Recipes for Life and Laughter

by Heather Newton's 2016 Summer Writing Workout Class

Recipe for One Smiling Grandpa and One Laughing Family


1 Grandfather
1 Mother
1 Father
1 eight-year-old prankster son Mark
1 five-year-old inquisitive daughter Amy
1 telephone call
1 nice widow lady on the side

Place all ingredients, except nice widow lady, in same household.
Place Grandpa in guest room to rest overnight to be ready to mix with nice widow lady on first date the next day. Place one glass of water near Grandpa to soak his teeth in.
Next morning: Remove daughter from mix. She has to go to school.
Keep son in mix. He has a cold.
Stir Grandpa and allow to rise. When you find that his teeth are gone have all ingredients converge on prankster son, who pleads innocence.
Try to keep Grandpa from boiling over. Nice widow lady on her way over.
Remove Father from mix. He gets to go to work leaving Mother to stew.
Mix in phone call from daughter’s teacher who is bubbling with laughter saying, “Amy brought her Grandpa’s teeth to school for Show and Tell!”
Get Amy and teeth. Add to mix. Separate siblings to avoid explosion.
Have Amy apologize to Grandpa. If Amy weeps, coddle her.
Let everyone simmer down. Sift out bad emotions, blend in good ones.
Yield: 1 Smiling Grandpa, 1 laughing family, 1 smitten widow lady on the side.

Recipe for Sweet Karma

from the kitchen of SAM FAETH

Sweet Karma may be served hot or cold. The Germans call this dish Schadenfreude.

Start with a popular community event, like a parade or a fireworks display.
Add in a generous measure of cars, each filled with fussy babies, sullen tweens, tired parents and small children who “have to go potty NOW!”
Slowly begin to funnel them onto a road sprinkled with traffic cones and sudden merges.
Stir in a growing sense of desperation as traffic backs up for miles.
Sprinkle in honking horns and profanity to taste.
Simmer this mixture slowly until tempers begin to boil.

Drop in one jackass with narcissistic tendencies.

Watch with disbelief as he bypasses the congestion by speeding by on the unpaved shoulder of the road.
Turn up the heat to maximum and season with more profanity.
Add the secret ingredient—one tired cop in a cruiser, parked alongside the shoulder.
Turn on flashing blue lights and remove jackass from the mixture. Crush with heavy fine.
Wave delightedly at the offender as you pass—many like to add an avian salute for extra flavor.
Savor sweet karma. This dish will keep nicely in the memory and can be enjoyed indefinitely.

Early 1900s Cookery Book Recipe for Milk & Honey Custard with Preserved Sorrows


*Six months in advance, make Preserved Sorrows for use in custard.

Preserved Sorrows
1 motherless boy
1 ne’er-do-well father
1 boardinghouse owner
1 prickly girl
Assorted fatal diseases
Despair & grief

Take first four ingredients and add assorted fatal diseases. With a sharp knife, scrape out and separate each ingredient from its loved one. Discard loved ones. Coat remaining nutmeats with despair and grief and set aside in dark container. When sufficiently hardened, return to original life.

Milk & Honey Custard
4 cans sweetened condensed milk
½ cup white clover honey
1 baby sister
1 travelling medicine show
1 evil medicine show huckster
1 disguise
1 escape by rail
1 small-town boardinghouse
Threats & fear
Rye whiskey
Pinch of stolen money

Take medicine show and mix with preserved ne’er-do-well father, motherless boy, and baby sister. Shave off the father, soak in rye whiskey, and set aside indefinitely. Plunge remaining motherless boy and baby sister into a cold bath of threats and fear. Pat dry and dredge with the evil medicine show huckster. Pour into stew pan. Stir in one disguise, one escape by rail, and a pinch of stolen money. Simmer in high fever, and remove from heat.

In a large basin, take brother and sister mixture, add condensed milk, and fold into boardinghouse. Add the preserved boardinghouse owner and prickly girl. Toss with misunderstandings, falsehoods, guilt, and adventures. Blend with love and honey until tender.

