Saturday, December 1

chicken delight

Don't you love coming home from work to find an unexpected box on the porch all nestled up against the side of the house, half-hidden underneath the floppy leaves of some exotic speciman of plant that your Guatemalan lugged home from a friend's house a few weeks ago?

Me too.

I love many things about finding such a box.

I love that our postlady goes the extra mile - or at least makes it the extra few feet up to the porch - to hide packages under our plants. Rock on, Postlady. I love that the Guatemalan has been able to keep all the plants more or less alive and fluffy enough to shelter strange packages. You go, Guatemalan. And I love that the box is a Surprise Box. That's simply the best kind of box there is.

Ah, the Surprise Box: cardboard wrapped in Sharpie and packing tape, the adhesive all gooey with the heat. Mmmm. Like a really delicious dessert left sitting in the front yard all afternoon. But less frightening and usually without whipped topping that's gone all melty and weird. Although you never can tell with my family. Ask my sister about the Great Buckeye Incident of 2005 someday. Go ahead. Ask her.

The hypothetical Surprise Box that I'm talking about arrived a couple days ago. When I finally got to to the part where I get to slit open the packing tape with a paring knife (after running the usual dog-related gauntlet) (and yes, it still involves urine), I found that the Surprise Box was stuffed with my grandmother's old recipes. Oh, joy! I've been gently encouraging Nana to send me these recipes for a year now.

The Surprise Box held a treasure of recipe cards and newspaper clippings from the fifties and sixties; pamphlets loaded with sound time-management advice for the busy homemaker supplemented by old-timey cartoony illustrations of happy families sitting around a dinner table smiling at a ham; and grainy, off-color pictures of chocolate souffles and shrimp casseroles and cakes with pineapple rings affixed to them in an ornamental fashion.

Although the address label on the box was Nana's, my Sharpied address had clearly been applied by Mom. Apparently my mother managed to snatch the recipes during her Thanksgiving visit. Here's how I think it went down:

"Mum, look over there."

"What, Candy?"

"Over there, Mum. Look over there."

"Candy, I'm busy. I'm wiping things."

"Mother, stop wiping things and look over there."

"Candy, I've got to do this. I'm almost through. Wiping things, I mean."

"Mother, look over there!"

"Candy! Don't talk to your mother that way! Can't you see I'm wiping things?"


"Oh dear - is that a moose in the backyard?"

"That's what I've been trying to show you, Mother."

"Oh my Lawd, it is a moose! Candy, look! A moose!"

"By the way, Mum, I'm taking all your recipes and sending them to Jenny."

"Imagine that! A moose!"

Although I doubt anyone ended up in a headlock, I suppose it's possible.

I'll be honest. I don't understand some of these recipes.

Like the "Fish Casserole" which appears to be exactly what it sounds like, or the related "Salmon Noodle Casserole" which not only calls for cottage cheese and Worcestershire sauce, but also Tabasco sauce and poppy seeds. And although I may never get around to making the "Pineapple Cream Loaf", the "Cucumber Molded Salad", or the inexplicable "Chicken and Chipped Beef", I will be attempting the "Beer-Cheese Spread", the "Hot Beef Dip", and the "Potato Fudge". Potatoes! And fudge! Two of my very favorite things!

So what could be better than finding an unexpected box under a plant on your porch, you ask? Well, finding a Surprise Box that contains the key to Nana's "Chicken Surprise", of course.

The postlady is so getting a big old plate of Potato Fudge for Christmas this year.

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