Posts Tagged With: rats

Spotlight on Leslie Handler, Author of “Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank”

 

About the Book

Part memoir, part essay collection, Rats, Mice, and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank is written with both wit and charm. It will take you on a ride from finding a mouse in the house to the mortgage crisis, from a smile to a chuckle and from a few tears to the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket sipping a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Handler offers a rich, touching, heartfelt and reflective read that will leave the reader with an indelible uplifting spirit.

Excerpt from Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank

Games, games, games

The boys I dated were mostly affluent.  In high school I had a double date with one of Ross Perot’s daughters, Nancy.  Actually, it was a triple date. The three girls were to meet at my house to make a picnic dinner.  The guys were to pick us up to take us to Shakespeare in the park.  Nancy showed up two hours late.  We had already made the fried chicken and the dessert, all that was left was the potato salad when Nancy arrived.  The boys were to be there in forty-five minutes, so my other girlfriend and I left my mom in the kitchen with Nancy while we went upstairs to spruce up.  Mom showed Nancy the bowl of potatoes and other ingredients and gave her a pot and other necessary utensils and told her she’d be back in a few minutes.  By the time my mom returned, Nancy had cut up a bowl full of raw potatoes filled with mayo and spices.  So much for rich girls knowing how to cook.  But then again, I’m not sure why I expected anything less since the first time I met her she asked to borrow a quarter for the cafeteria soda machine.  She never did pay that quarter back.

As for the boys, they picked us up on time, we had a lovely picnic, sans potato salad, and I don’t recall really ever interacting much with Nancy for the rest of high school.  She was a lovely girl.  I guess you could just say, we ran in different crowds.

I had lots of exciting dates in those years.  At the time, I wanted to pursue going into the hotel business, so I got myself a job at the finest hotel in town and spent a summer getting to know everyone from the housekeeping staff to the head maître ‘d of the finest restaurant there, to the general manager.  One of my dates, decided he would impress me by taking me to dinner there.  Apparently, he dined there often and thought he’d impress me when the waiters all knew him by name, but by the time he was taken to our table, he found himself alone. When he turned to see where I was, he found me hugging and kissing all the wait staff and calling them all by first names.  After I watched my date pick his jaw up off the floor, we managed to have a lovely evening with no need to further attempt to impress one another.  I dated this boy on and off for several years before I met my husband.  He was fun, and treated me well, but I never did feel much substance there.  He used to pick me up in a different car every time we went out.  There was the Trans Am, the Mercedes, and the Porsche to name a few.  My mom said that when he picked me up in the Rolls Royce, that would just have to be the last date because as she put it, “where do you go from there?” You know? She was right. That was our last date.

But I had other great dates with lots of other guys throughout high school and college.  My favorite dates though, were dates with my dad.  He always wanted to have special time with me.  I’d get all dressed up and we’d go out on the town.  Sometimes he’d take me to a show, sometimes to lunch, sometimes even to dinner.  But going out with dad always meant special time and to this day brings cherished memories.

Mom was the softy.  Dad was the disciplinarian.  Both gave me and my older brother nothing but love and support for our entire lives.

In this first chapter, I tell you all about these stories and even more stories about my growing up. Like so many children, one of the things I begged for was a family pet.  At one point, my folks went out and bought a boxer puppy….this from two people who knew nothing about raising a small animal let alone a boxer.  They blinked and “Happy” the dog, became an untrained, crazed, lunatic beast who hung himself by his own chain over the back yard fence.  The good news is that Happy lived to tell the tale, and kept his tail as well.  The next day, I was told he ran away.  Years later dad tried a Mynah bird.  Between the screeching and the feces throwing, that one didn’t work out too well either.  Eventually, I received an untrained Bichon Frise of unknown age who became one of the loves of my life and the bane of my mother’s existence.  His name was Pierre, but mom called him the carpenter dog because he did odd jobs around the house: a little pee here, a little food dumping there.  But for me, from then on, I was a dog lover.

You’ll hear more stories about my animal adventures throughout my life. You’ll also hear about one of my family’s earliest challenges regarding my loving brother and my first lessons in hate, love, and the power they each have.

Finally, I leave you with this early memory.  It’s one of my favorites and it explains why rats have been in my life.

I could smell the chlorine filling my nostrils as I quenched my thirst from the water flowing from the garden hose.  I could see those waves of heat floating in the Texas air on a hundred degree summer’s day.  We’d hook the sprinkler up to the hose and run bare foot through the water and the soft iridescent grass that could never be too green in the southwestern sultriness. When we were finally cool enough, we’d wrap ourselves in the thickness of terrycloth towels, dry off, and head inside for a read-a-thon in the air conditioned coolness of our home.

