in some basic cable syndicated drollery and our joints would’ve been to weary to engage on any sort of trek by the time the sun had finally descended below the horizon. So I surreptitiously googled our destination and we made our way through the alien urban terrain. A few moments later we were sitting in a deserted parking lot and I was assuring her that there was nothing to be afraid of. It didn’t take long to build up our courage. I think we both realized that we wanted to be in our room lost in some basic cable syndicated drollery and the sooner we got out of the car, the sooner that would happen.

As we neared the edge of the parking lot we found that two paths diverged before us. An upper path cut along the edge of a steep embankment. To the left, a concrete staircase descended down to the waterfront of some river whose name I never bothered to learn. Being idiots, we chose the lower path. We passed a few joggers and some folks glued to their cell phones. It felt as though we had walked quite a while and I was too wrapped up in worrying that we had overlooked our destination or that it simply didn’t exist when suddenly we rounded a slight curve. The sidewalk forked off to the right into a bit of a non-aquatic bay at the back of which I saw a metal grate set into the embankment that stood well above my head. Suspecting this to be the place, I advanced to the grate and looked inside. Sure enough, a bit of what we sought was visible with a properly craned neck. I clapped my hands in excitement and then presented the idea that we traverse the steep hillock to get a top-down view. My wife looked more perturbed than enthused, but we climbed up anyway and looked down upon the thing we had come to see.

I’ll digress for a moment to state that marriage is a scary thing. Even if you know someone very well, pledging the remainder of your days to them is always a gamble and you can never be sure that your spouse is the right one for you or vice versa. I’ll say this in closing. When your wife finds out that you’ve dragged her three and one half hours (an approximation dependent upon traffic and road work) away from home with the sole intent of showing her a goblin in a sewer grate as a special birthday activity and she doesn’t throw your decapitated body into the sewer with the thing, you’ve likely found the right person to share your life with.

I bid you Adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…make time in your life for the bizarre.

A don’t…let me forget to inform you that after dark, green lights illuminate the sculpture and emanate from the grate in a fashion that I cannot describe since I haven’t seen it in the darkness.

Cast Iron, Why and Why Not.

It goes without saying that children shouldn’t be left in hot cars unattended.  Since I don’t need to say that, let me instead say that despite being my favorite cooking utensil, cast iron confuses me.  I used to read a lot of Louis L’amour western novels. Perhaps I should instead say that westerns confuse me.  Louis wrote a lot about his characters’ carrying bacon across the desert.  Perhaps antique bacon was more well preserved than today’s bacon.  Or maybe it was some sort of bacon jerky or pre-cooked bacon.  But….he also wrote about how his characters were cooking the bacon over a fire in the morning.  Usually as a peace offering to a traveler they’d met in the desert.  Scenes usually went something like this:

Drifter: “Hello, the fire!”

Cowpoke: “Come on in if you’re friendly.  If you ain’t, don’t bother.”

Drifter: “I am!  I’ve got coffee!”

Cowpoke: “And I’ve got bacon!”

And then they’d have bacon and coffee and talk about where the gold was or what tribe they’d come across and how hostile they were or some such.  For some reason I always pictured them cooking their bacon in cast iron.  I suppose this is because I don’t think the technology existed to make inferior quality products yet.  It had to be cast iron.  And carrying cast iron through the desert makes about as much sense as carrying bacon through it.  Bacon spoils and cast iron is so heavy that it’s impractical even if it’s all you have.  Sometimes I have heat stroke just moving my cast iron skillet from the cabinet to the stove top.  But I still do because it makes me feel like a cowboy.  The heat stroke and the cast iron both invoke that sensation.  I don’t know why I like feeling like a cowboy. Neither do I know why I like bacon or cast iron.  All I do know is if I’m ever stuck in the desert I’ll hope to have a heavy antique skillet with me.  Even though it’ll slow me down and contribute to my dehydration and eventual death, It’s dual purposeness will come in handy.  I can use it to set a deadfall trap and then cook my prey in it as well.  Forget that I’ll have to lug it around the desert.  Cowboys are tough.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t.