When ready to serve, garnish with crushed medicine show huckster. Serves 18.

Recipe for Blended Family Flambé


2 love-struck adults
4 extra-entitled free-range teens
4 c. raging hormones
2 deadbeat non-custodial parents
Sprinkling of therapy
Sugar, cinnamon

Oil & water

2 T good intentions
1 T guilt
1 T resentment

Assemble all ingredients in a new house. Separate families and pour each into large bowl. Mollify teens from each family while attempting to coax them into a common bowl. Coat teens with sugar and cinnamon to overcompensate. Remove love-struck adults from their family bowls and blend in a small colander. Adults will blend easily and have a tendency to melt. Return adults to separate bowls with their own teens after each visit with non-custodial parents. If mixtures sour, return adults to small colander until thoroughly drained.

Remove teens from bowls and knead thoroughly. Cover bowls and set out to rise overnight. If teens have risen too much in bowls, punch dough with clenched fists until relieved. Mix oil with water, send anyone to therapy who is willing to go, and add seasoning.

Simmer mixture until it comes to a boil. Cool. Repeat. Slide dough into greased pans. Mixture will be lumpy. Bake at low heat for eight years.

To serve flambé:
Drench loaves with alcohol, sprinkle liberally with weed, and set topping on fire.

Recipe for Hosting an Otherworldly Book Club


1 sunroom with table and book
1 seating chart
2 medieval mystics (Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe)
1 storyteller (Geoffrey Chaucer)
2 Elizabethan and/or Jacobean authors, ideally rivals (William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson)
1 Puritan, expert in blank verse, going blind (John Milton)
1 rowdy, merry monarch (King Charles II)
1 amorous Restoration actress (Nell Gwynn)
1 take-charge Restoration playwright, former spy (Aphra Behn)
1 disapproving scholarly type (Samuel Johnson)
3 Goddesses (Hecate, Artemis, Aphrodite)
2 Magic Spells
Assorted uncomfortable moments

Set nice Southern Living-inspired table with candles and flowers.
Perform first spell by light of full moon to conjure book club guests.
Usher guests to table by way of seating chart to avoid conflict.
Introduce book by offering discussion questions.
Wait politely while Shakespeare and Jonson try to outdo each other interpreting book.
Change subject when Chaucer asks if his arse-kissing story can be next month’s choice.
Separate Behn and Milton who keep bickering about the term “roundhead.”
Put Kempe on back burner as she flails, rolls, and cries for Jesus.
Ask Johnson and Julian to stop Shakespeare vs. Jonson swordfight.
Call upon Artemis to pull topless Nell Gwynn off King Charles’s lap.
Apologize to Aphrodite that John Wilmot was banned from book club.
Beg Hecate for intervention.
Shout, “A plague on all your houses!” while Shakespeare whispers, “The rest is silence.”
Perform final spell to send guests back to Otherworld.
Burn leftovers with flame from sage smudge stick.

Recipe for a Summer Day: New Hampshire, 1960

from the kitchen of SUSAN SHINN

1 five-year old girl
1 grandfather named Pop
2 rod-and-reel fishing poles
1 fishing net
1 small pail
1 bucket
1 tackle box
1 trowel
1 can of OFF!

About 2 hours before suppertime:
Place trowel in hand of small girl and lead her to shady back corner of vegetable garden. Place small pail nearby. Open soil with trowel and show her how to carefully extract the first nightcrawler. Place worm in pail with scoop of dirt. Watch her dig a spadeful and squeal as she finds another worm. Repeat until you have a dozen nightcrawlers in small pail.
Load equipment and worms into trunk of blue DeSoto.
Insert small girl into car. Front seat please, she gets carsick, like you. No seat belt.
Drive two miles to Stony Brook and park.
When girl hops out, have her cover her face with her hands and hold her breath. Spray quickly all over with mosquito repellent. Keep a Camel lightly clenched in your teeth so smoke serves as your own.
Load her fish hook with fat worm from pail and watch her swing it into stream.
Listen! Hear the wood thrush.
When line bobs, help her reel it in slowly, then swing your net under appended six-inch rainbow trout. Repeat as desired.
Cook on charcoal grill. Serve at old, scarred picnic table under the elm, with stories.

