Why spend your money on foodstuffs that don’t give you strength? Why pay for groceries that don’t do you any good? (ahem, gelatine) Listen and I’ll tell you where to get food to fatten up your soul!
Week 3: The Importance of Gelatine in a Christian Marriage
This chapter of The Book is all about setting up housekeeping. Namely, stocking the pantry.
Something you have to understand: I’m a freelance big-idea-haver. Mister is a traveling hooch salesman. As such, neither of us has the time-money to stock a usable pantry. It’s a gift I envy. I go to friends’ houses and stand in their kitchens, opening all the cupboards and shrieking, “Cans of beans! Honey, look, they have cans of beans! We could do that.”
Our cupboards are a collection of expensive tastes and one-off ingredients purchased during phases where I thought I’d cook through the Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet cookbook or Madhur Jaffrey. In my cupboards and fridge at present:
- The full regalia of spices, from whole nutmeg to coriander to Szechuan peppercorns
- A whole redfish, so frozen that it would take a team of forensic archaeologists to render it edible
- Orange-flower water
- Local honey to ward off allergies
- Five kinds of ponzu and rice vinegar (from father who is marketing person for Japanese food importer in Los Angeles and has, for most of my adult life, supplied me with Japanese ingredients I am too lazy to use correctly and so just eat or drink straight. Let’s call him Miso Dad.)
- A box of broken lasagne noodle pieces
- Three-year-old lemon curd someone made us that I forgot about
- Bonito flakes
- A box of tempura batter I got at a food event
- Panko bread crumbs
The Book’s authoresses would burst their girdles if they saw this vaguely Satanic array of exotic and useless ingredients.
I suppose I could Panko-encrust the dandelions growing in the front yard and make a nice fried salad. More gifted friends could make a veritable Babette-sahn’s Feast out of the stuff in my kitchen. But like I said earlier, I was raised by wolves. My brother and I have strong memories of eating buttered toast and Cup O’ Noodles every day one summer, plus nibbling our way dejectedly through an enormous box of dried seaweed Miso Dad brought us one weekend. Taco Bell was a glorious evening out.
When I went off to college, Miso Dad saddled me up with cases of his company’s tofu, which lasts forever because it’s “aseptically packaged.” (When I was 12, I helped him with a food expo and uttered this phrase 900 times, which somehow wormed its way into my subconscious and perhaps explains why, to this day, I hate sanitary sex.)
For the next three years, I made stir fries and smoothies. Eventually, I got a job and started buying things like Tuna Helper, into which I could sneak frozen broccoli to keep my vegetable-hating then-boyfriend from losing his gums. Then I started trying to make mom’s food—the stuff she made when she was around. Albondigas soup, meatloaf, spicy chicken wings … SoCal comfort cuisine.
These days, I cook like I wear lingerie: when given to a fit of possibly drunken whimsy that I hope won’t end in humiliation. To be fair, I have made curries and Szechuan pork, tom kha soup, Thai noodle dishes, and roasted chicken. I just don’t do it enough.
So what does the guide say? How will Substitute Jesus Mom advise me in this?
Salt - check (coarse Kosher and regular iodized, biotch)
Flour - check
Vanilla - check
Waxed paper - check
Baking powder - check
Chili powder - check
Mustard - check (brown and yellow, plus dried)
Bread - three slices, two of which are the butts
Shortening - check
Rice - check (brown and white)
Coffee - check, areyoukidding?
Pepper - check
Powdered sugar - check
Matches - check
Napkins - check
Soda - baking or water? Doesn’t matter: check, check
Biscuit mix - CURSES! I was on a hot run there. But when the hell am I going to make biscuits? I work out an hour a day to keep my thighs from taking up more than one movie theater seat, so I am not about to incorporate biscuits into my life. Still, Surrogate Book Mother says to get them, so I’ll get some. And not the instant, expensive Pillsbury stuff, either—good, CHRISTIAN biscuit mix.
Vinegar - six kinds of rice vinegar (see Miso Dad)
Butter - check
Milk - check
Cake mixes - with all that, I need mix? This list IS a cake mix.
Cocoa - check, for some reason. Think I inherited it when my grandma died.
Sugar - check
Brown sugar - check
Aluminum foil - check
Paper towels - check (Seventh Gen! Take that, LORD.)
Cinnamon - check
Catsup - check
Crackers - MUST GET
Eggs - check
Macaroni - see broken lasagne pieces
Tea - check
Gelatine - wait, what?
Yes, gelatine. That ever-important thickener of desserts and soups, useful for so much else around the house whenever coagulated and powdered animal hoof/snout is needed. (See section on Non-Sexual Uses for Gelatine.)
So now I have my grocery list: crackers, biscuit mix, and gelatine. (I do have a packet in my theatrical makeup kit from when I used to spike my hair.)
Tune in next week, when I try to make some of The Book’s suggested dinners using my Christian-approved pantry, including a gelatinous catsup-flavored dessert with biscuits suspended in it.
Non-Sexual Uses for Gelatine
Instructions for spiking hair with gelatine:
Apply gelatine mix (instructions on packet) to damp hair. Sculpt and hold in place while blow-drying on warm to hot setting. Not too close, or you might make Hair Jell-O. It will support shoulder-length hair in sky-high spikes for several hours.
One small packet of gelatine dissolved in two quarts hot water—let it cool! Water plants with mixture once every three weeks during the season of active growth (spring and summer). It’s the nitrogen, yo!
Dissolve 1 packet of gelatine in 1 cup boiling water, remove from heat and add food coloring if desired. Add 12 drops of essential oil and pour in a glass jar to set. Choose rose or patchouli if you want me to never, ever come over.