Adieu…cook with cast iron.  The powerful feeling it imparts is quite nice.

A don’t…actually take cast iron on a camping trip.  Cowboys only did it because it was all they had.  Invest instead in inferior, lightweight aluminum.  Not only can you not club an animal to death with it, it won’t last nearly as long.

About Pants; For No Good Reason.

I’ve heard people mention the fact that it is odd to call one item a pair of something.  More than just pants are included in this. Pliers, scissors…perhaps other things.  Anyway, since I’ve heard it mentioned before, I hereby disclaim that this isn’t an idea that originated with me, it is rather an exploration of an idea I’ve heard.  And here it goes:

Logically, if we are going to call one pants a pair the indication is that pants have more than one of whatever it is from which the name is derived.  Therefore, since pants have only one zipper and more than two belt loops (fancy pants excluded, I refer only to simple, frill-free pants) the only truth we may deduce is that each leg of a pants is a pant.  That being apparently true, I wonder why they chose to name them by the pants.  Why not a simpler name such as below-midriff-concealing-device?  Or a maybe there was a more complicated name which has been shortened to “pants”.  Something like a-left-pant-and-a-right-pant-attached-to-a-gluteus-cover-with-built-in-loin-cloth-suspended-by-a-waist-band-with-included-loops-to-aid-in-retention-by-belt.

I think I just seriously digressed.

Have you ever noticed that every name ever applied to pants is plural?  Trousers.  Britches.  Drawers.  All plural.  So pant legs have also been known as a trouse, a britch and a draw.  Its a very bizarre thought to think. I wish I knew who it was that determined that pants are plural.  Some bureaucrat I suppose.  A stone age predecessor of the modern day, well, whoever decides the plurality of things.  Or maybe there is no such person.  Maybe it has already all been decided.

I bid you Adieu and A don’t.

Adieu…take the time to consider things not worthy of consideration. Sometimes it’s fun.

A don’t…judge me.  I’m not as strange as I sound.

Simians and A Revolutionary Traitor: Co-Conspirators in an Attack on Culinary Sensibility

I’ll try to be short winded again this time. We shall see how it goes.

I’ve developed a partial menu for a horrible restaurant. I wish to pepper these odd selections in amongst more normal fare in the hopes that people will not bother to notice the details of the stranger offerings and will jab a finger at one or the other of my putrid creations without looking too closely.

The first of my macabre dishes is Eggs Benedict Arnold. It is exactly the same as Eggs Benedict with the notable exception of being made with eggs that have turned. If you are unfamiliar with this usage of the word turned I shall educate you. When used in reference to edibles, saying that an ingredient has turned indicates that the product has spoiled. Most certainly using rotten eggs will make quite a traitorous dish. The stench of foul fowl will accost the nostrils most regrettably and the ingestion of turned eggs will cause turning of the stomach and a most boisterous moving of the bowels. As horrible as the dish must taste, the pun is delectable and I delight in thinking of it.

As a dessert I’ll offer Rhesus Pieces. While phonetically this menu item makes one think of candy coated peanut butter, the spelling of the first word indicates a much more sinister treat. I haven’t decided yet if the bits of Rhesus monkey will be cooked. Perhaps I will coat them in colorful candy to further the possibility of at least one piece being eaten.

Now that I think of it I’ll not place these items on my menu. I will instruct my wait staff to offer, only and always, these two selections as specials of the day. In this way the diner has only the words of the server to lean upon. Social convention generally dictates that it is impolite to question what one has heard, although there are of course exceptions to this rule and some will ask for clarification. Others will not be so lucky, and I shall delight in their misery as I’m carted off to jail and my establishment is condemned.

And with that I proclaim “Mission accomplished!” I have succeeded in being fairly short winded. It has left my system and my next post need have no restrictions on word count. I bid you adieu and a don’t.

Adieu…keep an eye out for new restaurants in your area.

A don’t…ever take a servers recommendation if there is any doubt as to whether or not I own the restaurant.

