It is well past midnight. I am sitting in my son’s ex-room, which I now pretentiously call my studio. My husband just went to the store to get a spider bomb. I like the combination of the word “spider” and “bomb” in the same sentence.
As we were getting into bed tonight, Ebo discovered the bedroom had been colonized. Maybe this is how the original people felt when the British moved into the place we call the United States. This land was my land until the spiders came. Now I am terrified to walk in my bedroom and that gives the enemy great power– and squatting rights. My husband, my hero, has ventured into the night in search of the modern day musket called RAID.
Please do not lecture me on the importance of spiders and how they eat other insects and maintain eco balance and probably even world peace. They belong outside. Not in my house and certainly N O T I N M Y B E D.
I couldn’t finish writing last night. It was too awful.
When Ebo returned from the store fully armed, he laid out the plan. I was to gather pillows, linens, dog beds and dogs and make camp in Zak’s room. He would join me after his work on the front lines was done. I suggested he not take the risk with the dangerous munitions, but he shook his head, saying it must be handled that evening. For once I knew better than to ask.
I waited for him, comforted slightly by the presence of the ever faithful Jake and Juliette. I listened for coughing or gasping or other signs that he might need first aid. Was it only minutes later I heard him emerge from the bedroom and head to the other bathroom to clean up? He walked in the room smelling of soap, looked into my questioning eyes, brought his finger to his lips and said, “Sshhh. Don’t ask”.
I am not arachnophobic: I dislike nearly all insects with equal venom and vigor. When bugs are outside, I respect their right to live, although I sometimes stake out my space and strongly (chemically) discourage them from sharing it. My human brain enables me to do exactly what wasps do, though by different means: protect my nest.
Paula Deen, it is widely reported, was once agoraphobic: her human brain didn’t want her to ever leave her nest. She overcame her fears and, as we all know, went on to live a very public life of fame and fortune. The character on which her celebrity is based– a white-haired, blue-eyed, big living and bawdy Southern gal– is as over-the-top as her food. She has said, “I is who I is”– a statement which encapsulates her persona as an under-educated, strong-willed and proud Southerner.
Ms. Deen used remarkable acuity to turn herself into a brand based on being the “is who she is”. But what happened this past month? Despite her aptitude for marketing the brand as bold, direct and perhaps audacious, Paula Deen seems sorely lacking in Spidey Sense.
Nothing tingled for her about the pharma deal for the diabetes drug, and nothing tingled for her after she admitted to using the n-word. She had to admit to using it– she was under oath. But why on earth did she not also say, “That was 30 years ago. Thirty years ago, I was also agoraphobic, and now look at me. People change– I changed. And I sure as heck wouldn’t even think of using that word now.”
I don’t like bugs the way some people are afraid of a growling, snarling dog tied up on a leash on the other side of a heavy iron fence. I don’t like bugs the way some people are afraid to stand on the ledge of a tall building, even though a very high railing precludes the possibility of falling.
In both cases, our Spidey Sense screams “Danger!” even when the facts say otherwise.
I don’t have Spidey Sense about Paula Deen and racism: I haven’t stood close enough to know who she is. Here’s what I do know: the recipe-reading, food-television-watching world will be better off without her food, which at times seems to have as much butter as it takes– not to impart flavor or texture– but to call big bad attention to itself.
And here’s something else I know: Paula Deen wrote in her memoir that her lowest point in her entire life was when she was 44 years old and bugs came swarming out from beneath her bed. That was long before she was sued for discrimination, bless her heart.
May I suggest, instead of making Paula Deen’s bread pudding with 2 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, a stick of butter, 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar, canned fruit cocktail, sweetened condensed milk and eggs, you try my version?
Apple Walnut Bread Pudding with Warm Maple Syrup Drizzle
Use white, whole grain, sourdough, or raisin bread for this—you’ll get great results (and slightly different cooking times) with each.
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups low fat milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup (plus 1/2 cup for drizzling)
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 cups cubed stale bread (10-12 ounces, depending on the bread)
2-3 apples, peeled and chopped in 1/3-inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 375F. Coat an 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Combine the eggs, milk, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the bread cubes and toss. Let the bread sit in the mixture for 10-20 minutes, and toss it occasionally.
- Stir in the apples and walnuts and transfer to the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and slightly puffed.
- Warm the 1/2 cup of maple syrup in the microwave or on the stove; drizzle over bread pudding just before serving.