Recipe for a Haunted House


1 remote location
1 badly built house
Several dozen short-term renters

Find an out-of-the-way location. A remote hilltop is ideal, but there are plenty of other suitable options to consider. Any place hidden by woods should not be overlooked. Swamps are highly recommended, but can be hard to find in some locations. Be vigilant; be creative.

Build a house. Hire the cheapest contractor. Do not check references. This will ensure creaky floors, windows that rattle, drafts in all seasons, out-of-square rooms (for that queasy feeling that something is wrong and you can’t quite figure out what it is), out-of-plumb walls (for the same effect and the spooky fun of watching doors open and close by themselves), groaning pipes, shrieking ductwork, and an electrical system prone to frequent failures.

Rent the house. Be selective about this ingredient. Use your own judgment here. Do not check references. Put it right in the ad that no references will be checked. You are looking for people with “issues.” Short-term renters are best. One way to discourage long-term renters is to start the rent off low, then raise it every few months. This slow buildup of financial pressure can work wonders.

Continue in this way for ten years or so. Perform as little maintenance as will keep you out of jail. Things will happen in that house. Stories will circulate.

Once the house has acquired a strong aroma of notoriety, allow it to stand vacant. Hopefully by now all the outside paint will have peeled off, and no child in the neighborhood will dare to walk past it after dark. What you will have, either by reputation or by actual circumstance, is a haunted house.

Recipe for Easter Eve Treat


4 dozen eggs
1 heavy stockpot with lid
1 12-lb Scottish terrier
2 grandchildren
1 tolerant husband
1 forgetful wife

Suggest fun outing for grandkids to visit Children’s Museum on Easter Eve.
Place 4 dozen eggs in stockpot filled with water. Turn heat to high. Plan to turn off heat and top with lid so that eggs will be ready to dye later.
Instruct family to get into car for trip to museum. Put up doggie guards so that Scottie will be confined to kitchen.
Spend hours at museum examining every exhibit. Enter room where children are dyeing eggs. Gasp. Remember that you forgot to turn off fire under eggs.
Run from room to room rounding up family. Admit your goof-up. Suffer through complaints from grandkids that you completely ruined their visit. Look shamefaced while husband races toward home. Worry that the house is blazing and the Scottie has burned to a crisp. Look for black billows of smoke coming from your neighborhood. Stay in car while husband rushes into house to assess damage. Sigh with relief when he emerges holding Scottie wrapped in wet towel. Make game of hunting for eggs that have rocketed into several rooms. Try to pry loose stockpot lid imbedded in kitchen’s linoleum floor. Spend hours scrubbing crusted bottom of favorite stockpot.
Garnish with promises to never leave house without turning off stove. Sprinkle generously with regret for traumatizing Scottie.

Recipe for First-Time Parents Dealing with a Toddler Train Wreck


1 toddler, aged approximately 18-24 months
1 large bag of blocks (may substitute Lego or any other small object which causes significant pain to the arch of the foot when stepped on)
1 bookcase full of books
Mixture of unsafe kitchen objects for throwing (optional)
2 sleep-deprived parents
1 baby brother
1 infant-safe sway swing (Graco or Fisher-Price recommended)
1 set of horizontal window blinds
Case of tequila (with margarita mixings, if desired)
Limes (optional)
1 blender
1 unsuspecting aunt

Remove toddler from crib and feed. Watch toddler throw fork, spoon and cup at baby brother’s head. Place toddler in room with toys. Leave room to tend to wounded baby brother. Return to room to find ALL books removed from bookcase, entire bag of blocks scattered on floor and toddler swinging from window blinds yelling “choo-choo!” Remove toddler from blinds. Accidently step on block (or Lego) and scream bloody murder. Close door to room with toddler inside. Call aunt for reinforcement. Upon her arrival, place aunt in room with toddler. Dead-bolt door shut. Place baby brother in safe swing. Activate swing’s sway function. Proceed to kitchen. Open case of tequila. Remove blender from cabinet. Place tequila and margarita mixings in blender. Blend to desired consistency. Garnish with lime wedge, if desired. Sit on couch. Pray for age 18 to come quick. Repeat last four steps continuously as needed.

