Sunday, September 24, 2006

Accessories: The King James Version

Tragic, but true: in my search for affordable fashion pieces I committed a socialist sin. Last weekend I bought a headband at Forever 21, that bastion of teenybopper trendiness. How could I help it? Krista was in town and needed to tour downtown shops, and our twinhood demanded velvet bows!

And yes, I am aware that the reason my headband was $2.80 was because someone somewhere was sorely underpaid. Barbara Ehrenreich in Nickel and Dimed talks about how her co-workers at Target were hard pressed to even afford a $5 shirt on sale, and when trolling through the obscene mounds of dresses at Forever 21 I think about that loveliest of shopping epiphanies, class struggle. I'm there buying the cheapest thing I can find for my penny-filled wallet, and those to whom this adolescent bargain basement is a steal troll the most expensive thing they can afford, and so on and so forth, creating the layer cake of bank accounts, the, ah, SAVE WATER DRINK BEER flocked ringer at the store, if you will. For teenagers, no doubt, who needn't worry about being forever 21 as they haven't yet been it.

And then there was the bottom of the shiny yellow plastic schoolbus of a bag the headband came in. JOHN 3:16. Oh, dear Jesus. I had to consult the King James online to find out that the passage reads as follows: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Now, I find it mighty ironic that the very company which makes clothes built to last as long as one's first menstrual cycle is concerned with everlasting life. Are cheaply made garments a marker of time, a signpost declaring "only eternity more to go"? I'd look awfully silly in my headband in less than 35 years, if it lasts more than three months, that is. And if I wanted to return my purchase I couldn't. The store doesn't offer refunds. Forever mine.

Dear reader, I ask you this most of all: does anyone honestly want to believe in God so that one can not only live forever, but be forever 21?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ask the Obstinate Tortilla Again

Dear Obstinate Tortilla,

You gave such good advice before, that I wanted to write you with a very pressing concern. Namely, that I was wondering what topics people really try to avoid bringing up on first dates, such as anal leakage (of which I, for better or worse, have none).


Dear Shana,

The Obstinate Tortilla knows the answer:
Put cheese in me, I'm toasty and warm.
Additionally I will add:

Camel toe
Those heinous pizzas with garlic cream in the crust
Any Baldwin
Hepatitis (C or otherwise)
Rapacious neighbors
Athlete's foot
Love of canines

Yours truly,
The Obstinate Tortilla

P.s. Anyone is encouraged to write in to ask The Obstinate Tortilla with their questions. I will answer, but you must provide SALSA!!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dundee Cake

While reading Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman about the making of the OED, I stumbled upon a mention of Dundee cake. Allowing myself total narcissism at 5:30 in the morning after a night of tossing and turning (baby crying next door, angsty dreams about dormlife past), I thought, "That's MY cake!" and scuttled off to find a recipe online. Tragedy of all tragedies (hyperbole, folks), it's really a glorified fruitcake. Now, as Sir Moore of Belfast outlying would say, I AM a fruitcake (genus Americana), but I would like to retort that though I may be, I don't wish to EAT one.

Nonetheless, for you readers who enjoy things cooked with fruit peel, the recipe below. Requirements: think of me, and of mother Scotland.


1 cup flour
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup blanched almonds
3 T mixed fruit peel (oranges, mostly)
6 oz each of currants, raisins, white raisins
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp baking powder
2 T whisky
2 T boiled milk and 1 T sugar

Cream the butter and 1 cup sugar in a bowl. Slowly add the four eggs (one at a time), plus a spoonful of flour with each, beating well all the time. Stir in the nuts and fruits.

Sift the flour with the baking powder. Add this dry mixture in with the eggs, butter and sugar. Add the whisky. If the mixture is too stiff, add a touch of milk.

Place mixture in an 8-inch greased and lined cake tin. Flatten the top with hands which are slightly wet. Cover with foil or greaseproof paper and bake at 325 F for two hours. Halfway through, take off the foil and arrange the split almonds in concentric circles on the top of the cake. Check the cake with a skewer towards the end of cooking to ensure it comes out clean.

Boil the 2 T milk with the 1 T sugar. 5 to 10 minutes before cooking is finished, brush the top with the sweetened milk to create a dry glaze. Keep in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out on a wired tray. Store in an airtight container. Do not gift results to your friend Audrey, even though her dang birthday falls so close to Christmas.