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Butter Question On A Social Networking Site

(The following is a recent online conversation I had about butter, salt, and margarine with some of my friends on a certain social-networking site. Names have not been changed to protect any innocents. All are guilty!) Read the rest of this entry »

The Bachelor Goat Who Liked To Eat: A Cautionary Tale

(To be recited in an elegant English accent or Suessian manner near a big red barn, overlooking grazing goats, while standing on your head in the mud, until the farmer chases you off his property with a shotgun.) There once was a young goat named Gatsby the Bleater, who never stopped feeding, he was such a big eater. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandma Gottschall’s Dutch Apple Cake

applecake dutch apple cake recipe cookWeirdly, breakfast is the one meal where you eat dessert as a main course.  Think about it:  Froot Loops and Lucky Charms, pancakes and waffles with syrup, crepes and blintzes, coffee cake and danishes, Pop Tarts and doughnuts.  It’s insane!  (I had some chocolate this morning to ‘test’ things.)  And Dutch Apple Cake.  I’m not sure what makes it a breakfast food.  Often, my Grandma Gottschall’s Dutch Apple Cake is served warm in a bowl with milk poured over it, so maybe that does it.  Mom and grandma made Dutch Apple Cake for those fancier breakfasts (foodfight-free fests) when we‘d all chow down together in a meaningful way.  This happened at least once yearly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Secret Ingredients and Family Recipes

recipe box recipes

not my recipe box (don't have one)

by Jonathan Boxlunch Perry

Recently, I visited my mom in Minnesota, and while there I took the opportunity to dig through her recipe boxes and copy my favorite recipes for yummy happy eating time.  Fortunately, I had my camera, so I just photographed them.  You didn’t think I was going to hand copy 25 recipes in one sitting, did you?  I’m not a medieval monk.  In fact, during my visit, she helped me cook some stuff, even though she’s been quite ill.  Actually, I helped her.  The food was delicious, I got fatter, we bonded, I practiced domesticity.  There you go.  This will help me circumvent having to call her for recipes.  I’ll still call her, of course, being the doting son and mama‘s boy that I am.  It’ll just be more for the weather report.  And tips on removing stains.  Stuff like that.  Oh, and to check up on her.

So we grow up with these tasty dishes and hopefully learn to make them ourselves or mate with someone who can make reasonable facsimiles and hope there‘s no withheld secret ingredient to throw off a recipe.  I mean, who would do that?  Who does grandma think she is, passing off recipes without all the ingredients?  Is there some posthumous cooking contest she’s trying to win?  Her competition is either dead or senile in a home and  isn’t allowed near the stove anyway for fear of a fiery death.  Or did she think Kellogg-Kraft was going to rip off her 10-layer lasagna and cash in?  And what if grandma goes to the great beyond before she shares her terrible secret (which is probably a teaspoon of cinnamon)?  I’ll tell you what, you’ll be stuck eating inferior food the rest of your life and may be forced to abandon family tradition for Martha Stewart’s hoity-toity ringer recipe that requires obscure ingredients like Mongolian goat bouillon!  or whatever.  Well, that just won’t do.  Also, I’m a non-goat-eating vegetarian.  Only fake-goat bouillon for me, thank-you.

recipe texas sheet cake

Texas Sheet Cake Recipe

I’ve helped my mom make many of these dishes over the years and can probably replicate them if forced at gunpoint, though quite slowly and not as expertly.  One thing I noticed while searching the recipe boxes is that many of these recipes were ones she acquired from her friends over a period of 50+ years.  They say things like “From the Kitchen of Linda” or Vicki or Arlene.  There are also those special recipes from my grandmas and even an awesome one from my great-grandma Gottschall:  Dutch Apple Cake.  Yum!  It’s nice to know you’re making something that your great-grandma made 80 years ago.  Perhaps she got the recipe from her great-grandma, pushing the baked goods lineage back a few hundred years into Europe when sugar was first making a diabetic splash (you try not to suspect the recipe was copied from a 1930s issue of Better Homes and Gardens).