In the winter months, there was nothing more enticing than a pile of pillows and blankets placed before a roaring wood-burning fire.  But even the smell of the smoke escaping up the chimney with the remnants of roasted marshmallows trailing its sugary aroma right behind wasn’t as good as what was to come.  The best part, was the sweet smell of the drying hair of my two little girls fresh from the tub-all squeaky clean with the scent of youth.  I can remember the little hairs inside my nose would vibrate and tickle when we would crack open that first book of the day.  I would suck up those freshly printed pages with a deep inhale offering up that first book to the noses of my girls.  They too could sniff the words right off their pages and into their hearts. The flicker of the fire light would illuminate the beautiful faces of my girls as we began the first adventure of the day into the world of books.  At their youngest, there was Chick-a-Chick-a-Boom-Boom, Are You My Mother?, and any Berenstain Bears books.  As they got older it became Goosebumps, Ella Enchanted, and eventually Harry Potter.

A Handler read-a-thon, whether in the heat of the summer, or the frigid days of winter, was our time, our special time, time to cherish each other away from the stresses of daily life.  It was our escape, our escape together.  In those days, aside from relieving ourselves of full bladders or empty tummies, there was only one thing that would get us to break away from our reading, and that, was a good board game.

One such board game was a game called “Oh Rats.” Each player received his own puzzle.  He had to take the puzzle apart and then take a turn spinning a board that showed one puzzle piece.  If he didn’t yet have that puzzle piece, he could use it to add towards the completion of his puzzle. If he already had it, he would shout out “oh rats,” and it would be the next players turn.  The winner, was the first person to complete his puzzle.  I loved this game.  I loved it because it taught the girls their shapes and colors, but I mostly loved it because it taught them about the frustrations in life of not always getting what you want, and being able to just chalk it up to an exclamation of “oh rats.”  To this day, when something doesn’t quite go my way, I can just shout out “oh rats” and know that it’s ok.  There will always be another game, and there will always be more rats in the world.  Finding the right balance and getting your puzzle all put together, well that makes all the difference.

With that, I hope you enjoy the following essays about my special family, how we think about dogs in our house, and if I left something out, “oh rats,” I’ll have to wait until my next book to explain it.

Bio

Leslie is a 2015 Society of Newspaper Columnists award winner. She’s an international syndicated columnist with Senior Wire News Service and a frequent contributor to WHYY and CityWide Stories. She freelances for The Philadelphia Inquirer, ZestNow, and Boomercafe, as well as blogs for HuffPost. Her first book will be published Spring, 2018. Leslie currently lives smack dab between Philadelphia and New York City with husband Marty, dogs Maggie, Hazel, and Ginger, a collection of fish, said husband’s cockatoo who she’s been trying to roast for dinner for the last 33 years, and a few occasional uninvited guests. You may follow her blog and read published essays at: LeslieGoesBoom.com.

 

 

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com

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Agua Tamarindo

Mexican Dessert

AGUA TAMARINDO

INGREDIENTSAguaTamarindo-

8 cups water
1/2 cup tamarind syrup
1/4 cup confectionary sugar

PREPARATION

Use long wooden spoon to mix all ingredients in pitcher. Stir until sugar dissolves. This goes well served over ice.

TIDBITS

1) There are no weird facts about tamarinds.

2) Not even fun facts.

3) Tamarinds came India. Sailors carried them back on rest-infested vessels.

4) The rats often were so numerous and ravenous the sailors had to throw whole handful of tamarind pods at the rats.

5) Hence the popular nautical saying and anagram, “Tamarinds, I damn rats.”

6) Not all rats were pests. Some could be trained to race each other . Bosun Arthur Beans of the HMS Kidney could amuse for his ship mates with his trained rats.

7) Other seamen of the British Royal Navy trained their rats to do tricks, such as jumping through hoops.

8) However, Arthur’s trained rats could prove the Pythagorean Theorem and to waltz. Eventually, their fame spread so much that every Christmas Eve the Admiralty would witness a palindromic performance of Art’s Star Rats.

9) Or so I’ve heard.
cover

My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World, is available in paperpack or Kindle on amazon.com

As an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

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Bajan Meatloaf From Barbados

Barbadian Entree

BAJAN MEATLOAF

INGREDIENTSBajanMeatLoaf-

4 Roma tomatoes
1 orange bell pepper
2/3 cups spinach
1/2 white onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3 large eggs
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon banana ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
4 tablespoons Bajan seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon parsley

SPECIAL UTENSIL

8″ casserole dish

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mince tomatoes, bell pepper, spinach, and onion. Add onion to butter and sauté on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onions are soft.

Combine spinach, onion, tomato, bell pepper, ground beef, eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, banana ketchup, mustard, Bajan seasoning, cayenne, celery salt, cumin, and parsley. You really need to use your hands to do a good job here.

(Better yet, get your ten-year old to mix this up. Oh heck, he’s at a friend’s house.)

Transfer the meat mix to this dish. Smooth the meat and bake for 50 minutes. Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes. Oh, don’t forget to wash your hands.

TIDBITS

1) It is so difficult to find fun facts about meatloaf. The rock-music star Meatloaf so enamors all the fun-fact website producers that there are no fun-fact sides for the meatloaf showcased in this recipe.

2) But I own one of Meatloaf’s albums. In homage to him let me give him a tidbit. He once worked as a valet at a concert hall or arena. One of the cast members for the musical, Hair, quit. Meatloaf was pressed into action and the rest is non-culinary history.