Recipe for Making Friends Quickly via Quadruple, Quintuple, or Sextuple Solitaire


Your lonely old self
3 to 5 acquaintances you like
1 deck of cards per person, different backings, jokers omitted
Round or square table, chairs
1 silly hat per person
No food or beverage

Object: Play 52 cards first to win the round. Review basic solitaire, as needed. Don silly hats. Choose decks. Use solitaire rules with these additions: All aces must immediately be placed in center of table for everyone’s use. Play on each other’s aces or your own in ascending order, suits not pertinent. When a pile is topped by your king, grab the pile and drop onto floor.
To begin each round: Set up 7 solitaire piles in front of you. After “Start!” is called, quickly play obvious moves then riffle through remainder of your deck, three cards at a time. Open remaining cards into a fan of five cards—and no more than five. Do not scratch or claw your opponents. After a winning round, sort cards as you debrief the game—soothe any hurt feelings, repeat any violated rules, or generally admire ruthless agility. Continue until your gut hurts or you can no longer persevere.
To end: Sort cards, leave hat behind, and mark calendar for next play date. Food and beverages are now permitted.

Recipe for a Self-Described Yogananda in Ohio, 2014


1 47-year-old woman named Rebecca
1 50-year-old man named Vasu
1 case of ADHD and paranoia
1 dash of online dating
2 cups of mindfulness meditation
1 teaspoon Sat-Chit-Ananda (ever-new Bliss)
1 pinch of music
2 cups of red wine

Chant quietly, Om Shanti shanti shanti, and then place Vasu and 1 dash of online dating into a bowl and add a pinch of Hindu music (type, your choice) to help with unique flavor and relaxation. Let sit for 5 minutes and then add Rebecca who travels two hours to see Vasu in Ohio. She walks through the door and Vasu hands her 1 glass of red wine. Carefully stir Rebecca and Vasu and then add 2 cups of mindfulness meditation. Place all items in the bowl on a flat surface and iron them out. In a glass dish, place both Rebecca and Vasu in the center and pour the other glass of red wine over them. After 30 minutes, poke Rebecca and Vasu with a toothpick to make sure they aren’t too drunk.
If firm and cooked through, allow the dish to cool before serving. Warning: if not cooled, Rebecca is bound to tell Vasu she loves him, and it is only the first date. Remember to always use alcohol sparingly.
Serving suggestion:
In small serving bowls, dish up Rebecca and Vasu and sprinkle one teaspoon of Sat-Chit-Ananda to taste.

Recipe for a Man Caught Stealing a “Jesus” Sign


1 61-year-old man intent on getting rid of a “Jesus” sign that appears in his neighborhood
1 Asheville hipster ordering coffee
1 white lettered “Jesus” sign with red background and wiring to push into the ground
1 white gym towel

Carefully pull the sign from the ground, cover with white towel
Set the sign in the back seat of the car
Drive to café
Get in line in café behind hipster who will turn and recognize 61-year-old man with “Jesus” sign “though there is nothing wrong with that.”
61-year-old man returns sign to original site and returns to café seeking out hipster to explain
The two men converse as to the actual motivation of stolen sign
61-year-old man keeps eye out for return of “Jesus” sign

Recipe for Moms’ Mornings Out – Summer 1961


9 neighborhood children – 5 girls, 4 boys 4-9 years old
2 energetic teenage girls
2 emptied garages
4 tired mothers
Assorted toys, board games, balls, decks of cards
Paper, crayons, paints, construction paper, chalk
Scissors, tape, glue
Apple juice, milk, graham crackers

Place 9 restless kids from 4 tired moms in the hands of 2 teenage girls Monday through Friday 9 A.M.-12 P.M. Two teenage girls divide kids into 3 groups in garage for 90-minute activity as follows:
Group 4-5 year olds together; give them construction paper, crayons, and paint to draw/color.