I always look forward to my mom, grandma and aunts cooking for me.  They make great stuff and sometimes there are weird memories tied to the food, like that time mom made lentils and my brother Jay tricked her into giving him the birthright.  Good times (see Genesis).  But these moments are fading.  It’s a good thing my brothers and I cook (well, mostly my brothers) or some of these recipes would just disappear forever and everyone would forget what Broccoli Jello Surprise tastes like (okay, that‘s not a family recipe).  Actually, I’m sure many have disappeared from generation to generation, which is sad.  Really, though, it’s survival of the fittest recipes.  I only copied about 25 recipes, after all, not the full 200.  (I never claimed to be an archivist.  I‘ll get more later.).  But of the recipes I have, all the ingredients seem to be intact, which is a relief.  Everything tastes right.  No glaring omissions from grandma.  No wrong-tasting Special K Loaf.  No secret ingredients withheld.  Unless the secret ingredient is love (and that just seems like a therapy issue).

Stay Tuned for a Bachelor Eating eBook!

the secret word is bouillon

Fooood Posts

9 Foods I Might As Well Move To The Bomb Shelter

Berry Smoothie & the Magic Blender

Easter Recipe: Mom’s Creamed Eggs and Croutons

How Cooking Hijacked My Diet

Becoming A Domesticated Bachelor: Step #4. Learn To Cook

My Bachelor Weight Loss Secrets: Sticking It To The Terrorists

Becoming A Domesticated Bachelor: Steps 8 & 9. Proper Socialization/Throw Parties

Becoming A Domesticated Bachelor: Step #3. Shape Up, Fatty

Stuffed French Toast By Sam The Cooking Guy

Oral History Fixation Cooking

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My Family’s Christmas Rituals

he-man spiderman nativity

A special kind of nativity

We’ve reached that time of year where I shamelessly exploit my family Christmas traditions by noting that I’ve written a book called The Gentle Art of Starting A Cult:  A Do-It-Yourself Guide, wherein I compare certain family Christmas traditions to cult rituals.  It’s really all very harmless.  Ah, what fond memories.  < > Hope you had a great Christmas.

Family CHRISTMAS RITUALS

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Hibernation Time: Breaking The 40 Pound Barrier

It's hibernation time

As you may or may not know, I’ve been shedding pounds like snake skin since last April.  It had a little to do with improving self-confidence, especially around quiet bookish girls, and I’ve kept at it.  I lost 25 pounds pretty quickly (in 12 weeks), and eked my way to 30 lbs by Labor Day, but it’s been slow going since.  I’ve even lost another 6-7-8 pounds, depending on the day.  That means as much as 38 lbs total since April (today is a fat day, so it might only be 36 lbs right now).  I’ve hit a wall, though.  I can’t quite break the 40 pound barrier.  Inspirations and motivations have waned steadily the last few months and that might have contributed to my stagnation.  Also, my front lawn has become tundra and I seem to have rediscovered sugar (mostly chocolate).

Being a few pounds shy of 40 pounds for 2-3 months is a bummer, but I did well not fattening up for the holidays.  In fact, when I was in CA visiting family for Christmas, I went on several walks in my grandparents’ neighborhood.  This, of course, was a necessary therapy that kept me from madness around certain relations, but it also kept me from becoming the Christmas goose.  In fact, I weighed in thinner than both my brothers for the first time in forever which is pretty awesome.  Now that my birthday is next week, Groundhog Day, even, I feel it’s my duty to force the issue and finally reach the mythical 40 pounds by my birthday, even if I have to starve myself that last 36 hrs.  I’m pretty sure I could do it.  It’s 3-4 pounds in about 7 days, so it’ll be close, but I’ve done it before. It would be a cool birthday present.

Hitting those round marks is great.  20 pounds.  25.  30.  35.  By April Fools I’d like to hit 50 pounds.  Heck, why not by St. Patrick’s Day?  Oh, the dream of thinness lives on.  Getting those good abs back by summer would be swell.  From there, who knows.  Maybe Gandhi-chic.

The secret word is bear.

