Tales From The Cook: Hootenanny

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Deep in the woods of Maine there was a town that was terrorized by a monster. A tiny monster. A monster who had the taste for the things that parents needed the most. On Mondays, the monster went where parents liked to gather after dropping their children off at school. The local cafe. Where he hid behind the cream, ready for the unsuspecting.
When heads were turned, and dashes of cinnamon floated down, he’d strike. Riding a stir stick, he’d horse jump over the sugar cubes into sight with a mighty whoop and holler. He’d lasso the lattes and take off out the door. Leaving parents dismayed and in a fright.By Wednesdays when people drag their feet and don’t feel like cooking breakfast. At restaurants, he’d sneak into purses and pockets and crawl into wallets, stuffing them with bits of leftover cream cheese omelets.
The Monster cast his shadow over the town, and the adults became so afraid of what he might do next, they refused to let their children go out and play.
Brandishing pitchforks and horse hooks the parents demanded the Mayor do something to stop the monster, to make the town a happy place again.
“What do I know about monsters,” the Mayor fretted. “How could I? This monster is under investigation and as soon as I know anything more than you do we will let you know.”
A mom shook her trowel in the air. “Don’t you have a plan?”
“We have to look at the facts,” the mayor sweated.  “What are the monsters motivations?”
“It’s a monster. Monsters want, what monsters do. Don’t be a galoot.”
“I for one want evidence that these mishaps aren’t purely coincidental,” the mayor countered.
“The Mayor’s a coward,” A gravely voice called from the back of the hall. “See he brought his teddy bear.”
“It’s the monster!” Someone shrieked, and the crowd parted.
The Monster roared. Roar! He strode to the front of the hall and hopped on stage. “Do I look coincidental to you? A lesson needs to be learned here. What does a Mayor need the most?”
The parents cowered.
“A mayor needs happy voters. But he is doing a better job of losing you all than I could by taking.”
“What you will take?” the mayor shuddered.
“I’ll take your teddy bear.”
“Not Ole Dumplings. You can have anything, but my Dumplings.”
“You see townspeople. I may be a monster, but he only looks out for himself. A typical politician.” Then the Monster snarled, and disappeared with Dumplings.
“I’ll get you for this monster,” the Mayor vowed. “I swear I will.”
He didn’t know what to do. So he sent a telegram to his cousin Zeke. Dot dash dot dot, he tapped out his message; Have monster trouble, stop. Please come help, stop.
The mayor waited several days, but received no reply. He sent another message, hoping that it would get through. But his cousin never responded, and he thought that the dastardly monster had cut the telegraph wire.
On a Tuesday morning about a week later it was at quarter past nine when the Mayor’s cousin stumbled into city hall with a black eye.
Shocked to see his cousin the mayor asked, “What happened to you? Didn’t you get to my telegrams? We have been having a mess of monster trouble here.”
Surprised Zeke replied, “Telegram? No one has used the telegraph for nearly a hundred years.”
“Then how’d you know to come?” asked the Mayor.
“I thought I might surprise my favorite cousin with a visit. And on my way here when I was just past the south fork junction. I got jumped by a big furry monster. And I almost had him too, but he got the better of me as you can see.” he said pointing to his eye.
“South fork? Monster? Big and furry?” the Mayor moaned. His face went pale and he had to sit down.  “Our monster is a little one that means there are two. He took Dumpling also. What am I going to do?”
Consoling his cousin, Zeke suggested that they go to the local coffee house for a cup of Joe and formulate a plan to rid the town of the monsters.
“Not the coffee house!” The Mayor dreaded, sinking even further into his chair. “That’s the Monster’s favorite place.”
“Well where can we go then?” asked Zeke.
They had to go to the least likely place that the Monster would be, the mayor thought. “We’ll head down to the local drug store.”
Zeke stood up and put on his hat. “The drugstore it is.”
Suddenly, the mayor held his hand up. “No wait. On second thought, the Monster’s sure to be there too.”
“What about the bench at the duck pond in the park,” Zeke suggested.
“No, not that either, adults need quiet. The Monster is real keen on that stuff,” the Mayor said sadly.
Zeke’s eyes lit up, and he knew where to hide. They went to the secret place where kids go when they imagine. Whispering of dinosaur riding pirates to throw the Monster off their track, they hid under the coats on the coat rack. They worked on a plan so sneaky it would even fool their mothers.
It was a smart monster, and they knew they would somehow have to pull the wool over its eyes. After much discussion they concluded parents love to go dancing, and enjoy relaxing entertainment. A real good to honest hootenanny with a prize for the best thingamajig to lure the Monster into their trap was the answer.
They would get The Beautiful Miss Daralene from Pittsburgh to perform, and the opera-singing parrot from Tuscaloosa to accompany her. It’d be a real scream.
“You make the calls, and start some scuttlebutt around town,” Zeke said with delight. “And I’ll get a piano for the gazebo in the town square. You take this basket and I’ll back you up with my hat. And when the Monster comes, we’ll nab him just like that.”
Rubbing his hands, the mayor could barely contain his laughter that no monster could resist a hootenanny.

Hootenanny

1 stick butter
6 eggs, beaten
1 c. flour
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt

Melt butter in a large cast iron pan. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix beaten eggs, flour and milk with a wire whip; add salt. Pour mixture into pan with melted butter. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with your favorite monstery delights.

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