Aging and Culinary Degeneration

There lived a man I called Opa. He, like Mean Yogurt, fancied himself wise. And wise perhaps he was. He was also, when I knew him, bitter and old and lonely and sweet in a bizarre way. He judged game show contestants on some scale known only to him and wished upon them such maladies as falling from stages and breaking legs. This is not what I wish to tell you about, however.

I will share with you the adventures I had while living with him during my abbreviated tenure at a community college in the vicinity of his home. He enjoyed cooking me breakfast. I found this endearing until I realized that every morning he cooked oatmeal. I enjoy oatmeal on occasion with the key phrase being on occasion. It certainly didn’t help that he added raisins. Hot raisins are one of my least appreciated foods. A couple of weeks passed and I learned to suppress my nature and eat the oatmeal anyway. One morning I shumbled to the kitchen to face our morning tradition and found that there were no small black lumps in my oatmeal! I picked up my spoon as my heart prepared to burst forth in rapturous melody! I dropped a dollop of what Opa called Oleo and I called margarine on top and dipped my spoon in to distribute the substance evenly throughout the cereal. As I stirred I learned that at the bottom of the bowl were many large black lumps that came to the surface and revealed their identity as prunes. This was bad, worse than the raisins, but it had nothing on orange oatmeal day. I remember the surface being quite flat and really rather noticeably orange. As I sat down I began formulating a plan to avoid what had been so lovingly crafted and generously placed before me. As luck would have it, the situation resolved itself. Opa went dig out a bite of his own oatmeal and had much trouble causing the spoon to penetrate the surface of the glop. When it finally did it became stuck and the cut it made in the oats reminded me of the way bread pudding sometimes looks when you scrape a bit from the mass. His attempt to extract his spoon resulted in the entire portion of cereal lifting free of the bowl and clinging, quite non-precariously, to his utensil. I seem to remember the bowl being left quite clean, almost as if it hadn’t mere moments ago held the vile concoction. He silently replaced his bowl shaped oatmeal block into his bowl shaped bowl. He stood and, still silent, removed both bowls to the sink where he graciously rid our lives of their contents into the disposal. He then stated quite matter-of-factly “I like to experiment with food. This one only cost me a few cents.”

“What did you put in it?” I asked with genuine curiosity.

By way of reply he simply held aloft a canister of a popular brand of powdered fiber supplement.

If you think the breakfast was bad, I shall now regale you with tales of dinner. Opa had the habit of walking, on a nearly daily basis, to the senior citizen center for lunch. (A meal which, thankfully, I partook of outside of his home.) At dinner time one evening he pried it out of me that I could stand to ingest some food. He bade me sit and began to prepare a plate. He started by removing a pint size milk carton from the refrigerator. From my vantage point I was unable to ascertain that the thing had been opened before he pulled it from the fridge. When he upended it over my plate there came sliding out a partially eaten slice of what most cafeterias refer to as roast beef. It splatted onto the ceramic followed shortly thereafter by a few drops of brown gravy that splashed very disturbingly onto the “meat”. He sat and watched me eat every bite. I thank God that that even though it was only partially eaten before I got my turn, the largest portion had been Opa’s.

Another horrid thing he tried to feed me was “soup”. It consisted of a light cooking oil broth into which he added partially devoured chicken tenders, apple slices, a can of peaches, craisins, onions and other assorted detritus. When he served it the oil he had boiled the stuff in was still popping with heat. He stared at his creation with an expression akin to that Dr. Frankenstein must’ve worn when he made the discovery that “It’s alive!” Again he silently cleared away the dishes laden with his untouched vittles and sat at the table with both hands propping his chin. He stated in quite a downtrodden tone of voice “I’m not as good a cook as your grandmother was.” I very silently and whole-heartedly concurred.

I bid you Adieu and a don’t.

Adieu…cherish any Opa you may have in your life. Mine was a World War II veteran and I consider myself eternally in his debt.

A don’t…be afraid to seek out other means of sustenance if ever faced with such culinary presentations. Just be sure to compliment your chef by bringing him a take out meal of his own. He likely is as dissatisfied with his cooking as you are.