I decided, in honor of Stij’s early release from the asylum,that I’d make him something special—something that required NO COOKING at all—that he could enjoy without fearing for his well-being and his pocketbook.
I decided on homemade sauerkraut.
First, I bought 20 heads of green cabbage. I was looked at oddly by the checker at the grocery store—especially since her husband sold us the insurance on our house, but I ignored her and tottered out to the car with my purchase.
First, I had to shred it. Since Stij had taken my food processor away from me a couple of years ago, in order to make cooking just difficult enough to be discouraging, I hauled out the big kitchen knife, only to discover that it was so dull it couldn’t have cut Play-Doh.
So, how does one sharpen a knife? I hadn’t a clue. I vaguely remember hearing of a whetstone and searched the junk drawers for one. Here is what I found:
51 playing cards
A pile of feathers (no idea how THEY got there)
A packet of artichoke seeds
Various metal utensils—I didn’t know what they were for, and I’m pretty sure I’d never seen them prior to that moment.
A PAAS egg-dyeing kit that had melted years ago and made the bottom of the drawer look all psychedelic
At the back, I found a little rock. I didn’t know what size whetstones were supposed to be, having no experience with them, but I figured I’d give it a shot.
Five strokes in the sharpening, the stone split in two and the knife would have been buried in my hand if it had been at all sharp.
I thought of calling Stij and asking where the damned stone was, but then decided that it would only cause him anxiety that he didn’t need when he heard I was in the kitchen again…even though I wasn’t cooking.
After another hour and a half of searching, I gave up on the idea of sharpening the knives when I remembered that Stij had recently sharpened up the axe, so I went and got that.
I laid out the cabbage heads, preparing to shred them.
I raised the axe high.
On the down stroke, the axe head flew off the handle and embedded itself in Stij’s 64-inch flat screen TV.
Well, one cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs…or TVs, as the case may be.…
So now I had a subdivided flat screen and 20 heads of cabbage that still needed to be shredded. What to do…
Then, a brilliant idea struck me.
The paper shredder!
I grabbed a head and rushed to Stij’s office. I pulled his document shredder out, turned it on, and stuffed the cabbage head in—and it took some stuffing, let me tell you—that opening wasn’t very wide.
After a moment or two, the shredder emitted a high-pitched whine and burst.
There was cabbage everywhere, but at least it was shredded. It was also loaded with tiny parts and machine oil.
Luckily, I still had 19 heads left.
I dashed back to the kitchen to think. I always do my best thinking in the kitchen.
Maybe the blender would work.
Nope. I got a cabbage frappe that you would have to be awfully drunk to even stand next to.
I was running out of options.
Finally, the solution hit me. It was so simple!
All I had to do was run over the 18 cabbage heads I had left, then rake up the shredded cabbage.
It was brilliant!
I lined them all up, and the first head I ran over got launched into the neighbor’s swimming pool, conking the visiting grandmother, who sank like a stone to the bottom. I called them to get my head of cabbage back, and also to get granny hauled onto dry land. They were not amused, and I didn’t get my cabbage back.
Down to 17 heads then. Still plenty for lots of sauerkraut.
I realigned the heads, then drove over the next one. It jammed the blade and the mower stopped. In dislodging it, I shot-putted it into my other neighbor’s yard where their rabid Chihuahua tried to mate with it until a Pit bull jumped their fence and ate both the cabbage and the Chihuahua. I’d never heard of having Mexican food with a side of cabbage, but who am I to judge?
Sixteen heads and counting.
By the time I was through with the jamming, and the throwing, and the running for my life, I had something approaching a handful of shredded cabbage to show for it. I brought it into the house, tossed it in a small jar, threw some salt on it and covered it tightly.
Eight days later, Stij arrived home. It took the paramedic about an hour to convince him that the house I had moved us to in his absence was still standing and he could remove his hands from his eyes.
He finally did, and I brought him into our new home.
He picked up the mail and sorted through it, opening and reading a few of the letters.
“Dear?” he asked.
“Why do we have a hospital bill for the resuscitation of an 89-year-old woman? And why is there another letter here threatening a lawsuit if we don’t pay to replace an AKC Champion Chihuahua? And why, oh why, is there a vet bill for treatment of a Pit bull’s flatulence problem?”
“You’d be flatulent, too, if you ate a six-pound head of raw cabbage whole.”
“Have you been cooking again?”
I shook my head vehemently, “I have not! Merely doing a little lawn mowing and guess…”
My reply was cut short by the explosion in the pantry that blew the door off and into the hallway.
“But never mind that now—the sauerkraut’s ready!”