Comfort Food 101: Monkeybread

Today was another lackluster day as I wait in this interminable holding pattern before the start of the new semester. I feel terrible, feel like I look terrible, and am generally miserable. What better way to remind myself there’s simple joys and easy comfort to be had than through the magic of butter?!

Little did I know, some people out there in this spectacular universe of ours are ignorant of the happiness a quarter pound of butter and some cinnamon can bring you, at least until you try to put on pants.

My gift to you, Internet, is the easiest possible monkey bread recipe ever made.

Get your stuff:

A whole stick of butter(1/2 cup)
A cup or so of sugar
Several teaspoons of Cinnamon
1 Tube of biscuits, any kind
A round or square baking dish maybe 9 inches, maybe 8, whatever, it doesn’t matter

Do some stuff:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 or so
Melt your butter in a bowl
Mix up the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl or on a paper plate or your          kids Batman sandwich caddy
Pop open those tasty biscuits and arrange everything nicely to take a pictureIMG_1142

Now the fun starts. Prepare yourself. Wash your hands again, put a few paper towels under your work area, try saying a few things with a heavy drawl to really get into the spirit of things.

Dunk a biscuit in the butter, then slap it into the cinnamon and sugar mix. Toss it around a few times until coated, and plop it into the baking dish. Do this until the dish is too full, mushing them aside until every morsel of goodness is nuzzling in a bed of buttery, sugary joy. There should just be enough room in an 8 inch round pie dish to get 7 around and one in the middle, making a lovely flower shape that will look great on Instagram.

The next part is a trade secret that I’m going to share with you because I trust you, gentle Internet.

That dish with the cinnamon and sugar? Just pour all your left over butter on in there and make a syrup. Pour that over the petals of this glorious cinnamon flower, drenching every crevice with buttery magic. Scrape the sides. Smush it into the cracks. Don’t lick your fingers, that’s gross – go wash your hands. IMG_1143

Into the oven it goes for about as long as an episode of Gallivant on Hulu. Your house should smell like joy and hugs from Grandma when it’s perfectly cooked. Or about 25 minutes, letting the sugar on top start to caramelize just the tiniest bit.

Let it cool off a minute before digging one out of the dish with a fork and eating it over the sink while making animal noises. This is the traditional eating method, but you may of course toss a couple on a plate and drizzle some of the cinnamon-sugary sauce that’s formed in the bottom over it for a lovely looking breakfast.

Enjoy!   IMG_1144

Time to get Vikingesque! A bizarre take on historical fashion.

Everything we know about fashion came down from our mothers, and our mothers mothers. What if we had to figure it out ourselves, based on the stuff they left lying around when they were buried?

Lucky for us, Viking age remnants leave only a little to the imagination in the field of women’s clothing. A strap goes here, a belt was probably there, lovely metal clasps held everything together here. A glorious example of the accepted style can be found here, at Dilletant where research is done before cutting starts. Here’s an example of my own mostly-historical dresses:

Green Dress Coro

The umbrella and flip flops are not, as far as we know, period appropriate, but that’s the beauty of the SCA! You can see that the straps hold the brooches, which then hold a number of tools and the ever-present strings of beads and riches. Not every Viking age woman wore this type of dress, but every dress of the Viking age was similar in the amount of body it covered and layers of clothing are vital in a chilly environment. Undergarments were layered, an outer coat, cloaks, scarves and head wear in the form of wraps and hoods were de rigueur.

Another piece of the clothing puzzle is the Viking ages propensity for carving, and while they tended to carve mostly men and manly things, there are examples of women in the mix. Seen here is Mead Serving Woman, thought to be either a Valkyrie, or Freya or even Frigga herself.

MeadServingWomanWe can tell she’s wearing layers, and we can tell she’s probably got a shawl around her upper body. She appears to be wearing a tight sleeve, which we have found extant samples of.

And then, there’s this.

LOLNO

 

 

A unique and deeply confusing re-imagining of the old apron-dress that highlights a sheer, lightweight indoor garment, a dragging apron attached over the nipples and held together by cording at the waist. I’ll be honest – a little more sexiness would be great in my garb. I lament at least once a month how shapeless my apron dress looks to me, when I wear the one that is closest to period accurate. Then I put on the one with tucks and darts and remember that I can bring out the sexy in anything. 😉
However, this looks like what a complete stranger to the Viking closet would do if told to go put it on with no further instructions.

Even her well-reasoned arguments fall flat. One suggestion for the low-slung brooches is that in grave finds, the brooches are found lower in the chest cavity. The authors interpretation is this: “The clasps were probably worn in the middle of each breast. Traditionally this has been explained by the clasps having fallen down as the corpse rotted. That sounds like a prudish interpretation,” says Annika Larsson.”

