Dear Diary,

As the FBI agent explained the importance of combating the illegal importation of aged zoo animals, I thought about the last time I visited with my boss’s mother.  We were drinking ginger tea and she asked, “Did you hear that?”  I had heard something but opted to pretend like I hadn’t because I didn’t want to climb the roof (again) to inspect the chimney!  When the noise got progressively louder; I was forced to agree that I’d heard something.  Then I made the mistake of suggesting she probably had mice in her attic.  She panicked and said, “Oh dear!  You must go and see.  My wedding gowns are up there.  The mice will eat them if you don’t take care of it!!!”

I opened the attic door and saw a grotesquely huge raccoon sleeping on what appeared to be shredded wedding gowns!  I calmly closed the door.  Then I called Animal Control.  My boss’s mother was so pleased with my act of bravery that she promised to have her crystal ball ready for my next visit.

I wasn’t looking forward to going over to my boss’s mother’s house; nor was I looking forward to wearing a wire to collect evidence against my boss.  But…   I didn’t want to incur a fine or spend any time in prison.  As the FBI agent continued to talk, I remembered the time I was stuck in a freight elevator.  I was adrift in my own thoughts  when the FBI man said, “Ultimately, it’s about our fight against animal cruelty.  An exotic animal doesn’t belong in somebody’s tricked out suburban basement.  Once the novelty of owning an exotic animal wears off, most owners return to their normal day-to-day lives. And the animals die of neglect.”  I said, “Okay.  I’ve heard enough… wire me up!”

Turns out I didn’t actually have to wear a wire.  All I had to do was sign paperwork authorizing the FBI’s use of my cell phone as a listening device.

Anyway, my boss’s mother was seated and gazing into her crystal ball as I entered the house through the red kitchen door.

 

crystal-ball-by-akwelle-vallis

Dear Diary,

I had a basket full of goodies; phone and umbrella balanced in one hand while my keys were in the other.  Just as I locked the bakery’s front door, I received yet another text from my boss.  It read: “Sudden change of plans.  Mother was hungry.  I made a delicious roast chicken; Parker House rolls; creamy garlic mashed potatoes; broccoli and lemon glazed carrots for supper.  Don’t hate me… but, mother would like a chocolate cake for dessert!  Still bring the banana bread– mother will have that for breakfast.  Take the soup home.  You have my permission to share it with your cats!”  I responded, “See you soon.”

Since my boss’s mother is a raging chocoholic, I had already anticipated her need for something potent.  That’s why I made Fran Bigelow’s “L’orange.”  Anyway, after I re-secured the chocolate cake (in the basket) on top of the container of soup and banana bread, I suddenly remembered the bakery’s daily bank deposit.  I had to visit the bank first!  The bank is exactly one block away from the bakery.  And, my boss’s mother’s house is three blocks away from the bank.

I was finally on my way to my boss’s mother’s house when a tall grey haired man approached me.  I thought he was going to ask what I had in the basket.  Instead, he identified himself as an FBI agent.  He told me, “We’ve been watching you and your boss for some time now.  We don’t have any proof, but we think she’s connected to the Mayor’s wife’s illegal transport and importation of aged zoo animals.  If you’re found to have any knowledge of animals that have been illegally imported/transported here, you could be charged as an ‘Accessory after the fact.’  That means you could face considerable fines and prison time.”  I swallowed and said, “What kinds of animals?”  He said, “Mostly large primates.”  I shook my head in disbelief.  Then he asked, “Would you be willing to collect evidence, i.e. wear a wire?”

“L’orange” cake recipe from the book, Pure Chocolate, by Fran Bigelow
http://www.franschocolates.com

 

Dear Diary,

At 2:30 pm, I received a text from my boss.  It read: “I’m at my mother’s.  Sorry (in advance) for the inconvenience.  But, could you, would you please (with sugar on top), bring us a banana bread (use extra bananas), and whatever soup you made today.”

Soup?

With all the excitement about the Mayor’s wife’s arrest, and the cassava flour palooza, I had completely forgotten to make a soup…  On Sundays, my boss likes to offer an exotic warming soup with one bakery side item for $13.75.  Then I got another text from my boss: “You should remember my mother’s address.  Also, be a dear and enter from the red kitchen door.  The front door’s security camera is whacky and will signal an alarm because I haven’t uploaded your image to its facial recognition software.  Capisce?”  I didn’t understand but wrote, “I’ll be there by 5:00pm.”  She wrote back, “After dark would be better.”

