Famished phantasms

This is it, you guys! The very last day of Martha Month! Throw your crafting paper into the streets! Give your team of chimney sweeps the boot! Set the Viking ship on fire! We have arrived.

Almost. We do actually still have to plow through the last few days, including three very boring brown and green plates of food, but today I decree that we are starting with chocolate. Remember the infamous dessert-refusing ladies of the Titanic. The veil between us and those hungry, well-dressed women is at its thinnest today. Only Crunchy Milk-Chocolate Bark can…I don't know…distract us from contemplating that, I guess.

Plus, there is SEA SALT on top. Spooooooooky!

And now, here are three recipes that were made, eaten, and whined about by various member of this family:

Chicken paillards with squash and spinach. Worth it in retrospect, because autocorrect just introduced me to the phrase "pail lards."

Chickpea soup with parsley and parmesan. Usually I am in favor of opening a can of beans and eating it for dinner like a hobo! But I wasn't really sold on this one.

Baked fish and chips. There they are.

Let's wrap up Martha's calendar.

October 28th:  "Pilates." Aw, you guys, it's the last time I'm going to ignore "Pilates" on the calendar! And I didn't think this was going to make me sentimental.

"Women's Wear Daily Apparel & Retail CEO Summit, in New York City." As someone who frequently changes from pajamas into a sports bra back into pajamas, I did not feel qualified to participate in this summit.

October 29th: "Collect leaves and press for fall decorations." UNNECESSARY. I already have a bag of fake leaves that I strew inartfully about my home in the month of November. Also, I forgot to do this.

October 30th: "Make skull madeleines and marshmallow bones." Instead of making these recipes, I have decided to point you toward the AV Club's take on this particular Martha party theme. It is not for the profanity-averse. Or those afraid to face the truth about the gourd hierarchy, man.

October 31st: "Trick-or-treating with Jude and Truman!" After much soul-searching, I have decided not to creep stealthily behind Martha Stewart's trick-or-treating grandchildren for the purposes of this blog. There is still a lot of day left, though.

Okay, so I guess I sort of petered out on the last few activities there. Let's see what else I didn't do!

Buy a steamer for my sports bras and pajamas.

Put dead flowers in a vase.

Put garbage in an acrylic box.

Make these creme caramels. Listen, when you're examining your life choices, you're bound to encounter some things you're not proud of.

Reorganize my kitchen, because every time I got to this page I thought that was Nicky Hilton and kept flipping.

But there's no sense in dwelling on our failures. Think of all that was accomplished this month! We really dug in and got our hands dirty.

And we looked good doing it.


Home stretch

Last week of Martha Month, let's all buckle down and make it count! It wouldn't be October without a slab of Dark and Spicy Pumpkin Loaf:

Serve with applesauce. Obviously.

At the risk of being a Comment on Every Recipe Blog, I used whole wheat flour instead of rice and buckwheat flours and orange-flavored cranberries instead of raisins/currants and increased the amount of cinnamon and this recipe turned out great!

October 21st: "Pilates." I did not do this.

"Arrange to have chimneys [Ed. note: MULTIPLE CHIMNEYS] cleaned; replenish firewood." I am slightly saddened that Martha's DIY spirit does not extend to scrubbing her own flue(s). Anyway, it is still summer here. As an alternate activity, we watered the basil in our underwear.

October 25th: "Travel to Maine." I absolutely swear to you the only reason I embarked on this project was so I would have a reason to put on this lobster dress again.

The Fonz was from Maine, right?

"Go on a hike." We sort of did this, by walking through the YMCA's haunted candy trail thingy.

It was genuinely pretty harrowing.



We were brave though.

October 26th: "Take the boat out of water for the season." I took 'em all out, just to be safe.

October 27th: "Attend Tri State Food Expo at Meadowlands Exposition Center, in Secaucus, New Jersey." This reminded me of The Sopranos, which reminded me of how much I want to know what happened to The Russian, which I probably spent more time contemplating than Martha did expo-ing.

Martha Project #3: Hang stuff on a tree branch. I totally did this weeks ago. One step ahead of you, M. Stew!

Fall is really under way now! I hope you guys are staying warm out there.


Even Marthas have slumps

I know Ivy and I already demonstrated the basics of one-pot cooking for you, but I figured I would include a few examples from Martha's book, for the gastronomic learners out there.

One-Pan Pasta. Like regular pasta, but very slightly lazier.

Pot check:


Sweet Potato-Sausage Soup. Like regular soup. I mean, those generally involve one pot.

Pot check:


Stir-Fried Chicken with Bok Choy. I am actually pretty interested in this, because usually I have to pull out the rice cooker or a separate pot for noodles when a stir-fry is in the works.

Pot check:


Uh oh.

TWO. You can't just throw "cooked rice" on the ingredient list and pretend it's a one-pot recipe, Martha.

Well. That was so close to success. Calendar time!

October 21st: "Pilates." Mmm hmm.

"Decorate the house for Halloween." Really? Martha-Stewart-brand Halloween items descended upon stores a month ago but you wait until the 21st to decorate your house? Did you get thrown during a weekend horseback ride and sustain a head injury which caused you to have soap-operatic-memory-loss and now you don't remember that you are Martha freakin' Stewart who definitely decorates for Halloween more than ten days out? 

Anyway, I already decorated my house. 

I put a bird on it.

October 22nd: "(Blank)." Seriously, Martha, are you okay? We're worried about you.

October 23rd: "Harvest pumpkins; carve some with the grandkids and toast seeds." Ah, here we go. A cutesy, moderately labor-intensive thing that I can't justify not forcing myself to do. Back on track!