Related Reading:

How Cooking Hijacked My Diet

Becoming A Domesticated Bachelor: Step #4. Learn To Cook

My Bachelor Weight Loss Secrets: Sticking It To The Terrorists

Becoming A Domesticated Bachelor: Steps 8 & 9. Proper Socialization/Throw Parties

Becoming A Domesticated Bachelor: Step #3. Shape Up, Fatty

Stuffed French Toast By Sam The Cooking Guy

Oral History Fixation Cooking

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CHRISTMAS RITUALS

by Jonathan Bismuth Perry

I’m quite disappointed this Nativity Creche isn’t mine. Click to enlarge.

Before the season is too far gone, I wanted to share my family’s swell Christmas traditions with you in order to engender your deepest sympathies.  One day I hope to have my own family and will then be forced to carry on many of these highly specific holiday rituals I’ve grown to love (minus the Golden Insulin Needle Award).  Until then, it just so happens I’ve written about these traditions in my unpublished book, The Gentle Art Of Starting A Cult: A Do-It-Yourself Guide, in the chapter “Developing Rituals“, excerpted here for your mockery.  So take this holiday greeting card of love and stick it where the sun don’t shine (Iceland) from December to March.  But mostly in December.

Our family, like the legions of mankind, is blighted with tradition and has some long established Christmas rituals it returns to year after year because of habit and not at all by force. Christmas Eve finds us gathered anticipatorily in the living room near the Christmas tree where we place wagers on when the dry stick will go up in a glorious fireball of holiday sacrifice. Then we sing through an ancient hymnal of carols like good Whovillagers and execute a small family talent show wherein various members juggle, mime the Nutcracker Suite, or a pianist playing Handel accompanies a castrato or a nose flautist. As we bask in the glow of the pagan tree (pre-fire or post, if Jay wins), we might read the Christmas story from the Bible or Charles Dickens.

After that, we painfully delay the gift unwrapping a little longer to consume special high fat Christmas party foods: mom’s fudge, sugar cookies decorated like Menorah (breaks apart with those little candlesticks), English Toffee, Russian Tea Cakes, Iraqi Chocolate Chip Cookies, eggnog (virgin), fruitcake (virgin), and cheeseballs (Uncle Dan).  Apparently, there are also sandwiches and a veggie tray in a pretense of a balanced meal.


A senior member of the family is then designated as Santa, though not forced into a red jumpsuit or Grizzly Adams hirsuteness, and removes gifts from under the tree, distributing one gift per round to each member of the family, until it is discovered that one lucky person has received many more presents than the other members of the family (gift equality is an important part of any communist gifting system). We explain this oversight by pointing out that this person isn’t really the family favorite, but that some of the numerous gifts were less expensive than the few gifts. This fools no one.  Still, a good time is had by all/most, and we unwrap and enjoy our grand gifts by breaking them (except when the gifts can break other things) and appreciate the wonderful and colorful Christmas decorations, like the Nativity Creche (not Koresh) with the three elves and white Gandalf action figure, until the wee hours of the morning.


On Christmas morning, after at least 2 hours of sleep, during which time the senior family members secretly filled the stockings with exciting and high calorie content trinkets, we descend as happy vultures onto the stockings at the mantelpiece and, with the festively shaped chocolate or candy canes hidden inside, recreate the buzz of the sugar high from the night before. It’s at about this time that the family presents its Diabetic of the Year with the Golden Insulin Needle Award(which immediately comes in handy).  We call it the GINA.  Someone very clever and naughty might try to rename it the Virtually Annual Golden Insulin Needle Award.  It would also make the award shape ironic.  We wouldn’t stand for that, though.


In Christmas seasons past, especially when my brothers and I were kids, we would go caroling with family, friends, and members of our church around to homes in randomly selected neighborhoods without neighborhood watch signs. We would sing hearty Christmas carols in multi-part harmony with our pre-pubescent voices and collect money for the poor (I never saw a penny of it) in spite of grumps with rifles and strict non-solicitation laws. Then, when we were done for the night, we would go back to a central location for hot chocolate and cookies. And insulin.  All highly specific rituals. Mostly sugar focused. Quite memorable. Things like these make me feel a part of a family. Reminds me that I don’t do much of this stuff anymore and really should consider seeking some sort of therapy for depression (or, maybe, start a cult.  Or a family.).