Teenage girls only cut paper for them—they are too young for scissors.
Group 6-7 year olds together; give them Candyland or Chutes and Ladders to play.
Group 8-9 year olds together; let them go outside to play hopscotch, jump rope or tetherball.
Bring 3 groups together for 1 60-minute joint game outside. Play kickball, hide and seek, Simon Says or something like this that all age levels can play together.
11:30 A.M.—serve refreshments of apple juice or milk with graham crackers.
11:50 A.M.—everyone helps to clean up garage for car that will be in it that evening.
12:00 P.M.—4 grateful moms pick up their kids.
Collect 10 cents per child, per hour, per day.
Teenage girls earn summer money using their creativity.
Serve with patience, love, kindness, and oh, did I say, patience!

Recipe for a Bizarre Mother's Day


1 beach house
1 single 45-year-old childless, motherless, female owner of beach house
1 single 34-year-old childless, recently motherless, female friend and coworker
1 single 45-year-old male coworker, former one-time bad date
Several bottles of fine red wine
1 grilled steak dinner
Loud rock music
1 male red silk thong
1 woman's denim jacket
1 woman's red sun visor

Invite female friend for dinner at your beach house to help her get through her first motherless Mother’s Day.
Reluctantly add to the mix a single male coworker when he invites himself to come to dinner.
Exchange looks with friend when male arrives barefoot in a tight muscle shirt and very, very short shorts.
Giggle and stifle laughter as male gyrates to loud rock music and performs very revealing yoga-like poses all over the furniture.
Drink lots of fine red wine and dine on grilled steak dinner.
Take a walk on the beach with friend, unwisely leaving male alone in the house.
Realizing your error in judgment, cut the walk short.
Express wide-eyed shock as male comes out of your bedroom wearing a male red silk thong, your girlfriend's denim jacket sans muscle shirt, and your red sun visor.
Aghast, tell male his behavior is bizarre and throw him out.
Unable to control your laughter, call other female friends and coworkers and spread the word.
Tip: if you find yourself missing your mother on future Mother’s Days, think of how she would have laughed hysterically at this experience.

Recipe For a Family Pet


1 move to North Carolina disrupting 35 years of living in the New York City area
1 particularly unhappy adult child moaning that you have ruined her life
1 forgotten promise the husband and wife made to each other that they would NEVER get another dog
20 alarmed looks as family members leap at owners walking their dogs, and ask if we can pet and then try to steal their dog

Notice how almost everyone in Asheville has a rescue dog, and desire for family to fit in with norm.
Visit many shelters.

Pick a dog who appears sweet and doesn't bark much. Show no shock at how deceiving dogs can be when trying to get adopted.
Be sure not to research hound dogs, which you have never owned before.
Try not to feel horrified as dog repeatedly runs away as hound dogs do.
Apologize to the many neighbors who return the dog to you after she has visited their homes and caused some destruction.
Be prepared for her showing great affection and attention to every OTHER dog owner except your own family who takes excellent care of her.
Buy bags of soil to fill in the multiple holes she will dig to hunt for little rodents while destroying flowers and lawns of neighbors.

Simmer these issues over six months and fall in love with the dog in spite of all the reasons to the contrary.

Serve in small portions, as often hard to swallow.

Recipe for a Conscious Life


All 12 ingredients are required for successful outcome:

For best results use daily. (Ingredient amounts may be adjusted as needed.)