The “after dark” seemed weird, but truthfully it was no weirder than the time my boss asked me to collect cobwebs for her mother’s injured foot.  Looking back, I don’t know how I did it.  But, I did.

Anyway, I needed to make soup PDQ!  Lentils might seem like an odd thing for a bakery to have on hand, but they are incredibly versatile; so I decided to make Ismail Merchant’s “Nimbu Masoor Dal” or lemon lentils.  When the soup was ready, I set off for my boss’s mother’s house.

“Ultimate Banana Bread” recipe from the book, Everyday Grain-Free Baking, by Kelly Smith
http://www.thenourishinghome.com

“Nimbu Masoor Dal (Lemon Lentils)” from the book, Passionate Meals, by Ismail Merchant

 

Dear Diary,

While I sat in disbelief, “Cleopatra” checked her phone for more news about the Mayor’s wife’s arrest.  Then I wondered where my boss was.  She’s rarely ever more than 5 minutes late…

“Cleopatra” showed me her phone and said, “Look… the Mayor is having a press conference!”  An aide to the Mayor spoke first, “The Mayor will make a brief statement.  Please respect the Mayor’s right to privacy at this difficult time. There will be no questions allowed.”  Then the Mayor took to the podium and said, “My wife is innocent!”  The Mayor was about to leave when a reporter jumped up and said, “I’ve heard reports that your wife has been dealing in the illegal importation of animals since before you two were married.  There are allegations that she started her business, ‘Old schooled primates’, while volunteering at a refuge for aged former zoo animals in Africa.  Any truth to that, Sir?”

The Mayor seemed annoyed.  He shook his head and said, “The citizens of this city are too smart to fall for your smear tactics.”  The reporter continued, “Last month (when your wife was in China), she visited a giant panda sanctuary and was quoted as saying, ‘When the aged zoo animal loses his physical appeal he is retired to a wildlife refuge.  Perhaps it’s time to view them differently?'”  The Mayor said, “My wife’s comments speak to the devaluation of all animals as we age.  Furthermore, my wife was in China for medical treatments.”  The reporter sat down and the Mayor left in a huff.

I started to worry about my boss…  Then the oven timer beeped.  The chocolate chocolate chip cookies were ready!

“Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies” recipe from the book, Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson
http://www.nigella.com
i-love-chocolate-chocolate-chip-cookies-by-akwelle-vallis

Dear Diary,

I was up and ready for the day at 4:00 am.  I had leftover savory bread pudding and hot chocolate for breakfast…

When I got to work; I found a note from my boss.  It said: “There was a mix up on the flour order.  I can’t send it back… Figure out a yummy, cost effective way to use it, and I’ll give you another day off.  Maybe next week?  My seminar was such an historic success I’ve decided to have a Part II: ‘The spicy  postnup– Simple negotiation strategies every savvy (married) woman should know!'”  Sounded interesting but I was way more excited about the flour mix up!  It was an opportunity to try something new.  Also, I wanted another day off…

I walked into the kitchen and found 100 pounds of Cassava flour.  I googled cassava flour recipes and got to work.  First up: a yeasty wheat flour like sandwich bread.  On Fridays, my boss prefers to have ready made sandwiches available for the grab n’ go customer…  Next up: tortillas.  In addition to regular sandwiches, my boss likes to offer wraps filled with grilled chicken.  Before I knew it, I had made: brownies; cookies; waffles; pizza dough; crepes; a tempura batter, and pancakes!

I was so preoccupied with the wonders of cassava flour that I didn’t even notice the time.  Anyway, it was 1:00 pm when “Cleopatra” ran into the kitchen.  She said, “Guess what?”  I responded, “Chicken butt.”  She said, “Haha.  I’m serious.  Guess what?”  I couldn’t think; so I said, “Please, just tell me.  My brain is all about cassava flour right now.”   She suggested I sit down.  Then she said, “The Mayor’s wife was arrested!  Turns out, she’s been importing endangered species.  She was caught in a sting operation at that rich man’s place.  And, he’s really an FBI agent!!!!”  I covered my mouth in horror.  I thought about the Mayor’s wife’s box.  Then I wondered what was inside that box that got away…

