Friday, May 15, 2009

The Polymath Visits the Country, Part Seven

The book needed to get done, so I secluded myself out at the Farm. The Farm is my family’s weekend place, about an hour and fifteen minutes outside Chicago. We've had it for over 30 years and it is one of my favorite places on the planet. It is a lovely place at the end of a long gravel road, with beautiful woods and lots of room and trees and quiet. There is a pool for the summer and a fireplace for the winter, and cable tv, because it isn't exactly about roughing it! When I need to have real peace and quiet and to focus, it is my sanctuary. So with my deadline positively LOOMING, I packed up myself and headed out there to limit distractions.

And then I got bored, so I called my favorite distraction, Jen, and begged her to come visit.

Lying on floats in the pool and discussing our mutual love of procrastination, and the things we do when we should be writing books, and pondering why there were about fifty tiny little baby frogs the size of a thumbnail in the pool with us, I mentioned the recipe contests.

“Oh my god, how are you not gaining weight eating all that food?” She asked me incredulous that I had not doubled in girth.

“Well, good lord, I’m not cooking any of it! I’m just submitting the recipes.” Which is logic that makes sense to me, if not to anyone else.

“You aren’t cooking the recipes?”

“Are you kidding? Can you imagine me making forty butters? I’d be a house!” Instead of my current size, which I think of as more ‘condo’.

“So how do you know they work?”

“Well, I’m a good cook, I know what proportions should be like, I read cookbooks like they’re novels, I subscribe to every cooking magazine known to man, I just make them up.”

“So you’re not really entering cooking contests, you are entering WRITING contests!”

I think about this. “Well, I guess, if you want to be a stickler about it!”

Jen begins to laugh. “That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Don’t people like spend a whole year making their families taste eight-six different versions of things before they enter? And you are just like, la di da, I’ll just make some stuff up and send it in!”

“Well, I have to actually cook the 7up stuff!” I’m feeling a little sheepish with her mocking, and want to defend myself.

“What 7up stuff?”

I explain about my holy grail, the $70,000 7up grand prize.

“Why start cooking now?” Jen snorts. “Why not just make it up!”

“Well…” I hesitate.


“They need a picture of the food.” I admit, knowing full well that if they didn’t, in a million years I wouldn’t bother to test those recipes either. That’s that whole laziness thing again.

Jen stops laughing out a lung just long enough to point out “Dude, you are totally insane, and you have a mini-frog on your neck.”

“You’ll see.” I say, removing the wayward amphibian.

“Yeah, I’ll see allright, when the truckload of Butter Bells shows up at your door!”

I had, in fact, already considered that in addition to the grand prize I might win up to thirty-nine ceramic butter bells, and had made up a list of people to whom I would give them for holiday gifts this year.

I did not mention this to Jen, who was still laughing at me, and mentally crossed her name off the list of possible Christmas butter bell recipients.

NEXT: The Polymath Cooks with 7Up


  1. I heart Jen and now I heart you too. I found myself headed down the recipe contest route with the "Sweet Potato" recipe contest -- and "wrote up" my famous grilled rosemary sweet potato recipe(basically a sweet potato sliced down the middle, drizzled with olive oil, stuffed with thin slices of garlic a rosemary sprig and wrapped in foil and grilled over heat until "done"). Of course, I had never measured the amounts, temperature or time of the cooking -- so my "recipe" was a best guess at best.

    I am still awaiting my $10,000 prize. . . can't imagine where the check is.

  2. Small frogs would make my procrastinating so much more interesting. All I've got is a pile of dirty dishes.

  3. Keep the butter coming, but please, no frog butter.