Friday, April 16, 2010

Ma Parker's Cookbook and Home Improvement Guide

To celebrate her first 100 days in office, Mayor Ma Parker has published a unique treatise--Ma Parker's Cookbook and Home Improvement Guide. Printed on recycled grocery bags, this informative guide combines family recipes and tips on making your home more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Both the style and the content remind me of summers spend at Bible School, where I was harangued to repent my sins and eat my broccoli. For example, in the first chapter Ma writes:
Thou shalt eat thy vegetables. Thou shalt consume no dessert unless thou has eaten thine vegetables.
The recipes themselves seem rather unremarkable, but Ma's folksy writing style makes me want to boil up a big pot of "Collard Greens with Road Kill". Or perhaps a batch of "Table Scraps and Grits". And I'll be sure to throw my vegetable peels into the compost pile because it will save valuable landfill space.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the guide is the manner in which Ma intertwines penny-pinching recipes with valuable lessons on saving the environment. For example, in her recipe for "Dollar Weed Tea" she points out that spending hours on your knees pulling the mildly toxic weed and using it to brew tea will help reduce the use of herbicides. And in "Oak Leaf Muffins" she provides a method for getting more fiber and reducing the number of lawn bags we must use.

As a contractor, I find some of her home improvement tips to be dubious. For example, she suggests using toothpaste to repair small holes in drywall. While the American Dental Association also recommends this method, experience has taught me that a minty-fresh odor emanating from one's walls tends to attract ants. The trail of ants does however, make for an interesting conversation piece.

She also suggests using mistinted paint the next time you want to freshen up your home. While this can save money, she fails to caution that mixing colors often results in a putrid green color that most people find depressing. Perhaps she will correct this in future editions.

Another criticism is the sly manner in which Ma manages to inject politics into her recipes. As two examples, "Historic Avocado Preserves" and the "Tower of Traffic Brownies" reek of political pandering, not to mention the odd combination of herbs and spices she recommends--the brownies call for a cup of dill weed and a teaspoon of eye of newt. (I made numerous phone calls, and like the biodegradable lawn bags we must use, eye of newt is almost impossible to locate.)

Despite these minor complaints, I found the book entirely readable, primarily because of the 14-point font and the fact that it was written for someone with the reading comprehension of a first grader. I am looking forward to Ma's next book, rumored to be titled Ma Parker's Guide to Auto Repair and City Politics.

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