Cassava flour recipes from: Otto’s naturals– “The Next Generation In Grain-Free Baking”
http://www.ottosnaturals.com

Dear Diary,

It was 2:00 pm.  And, still my day off!  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had so much free time.  Anyway, the Mayor’s wife’s sister paid me in cash; so after counting it; I put the money in my wallet.  That’s when I noticed my Fitness Fantasy gym membership card. Interestingly enough, there was a Fitness Fantasy gym on Route 50.  I thought, “I’ll go to the gym!”  Then I looked at my membership card and realized it expired 2 years ago!  I didn’t require a bigger sign from the universe; so I drove on by…

Next, I saw the Bouncing Bubbles beauty salon.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had my hair done; so I pulled into the parking lot.  There was a sign in the window advertising a Makeover special.  I walked inside, and a receptionist greeted me.  I asked her about the special.  She paused before saying, “Can you come back tomorrow?”  I asked why.  Then she said, “Mr. D is at a hair convention…”  I told her all I wanted was a wash and blow dry.  I didn’t want a makeover.  She made a “hmmm” sound and said, “Well, Miss Tilly is here.”  Another pause.  Then she said, “It’ll be fine; I’ll tell her you don’t want the special.  You want the wash ‘n curl.”  I said, “No, I want the wash and blow dry.  I want my hair blow dried straight.”  She said, “Of course, we list it as a wash ‘n curl when you don’t get makeup.”

She escorted me to the back and handed me a smock.  Then she said, “I’ll wash your hair while Miss Tilly sets up.  Then I’ll walk you to her chair.”  To make a long story short, Miss Tilly was very  old.  I’m not an ageist.  I think  people should work forever.  Nevertheless,  I stopped the receptionist (before we reached Miss Tilly) and said, “I’ll pay for the wash and leave without the dry.”  The receptionist said, “But Miss Tilly sees you.  You’ll break her heart if you leave now.”

I gave in, and sat down.  Miss Tilly looked at me and said, “Let me give you some curls… boys like girls with curls.”  I looked at her and gave in again.  It was 6:30 pm by the time Miss Tilly was done!  She apologized for being a little slow.  Then Miss Tilly said, “You’ve been here so long; you need to eat.”  She opened a drawer; pulled out a ziplock bag, and offered me a few cookies.  She said, “I made these cookies this morning.  They’re like the Ritz-Carlton chocolate chip cookies except mine are better because I used plain m&m’s.”

 

 

Dear Diary,

When the phone call with the Mayor’s wife ended, I knew I should’ve asked more questions…  But, I was flattered by the amount of money someone was willing to pay for my gluten free bread.  I must admit the handmade/homemade stuff tastes better than store bought.

Anyway, the Mayor’s wife’s sister wanted 150 gluten free mini hamburger buns.  That’s it!  The Mayor’s wife instructed me to rent a Zipcar for the day.  She told me, “You’ll have to drive way out to Route 50.  There will be plenty of signs showing you the way.  There’s no way to miss it!”  I should’ve asked a question.  Instead, I thought about all the discount malls on Route 50.  After all, I needed new dinner napkins!

Beyond that, I wasn’t interested in why the Mayor’s wife’s sister would have a family event way out on Route 50 or why she needed 150 mini buns…  Before ending the call, the Mayor’s wife said, “My sister will supply the meat.  All you have to do is be there by noon.”  Again, I should’ve asked a question.

When I arrived at Route 50, I saw a huge circus tent!  I parked the car and walked around.  I thought I was at the wrong place until a woman (who looked similar to the Mayor’s wife) asked me if I was the one with the bread.  I said, “Yes, I’ve got 150 mini buns.”  She said, “Thanks for coming out on such short notice.  I’m sad to say, we’re closing the show and dismantling the tent today…  This is the last anyone will ever hear of my rat circus!  We’ve had too many complaints from The Animal Welfare League…”  She looked away and blew her nose.  Then she said, “My rats were well fed and loved!”  Again, I didn’t ask any questions.  I simply followed her behind the circus tent.  Then she said (through tears), “The meat is… ready.  All you have to do is assemble the burgers for the troupe and your work is done.”  Again, I didn’t ask any questions.

“Sandwich Rounds” recipe from the book, Everyday Grain-Free Baking, by Kelly Smith
http://www.thenourishinghome.com