Um, Merry Christmas.  We don’t all have Diabetes.  What are your Christmas traditions?  What would you add to your traditions if you could?

The secret (made-up sounding) word is hirsuteness

Christmas Reads:

My 11 Favorite Christmas Albums

Holiday Chocolate-For Independence Day?

11 Steps To Becoming A Domesticated Bachelors: #s 8 & 9. Proper Socialization/Throw Parties

Holiday Hosting Survival Guide

Unrelated Groovy Reading:

Sound Of Music Death Match!! Liesl v Maria

Depeche Mode and High School Girls

Google-Stalking The Ex

Which is Your Type?  A Pseudo-Cosmo Quiz

Will Your Siblings Use Up the Good Names?

Kitten of Evil

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How Cooking Hijacked My Diet

Swedish Chef.  Bork

Swedish Chef. Bork

by Jonathan Bork Bork Perry

So, I’ve put a moratorium on the baking and cooking.  I was pleased with myself to finally be making non-sandwich food.  I’d done it before, just not so compulsively and not in a long while.  But here’s the conundrum:  Extra cooking means more eating and less weight loss.  My remedial chef skills are coming around (sort of) and it’s great to eat tasty junk you’ve made yourself.  However, this generally means fixing a dish or pan or something that might serve a hockey team, but I live alone, so I end up eating brownies for several days.  Or cake.  Or peach cobbler a la mode (All from boxes.  Don’t get too excited, mom.).

Now, I really have been trying to lose weight.  Between April and June, I lost 20 pounds.

Berry Cobbler-July 12

Berry Cobbler-July 12

So far, I’ve lost 30 pounds, as of today, actually, but based on my earlier trajectory I should have lost 50 pounds by now (I know it slows down as you get closer, but whatever). I started this whole kitchen self-improvement/domestication thing with the aforementioned baked goods as well as cooking falafel, pasta, and eggs, but it’s totally messed up my well-designed weight-loss plan.  Certainly I could freeze things or refrigerate them, but eh.  The stuff’s there calling my name.  I must answer, if only for research.

Cake-June 14. Went bad b4 I could eat it all

Cake-June 14. Went bad b4 I could eat it all

For years, I’ve eaten microwaveable meals from the likes of Weight Watchers or Lean Cuisine, even though I haven’t been in those diet programs (grocery stores carry the dinners). I still eat them regularly for maybe 25% of my meals. These portions are well-sized and usually fairly healthy. I generally eat well, with the huge exception of  desserts, especially chocolate.  I scarf that stuff down like a drowning person coming back up for air.  Still, I’ve even learned to control myself with the sugar stuff.

Falafel (not actually the batch I made)

Falafel (not actually the batch I made)

So, what have I learned from all this?  I’ve learned to pace myself with the cooking and baking, to try cooking some more healthy foods (possibly inedible sounding stuff), to not be afraid to freeze things (I wasted a third of a cake because I didn’t freeze it), and that I should work on my self-control, especially when it comes to baked goods still warm and gooey from the oven.  Mmmm.  Oh, and maybe I could take some excess food to work and pawn it off on the coworkers, or something.  Doing these things should help me strike a balance between eating healthy and being the Swedish Chef.

non-magical brownies-June 27

non-magical brownies-June 27

Related Reading:

Becoming A Domesticated Bachelor: Step #4. Learn To Cook

My Bachelor Weight Loss Secrets: Sticking It To The Terrorists

Becoming A Domesticated Bachelor: Steps 8 & 9. Proper Socialization/Throw Parties

Becoming A Domesticated Bachelor: Step #3. Shape Up, Fatty

Stuffed French Toast By Sam The Cooking Guy

Oral History Fixation Cooking

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My Bachelor Weight Loss Secrets:
Stickin’ It To The Terrorists

weights russian

by Jonathan Beanpole Perry

I’m pleased to say that over the last 12 weeks or so I’ve lost 25 pounds!  (I sort of had to starve myself the last few days to drop those last 2 pounds, despite a huge nacho craving, but I did it!)  Otherwise, no magic tricks.  No feathers (though I was inexplicably sick a few days).  This weight loss has been from a mix of diet and exercise.  I’ve had less sugar and fewer desserts (I’m a big chocolate ice cream freak), smaller meal portions, and replaced a few dinners a week with shredded wheat bran cereals, which I’ve suffered through stoically (I’m very brave.  And regular.).

