No, we’re not the first to solicit very, very, very short stories. Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway wrote a 6-word short story when challenged, in a bar, of course. His story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
We’re going to be a little more generous with our word count, increasing it to 10 words (or less if you’re feeling concise). And we’re focusing solely on heartbreak, whether it’s due to a lost love, a lost job, a lost pet, or a less-harrowing misfortune or pratfall (like the time my freshly baked chocolate cake skittered off its pedestal and across the kitchen floor. I would have invoked the five-second rule if it hadn’t broken into many very untidy pieces).
We also want to provide solutions for others who might find themselves wallowing in a deep blue funk. So offer up a remedy or a recipe that helped you heal your broken heart or made you feel a smidge better.
Here’s one of mine:
Our eyes met. Our hearts fused. Then he looked away.
I cried, then headed for the kitchen to create these cookies.
They’re Lime-Sugar Cookies Dipped in Dark Chocolate. The ties are made from Fruit Roll-Ups, carefully cut into shape with a paring knife. I used a scalloped cookie cutter to take the “bite” out of each head. Eyes are M&Ms. On some of the boys, I used a straw to create an “O” shape for the mouth. It adds a surprised expression to his face. On others, I simply used red frosting to pipe a sad expression. Then I dipped the lower half of each boy into melted dark chocolate with a smidge of shortening added for sheen.
What’s your story … in 10 words or less? Be sure to provide a remedy or recipe that helped take the edge off.
Responses to “What’s Your Story?”
She swallowed the worst news of her life—using champagne.
This is not my original recipe, but for the life of me, I can’t remember where I found it. I keep it in the freezer, and just “dig out” a serving of the slush when I need a true lift. It’s great in very hot weather. Good for Derby parties, too, because it’s not too heavy and not too sweet.
1 12 oz can frozen orange juice – thawed
1 12 oz can frozen lemonade – thawed
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups bourbon (we like Jim Beam)
7 cups boiling water
Mix all ingredients in a plastic gallon bowl type container.
Place in freezer for 48 hours to ensure that it is completely frozen.
Scoop out with ice cream scoop or large spoon into glasses.
She finally nabbed his heart with a chocolate cake.
My 92-year old grandmother wrote a beautiful journal about how SHE courted my grandfather. In those days the women didn’t pursue the men but my grandmother knew a good deal when she saw it. She finally nabbed his heart with a chocolate cake. In her journal she wrote, “So to all my darling granddaughters, if you want to win the heart of the man you love, bake him a chocolate cake.” I tried it on my boyfriend who is now my husband of 20 + years. Never underestimate the power of cake.
A tale of heartbreak and woe ends happily with potato.
Peruvian potato torte, that is. Recipe: http://cursivemechanics.ca/2010/07/15/salvation-in-a-potato/
Salvation in a Potato
by Jodi ~
Causa limeña: savoury Peruvian potato torte
In my autobiography, April 2006 through July 2006 will be known as “The Dark Period.”
I don’t remember what I ate during The Dark Period. More than that, I don’t remember eating at all. It did wonders for my figure. Oh, that glorious warm summer morning when I slid into a black pencil skirt that had been hanging patiently in my closet for several seasons. The well-tailored darts sheathed my hips with nary a ripple, and the pink blouse with the primly buttoned short sleeves I wore with it finally fit without pinching my triceps.
It was a hollow victory, though, in what was such a bleak time, a stretch of months through which I drifted with a heart that had practically stopped beating and feet that shuffled along reluctantly, without direction. I wore sunglasses whenever I was in public, as tears dripped from my eyes unpredictably, and often. When people spoke to me I was forced to ask them to repeat themselves twice, sometimes three times, as my brain was too full of grief to let anything else penetrate.
The weighty sadness I carried with me everywhere both numbed me and made me cringe with sensitivity. One moment I would be staring out the window of the GO train that carried me to and from work, watching the scenery whip by in a blur as I struggled to feel the arm that was clearly connected to my body, to raise my hand from where it lay, helpless, palm-side-up, on the seat beside me. The next I would sense acutely every hair on my head, the point where each strand burst from my scalp feeling like it had been poked open with the prick of a white-hot pin.
