Lost Recipes, Quotes, Deleted Posts from the southside

Sunday morning I woke early to write a warm, endearing, totally heartfelt and original post to relieve any guilt I felt about not buying my husband a Father’s Day gift. Yet. To a larger extent, this Pulitzer-caliber post talked about the weird stuff I am finding in my basement, with carefully edited photos of that weird stuff.

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(Hey Lightbox app, the 1970s called to get its ’70s retro photo filter back. Not going to happen. I overuse that editing effect all the time.)

It also contained a few bits of tid about my home’s previous owners, about whom I know little save that they were very DIY and made all kinds of things themselves: the house they sold us, dresses, diapers, Ruth Hoffman’s Peanut Krunch Cookies. I know this because the house, which we unknowingly bought about 25 percent furnished, has left clues to our predecessors’ lives in obvious and not-so places. 

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I don’t know what Peanut Krunch is, exactly. Is it these overpriced cookies all mashed up? Chopped peanuts? A retro peanut butter? Please reply.

Home, Stuffed, Home

If you want to know what it’s like to buy your first home at 25 percent furnished with a ten-day-old and a three-year-old, it goes like this:

  • Sign closing papers
  • Get key
  • Drive to house after your attorney takes you out for celebration luncheon
  • Nurse newborn child in car for five hours outside new home
  • Open door with sleeping child firmly in hand
  • Weep weep weep upon realizing the house is full of stuff, and only about 70 percent of it is stuff you packed.

In the years that have transpired we’ve slowly unpacked, added a third kid to the mix, went to graduate school and gradually got over the shock of owning the previous owner’s stuff. We got over “stuff shock” through a combination of using, donating, selling, forcibly gifting and/or delivering these items to a city-sponsored hazardous chemical drop-off at my old high school.

Obscure but unforgettable quote

Perhaps “God and Cudahy don’t make junk,” as Mayor Glowacki told hundreds of high schoolers at suburban pep rallys way back when. But Cudahy High will accept junk in its parking lot when sanctioned by the MMSD. 

Anyway, point is, in the act of uploading a seventies-filtered photo of a ’60s era doorbell I found in my basement, I lost my draft of that Sunday post. Seven hundred words vanished and my husband still didn’t have anything for Father’s Day. Briefly and desperately, I thought about giving him the doorknob in a cool gift bag. But I had already showed him the doorbell, and it was basically half his. Even as a gag gift, it would fall flat.

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I opened a dusty drawer and there these were.

Can I get the old magic back?

For days now, the memory of that post has haunted me. Every night I think I’ll try to recapture its magic and nostalgia, reconstruct the alliteration and adjective trios that made the whole thing read just like something you might find in a “People” magazine “Greatest Generation Special Issue.” 

But I’m moving on. Instead, I’m sharing with you a recipe for Ruth Hofmann’s Peanut Krunch Cookies and a few photos.

“Ding Dong!”

Hear that? It’s the 1970s calling, and they totally want to hang out in my kitchen.

Ruth Hoffman’s Peanut Krunch Cookies

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup peanut Krunch (not really sure what this is)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1.25 cup flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Bake at 375F for 10-12 minutes. Makes four dozen.

About Last Night’s Receipt

Over the last 36 hours I’ve mentioned Dunkin Donuts (DD) several times, from Facebook to office talk, and I have been there once. Three things became immediately clear:

1. Dunkin Donuts is off-the-wall crazy the first Friday of summer vacation

2. Their new lemonade donut looks intriguing and I like the concept, but if it’s not a vodka-lemonade donut then forget it. Infused custard in a donut is marketing genius!

3. Not everyone has watched the heinous, head-scratching “Dunkin Donuts Rant Goes Viral” video, proving that Internet memes do not reach every person within breathing distance of you. Context remains useful even in the Internet age.

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If I had been there…

Well, I did watch that awful Taylor Chapman video. Her ripped-from-a-racist-reality-TV-show style proved her worthy of the harshest criticism leveled at her since she posted her eight-minute consumer rights manifesto last weekend. I was appalled by a couple things: her overall personality; her comfort level in wielding compound slurs that were both racist and misogynistic; AND, the cashier’s unfailingly polite demeanor as he tried to make amends for the night Neethi did not give Taylor a receipt. 

