Meal-in-a-Box (Pass the Wine, Please)

After seeing so many ads for how I could be my own chef with ingredients picked out just for me and a few hundred-thousand others, I was ready to order at 50% off my first shipment.

But wait. I had to choose whether I wanted shellfish, meat, vegetarian, vegan, non-GMO, organic, natural, low-sodium, gluten-free, or surprise-me. Instead I picked up the phone and dialed Pizzas Are Us, poured a glass of healthful red wine, and composed this ditty about my vexation of too many choices with these boxed ingredients for a meal. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent.):

House Chef, Blue Chef,

isn’t there a Wine Chef?

Day Basket, fruit basket,

I think-I’m getting-looped basket.

Hi Fresh, farm fresh,

I really want a pizza fresh.

Carnivore, herbivore,

are there any fries du jour?

Black Apron, burnt apron,

too-close-to-the-stove apron.

Gluten free, cage free,

I’m-terribly-confused free.

Chop, stir, flip, stir,

the-meat-fell-on-the-floor stir.

Peas roll, carrots roll,

another glass of wine roll.

Fast food, quick food,

I-really-need-my-fix food.

And so the doorbell rang, and my boxed pizza came to me, cooked and piping hot, and my gleaming appliances and perfectly pressed apron stayed clean.

Cheers!

HOLIDAY OVERLOAD

Holiday Goodies

There’s always something

last minute to do,

like dashing downtown

only to stand in a queue.

Or tying up packages

with bells and some bows,

then forget what it was

we had wrapped–oh no!

The sound of sweet carols

fill the night air,

but try as we might,

our minds are elsewhere.

There are cookies to bake

and eggnog to buy,

yet we haven’t a clue

what we put in the pie.

Remember the reason

our homes are bedecked,

so sit down awhile

and take time to reflect.

May you and your loved ones

have joy, love, and peace,

and in the new year

may blessings not cease.

(Now go put your feet up!)

–Anne Skalitza

SLINGING THE RAILROAD BLUES

We, the traveling family of four, lurched through several train cars to the dining car. Somewhere between the Asleep-By-Six car and the Beware-Of-Children-Screaming car, part of our party became separated. You’d think we were on different continents, the way a few of us reacted once we were reunited (oh thank you dear God!) at our assigned table. As we readjusted to this wonder of finding our family members on a speeding train where no one can get off or lost (except maybe among the bathrooms on the lower level), a server marched over to us. Directing her words at me, she remarked how I have to enjoy the trip, not get my britches in a knot, and well, chill.

I was puzzled. I was the one who was okay; I had known where everyone was. I was merely looking forward to a meal and a glass of wine. The server parted by rubbing my back. Hey, if I wanted a massage, I’d go to a spa, and bumpy train rides were in no way spas.

As she moved on to the next hapless family, she wore a satisfied smile like she changed the leadership of the state we were traveling through. The three members of my entourage debated what just happened and segued into who of our little group was at fault. I drank my wine.

Needless to say, the Pinot Grigio was especially refreshing. We held on to our plates and glasses and silverware as we swayed along with the passing houses, farms, and fields. We, the passengers, refrained from singing the railroad blues, and chatted and laughed and drank. We wrestled cutting the sirloin steak with butter knives since on a jolting train, steak knives could be lethal. Needless to say, with all the energy directed toward trying to eat and half the food landing on our laps, our caloric intake rivaled that of a two-year-old’s.

After dinner, I made my way through the dining car, sidling past the server, and thankfully she didn’t rub my shoulders. But I could have sworn I heard her whisper, “Don’t get upset about food stains. It’s all good.”

I wished I had saved my strawberry ice cream. It would have looked lovely on her crisp white shirt.

My Main Character Cooks !

Stormy Deane, from my latest book, Looney Dunes,  doesn’t like getting herself dirty, either with dirt or food. In fact, she’s always on the lookout for the perfect apron that would cover her from neck to toes. She also loves meals that contain no preservatives and are made from scratch. It has to be easy, too, since she’s dealing with a house full of boarders, ranging from the quirky Whatts sisters to the cute guy, Carl, who just might capture her heart. This tomato sauce fits the bill.

Go here for the easiest, most delicious tomato sauce ever!