Through it all food barely registered in my conscious mind as a daily requirement. The Dark Period is perhaps the only period in recent memory when some part of my brain has not been turning over the possibilities — of ingredients, menus, spots to meet friends for dinner or drinks, locations from which to food-gather. The smell of coffee turned my stomach. I’d feel hungry only to drop whatever was in my hand as the nausea rose after the first bite. As time wore on it occurred to me that I had not turned on the stove in weeks, and then those weeks turned into months. I panicked. Eyes wide with fear, I asked the unthinkable question to a friend who had met me one Sunday afternoon to see how I was doing.
“What if I never want to cook again?”
My dear and wise friend, who knows me only too well — her birthday is the day after mine; we often joke that we share a brain — gave my arm a gentle pat and me a tender smile.
“Give it time, Jo. It will come,” she said. Of course she was talking about more than just my desire to cook.
Naturally, she was right, and as summer let its hair down the tension of The Dark Period began to ease. I started to feel at home again instead of an awkward intruder in my own living space. Conversation sputtered back to life and began to echo familiar rhythms. There was occasional laughter. And suddenly, one afternoon, like a bolt out of the blue it arrived: the inclination to cook.
Never mind that it was far too hot to do anything elaborate in the kitchen — the weather certainly wasn’t going to stop me after such an extended dry spell. Instead, I did one of the things I do best. I pulled a bunch of cookbooks from my shelf, leafed through their pages, and let my imagination wander. A grain salad, I thought, might be just the thing for getting reacquainted with my kitchen. But a grain salad seemed so practical and wholesome when I wanted something a little indulgent. A frozen dessert? No. Too frosty and aloof when I wanted something comforting. So when I stumbled upon a recipe for a traditional Peruvian savoury torte, served chilled, I knew it was perfect. Smooth mashed potatoes, rich layers of egg and olives, a tiny nip of heat from green chiles. I committed myself into causa limeña’s hands.
My kitchen welcomed me as if I had never been gone. My knives fit comfortably in my grip. When I reached into cupboards by rote for pots and bowls, it felt as if they fairly leapt into my reaching hands. The sound of peppercorns being crushed in the grinder was music to my ears. My taste buds jumped to attention when called upon to test levels of flavour. At the end of it all, it was time to sit down to eat. The torte?
It was cold. It was tangy. It was filling. It was tasty. It was good for me.
I had found salvation in a potato.
Red wine simmering atop gas stove, unattended. Overflow! Giant flames.
I nearly set my apartment on fire making this Coq Au Vin recipe, wasting an entire bottle of wine in the process. My remedy: a tight-fitting lid to snuff out the flames, and a glass of wine poured from a back-up bottle to calm my nerves.
Modern Coq au Vin
Why this recipe works: Although conventional recipes for coq au vin take upwards of three hours to prepare, we felt that this rustic dish shouldn’t be so time-consuming. After all, it’s basically a chicken fricassee. We wanted to create a dish with tender, juicy chicken infused with the flavors of red wine, onions, mushrooms, and bacon in under two hours.
We decided to use chicken parts; this way, we could pick the parts we liked best. If using a mix of dark and white meat, we found it’s essential to start the dark before the white, so that all the meat finishes cooking at the same time and nothing is overcooked or undercooked. To thicken the stewing liquid, we sprinkled flour over the sautéed vegetables and whisked in butter toward the end of cooking; the butter also provided a nice richness in the sauce. Chicken broth added a savory note to the sauce and gave it some body; an entire bottle of red wine provided a great base of flavor. Tomato paste was a fuss-free way to add extra depth and body to the sauce, while a sprinkling of crisp, salty bacon rounded out the acidity of the wine.