On top of that uncomfortable seeming explanation is her assertion that the outer layer, or apron, was sewn to the top under-dress to drape down in a train and was all meant to be showcased indoors by the fire. Having camped SCA style for years, in many flavors of garb, the last thing I want to do is be near the fire, cooking or dancing or even just hanging out, with a train dragging behind me. In the closed quarters of a longhouse, the most lascivious of trains would probably quickly be destroyed by tramping feet and moisture, and the occasional dress fire would probably sate me of my need to be overly glamorous very soon. The main concept I believe the author is working with is the Oriental-Scandinavian merging of kept women with Viking age clothing and is forgetting one important thing – there were few people who did not work. Even the lady of the farm spent her days cooking, keeping the staff at work, tending to children and animals alike. A stationary decoration sitting prettily upon her pillow would be a rare thing indeed, and the minute her perky accessories began to falter, I imagine that sheer dress and dainty train were bundled up in a shapeless apron dress, tucked under a cloak and sent out to earn her keep as another pair of useful hands.

If you’ve got a rebuttal, let me know! I love historical clothing, and the interpretations are innumerable. A lively debate is always enjoyable and sometimes educational!

 

The “Be Here” Policy

When my husband and I met, our lives were both complicated, and as we fell in love and began our life together, things got even harder. Some weekends, as we dealt with the drama and stress of picking up the youngest child, racing across town to pick up the oldest, and rush off to whatever fun thing we HAD. TO. DO. that day, we would spend hours never even looking at one another.  Our attention was laser focused on the high-needs four year old, or locked onto our smartphones. In the midst of relationship drama with an ex, whatever silly story was on Facebook, or simple text messages with friends and family, we could distract ourselves from the current situation with practiced ease.

It hurt. Watching Joey look up after 30 minutes and curse himself for wasting precious time with a son he didn’t see enough of. Watching either child be told to wait a minute while we just finished this game, or this chapter, or finish typing this message.  Watching Sunday night as he realized the apartment was empty, the guilt in his eyes as he realized another weekend was gone and he wasted time on nonsense.

One such day, I really got frustrated. After trying to keep the youngster occupied and the older one amused while I watched their father grab his phone in frustration after only having it out of his hands for moments, I lost all my patience. I put my hand over the screen, and tried to be calm.

I wanted to throw the phone away. I wanted to tell him he was hurting himself, that he was robbing his children of his presence in their life, that his wife needed him more than Facebook ever could. There was any number of things my heart ached to say and at the same time a frustrated scream would have accomplished as much.

Instead, I looked at him and I said shakily “Be here.”

He put his phone away like a switch had been hit. I knew he was mad at me. I know how much it sucks getting called on your bad habits, and it’s even worse to be called on your guilty vices. Whatever his reason, he put the phone away and he looked at his kids and began to plan the day with them, talking to the little one about nonsense, and football and guy stuff with the big one. I don’t remember what he said, but I remember there was a change that started that day which has been present every day after.

Be hereIt’s not easy. Today was rainy and cold and miserable, and in this tiny apartment, there’s not really room to play and be comfortable without the doors and windows open with the freedom of summer. We spent the day napping and being lazy, playing computer games and a difficult bout of Monopoly. Being here was harder today than most days, because here wasn’t a very fun place to be. I think that, along with a couple other things, is a hallmark of really trying, though. We pulled together, put our phones away, and played and chatted and made plans for next weekend and connected in ways we cannot do with our electronics in hand. Even when it’s challenging, BE HERE

The Ghost in My Jump Drive

When I moved out of the house I lived in with a friend, in the mad rush of chemically-induced madness called being in love, I packed everything I owned into boxes and unceremoniously threw them in a spare room in my parents house. For almost two years, I didn’t look back, eager eyes watching the horizon for the next big thing. Finally, while the rush of emotional entanglements is no less exciting, there’s time to take a breath and look at what was cast aside.

Long before that hectic move, I had saved a half-decade worth of pictures to a disk and tucked it away, confident that no matter where I went next, I would dig the drive out and use it. Instead, I uncovered it like an ancient relic, buried under a rubble of discarded shoes and ruined nail polish. Interested, but curiously unsettled. This disk holds a different persons entire life. I don’t remember putting these images there, I barely remember the days these pictures were taken.

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How odd that something so innocuous would unsettle me so much, that simple visions from a past life, just a few years ago, would bother me. My face, but younger, less lined, an easier smile. My hair, but what a horrible hair cut – and look, no rapidly growing grey streak! My family and my friends look out through the computer screen like ghosts, even though many of them are still close enough to touch, or at least call if I wanted.

Life has moved in a direction that the woman with my face in these pictures never dreamed of. I’m not her anymore, and like all of history, it’s hard to imagine I ever was. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just a part of life, and had I never frantically packed it away and had I looked at those images every day, I never would have noticed how much of a ghost my own past became to me.

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So I want to write. Maybe if I write it all down, it’ll stay real. Maybe I’ll remember how uncomfortable this chair is in a year, and how I could hear Joey doing his own typing in the bedroom down the hall and can still taste sweet tea on my lips.

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Not everything I have to say is about Vikings, or history, or art, or anything. Sometimes, I want to say things just to know I’ve got a voice, or just to imagine someone else getting the joke and maybe grinning, or smiling, or shedding a tear.