If it’s not Scottish it’s crap.

I have been browsing through a Facebook page for a brand-new, just-opened-in-November, Mexican resort. On the page are the sort of reviews one might expect: terribly bitter complaints about some small bit of incomplete construction or a delay in service on opening week, complaints about having to walk fifty steps from the pool in order to obtain nachos and margaritas, anger over the Teen Club being restricted to 13-17 year-old people when one’s son is 10 and wanted to enter said Teen Club to play video games, and extreme disappointment in the resort upholding a dress code for the fancy restaurants despite said dress code being clearly indicated on the website.

However, this morning I came across this glowing review:

“Our group has experienced many resorts and this is by far the best for me, lots to do…food is great, room service food is good, food at the restaurants is good, top shelf booze, pools are amazing. Put your anxiety and worries away, you’ll love it. If you need anything the brown shirt people will help you with almost anything to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.”

Ah yes, put your anxiety away because the brown shirt people are there.

I feel that this review could have been better worded.

Today was Parent-Teacher Interviews for the junior high, and believe me when I say that there is no injustice faced like that of a grade six student heading off to class with the knowledge that his brother is home for the day. Life, as we all know very well, is not fair. In an attempt to assuage these resentful feelings, I whipped up a batch of cherry muffins, to be eaten warm when the long-suffering sixth grader came home.

Small digression: I have, on many occasions, poked fun at my old copy of the Lutheran Ladies’ Family Favourites, particularly because of their truly astonishing variety of Meat and Macaroni Jello Salads – an actual section in the book – and also their head-tilting casserole recipes, such as Vera’s Wiener Pie. The latter is a melange of cream sauce, a variety of root vegetables, and a package of wieners and a pie crust. It is hard to take a recipe seriously when the main ingredient is a package of wieners, in an unspecified size and quantity. Well, it’s hard to take it seriously when the main ingredient is a package of wieners, period.

But I will tell you this much: when it comes to baked goods, the Lutheran Ladies do NOT fuck around. I have yet to try a muffin, square, slice, cookie, or sweet loaf that has not worked out well. The beleaguered sixth grader had gone through it and marked off every recipe he thought we should try out, and one of those was Cherry Muffins. I was all for it until I read the recipe; it was bizarrely complicated and involved immediate pan inversions. It seemed more like an upside down cake, in muffin form, and so I took Dorothy’s Basic Muffin, added some vanilla and a cup of frozen cherries and voila! Cherry muffins. They have been pronounced “great!” and so my work here is done.

As those of you of Scottish heritage will no doubt know, this Wednesday was Robbie Burns Day. Actually, I forget it every year, and am reminded by my father, who texted me to wish me a Happy Robbie Burns Day. Since I was chaperoning a field trip to the Astrophysics Observatory with fifty-seven fifth-and-sixth graders, which was an interesting and informative trip but sadly involved over ninety minutes on an overheated and stinky school bus, sitting beside a student who had little to no concept of personal space, I did think my dad’s suggestion of a dram of single malt did not seem amiss. However, the day passed mostly unmarked, since I do not actually like Scotch. It tastes like burning.

However, I did consider my Scottish heritage as I was faced with the unmistakable fact that my life has been greatly improved by three small things: a vegetable peeler, garlic press, and spatula. I purchased all three of those things, at the absolutely lowest cost, in the late Nineties, when I moved out of my parents’ house. For the most part, these humble kitchen items were a lesson in You Get What You Pay For, as the blade often popped off of the handle of the vegetable peeler, the garlic press was mediocre at best and the white, probably-carcinogenic enamel had started to chip off, and the spatula? Well, the spatula was fine but after nearly twenty years of use the rubber had cracked, rendering it fairly useless.

My mother, probably at the end of her rope watching me with my substandard equipment, bought me a new peeler and garlic press and people, PEOPLE. The difference is obscene. I feel like a super-fancy lady, peeling even butternut squash with ease and using the reverse-action to get the weird garlic remnants out of the press. It’s the most luxurious thing and I had the sad realization that I could have done this earlier, I could have purchased these items years ago and thus would have been living my best life.

And the spatula? For less than four dollars, I am now living the life of luxury, spatula-wise. Things are scraped out of mixing bowls with ease, the last tiny bits of cashew cheese are easily removed from the Vitamix. I feel like I’ve entered into a new era: my post-crappy-kitchen-utensils era. I am now looking around the kitchen for items that I bought on the cheap for my first apartment and maybe, MAYBE by next Robbie Burns Day I will replace them.

I’m still half-Scottish, you know.


  1. I never know when actual Robbie Burns Day is, I just know the nearest Saturday when Dave cooks haggis and pray god whoever makes the dessert doesn’t add too much Scotch to the whipped cream. And I drink a shot glass of scotch like a shooter because that’s the fastest way to get it gone, and then things get really fun.
    I broke into a new bottle of vanilla yesterday that I got on our last trip to Mexico (no brown shirts), and holy shit, babe, this is next-level vanilla. And your mother buying you the new garlic press and peeler reminds me of when my lovely mother-in-law, having watched me laboriously blend a big pot of soup in batches in a blender went out and bought me an immersion blender for the good of soup everywhere and whoa, nelly, life was different then.

  2. That review was going so well until the last sentence…

    I’m part German and part Scottish so I also have trouble parting with things that are still working perfectly well thank you. When H has finally had enough and replaces those things I inevitably regret not doing it sooner, but I don’t seem to carry the understand forward. Sigh.

  3. The peeler!!! I was shamed into buying a new peeler over the holidays. I blamed any peeler complaints on user error or all the left handed people in my house. It turns out – it was just a piece of crap. I peeled a squash too!

  4. June used to have to go to school for a whole week while just Noah went in for 2-hour exams twice a year (January and June). But they’ve restructured the way they do exams so now he’s in school all that week. Other than from a sibling jealousy perspective, it’s not an improvement. That study time was important and it meant they could get enough sleep the week they took exams. Can’t have that now, can we?

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