Don’t Mess with the Waitresses

My friends are the new campus couple. They’re now in charge of bringing the spirit of shabbos to Stern, and they’re excited. But, as with all new jobs, they want to make sure they start off on the right foot. So, in preparation for the first week, my friend asked me – a Stern shabbos veteran of 3 years – for the best piece of advice I could offer.

“Don’t mess with the waitresses.”

She answered my speedy response with hesitation. “Ok,” she said seriously “…what does that mean?”

“To rephrase,” I smiled, to lighten the mood, “sometimes you’ll think that you can do things better, or you’ll think that there’s a problem. When that happens at a meal, work with the waitresses. They’ve been around the know what’s going on. Not that you can’t change things – but if you want to, you need to talk with the waitresses; don’t order them around.”

“Ok,” she agreed warily.

I left it at that. A little fear is healthy when dealing with the waitresses.

Congratulations to Schwesty

Fabulous Dessert

My favorite beautician goes by the name of Fab. The salon she works at demands that all employees chose their moniker, though they don’t mention that to customers. The first time I went there, I was greeted by Sweetheart. Sweetheart was extremely friendly, so I felt comfortable asking if Sweetheart was really her name. She smiled widely, and told me it was. She was such a sweetheart, I believed her.

I believed her until Firebird washed my hair, and introduced me to my hair-cutter Dynamo. Then the jig was up; Sweetheart might have fit her name, but Firebird was calm and Dynamo seemed more likely to take a nap than take the town by storm. I’ve no idea who chose those names, but they did a very poor job.

Fab is a different story. Fab was totally Fab, from her cutting-edge fashion to her glamorous smile.  When she asked me what kind of haircut I wanted the only appropriate answer was the obvious one; “Fab, please.”

As she cut, we talked about sisters and movies, jobs and expectations. Slowly but surely, I moved the conversation toward her name. I threw the word fab into our conversation – not hard in this day and age – and casually added; “How did you get the name Fab”

She gave a fab chuckle, and told me that she’d gotten the interview after a friend tipped her off that there was an opening at the salon. Though she’d been cutting hair for a long time, she’d never worked in a salon, and was thrilled to get the interview. In her excitement, she’d answered every question with a “Fab.” The salon owner, delighted, took to her right away, and insisted that she go by Fab. So Fab she’d been for over two years, and Fab she intended to stay.

The hair cut was fine, but the experience was fab.

Perhaps if you are Fab life is always fabulous. For others of us, you have to make the fabulous happen. Last week was long, so I decided to make the fabulous happen on shabbos. Google, my trusty sidekick, was sent out to search for fabulous dessert recipes. After its due diligence, I looked through the results.

Google didn’t do half-bad, but it’s results needed the human touch to go from fabulous to truly fab.

Coconut rum balls? No

Cinnamon bread-pudding? Intriguing

Minty Pretzel Cookies [based on a true recipe]? Totally fab

1/2 c margarine

1 1/4 c sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 c chocolate chips

1 c peppermint candies, hammered to a pulp

1/2 – 1 c pretzels, crushed

Cream margarine and sugar; mix in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; mix into sugar. Add chocolate chips, peppermint candies, and pretzels. Bake at 350 for 10 – 15 minutes. Optional: drizzle melted chocolate chips over the cookies or dip the cookies in the melted chocolate and sprinkle with the remaining peppermint candies.

It’s Not The It Gift

When looking for a bridal present, never give the “it” gift. You know the it gift when you see it – the papers are buzzing about it and just everyone gushes about how it is absolutely divine. There’s only one problem: the now gift is so happening that everyone else has already made it happen. So don’t buy another for the couple who is drowning in the it gift of the moment.

The first step to avoiding being an it-gifter is to pin-point the it gift.

If it’s your first thought as the item that everyone has to have –

If it’s the object all your newly married friends have in triplicate –

If your friend has told you how much she hates the some many of the styles of –

it’s the IT gift.

The bridal couple, like yourself, can only use one challah cover at a time and they don’t need to add yours to their stockpile while they remain without a salad spinner. So stand down from the it gift, and pick a different perfect present. If you’re out of ideas, you could listen to my mom, my dad, or me. However, if you’re attending the same function as any of us, you’re going to need to forge your own path to gift greatness. Fortunately you have decades of former it-gifts, which have fallen out of favor.

Carafes: rarely needed, but easy to initial.

Personalized aprons: as in days of yore, buy 1 for the wife. Or embrace the modern era and buy 2.

Cookbook of the hour: Always changing. Go for one that’s 20 years out of date, and you’ll be totally retro.

Do I fee a slogan coming on? Don’t be re-gifted, be retro.

Don’t Cry For Me

Onions are like winter – nasty, brutish, and short. Unlike winter, they’re in your kitchen year-round. For those who don’t want to bawl their eyes out every time they use nature’s biting taste-booster, there are a few options.

1. Freeze for 1/2 hour prior to cutting. This advice is based solely on anecdotal evidence, and requires foresight.

2. Wear contact lenses. Tried and tested by myself and Special Correspondent Ellen, there is no preparation necessary. Make sure not to touch your contacts afterward. If you can’t trust yourself with that, you might not want to trust yourself to wear contacts. Ever.

3. Embrace life’s harsh side. As NPR’s Michelle Norris says; “It’s like making gumbo without onions; sometimes you’ve got to cry a little.”