Apparently, you can also use gelatine as an egg substitute when baking, but doing so means you have no joy or soul, and Jesus can’t enter a weak, struggling, anorexic heart anyway. Remember: Good Christians are chubby, so there’s more for God to love.
If your foot carries you toward evil, cut it off! Better be lame and live forever than have two feet that carry you to hell.
Week 2: You Have a Friend in Jesus (or, Becoming Lame)
According to The Book, you should have three kinds of friends:
- Those who are at the same level as you are spiritually, for you can strengthen and encourage each other in the Lord.
- Those who are closer to God, for they will help you grow in wisdom and spiritual stature.
- Those who are farther from Christ than you, or perhaps aren’t even Christians, for you will be able to witness to them and help bring them to Christ.
Assuming God and Christ as equal values, this range makes sense. But Mister and I can’t know into which categories our friends fall unless we first determine where we stand with Christ.
I reason that, because I tend to besmirch whorishly dressed girls and can still recite the books of the Old Testament in order, I’m about 20% Christian, while Mister, who enjoys the occasional Chick Fil-A sandwich, is about 5%. So together, we’re 25% Christian.
We like Christ—he’s a sweet guy, and our politics are completely in line (live and let live, don’t change money at the temple, free health care and help for the impoverished, etc.) so there’s no reason we can’t consider ourselves pretty darn close to Christ. But we’re really lacking friends in the #2 category—those who are closer to Christ than we are.
The Book suggests a way to procure friends of the 3rd type—those who are farther from Christ. It says that the next time we go to church or Sunday school (crap, have to start going to church and Sunday school), we should:
Look around. The shy couple on the back row may be hungry for Christian fellowship.
Ipso facto, if we reverse that tactic, we’ll be wooed by Category 2 Christly people in no time! It’s a good ways off until Sunday, so we put out an ad in Craigslist:
Shy Couple Hungry For Christian Fellowship
35-year-old F/M couple seeks similar to help them get closer to God.
In the meantime, The Book warns that although you should have friends less godly than you so you can witness to them, you must beware of being pulled away from Christ or tempted to do things that are unbecoming to a Christian:
The only wise thing is to avoid a close friendship with them regardless of how much you enjoy their company.
Some of you may not hear from us anymore. Don’t take it personally. Just call us when you’re good Christians. But preferably really, really good, because we still need more #2 friends.
- Friends at about one-quarter Christian, you’re in!
- Friends less than one-quarter Christian can stay only if you promise not to tempt us to do things unbecoming to a Christian, such as watching that lurid sex-fest “Downton Abbey” and drinking French wine.
- Friends who have been keeping their super-Christianness a secret from us, fearing our liberal judgment: unleash yourselves! We are hungry for your fellowship. Feed it to us.
The more time you spend on your knees the less danger there is of falling.
Before We Start, Some Ground Rules
You are married now.
You have just taken the name of the most wonderful man in the world and are happier than you have ever thought possible.
This is how The Bride’s Book of Ideas: A Guide to Christian Homemaking (henceforth, the Book) opens its introduction, “A Special Word for Brides.”
(Apparently, that word is “delusional.”) <— Now dear, cynicism causes wrinkles!
It goes on to promise practical advice for stocking the pantry and medicine cabinet, purchasing appliances, entertaining guests, and being financially sensible. Granted, this is all going to be advice from a time before women typically married whomever they fell madly in love with, as societal/intellectual/philosophical equals(ish). But still, there might be something to all this; I could always learn to be a more gracious hostess. I was raised by wolves, you know.
But, the Book gravely warns, there are a few precepts for having a happy Christian home:
- Be content with what you have
Well, we have to be. Neither of us has a credit card anymore, which is why we still watch TV on a 21-inch tube TV from 2004 and most of my underwear is so holey I can’t tell where to stick my leg.
2. Treat your husband with courtesy and respect and expect the same treatment from him
No problem. We’re very respectful of each other, particularly on Days 5-10 of my lady cycle, and again on Day 17, after the urge to maim him and rut with a bigger, more aggressive male has subsided. Oh, those hormones!
3. Remember that your husband is the head of the house
My husband can’t find the phone charger. “Check the outlet,” I say. “Which one?” he says. “Try the ones you use most often.” “Which ones are those?” he says. Does this sound like the sort of person who should be head of the house?
God charges the husband with the responsibility for making major decisions and being the spiritual leader of the home.
Biblical proof that God wants to put my godless Socialist of a husband in charge. Spiritual? He doesn’t even know his rising sign. When I suggest to Mister that he shoulder his God-given burden, he blinks twice and says, “’Kay. So what do I do?”
4. Don’t let disagreements and differences go unresolved
When I waited tables, I collected marriage advice from couples celebrating their anniversaries. “Don’t go to bed angry” always stuck out for me. So we don’t. We can’t, anyway, we’re both anxiety-ridden, twitchy, grindy sleepers. I’m also good at apologizing, even though it sometimes makes me feel like I’m being force-fed molten cat turds.
5. Give the Lord his rightful place in your marriage
Newly married couples can be so concerned with one another that they neglect the Lord.
In other words, he is a jealous God, remember (see Commandments One through Four): he doesn’t appreciate you getting all sexy with each other and not ever involving him. So, you know, say stuff in bed like, “Thank you, God, for this wonderful feeling!” and “Yes Lord, yes!”*
*: actual thing suggested by a youth group leader when I was a Christ-y teenager.
So that’s it. If I can live by those basic premises, the rest will just be Jell-o molds and fabric starch.
Now to go have some
missionary sex. Bible study time.