So, it began like this:
Next, it was like this:
Then there was a sad period with little fertilizer and some traveling to England, afterwhich:
Falling Down to the Root Cellar
I’ve been a-wandering all the night
And the best part of the day
Now I’m returning home again
I bring you a branch of May
A branch of May, my love, I say
Here at your door I stand
It’s nothing but a sprout, but it’s well budded out
By the work of the Lord’s own hand
My song is done and I must be gone
No longer can I stay,
God bless you all, both great and small,
And bring you a joyful May.
As a child, May Day involved dancing around a May Pole with ribbons, tying May-Day-Wish ribbons to trees, and eating donuts hung on trees (we were told that the fairies had left them for us). In college May Day also involved mimosas, strawberries and cream (a treat we’ll have to leave until strawberries come in), and taking down the patriarchy (on a holiday which includes ritual dancing around a large phallic object, it’s important to reverse things a bit).
This year May Day went something like this:
At 8pm we loaded up the car with bundles of sticks, newspaper, and a picnic basket full of food and drove out to the local state park where they proceeded to build a significant, if exceedingly safe, fire on which to make celebratory doughboys.
The ingredients are simple (if not actually seasonal, um, at all) and delicious:
1 pack of crescent rolls
1 jar of raspberry jam
1 pot of melted butter
1 bowl of cinnamon and sugar
Wrap the strips of dough around dowels and cook them over the fire until they look relatively cooked. It is, of course, best to avoid setting either the dowel or the roll on fire, which can be tricky. When it seems puffy and cooked, carefully pull the doughboy off the dowel and dip in in the butter, sugar, and jam. Eat, repeat, and be merry.
Lessons from the front:
1. Don’t knock the entire pot of butter onto the grass.
2. Do make sure to have sheets, clothing and extra sweaters available for after you rashly go skinny dipping in the very cold lake. A fire is warm, but so it being dry. It also helps to shout “hey hey, ho ho, the patriarchy has got to go” to psych yourself into jumping to said cold water.
3. Don’t let your survival candle lantern blow out, it makes dressing more difficult.
All in all, an excellent May Day. Complete with yummy sweets, singing, naked swimming (almost as good a May Pole dancing), and fire. What more could we ask for a pagan beginning of spring celebration?
A door creaks open in a central New York Apartment on a blustery April day. A trembling, blinking creature emerges from the dark recesses within, moving slowly into the harsh afternoon light, a la The Beast of Disney fame. Who is this pale and disheveled form, you ask, wearing a bewitching mix of leggings and marinara-stained t-shirt with mismatched socks, inquiring of the cat as to the time?
It is I, the closet-dweller. I, who revels in the dark embrace of the closet by day and gazes, hypnotized, at glowing screens by night. I, who wrangles toddlers and recycles all those beer bottles whose labels I have not torn off in a frenzy of unused energy. I, who provides almost no monetary but much comedic support to my steadfast and lovely roommates. And where, you might ask, are these providers of vegetable knowledge, givers of gentle prodding into the warmth of the kitchen? Whither, they not of the closet?
My fellow denizens of small-town America have fled to England, leaving me to face alone the yawning cupboards empty of onions and greens and the anxiety-producing prospect of a solo farmer’s market. But I will not quaver! For they have also left me to indulge pleasant pastimes: Washing the dishes in one’s underwear whilst belting hits of the lovesick-country variety. Feeling no compunction about eating ice cream for breakfast. Talking to the cat freely in his natural tongue.
So I will press on, knowing as I do the shadowy contours of the apartment, the insomniac secrets of its culinary abundance. Join me, on this journey of discovery and peril, of fear and opportunity, as I leave the closet and prepare to fend for myself.
Tonight’s adventure involves pasta, mushrooms, butter, three-buck chuck, and the musical stylings of Ms. Dolly Parton. Let’s begin:
You might want to start by tying a red ribbon around your ponytail and clearing away some dishes, while listening to this song.
Ponder the contents of your fridge while you do so, and the big questions, such as, why exactly is food at the bottom of the drain so much less appealing than food on a plate? What does the mime in Dolly’s video symbolize? Where can I find those suspenders she’s wearing?
Congratulations. You have earned your first glass of wine. This can be consumed while cutting up some garlic and if you’re me, your second-to-last shallot. Chopping can be soothing but also boring, so you should listen to this awesome song. I give you my full permission to dance around singing the chorus into a wooden spoon, as I know you want to. Go on. If you can’t be undignified and cliche in front of your cat, you’re depriving an animal of the chance to harshly judge your melodramatics, and what kind of responsible pet owner would do that? Think of the animals!
If twangy, confusing, and unrequited love is not your thing (and if not, why not?) this is also a good opportunity to call someone you love but who lingers on the phone, as one: you have wine, and two: you can say, “I would love to talk some more, but I have to put these shallots and garlic onto the stove in a frying pan with a shitload of butter and salt and pepper. Goodnight!” (See what I did there? Subtle recipe instructions!)
Now, on to the improvisation portion of the meal. While the shallots and garlic are making sweet love to all that butter, fill a pot with water and set out the pasta of your choice. (I find it satisfying to methodically rip off the top of the box, but to each her own.) Cut up a hefty portion of portobello mushrooms. Throw those in with the other stuff. Here is where my night got tricky. I decided to be bold and go for a creamy sauce even though I had no cream. You could also take this recipe in the direction of the tomato-y balsamic if you have access to such things. What I did is perhaps unconventional, but turned out, well, let’s be honest, pretty ok: tear up some cheddar cheese (white, extra sharp, just like yours truly, heyo) and pour in the heaviest liquid dairy you posses, but not sour cream or yogurt, obviously. You want to keep the liquid in proportion with how much you chopped and how much pasta you’re making. With that in mind: pour a little bit of the wine from your glass into the pan but much more into your mouth. I also put some vegetable stock in there, cause it was in the fridge, and my mushrooms were a little withered and I thought it would perk them up. And yes, I realize this recipe is just to put a little of all your dairy products over pasta and mushrooms and eat it, but sue me. I’ve been living in a closet for six months.
I know you’re as smart as you are pretty, so you’ve remembered to cook and drain your pasta during all the above innovative saucing. Mix all the stuff you’ve cooked together and put a bunch of stuff on it: salt, pepper, more cheese. And pour another glass of wine. You deserve it. And let me know how it turned out. For me, it was sort of weird, but I liked it. That’s what she said. Closet-dweller out!
A guest entry, from our closet-dweller’s twin:
Once upon a time, three young friends went to school.
They left the school, and after frolicking among the roads and woods and farms, they settled in upstate New York.
As protection against the cold and dismaying winter, they stockpiled red wine, whiskey, lemons (for the scurvy), and other foodstuffs.
One March evening, so close to the end of their struggle, three lovely friends from near said school came to rescue them from the doldrums, traveling by dragon and werewolf, to pitch in for frivolity.
Babe, said one, let’s open that wine .
In a fit of hilarity and unknown strength, the cork was popped with a forceful sound into the bottle of 9.99.
The most resourceful among them, despite her flying-cork-wounded knuckle, scampered to the magical drawer of magical cloths. She withdrew a simple yet refined white straining cloth and a large and graceful mason jar. Together with the help of the less patient and more skeptical, the community rigged a device.