X marks the sauce in the A to Z Challenge

Welcome to Day X of the A to Z Challenge. What you will learn this month is: 26 Ways to Procrastinate a Writer
24. The 24th way to procrastinate a writer is cooking with XANTHAN gum.

When writers need a break from their writing, cooking food gives them the nutrition needed to continue in a writing frenzy. Homemade foodstuffs take more time than prepackaged mixes, but that creates a healthier product. The extra time taken away from writing is countered by the health benefits of natural ingredients. Xanthan gum is a food additive used commercially but is often found in health food stores. It adds a thickness to sauces and pudding, and it is popular in creating gluten free recipes.

If xanthan gum is not available in the writer’s area, finding the raw ingredients to bake homemade cookies, for example, is an acceptable alternative. Regardless of the product, the key aspect of this action is to make time for the reinvigorating smell and taste of food. The writer may choose to make a homemade stew, thus giving the writer a sturdy meal for dinner and leftovers for the week once carefully portioned. If there are not enough containers in the household, a separate trip to the grocery or variety store is necessary at that time. Everything must be neat and clean for uncluttered writing. The writer may choose a lighter fare, like chocolate muffins or banana bread, to reward writing milestones and provide a late-night snack or early-morning motivation.

Jayne is beside her Writeself

Lettuce fell on the floor as Jayne tossed the salad. With a grunt, she stopped and picked up the green strands. One by one by one. Suddenly, using shredded lettuce was not such a good idea.

Jayne moved down the counter to the bowl where she was making the salad dressing. This recipe was handed down from her great-grandmother who grew up in Italy. Fresh ingredients made all the difference, and bottled salad dressing was a curse if brought into the house.

“How’s it going?” Tom said, walking up behind her and grabbing her waist.

“Fine, considering you almost made me spill the salad dressing just now,” Jayne said. She grabbed the bowl firmly, hovering over it, shielding it with her body.

“Okay,” Tom said, releasing her. “I’m ready to go.”

“The dressing’s not done yet,” she said.

“How long until it’s done?”

“I don’t know,” Jayne said. “When it’s done.” Tom had no taste standards. He didn’t understand.

“It’s not like it’s some witches brew,” he said. “We go through this every time.”

“Exactly,” Jayne said, stirring some ingredients into the bowl. She added a pinch, studied the bowl, and added a pinch more. “This can’t be prepared too early or it’ll get sour. It needs some time to marinate, too.”

Tom sighed. “Okay,” he said, “but I’m ready.”

“It’ll be about another seven minutes.” Jayne swirled the mixture once, then twice. She sprinkled something else in, and with a “ta-da” she stepped away from the counter.

“If you want to help, put the salad mix into the container,” she said, indicating the plastic tub on the counter. “And don’t spill any.”

Tom splashed the lettuce-tomato-carrot-special-veggie-mix into the bowl and some pieces fell onto the floor. “We’ll get that when we get back,” he said. “I’m ready.”

You can’t rush perfection; Tom knew that. He knew that and still they went through this hurry-up dance every time. She had to rush to finish, but she couldn’t go too fast. Perfection. And she would not disappoint.

Even the salad carafe was special, bought by her mother when she and Dad traveled to Italy 20 years ago. When it was passed down to Jayne, she kept it wrapped in the same cloth her mom gave her. It was on the middle shelf of the curio, not so high that it might fall and not so low that it might be kicked over by a cat. Not that she had cats or ever wanted cats, but she had to plan for the unexpected.

“I’ve got the salad. I’ll be out in the car,” Tom said, closing the door. An empty thud; at least that’s what Jayne heard.

She shuffled around the kitchen, picking up the lettuce and waiting as long as possible before pouring the salad dressing into the container. She figured she had about four minutes before she received the “Let’s go” text from Tom.

Not only would Jayne go to the party as an established writer, but she would also be admired for her culinary skills. “What a well-rounded woman,” people would say. “Tom is a lucky man.” Jayne would nod, bow her head and say thank you in a modest voice. As Jayne grabbed her coat, her cell phone beeped its text sound. Dressing in one hand, keys in the other, she ignored it. She held the dressing close to her chest as she locked the door behind her.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Arlee Bird
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 11:34:12

    I never use Xanthan gum, but I do a lot of cooking. I don’t consider it purposeful procrastination cause we have to heat, but it does take away writing time.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Wrote By Rote


    • dwhirsch
      Apr 29, 2015 @ 11:45:33

      Anything that takes away from writing time is useful for procrastination…even reading Tweets about procrastination. Or is that “especially” rather than “even?”


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