Say yes to Faith! This draws good from the invisible to the visible. Faith is mental attention.
Focus on health, success, and finding solutions.
Wisdom facilitates discernment, evaluation, and decision-making. Be selective and use only good judgment. Be sure to add some compassion.
Strength is stabilizing in the midst of turmoil. It will activate patience, tolerance, steadfastness, and balance. A good dose of Inner Strength will improve consciousness and support balance between thinking and feeling.
Love (generous portions) will heal, harmonize, and renew. A generous dose of Love will cast out fear, loneliness, and selfishness.
Power is the ability to change. It allows transformation of thoughts, actions, feelings, and circumstances. Adding Power enhances the ability to convert ideas into words, actions, and creations.
Imagination is the vision ingredient. It activates a possibility beyond what is apparent. Imagination gives shape and form to transformation.
Understanding activates knowing how to accomplish and enhances the ability to engage Faith.
Will determines character. (Substitute willingness for willfulness).
Order eliminates chaos. Personal priorities are established.
Enthusiasm gives starting power and staying power. Enthusiasm activates improvement, growth, and contribution.
Release is the activator of “no, thank you.” Adding Release creates room for forgiveness and space for letting go.

Life restores, heals, regenerates, creates, and energizes. Life is the expression of the Conscious Self.

Recipe for a Bad Dream


Who doesn’t know the feeling of starting awake with heart pounding, covered in a fine glaze of sweat? This is a great recipe to use up those leftovers tucked away in the dark cupboards of your subconscious!

Teeth (mouthful)
Heavy limbs (4)
Disapproving boss (pursed lips, clipboard)
Bad guy (with knife)
Public nudity (shirt but no pants is a classic, but for a more robust flavor, feel free to go fully naked here!)

Start with a base of work-related anxiety. For me, it’s standing in front of a classroom of screaming children with no lesson plans. Feel free to substitute your own work catastrophe here, or, for a classic twist, return to high school where you’re taking a test you forgot to study for. Whatever scenario you begin with, make sure you’re not wearing any pants.

Add a disapproving authority figure of your choice.

Here’s where I like to bring in the crumbling teeth falling out my mouth—what better way to grapple with the inevitability of bodily decay and death?!

Mix in a bad guy chasing you with a large knife. While running, limbs should be heavy and useless (aim for a pudding-like consistency).

Steer a car from the back seat with your feet while you try to open your eyes but you can’t. Drive directly toward a cliff. (For a moist dream, substitute an ocean or churning river for the cliff.)

Simmer at least 2-3 hours, or longer for a more robust flavor.

Author biographiesJennifer Armocida is a sixth-grade teacher who lives in Asheville. Harriett Buerckholtz is a licensed professional counselor practicing in Asheville. The Rev. Dr. Margaret Ann (“Sam”) Faeth is a retired Episcopal priest who is finding glimpses of the sacred all over her new hometown of Asheville. Regina Fallon has written a historical novel for children, and her recipe is based on the plot of that novel. Leslie Gaidi is an avid fan of Asheville and the mountains and likes to write about Appalachia. Stephen Goldman has been participating in a series of local storytelling events, which spurred a strong interest in creative writing. Suzanne Lunsford, originally from Texas, is not only addicted to GSWP classes and its teachers, but to the creative fellow students she meets each semester. Peggy Mann moved to Asheville nine years ago, works in mental health, and loves to write fiction, read, cook, eat, drink, and entertain. Thalia Morris took up writing this year to give shape to her life—past, present, and potential future. Ellen J. Perry teaches Literature and Humanities at A-B Tech Community College and UNC Asheville. Joe Quinlan is a carpenter and homebuilder, a ludic reader with a BA in literature from UNC Asheville, a collector of books, a tournament chess player, and the father of three grown children. Catherine Shea has had careers in special education, nurse anesthesia, and law and has retired to Hendersonville, North Carolina. Susan Shinn is a women's health nurse practitioner and, sometimes, a writer. Nina Silver has lived in New York and Mexico City; she retired to Asheville eight years ago and is pursuing her love of writing. Amy Star has been delighted by Asheville's beauty, art, drama, music, and creative writing opportunities since retiring and moving to the region a year ago. Sabrina Vandenberg, who is happy to call Asheville home, finds this place nestled between the mountains to be just the right place for those words to reach out and grab hold. Aliza N. Venditti is an attorney by day, an avid reader of fiction, and a literary enthusiast who plans to someday soon publish her own fiction work.

About the work—The authors compiled these recipes in Heather Newton’s Generative Writing Workout class, a summer 2016 Great Smokies Writing Program offering, and found the results delicious.