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And I cook for CHILDREN part II

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How to Make Spawn, the Image Comics hero.

This is ridiculous. Do not look at this while you are eating anything. Because dang, Gina. I'm a really good cook and an even better baker, but last night, GAH. So:

Begin by making beef stew.

Allow your toddler, who's drawing on the storm door with a blue window marker, to distract you by rubbing his drawing off with his face.

You holler "EWAN. Stop it!" and when he turns around he looks like Baby Smurf.

Spend an inordinate amount of time wiping off The Baby.

Return to the stove, lift the lid to the pot, and scream. Congratulations! You've succeeded in scaring the holy crap out of yourself with your own cooking!

The stew is supposed to have the appearance of burnt flesh. Or George Hamilton. It should be taut. If it is not, go and occupy your time with something because it is no where near burnt enough.

Remind yourself "This is food, this is food" over and over as you set the table, bent on not wasting five dollars of beef.

Laugh inside as your five-year-old starts to cry when he sees what's for dinner.

As you play chicken with your five-year-old to see who will take the first bite, decide that it really is awful and end up making grilled hot ham and cheese sandwiches.

Be sure to tell your mother that you're taking her OUT to eat Saturday for her birthday.

Happy birthday Nana.

(And I Cook For CHILDREN Part 1)

And I cook for CHILDREN

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After Chris and I got married we briefly rented a tiny bungalow across the highway from a place called Meacham Park, a.k.a. the Kirkwood ghetto. The house had one owner, a chain-smoking couple who died, months apart, both in the master bedroom from complications due to what else? Smoking.

The smell of cigarette smoke emanated from every surface in the house. We had the carpet ripped out and we repainted, yet that old stale smell lingered, no matter what chemical or scent we tried to mask it with. The first time I cleaned the house I spent an hour wiping nicotine off of the doors. The house was cheaper than other places, minutes from our jobs, and convenient - I was pregnant and throwing up so many times a day that my doctor threatened to hospitalize me for dehydration - I could barely work much less house-hunt.
I was so glad when we moved.

Saturday night I decided to get all Barefoot Contessa and made chocolate-covered strawberries using the three-pound bag of Ghirardelli chocolate chips I got at Sam's. The recipe called for two tablespoons of vegetable shortening for every two cups of chocolate used. I followed the recipe and noticed that the smell of Crisco reminded me of something and as I took a bite of the first chocolate-covered strawberry, I realized what it reminded me of: It tasted exactly like our old house in Kirkwood smelled.
Apparently, bad Crisco smells like a 1950s bungalow that's been smoked in for forty years.
I threw out the Crisco and the entire POUND of chocolate-covered strawberries because they all tasted like that old house smelled.

"Ohmygawd! This, this is literally the worst thing I've EVER PUT IN MY MOUTH." Chris choked.

I half-vomited my bite back up in the trashcan; we both raced to the bathroom and brushed our teeth with huge heaps of toothpaste, but we still couldn't get the taste out.

"Did you make that with food?" he asked incredulously.

"Yeah, strawberries, chocolate, and Crisco. The recipe specifically asked for Crisco."

"How old is that Crisco?"

"Um, Crisco ages?"

"Okay, well, we're either going to die or have the runs now, so keep an eye out."

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