I’ve been taking lots of walks around the neighborhood and am now on the neighborhood watch list.  I also walk to the park or lake, and do some cycling at home as well as a 10 minute weight-lifting regimen every other day.  In fact, I’ve gained muscle weight, so really I might have lost like, say, 28 pounds of fat and gained 3 pounds of muscle (might be some brain mass loss, too). It’s nifty to need smaller pants and a new belt.  I could wear the old pants and do that whole lowrider pants hanging above the butt thing, but would probably trip and die.

Not my Hobbit feet

Not my Hobbit feet

I haven’t been down to this weight level since 2001.  That year I went to Germany with my uncle and cousins for 3 weeks and lost a few pounds.  A few weeks later, the Twin Towers were destroyed.  I’d like to blame the terrorists for that ensuing weight gain (coincidence?  I think not.).  But I’ve lost all that weight again.  I’m still not at my college weight, which I may not reach, but losing another 25-35 pounds would be super.  That should put me near the upper range of normal for my height.  That’ll show the terrorists.

Every so often I’ll lose a few pounds, just to tease myself.  “Oh, look!  I’m losing weight!  Yay!”  (Muppet hands waving).  Then, dejectedly, “Oh, no.  Shamu.”  I seem to lose the most weight when I go on vacation or travel to a foreign country for a few weeks, especially if there’s hardcore tourism involved or very few places with veggie food (Britain had lots of veggie food, so the weight loss must have been from that crazy UK itinerary tracking down all those cathedrals and doing laps around them).  I’ve lost the most weight when I’ve been particularly motivated.  Feeling better, being healthier and better looking (for the womenz) are huge motivators.  I’d like to go swimming again without feeling self-conscious, though I’d still be super pale.  I’d also like to become that Domesticated Bachelor dude I keep hearing about on this awesome blog.

whale cakeOff and on for a few years I took that Hydroxycut weight-loss supplement at the suggestion of my youngest brother Chris who’d had success losing weight with it.  I had no perceptible weight change using Hydroxycut.  Fortunately, I was undisciplined enough to use less than two bottles over 5 years.  Little did I know he was secretly trying to kill me.  You’ll get your comeuppance, Chris!  After it had been removed from the market for causing liver damage and death (goody), I notified my brother, who, only fearing for his life a little, suggested I hold on to the bottle, in case any remuneration was offered (he didn’t actually use that word).  So, it’s still there, lingering in my medicine cabinet. Waiting.

Anyway, I lost weight without a miracle drug, so yay for me!  I hope to keep losing it for a while and one day be normal again (weight-wise).  For now, I think I’ll go celebrate and bake a cake.  Maybe make some nachos.

Further Reading:

11 Steps: #3- Shape Up, Fatty

11 Steps: #2- The Right Wardrobe

11 Steps: #4- Learn To Cook

11 Steps: #5- Travel The World

Holiday Chocolate

11 Steps: #s 8 & 9: Proper Socialization/Throw Parties

Oral History Fixation Cooking

Read Some of the Best Posts:

Logan’s Run & Population Control

Google-Stalking The Ex

Sound Of Music Death Match!!! Liesl v Maria

Esperanto Rhymes With Tonto

Valentine’s Day Shame

World Of Warcraft…Dating?

Bachelors In History

Bachelor Profiles: Mad King Ludwig

Will Your Siblings Use Up The Good Names?