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 bottle fruity, smooth, medium-bodied red wine
- 10 sprigs fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tbs minced fresh parsley leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 oz bacon, diced
- 2 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs , trimmed of excess fat and cut in half
- 5 tbs unsalted butter
- 24 frozen pearl onions , thawed, drained, and patted dry (about 1 cup)
- 8 oz pkg cremini mushrooms , wiped clean, stems trimmed, quartered
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- 2 tbs all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper
A medium-bodied, fruity red wine such as Pinot Noir or Rhône Valley Grenache is best for this recipe. Avoid bold, heavily oaked red wine varietals like Cabernet and light-bodied wines like Beaujolais. To use fresh pearl onions, trim the root and stem end of each onion and discard. Boil for 1 minute, shock in ice water, then peel a thin strip from root to stem. Remove any remaining outer skin (it’s like peeling off a jacket). If neither frozen nor fresh pearl onions are available, substitute one large onion cut into 1/2-inch pieces. (Do not use jarred pearl onions, which will turn mushy and disintegrate into the sauce.) Serve the stew with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
Returned to memory-packed restaurant in Arles. Now a Häagen Daz.
“Le Criquet” in Arles was the sweetest restaurant in the world–the old man served, and his wife cooked…they were surrogate grandma and grandpa to the tableful of young backpackers who crowded in for the 55-franc ($8) menus.
I offer my version of Blanquette de Porc in their honor:
For me, this is perfect Sunday night food–great for one of those autumn or winter weekends you just don’t want to end. Invite a couple friends over, open some wine (I like a good white Burgundy with this) and eke out as much pleasure from the evening as you can. As always with rich, meaty dishes, a garlicky green salad will go well with this. For dessert, a few hunks of cheese alongside bread and some high-quality honey or preserves will do just fine.
3 – 3 1/2 pounds pork blade steak (also called pork steak)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, cut in half crosswise, then each half cut into quarters
1 celery rib including leaves, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bouquet garni*
4 carrots, cut into 1/4 x 2 inch sticks
1/2 16-ounce bag pearl onions
6 ounces fresh tiny button mushrooms (or use larger mushrooms, halved or quartered), stems
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Hot parsleyed noodles, for serving
1. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Cut pork off the bone into 1 to 2 inch pieces, trimming most of the fat away as you go. Season pork to taste with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or a braiser over medium to medium-high heat. Cook the pork, half at a time, in hot oil for 5 to 7 minutes per batch, turning as needed to brown evenly. Drain any fat and return all meat to the pot. Stud two of the onion quarters with the cloves; add the onion quarters, carrot, celery, wine, broth, and bouquet garni to the pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat, and simmer, covered, about 45 minutes or until pork is tender.
2. About 15 minutes toward the end of the cooking time for the pork, prepare the vegetables: In a large saucepan, bring the four cut carrots, the frozen pearl onions, and 1/4 cup lightly salted water to boiling; cover and simmer over medium heat for 4 minutes or until just tender. Drain and remove vegetables to a colander. In the same saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Cook and stir the button mushrooms in the butter for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender and light brown. Return onions and carrots to the pot; set aside and cover to keep warm.
3. Drain the pork, reserving the cooking stock. Wipe out any residue in Dutch oven. Place pork in a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm; discard other solids, including the cloves and bouquet garni. Skim fat from the cooking stock; pour through a fine-mesh sieve back into the Dutch oven. Bring to boiling and boil until reduced to 2 cups.
4. Work the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the flour together to form a paste. Drop into cooking stock, half a time, cooking and stirring with a wire whisk after each addition until well integrated. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir 1 minute more; add the cream, stirring with a wire whisk to combine.
5. Return meat to Dutch oven; add vegetables and lemon juice. Cook and stir very gently to heat through. Serve with hot parsleyed noodles or baked rice.
My lovely listener lost, I talk to God and ghost.
One of the hardest things about losing a spouse is not having that person to share good news with or just the details of your day. So many times, I found myself thinking “I can’t wait to tell Jim this” before catching myself.
Now, if you see me out for a walk or driving in the car and I seem to be talking to myself, I’m probably talking to Jim, or to God. Or I might just be talking to myself!
The Aussie said my apple pie almost made him stay.
The remedy didn’t come upon me right away. Most don’t. But after weeks and weeks of heartrending aching, I thought, I’m going to make that apple pie even better. And it continues to evolve. But not for him. For me.
Eating pupus while laughing not advised! Flying fish everywhere.