I was really hoping to continue the gag of Anna being the one who is doing all of the Halloween work, partly because that's the extremely gentle parental humor you've come to expect in these parts and partly because it meant that Anna was the one who was doing all the Halloween work. Started off well with the pumpkins:

Until pumpkin-gut removal. Then she was out.

Turns out she's more of an art director when it comes to pumpkin carving.

In case you were wondering, this is an exact recreation of the pumpkin that the children carve in "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." The other day, when instructed to draw a "space-themed" picture, she draw a full diagram of the solar system complete with labels. What I'm saying is, we may need to set our unrealistic sights on "genius" as opposed to "creative genius."

I did the actual carving. Considering the amount of concerned-sounding encouragement showered upon me by the children, I must have really looked like I was struggling. "Nice eyes, Mom." "You're doing great, Mom. You're almost there." Ivy even used that psychological trick where you address someone else within the subject's earshot. "Daddy, Mommy is doing a gooooooood job." She said this several times.

They were very relieved when I completed it.

She legitimately thought this day would never come.

And then I toasted the seeds, yes I did.

Pot check:

Okay then.


I will start sewing a gouda costume right now

So who's up for an Oat-Coconut Smoothie this morning?* Come on guys, it's so oaty! I'm pretty sure Martha lovingly mixes giant tubs of this stuff for those horses she rides every weekend.

*Stunning bird glasses not included.

I realized that in order to do any justice at all to this particular Martha Month, I would have to throw a Halloween party. So I did that. Some of the cutesy crafty things turned out very much like they were supposed to! Look how slimy the Slimy Spiders turned out, for example:

I even colored in the word "spiders" all by myself. Anna also colored some labels, but I am not going to show them to you because they are significantly better.

The Candy Popcorn Ears made a very impressive-looking pile. 

Pretty sure if I had wrapped the poop donuts in enough parchment paper you guys would have been like "Whoa, those are almost too classy."

And teensy orange/pumpkins are basically the easiest way to make people say "Cute!" that I have ever found.

I mean, they looked easy anyway.

Obviously, not everything can be identical to the magazine picture. This is real life, where beautiful lacy pumpkins sometimes come out looking significantly different than their inspiration.

Significantly BETTER, really, since the original pattern lacked a distinct sense of having been literally touched by hellfire.

 Whew. To the calendar we go.

October 17th: "Third annual Martha Stewart American Made Award winners revealed!" This is neither a Gentle Reminder nor a Helpful Tip, Martha. I'm going to file this under Important Dates, but I think you're pushing it. Letting it slide because you did not force me to come up with another "horseback ride" picture this round.

October 18th: "Teach Cooking With One Pot class at the New York City Wine and Food Festival." I'm inclined to give my readers enough credit to not need this, but I know cooking isn't for everybody, so just a quick primer: when making a meal, look at your stove. Do you see pots in excess of one? If so, start over.



October 19th: "Plant amaryllis bulbs to give as Christmas gifts." All this did was remind me that I haven't seen The Music Man in a long time.

October 20th: "Mow the lawn for the last time this season." It was 85 degrees today, this is not going to be the last time our lawn needs mowing. Also I did not mow the lawn. I did give it a fairly stern look, though.

"Weight training." YES FINALLY THANK YOU. Pushing and pulling heavy things makes me feel like a badass. Doing Pilates just makes me feel like an uncomfortable person. In some ways I feel like the gym is one of the only places that I can zero in on my Real Self, and that self is a person who enjoys doing leg press reps in time to "Don't Rain on My Parade."

Seems worth comparing what Ivy chose to wear to Target a few days ago:

(ballerina-owl costume)

to what she chose to wear to our own Halloween costume party:

(air of disdain)

Also that Anna was a cat last year and is a mouse this year and I will be the absolute last person on earth to talk her out of going as cheese in 2015 if it comes to that.


I! Want to have! A Marthaaaaa Month!

Earlier today I caught myself quietly singing "Martha, Martha Month" to the tune of the Village People's "Macho Man," so that is definitely a sign of…something. Yes it is.

The following recipes are intended for GUESTS per the magazine, yet I served them to my PLAIN OLD FAMILY: Chicken-Chile Stew with Cheese and Sweet-Pepper Cornbread.

I am not entirely certain they deserved them, but there you have it.

Also, don't know if I mentioned it, but we have a slight surplus of applesauce in these parts. Time to make sundaes!

The thing I appreciated most about the Applesauce Sundaes was the extreme Marthaness of the recipe(s). You could buy some ice cream and applesauce and dried fruit and combine them in a bowl for a nice little treat. Or you could go Full Martha (which I did, self-contractual obligation) and dedicate one entire day of your life to making ice cream, applesauce, and dried fruit and combining them in a bowl. For a nice little treat. There is a common Marthaland refrain of "Instead of doing this very simple thing, why not try this extremely time-consuming method?" See also: How to Light a Jack-o'-Lantern.

I don't think that's how.

October 14th: "Pilates." Sure.

"Sharpen knives; apply mineral oil to wooden cutting boards to keep them from cracking." Hey, 14 days in and I find myself facing a practical reminder that is of legitimate use to me. Slightly disappointing, but I'll take it.

October 15th: "Clean and set up humidifiers." I was unable to perform this task due to headless clown interference.

October 16th: "Cardio and core." I went running in the dark and completely wiped out on the uneven sidewalk like the graceful gazelle that I am, so I imagine I engaged some core muscles whilst hoisting myself back up off the ground.

"Harvest tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers." There were probably some of those things in the soup and stuff?


"Inspect beehives." Looking good.

Martha Project #2: Cover your pumpkin in lacy stockings then spray paint for a beautiful, delicate effect.


As always, Officer Huff will be addressing all comments and concerns regarding these matters.