Reading along through my paperback and WHAM! There's a recipe right out of the blue. I can't pick up a book these days without running into a recipe. Why does every author think a few recipes sprinkled in with the real meat of the manuscript will sell books? More than that, what woman is packing these novels and nonfiction works in among Betty Crocker classics and referring to them when the kids complain about yet another casserole? Maybe cooking is more exciting when the directions for Tammy's Tomato Tamales in Red Sauce is in Chapter 3, Murder and Mayhem, rather than the same old boring and predictable cookbook vegetables section.
Call me old-school, but I don't care for characters to pause, mid-climax, for a breaking tuna casserole report. My open-minded husband says I shouldn't bump the bandwagon until I've tipped the applecart. He says I have an unusual recipe for toast that readers might enjoy:
Super-Duper Easy Toast a-la Lucy
6 Slices Wonder Bread (proper recipes always reference a brand name item.)
6 pats of butter, divided ("divided" is standard recipe vocabulary. Divide them any way you wish.)
Place bread slices on a cookie sheet, evenly spaced, even though it truly doesn't matter. It's just another one of those common recipe instructions. If you want, smush those bread slices right together. Won't make a hair of difference in the final outcome.
Should've put this first, but go ahead now and preheat the oven on low broil. Hi broil is way too high. Preheating might not actually be necessary for broil settings (I honestly don't know), but all recipes in the true spirit of the genre contain the word "preheat."
While waiting for the oven to preheat, put a pat of butter on each piece of bread. Placing the butter in the middle of the slices will result in toast centers with big buttery smears and outer edges with crisp, crunchy textures. Slide the cookie sheet into the oven.
Here's the important part. It's absolutely critical, in fact. Set the oven timer for 4 minutes.
Go to the back door and call a child to come take out the kitchen trash. Pick up the shoes on the back step and carry them to the basket by the front door. Fold the throw blanket in the den and hang it over the arm of the sofa. Remove the dirty socks from the floor in front of the love seat and take them upstairs to the laundry room. Fold the clothes in the dryer. Transfer the wet laundry from the washing machine to the dryer. Start another load.
Gather up the freshly folded dish towels and go back downstairs. Ask the first child you pass what that horrible noise is. Accuse the second child you encounter of microwaving popcorn right before mealtime and, to make matters worse, cooking it too long.
Freeze. Scream, "Oh my gosh! The toast!" Run to the kitchen. Freeze. Yell, "The toast! I forgot the toast!" Turn to all the children now gathered for the emergency and fuss, "Why didn't anybody let me know that the toast is burning!" Toss one of the dish towels to the third child you see and tell him to go wave it under the smoke detector.
With one of the other dish towels still folded, fling open the oven door and remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Take it to the sink. Using a butter knife, scrape the black char off the surface of the toast. Wah-la. Super-Duper Easy Toast a-la Lucy.
Serves 6 really, really hungry people or 1 famished dog.
(Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson. E-mail her at email@example.com and visit her Web site, www.ifmama.com.)