Kitten Of Evil

Celebrity Crushes: The Girl Next Door

Which Is Your Type? A Pseudo-Cosmo Quiz

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Holiday Chocolate-For Independence Day?

chocolate-flagby Jonathan B. Perry

Holiday chocolate is one of those bad seasonal diversions that’s totally awesome and has definitely contributed to my girthiness.  Special holiday candies start invading the stores as early as August to get an early jump for Halloween.  Halloween is probably the one time where you can get away with buying lots of candy without being stared at like you’re a dude who just bought an issue of Seventeen Magazine.  It’s always assumed that you’ll generously give away the candy to charmingly dressed trick-or-treaters in the annual ritual gorge fest.  In the ten years I lived in my basement apartment, I never once had a child dare to come down for treats.  It’s possible no one noticed there’s an apartment down there, but I suspect that if they were aware of it, they were likely daunted by the inherent spookiness caused by a shadowy subterranean porch whose retaining wall threatened to instantly crush any foolish young candy-beggar.  That’s fine.  More chocolate for me.

Even pre-Halloweenery, the glorious Christmas chocolate collective starts lurking on the edges of the undisplayed, anxious for the day after Halloween to take over the world for its two month reign of tastiness.  I suppose buying chocolate as stocking stuffers is as good an excuse as any.  I usually find plenty of varieties to sample.  Right after Christmas comes that sad Valentine’s Day candy for the tacky romantics which really only serves as a brief lead-in for the fantastic Easter candy.  This brings us all the way through April, which is, coincidentally, when I start losing weight each year.  At this point in my life, I don’t have to wait for and rely on my parents to supply me with a one-time gifting of seasonal candy, which is too bad, since now it seems to be almost on i.v..  These days, I stock up on the Christmas chocolate so that there’s usually enough left to hold me over until at least right after Valentine’s Day when the Easter stuff is at hand.  Then, I stock up on the Easter candy, usually running out of it in May, or June if I’m particularly frugal.chocolate-easter

I’m a little surprised candy companies haven’t figured a way to market for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.  Out of these, it seems that Independence Day would be the easiest American holiday to exploit with chocolate, but this day is already held down by apple pie and homemade ice cream and it’s hot this time of year, so I suppose chocolate would just be something else to melt in your hands.

After work one day (circa March), I dropped by Target to buy Easter chocolate (By the way, Have you ever noticed that most of the employees at Target are attractive young women between the ages of 17 and 25?  I find this to be an excellent reason to shop there.  At WalMart you might only save money.  The KMarts in our area have all been closed according to the natural order of things.).  At Target I bought Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, Cadbury Mini Eggs, Milky Way Crème Bunnies, and Dove Truffle Eggs, which happen to be my seasonal favorites.  I knew there was something else non-chocolate on the list, but couldn’t think of it.  Still, I forced myself to buy a few non-chocolate items if only so that I didn’t seem like an unbalanced chocolate perv:  facial cleanser (for chocolate induced acne) and a St. Patrick’s Day card which probably went out to my cousin Dan as a birthday card.  That’s another un-chocolated holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s already the high holiday for alcoholism, so it’s good we don’t overburden it with more addictions.  What would a St. Patrick’s Day candy be like anyway?  Leprechaun-shaped chocolates filled with chocolate liquor?  Irish whiskey filled chocolate Shamrocks colored green?chocolate-shamrock

I miss the Easter baskets we had as kids.  Our parents filled the colorful wicker containers with loads of deadly chocolate items which we would wake up to on Easter morning.  It was kind of a constraint dare.  All this chocolate at a child’s disposal was supposed to be spread out for at least a few days.   We were even told this as if it had real meaning.  If you think about it, this is just like getting chocolate in your stocking on Christmas morning, but set 3 months later in the spring when there aren‘t so many gifts to weaken the chocolate impact.  Not to mention that you’d be eating tons of hard-boiled eggs and, for people not in my family, ham.  A very healthy holiday.  Secretly, I feel the candy industry must work hand-in-hand with the diabetes industry, the reflux gang, dentists, and the weight-loss cabal, but understand that it’s only business and don’t mind playing along to some degree, especially since I‘m addicted, perhaps genetically.  This just leaves me as chunky as ever, which is depressing.  But you know what’s good for depression?  Chocolate.

Vaguely Related Reading:

Valentine’s Day Shame

Shape Up, Fatty

Will Your Siblings Use Up The Good Names?

Bachelors In History

Google-Stalking The Ex

Men Without Cats
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