June 7, 2012

Martha Stewart's Operatives are Trying to Kill Me
(+ Balsamic Mushrooms)

I don’t like to think that I’m a paranoid person.  Paranoid implies a sort of illogic, and I am nothing if not logical.  The world is a dangerous place.  Bad things happen.  Sometimes murderers hide behind shower curtains.  Slithery reptiles are found coiled in toilet bowls.  Those who do not keep all arms and legs inside the vehicle end up nicknamed “Stumpy.”   These situations are urban legends for a reason: it’s because they happened at least once.  So the fact that I warn others of the danger they pose doesn’t make me paranoid.  It makes me a superhero. 

Genetically speaking, my kind is singlehandedly responsible for the continuing existence of humanity.  Sure, cavepeople needed hunters who would dive heedlessly into a gorge after a wounded Somethingsaurus.*   But they also needed somebody who was going to stand at the edge of the ravine, well out of harm’s way, and yell “Duck!” at critical moments.   We need warriors and explorers and experimenters in order to move forward as a species.  But we also need a few of them to survive to breed.  And it’s my job to be the buzzkill that makes that happen.  You’re welcome.

*I don’t actually believe that primitive man hunted dinosaurs.  Logical, remember?

That said, sometimes my skills get away from me.  I like to think of it as my own awesomeness outstripping the bounds of common sense.   Which brings us to yesterday afternoon.  There was a lone, brooding envelope waiting in the mailbox, and it looked like this:

Address blocked to keep all my rabid fans from mobbing Mr. Bear at home.  You two know who you are.

Most people’s first  thought would be: “junk mail.”  Or, if they were of a somewhat more curious bent, maybe “I wonder what that’s about.”  My first thought was:  

“Oh my god.  Mr. Bear has put out a hit on me.”

Now, you see where I’m coming from, right?  “Tell us what you want we should do about your wife.”  That’s some fairly menacing verbiage.  That there’s mafia talk, and nothing good has ever come out of a conversation that started that way.  The answer is never, for instance, “I want you should give her a pony.”   So now I’m brainstorming all the things I’ve done that might have made Mr. Bear snap and hire a mercenary killer.    There was that time he had to buy me tampons.  And I definitely refused to watch Piranhaconda with him.  And I basically never bother to use bleach when I do a white load.  Even so, I’m not sure these things merit assassination.  Jeez, Mr. Bear is super petty.

Now, in case any of you are concerned at this point, I should mention that there was a brief moment where I identified the fact that Mr. Bear would never have me killed.  He loves me.  And he’s distressingly ethical.   Plus, he’s trying to get a job in law enforcement, and they tend to frown on that sort of thing.  But that sort of factual factiness was so much less interesting than treating this as an actual problem that I choose to bypass it.  Life is far more entertaining with selective reality.

So now I’m sort of concerned.  Because I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Mr. Bear is trying to have me killed.  But also, the envelope is marked “3rd Notice.”  Which seems to imply that he may be behind on his payments with some contract killers, so now I’m a little worried about his safety as well as mine.  These are clearly professionals.  They use form letters.  This implies both efficiency and a high volume of business.  It seems unlikely that they’re going to forget about this job.

Clearly, something needs to be done.  The first thing is to identify the enemy.  Mr. Bear probably isn’t an issue.  From the hesitation that led to a “3rd Notice,” it seems like he might be having second thoughts already.  And I’ve got a recipe for Boston Cream Pie that I’ve been holding on to for just such a bribe-worthy occasion.  It’s the killers themselves we have to worry about.  I turn over the letter, hoping to find some clue.  Emblazoned on the back flap in organic-duck-egg green?  

“Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.”   

Oh crap.  Martha Stewart.  Well, not technically Martha Stewart.  Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.  Which, really, just means “Martha Stewart and her army of highly efficient scrapbookers and gardeners.”  Which doesn’t make me feel the slightest bit better, since their skills make them perfectly designed for cutting things up and burying them.  

It is at this point that I remember that Mr. Bear bought me that magazine subscription a few months back, and I start wondering if maybe I’ve blown this all out of proportion.  They could probably work on the menacing tone of their communications over there at Omnimedia, but it’s certainly nothing for us to worry about.  “Or IS it?” my inner superhero whispers.  “That’s the kind of thinking that gets someone stabbed on the toilet because they didn’t check behind the shower curtain.”  

Think, for a moment, about the efficiency of the Martha Stewart Empire.  The precision.  The sinister creativity.  The knife skills necessary to peel an apple all in one piece!  And the inevitability of it hits me with cold horror.  Martha Stewart has a band of ninja assassins.  

If it’s true, no force in the world could defeat them.  There could be no army so exacting, punctual, and efficient as the Martha Ninja Nation, each operative painstakingly trained to the level of Organic-Duck-Egg-Green Belt.  There is no escaping their clutches.  And since I’m pretty sure Martha’s not going to be as impressed by my Boston Cream Pie as Mr. Bear is, our only recourse is groveling.  So.

All hail the Martha, Demon Ninja Queen.  Your kills are flawless, and your panna cotta without lump.  Ever may your empire grow, lo, ‘til the streets are paved with hobnailed glass, and every man knoweth the eight varieties of quince and the days of their harvest.  Please look with pity upon your lowest of acolytes, these flawed makers of paltry trinkets and tarts.  Be not tempted to smite, but stay your hand with mercy and an eye toward future profit.  In reverence, we offer up the gift of free publicity: there lieth below your recipe for Balsamic Mushrooms, a creation of such wisdom and greatness that we served them at the celebration of our nuptials.  And lo, such was their flavor that my brother-in-law did seat himself at the buffet with fork in hand and eat from the very dish of serving.  If you are well pleased by this gift, pull back your minions and stay their hand.   

But leave Mr. Bear to me.


Balsamic Mushrooms
by Martha Stewart

This is probably my favorite side dish ever, and takes a grand total of 10 minutes from start to finish.  I also like the leftovers over polenta for lunch.  That is, if I haven’t finished them off by fishing one out of the dish each time I open the refrigerator.

Olive Oil  [ ¼ cup ]
White Button Mushrooms  [ 12 ounces, halved, quartered if large ]
Balsamic Vinegar  [ 3 tablespoons ]
Coarse Salt  [ 1 teaspoon ]
Red Pepper Flakes  [ ¼ teaspoon ]
Freshly Ground Pepper

1.   Heat Olive Oil in a large skillet over Medium-High heat.

2.   Add Mushrooms to skillet.  Cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

3.   Add Vinegar, Salt, and Red Pepper Flakes to skillet.  Stir.  Season to taste with Pepper.

4.   Cook 1 minute. Transfer to serving dish.

Serves 4.


  1. This is a wonderful recipe! Thank you for sharing it on RecipeNewZ. Everyone loved it, so now it's featured on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RecipeNewZ

  2. When do you add the balsamic vinegar?!

    1. In step 3, along with the Salt and Red Pepper Flakes. :)