October 11, 2012

Taking Candy from Babies, Part II:
An October Public Service Announcement

( + Fresh Mozzarella, Prosciutto, and Fig Jam Panini )

Earlier this week, I announced the Bearfrau's foolproof plan for reclaiming your lost youth.  I don't want to bore you with the high-tech details, but mostly it involves eating the Halloween candy you bought for the neighborhood kids.  Of course I'm not actually advocating taking candy from babies.  What am I, a monster?  I'm advocating taking it from grown children.  And not even really taking it - just creating a series of obstacles to it.  If the child decides the challenge isn't worth the reward, well, that's just a commentary on the decline of tenacity and drive in the youth of America today.  It's no fault of yours.

A reminder as to why we're doing this: half the joy of Halloween isn't the candy itself - it's the thrill of victory.  The knowledge that you could have gotten anything, or nothing, or even worse, a box of Dots - but that this time luck has worked in your favor.  That your loot is a demonically-themed, autumn-scented miracle, and that the proper gesture of appreciation for that miracle is epic overindulgence.  The trick to my plan is this: as an adult, you have the resources to create your own miracles.

So.  Clearly, you can't just buy four bags of Halloween candy and eat them yourself.  That's not a miracle; that's just gluttony.  Nor can you buy them, say they're for the kids, but then seed the yard with land mines, turn off your porch light, and play Gollum all evening, squatting in the coat closet with the bowl and hissing if someone manages to ring the doorbell.  That wouldn't be sporting.

But what you can do is use my system to buck the odds.  Go ahead.  Make the candy available to your tiny adversaries.  But then, by applying one or more of my three easy principles, increase the likelihood that you'll be left with a hefty and guilt-free surplus at the end of your evening - a surplus which, for reasons of what a responsible adult you are, you'll have to finish off yourself.  Let's begin.

I.  Be A Good Host
Have you ever been at a party where the only thing to eat was a lonely     
bowl of olives?  Sucked, didn't it?  Offering a wide variety of options to your guests so that everyone can enjoy their eating experience is just good manners.  Look at your shopping cart.  Are you absolutely sure there isn't a kid out there who dislikes Snickers, Baby Ruth, Payday, Peanut Butter Cups, Twix, Kit Kat, M&Ms, Starburst, AND Mounds?  No?  Well then, better toss a bag of Nerds in there.  Just in case.  You wouldn't want to make little Jimmy cry, would you? 

What?  You say providing endless options leaves you with far more candy than the neighborhood children could eat in a lifetime?  Well, no one said hosting was easy.  Way to jump on that grenade, Hero.

II.  Go Paleo
The easiest way to make sure no one comes to your house in October is to start dropping by their houses in July, waxing lyrical about your new Vegan/Paleo/Raw Food lifestyle.  Because you're a good neighbor, bring along brick-like, stevia-sweetened, carob-flavored, mashed-bean-based cupcakes.  Write each child's name on there in icing to make sure everyone gets a taste of what you've got cooking.  As October approaches, punctuate these visits with loud musings about the benefits of offering Vegan/Gluten-Free/Colon-Friendly Halloween treats instead of candy.  Mention that the cat got really sick after tasting the first three batches, but you're sure you've got the kinks worked out now.  Just watch people not flock to your doorstep on Halloween night.

Note: This isn't cheating, because you will actually have plenty of delicious candy for the little tykes.  If they don't do their due diligence to check what you're offering, that's not on you.

III.   Dig a Moat
In fact, do the whole yard up in a medieval theme, with skeletons swinging in cages from the trees and a torture chamber.  And then dig a ten-food-wide ditch, at least eight feet deep.  Perimeter spikes are optional.  This isn't cheating, since the candy is sitting in a bowl on your porch.  A resourceful child could cobble a bridge together.  If he's too out of shape to do that, well, you're probably doing him a favor by keeping him off the sweet stuff, right?  

This method admittedly requires a lot of dedication, and the subsequent hiring of a landscaper.  But since this is all really a competition between your tenacity and that of a seven-year-old, that seems sort of appropriate.  If your resolve is wavering already, you deserve to lose your loot to Zombie Justin Bieber and his sister, Hipster Cheerleader.

But you won't will you?  You've got the drive, and now the resources, to defeat the legions of the small and hungry.  Happy Halloween, everyone.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

Fresh Mozzarella, Prosciutto, and Fig Jam Panini
adapted from Grilled Cheese: 50 Recipes to Make You Melt
by Marlena Spieler 

Here's another perfect sandwich to prepare your stomach for a long night of sugarbombing.  The ingredients in this panini are a little more posh than your average ham-and-cheese, but the technique is just as simple.  The combination of the salty prosciutto, melting fresh mozzarella, and not-too-sweet fig jam is gourmet-amazing for only brown-bag effort.

Soft Sandwich Rolls  [ such as French or Italian, 4 ]
Fresh Mozzarella  [ thickly sliced, 12 ounces ]
Prosciutto  [ thinly sliced, 4 ounces ]
Fig Jam  [ 1/2 cup ]
Unsalted Butter  [ to taste, for grilling ]

1.   Heat panini press according to manufacturer's instructions.
2.   Split Sandwich Rolls in half.
3.  On bottom halves of Sandwich Rolls, layer Mozzarella and then Prosciutto.
4.  On top halves of Sandwich Rolls, spread Fig Jam.
5.  Close Sandwich Rolls and spread both sides with Butter.
6.  Press Sandwiches and cook until cheese melts and bread becomes crisp.

Makes 4 Panini.

1. I altered the proportions in this sandwich to suit my own taste preferences: more jam, since I love my sweetness, and less prosciutto, since I sometimes find the saltiness a little overwhelming.  Feel free to adjust the proportions to your liking.     2.  As always, I'm sure this panini would work just fine if done in a pan like a grilled-cheese sandwich. ]

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