Note: When making bread pudding, it is hard to go wrong– even if you don’t measure a thing. Bread pudding may be moist and dense (more liquid, less bread) or more cake-like (less liquid, fluffier bread). Want it to cook quickly? Make it in a shallow pan. Want an impressive presentation? Make it in a deep pan, and you’ll have “high and mighty” looking servings that can be garnished with chocolate flakes, a drizzle of sauce, or a scoop of ice cream.
This may be one of my favorites… I’ve been waiting for your words Marge!
And go Ebo!
Aw, thanks, Kristin. I wish I cold post more often, but my “real” jobs keep eating up all my time. (Eating– get it?)
I loved this Marge! Great writing and with a happy ending…both spider-wise and recipe-wise!
I’m with you on Paula Deen, although I have made my peace with spiders.
The key to making peace with spiders is to have other insects — preferably the kind that bite — in your house. Now, every time I see a spider, I think about how many mosquitoes it’s going to eat.
Seeing as I don’t see you coming around to see it this way any time soon, I will thank Ebo for keeping you sane.
Susan Siegeltuch says
Thank you Marge on all counts. You are a wonderful writer, a terrific story teller, have the most terrific food blog, funny about your spider and insect phobia and have offered us such good insight about Paula Deen.
And last but not least, a delicious recipe that I look forward to trying!
And kudos to Ebo for coming to the rescue! Chivalry is not dead!
YUCK. We had spiders everywhere when we first moved in. An natural way to keep them away: put citrus around door frames and windows (they taste with the tips of their legs and don’t like citrus, especially lemon). Lemon Pledge works well. They also hate chestnuts and mint, so you can leave chestnuts around and get peppermint essential oil.
leigh selby says
Impressive and much more charitable than I could ever aspire to be! You’re a class act with some great alternatives!!
Amy Nieporent says
I have shared insect related incidents with you prior to this (The Great Tick Anniversary Caper) so I well know your love of many legged creatures. You are blessed to have Ebo as your White Knight to protect you not just from creepy crawlies but as a someone to share life with. And he is equally blessed!
Good story, Marge! Thanks to all those sci-fi movies, I too hate ALL bugs. I have those electronic pest repellants plugged in many places throughout my home. The basement has two because of those disgusting cave crickets that manage to get in every summer. The electronic gizmos have reduced bug invasions – especially the cave crickets, spiders and ants – to near zero. But just in case, there are about 5 cans of bug spray all over the house too…
Louise, would you kindly be very specific about the zappers? I m ready to invest my life savings and place one every foot or so in the house. I’d love to know brand, size, effectiveness…anything and everything about them. (Oh, sweet relief!)
Kurt Jacobson says
I applaud your efforts in giving your readers a healtier option to Paula Dean type foods. I refer to such foods as “heart stopping good”.
Love that, Kurt!
I enjoy this blog, but the Paula Deen thing goes way beyond having said the n-word 30 years ago. If you took the time to read the deposition and read her full testimony as well as the other stories that have come to light since, it’s quite obvious that she is at best a terrible person. I don’t really understand the need to defend someone who is not only a racist, but really in general, does not have a good heart.
Elita– I was in no way defending– nor accusing– Paula Deen for being a racist. I don’t know her, nor the facts of the case well enough to make that call. I did mention that she has been an astute marketer of her brand, which addresses only her business savvy and not her morals. If there is even the smallest incident that shows that she exhibited racial bias in the last 30 years, then I will agree that her character is even worse than her food.
I do know enough about her food and recipes to make a judgement call on that: I would rather see someone with her power to engage viewers and readers do so with more wholesome fare. I find some of the egregious use of unhealthy ingredients to border on a question of morality. Again, I have nothing against a cake made with thirty sticks of butter– if that is what it takes to make it wonderful. But when the overall message is to celebrate over-use of unhealthy ingredients in recipe after recipe, including those using packaged, highly processed cake mixes, etc…well, then I have issue.
Oh EBO, such a macho man. He is my hero. You should see him in the ocean. I can’t wait to try your recipe. Maybe when the temp in my kitchen is below 80F. Thats without the oven on.
Thanks for adding your thoughtful, compassionate voice to the overwrought Paula Deen conversation. You’re right, and then some, about her food. But you’re even more right about the woman’s life and the choices she’s chosen to make public.
Love reading your blog–always.