After the second f-bomb, I would have asked Taylor to leave until she cleaned out her mouth and dropped the “being under cellphone surveillance” business. At least I think I would. Our best imagined idealized versions of ourselves often are inspired in response to the injustices others face. “If I had been there…” I’m aware that such portrayals are not always accurate.

Don’t get mad, get donuts

Instead of getting more mad or getting even, I got a 25-count box of donut holes at my nearby DD the next morning. Though trademarked under the name “Munchkins,” I’m a little put off by that word and avoid it even in consumer conversation.

Like the DD in Taylor Chapman’s internet-meme-turned-nightmare, my local DD is owned by folks who are from India. Besides the grocery store I frequent to buy my “Chutney Challenged” groceries and my living room, the airport-area DD is the only place on the south side where I’ve met other Indians and Desis. For this reason and because my skinniest child inhales DD’s bacon-egg-cheese wraps and mini potatoes, I often bring the kids there after sleepovers and such.

Most folks have to read my kids’ names, first and last, to get any sense that they are multicultural. I don’t think my kids much care. I don’t think they need to. Multiculturalism need not have a “look,” nor must it be worn on any person’s sleeve. But when I visit their schools, classmates will ask me “Is your son really Indian?” “Is Child’s Name Here’s grandma really from India?” Both answers are yes, and my husband is not the step-dad. Nothing against step-dads. So, anyway, their background must be a topic of class conversation on some level.

Fleeting cultural connection?

But one time, at the DD, the owner noticed two thin, patterned gold bracelets on my right arm as I handed her a $20. These are modest but unique bracelets my husband’s grandmother brought to me after our daughter was born. They’re so small that once I put them on, they rarely come off. “I like your gold,” the woman told me. She gently held my wrist and asked another woman to come and take a look (good thing this was not the first Friday of summer vacation). They conversed. Like a monolingual American, I can’t tell you if it was in Hindi or Urdu. She asked me where I got them. “My grandmother.” I am sure that within that transaction there was another moment of connection. But there were also other customers. We agreed to have a good day.

This was two years ago. Two weeks ago I saw her for the first time not at the DD, but at the Indian grocery store. I tried to catch her eye, but I am not sure that she saw me. I’m not sure it matters either, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be dragging my kids to the the DD again soon, or to the neighborhood taqueria where they can flex their Spanish-language skills. I don’t know exactly how those kids of mine will turn out. Who can know this? But Internet-Video-Race-Baiters I’m sure they’ll never be.

Hopefully this post makes folks hungry for equality and respect, not donuts! But if you are craving carbs, I always get great service and a receipt at the DD by the airport. Cinnamon is my favorite.

Sorry, There’s Been a Lot of Soccer.

Is this the part where I tell you that I’m sorry I’ve not been blogging at all, because I am busy finishing my momoir: “Allergeeze! How to Raise Kids with Emotionally Crippling Food Allergies and a Sense of Humor.”

Because that statement would be only half true.

What is true is that lapses of progress and achievement happen. In fitness and in fiction, I’m experiencing a major slowdown. I have put my Cross Fit membership on “hiatus,” I have eased my aching back into a ten-minute mile, I am mastering the technique to washing one’s hair only four times/week and have bought a new pair of American-made (!) denim to wear four times/week (on the days I wash my hair) to replace the other jeans that I wore into the ground with such devotion that their knees are white and the hems drag behind me by several inches.

But there’s context to all the above, sort of (“I’m a riddle in nine syllables,” kind of thing and this fourth syllable is exhausting), and anyway I am still here. Making chutney and bhel puri, but not much else. 

What I mostly want to say here, however, is a sincere “thanks” to folks who have reached out to read, like, follow and forward this little blog of mine. Several people even said they have read some of my professional, promotional journalism as of late and found it “fun.” Now that is a true compliment. Promotional journalism can be painful sometimes. It’s this creative half-life where you get paid and get benefits to actually write. Paying the bills with one’s talent feels good, after all, and it’s a privilege. But when you write and draw connections and make people sound fabulous in print/online from 9-5, this can compromise the stamina and creativity one needs to turn into a bedtime Baudelaire. Can I write a kid-lit novel between when my kids go to bed and my husband starts to snore? Not sure… 

And yet, enough! Thank you for reading and remarking. Like the very best of small gestures, those few words straight from you or the “like” of a Facebook button can mean a lot. I hope I’ve done something like that for you, recently. If you’re anything like all the other wonderful people I know, you deserve it. 

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