3) Now back to Barbados. That sounds like a Caribbean John Wayne movie doesn’t it?

4) Mongooses were brought to Barbados from India to kill the rats in the sugar cane fields. Unfortunately, the nocturnal mongooses never came into contact with the rats who scurried about during the day. The mongooses did however, decimate the island’s herds of snakes that actually ate rats.

5) I know snakes don’t travel in herds, but I do love the image. “Head ‘em up, move ‘em out.”

6) In 1976 Captain and Tennille had a huge hit with the song “Muskrat Love.” It could just as easily been called “Mongoose Love.”

7) They didn’t, of course, due in part to the bad rep the mongooses got from their activities in Barbados.

8) This is a cautionary tales for all mammals.

– Chef Paul

cookbookhunks

This recipe is available in my cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, which is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, is also available on amazon.com

 

 

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Great Things Come In Little Packages

Great Things Come in Little Packages

I

It was a bad day to be a dinosaur. It was a bad day to be a T-Rex. Particularly if your name was Alex and you were the last dinosaur on Earth. Alex glanced at the Sun. Dang, it was hot. Al Gore was right about global warming, at least in a reverse time series sort of way.

Alex raised his claw to wipe the sweat from his eyebrow. Mistake. Being a lizard-or-bird like creature, the scientists are still debating, he didn’t sweat and he didn’t have eyebrows. He did have razor-sharp talons which pierced the skin above his eye. Dang, that hurt. He wished mommy were there to comfort him. But it was probably just as well, seeing how she tried to eat him when he was six-weeks old.

On and on, the last of the T-Rexes trudged. Where to, he could not say. How long, he could not now. He only knew he need food. He needed it fast. Real fast, before this short story ran out of words and he could see by scrolling down it would only be four paragraphs.

He thirsted. Oh, how he thirsted. He thirsted like a shopper at WalMart two minutes before the start of Black Friday sales. On and on, Alex trudged. His breath became more and more labored. He fancied the gentle breeze made rippling patterns on his loose skin.

An oasis appeared on the horizon. He forced his aching legs to give one last effort. Faster and faster, he careened. Then there it was, an oasis with hundreds of hundreds of delicious apatosauri grazing unconcernedly around a pool of life giving water. The cave to the right displayed a big banner, “Get it here, T-Rex big boy.” Alex tried to grin. Couldn’t. Evolution hadn’t given him lips. Be he knew he died and gone to heaven.

Well, he was partly right about that last statement. His last step was off a twenty-foot cliff. The sharp rock at the bottom did nothing to break his fall. Indeed, it shattered his kneecap. (Gosh, I hope for the accuracy of this story, T-Rexes had kneecaps.)

The rock did more than break his kneecap. It destroyed his ability to move. That destroyed his ability to hunt. No hunting. No food. Alex the T-Rex was dying. And he had proto-psoriasis. A bacterium entering the gaping wound in his knee saw to that.

The bacterium flourished in the T-Rex kneecap. One day it split into two. Later it split into four. The grandchild bacteria repeated this cycle of life over and over again. The Earth’s continents shifted. The dinosaur knee cap traveled north, always north until harsh coldness froze the proto-psoriasis colony.

But they did not die. They went dormant and waited, waited for a thaw that would bring them a new host.

II

Little Timmy Tyler didn’t want to be at Dinosaur National Monument. He wanted to be home playing Mario On Steroids alongside his friends. But here he was and it was hot. He wiped sweat from his brow. Did he thank evolution? No. He was too hungry. His stomach rumbled.

“Mom, can we eat soon?”

“No dear, we came all the way out here to find dinosaur bones for Daddy’s museum and we’re not going in until we find one. Have a snack.”

Thank goodness for the Twinkie in his shirt pocket. It was the last Twinkie ever sold on Earth. He’d had to use Tae Kwan Do moves on several people struggling to get it.

Timmy unwrapped the dessert of all desserts and brought it to his eager tasted buds. A glint appeared by his left foot. There was a tiny bone fragment that bore an uncanny resemblance to Justin Bieber’s profile. Timmy picked up the fragment. Millennia upon millennia of erosion had smoothed this fragment everywhere, everywhere but one spot
.
That one sharp spot pricked Timmy’s thumb. A colony of proto-psoriasis woke up, flexed their cilia, and stampeded Timmy’s body. Oh how they would attack him. They had eons of mutations stored up. They headed for the stomach where they would mutate and mutate and eat Timmy from the inside out.

Timmy bit into the Twinkie. His stomach tried valiantly to break down Hostess’s golden snack but failed, failed miserably.

But in failure, there is often victory and so there was now. The stomach’s defeated gastric juices had left behind a goodly pool of nasty chemicals, chemicals that rats and cockroaches normally gave wide berth. But the invading proto-psoriasis having been dormant for sixty-five-millions years knew nothing of this. Indeed, the chemicals smelled like a delicacy to them and they gleefully ingested the toxic poisons and died.

The proto-psoriasis would not infect Timmy. They would not spread to other people. They would not wipe out humanity. And Timmy took another bite of the world’s last Twinkie.

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