Cooking With Asperger’s

Or “ass burgers,” the old “South Park” joke. I mean, since I’m cooking with it (them) …

A professional recently told me that I may have Asperger’s. Actually, that’s not what he said. He asked, “Are you familiar with the symptoms of Asperger’s?” Or maybe he said “signs” instead of “symptoms.”

Nice. Subtle. Kind of like asking somebody who farts uncontrollably, “Are you familiar with the signs of killer flatulence?” But hey, the first step in solving a problem is to identify the problem.

Even though the professional is an auto mechanic who probably watches too much “South Park,” I bought a book about Asperger’s. I even read it.

Asperger’s is no longer a thing, because it’s now lumped together with everything else in the nebulous “autism spectrum disorder.” So if I were ever to be diagnosed, I’d have to tell people I have ASD and let them sort out whether I’m Rain Man or his a-hole brother, Charlie.

“Asperger’s” is essentially a scientific term for, “You’re a loner and nobody likes you.” Although I guess if I had to pick a mental disorder, I’d take this one. It certainly explains some things.

Such as why I named this blog “Things I’m Not Supposed to Say” before Asperger’s ever came up. Because one of the hallmarks of the Aspie personality is saying things others don’t want or like to hear. Oops!

An official diagnosis takes a lot of time and money. And it’s not very useful unless you want to collect disability. I don’t think things are that bad yet.

A diagnosis could come in handy if I had a boss who wanted to fire me for being annoying. I could counter with, “But that’s illegal! I’m disabled!” However, I’m currently my own boss, and I’m the best employee I’ve ever had.

So, do I have Asperger’s? I don’t know, but I’m cooking with it. And the results are uproarious.

Join me as I cook and eat my way through this latest exploration into my identity.

Kitchen Therapy

I recently tried a high-fat, low-carb diet and enjoyed it. I liked the food, I felt good, and the concept made sense to me. Unfortunately, I got a stomach bug a few weeks in and ate nothing but Wheat Thins and Coke for several days.

After I felt better, I considered going back on the low-carb plan. But I realized I had tons of carbs in my pantry. I’d already made a few trips to donate some of my unwanted food hoard and was too embarrassed to drop off more. (This is what happens when you shop Amazon Prime Pantry. And you have Asperger’s.)

I certainly wasn’t going to throw any food in the garbage, so this month, I decided to start a clean-out-the-pantry project. I have until the end of 2017 to use up at least 50 percent of what I started with. Then I’ll decide if I want to go back on a low-carb plan.

I’ve been having fun scouring my cookbooks and different websites for ideas. Most of the recipes I’ve tried have turned out yummy, or at least edible. That is, until tonight.

The Amaranth Ambush

I’m a wannabe vegetarian and go through phases where I don’t eat meat at all. Even when I ate low-carb, I didn’t eat meat very often–maybe once a week. I’m an animal-lover, which is apparently a sign of Asperger’s.

I do have some bacon and sausage in my freezer, though, so you may see those ingredients pop up now and then. Unless I get up the nerve to present one of my neighbors with a luscious holiday gift of 32 slices of fully cooked bacon.

Oh my gosh, where was I? Okay, so as a wannabe vegetarian, I was experimenting with different grains for variety. One thing that had been sitting in my pantry for months was a bag of amaranth.

Categorized as a grain because of the way it’s cooked and eaten, amaranth is actually a seed. Much like a cucumber is actually a fruit.

I found some amaranth recipes online and decided it was time to drain the lonely bag of amaranth. I’ve been pretty excited all day. Well, I was until I opened the bag.

Because amaranth smells a lot like bad hay.

My recipe of choice for the evening was amaranth-corn fritters. I’ll refrain from identifying the author and website because of my less-than-stellar review. The patties actually cooked up rather nicely.


Sort-of ingredients:

  • Severely freezer-burned corn
  • Cooked amaranth (“best by” June 2017)
  • Beaten egg
  • Milk
  • Chopped onion
  • Flour
  • Baking powder

I know what you’re thinking: The amaranth smells bad because it’s old. Nope! I googled “amaranth smells like mold” and found lots of discussions about its questionable odor.

Back to the recipe … I was so proud to have fried these to perfection. Strangely, the recipe showed the fritters topped with a white (yogurt? horseradish?) sauce, but I didn’t see any instructions for that part. I just topped my patties with butter.

Unfortunately, they taste like, er, corn-on-the-cob pancakes, if you can imagine that. Or something that a horse would take on a hiking trip. The taste isn’t as bad as the smell, but it’s not great either.

I thought of all the starving children in the world and ate my fritters. Sadly, even though I halved the recipe, I still have plenty of batter left for at least two more servings.

My Amaranth Rant Continued

Disheartened by my fritters, I frittered away more time by continuing to cook. I was determined not to end the day on an amaranth fail.

I went back to the same stupid website (probably because I have Asperger’s!) and found a recipe for amaranth bars. Hey, I’m always up for something sweet. This recipe calls for:

  • Popped amaranth
  • Honey
  • Agave syrup
  • Butter
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds (I didn’t have any, so I just added extra sunflower seeds)
  • Dried fruit (I used some golden-oldie raisins that were pretty stale and hard)

Amaranth can actually be popped, like popcorn, in a hot pan. What the recipe doesn’t clarify is that you need a pan with a lid or spatter guard. Because when the little seeds start to pop, they whizz and ricochet around the stove area like BB pellets.


(I apologize for the ginormous vertical shots.) The point is, there is now amaranth all over the kitchen: on the stove top, in the burner pans, and on the floor.

Here are my lovely amaranth bars, pressed into a pan and cooling.

1022171905My photography sucks, but give me a break–I probably have Asperger’s.

To be continued …

How to Become a Superhero (Quietly)

[W]hen one is destined for greater accomplishments in life, the preparation for such a journey can be extensive.”—Chin-Ning Chu, “Thick Face, Black Heart”

Is every day of your life a struggle?

Good for you.

It’s taken me 45 years to realize that a shitty life is a good life. Because a shitty life prepares you for anything.

No, not just anything. Something extraordinary.

What does an easy life of good fortune prepare a person for?

Nothing but ease and good fortune.

When life flings shit balls at you on a regular basis, you appreciate the shortest respite and smallest pleasure. A cricket hopping through your front door might bring you to tears.

A four-month romance could carry you for the rest of your life. Because it might have to. You might never get anything more.

And when you have to face a natural disaster or devastating diagnosis or foreign invasion, who’s going to make it? How will the person with the beautiful house and car and wife and children handle it when everything is wiped out? Like it’s the end of the world.

How will the person who struggles every day handle such a situation? Like it’s any other day.

I read that one of the actors who played James Bond (more than one of them, probably) was told to wear a tuxedo day and night to get comfortable in it. That way, instead of moving stiffly in a tux, Bond would feel like he was in sweat suit, equally ready for lounging or action.

When you’re wearing a shit suit every day, the same thing happens to you. Dealing with anything from minor disappointments to outright horrors is nothing. It’s like washing the dishes or scrubbing the toilet.

And if you do ever accomplish or receive something that many people take for granted as a normal part of life, such as a loving partner or a lucrative job or an attractive home, you’ll be overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.

If the universe needs you to be able to run an ultramarathon one day, you may spend most of your life in training. While your successful peers breeze through their 5K-level challenges and bask in the cheers of their admirers.

You’ll spend years screwing up, breaking down, recovering, incubating, or hibernating–doing seemingly nothing as you read and experience and observe and process and analyze everything.

People who claim to care about you will tell you you’re wasting time or aren’t meeting your potential. They’ll give up on you and abandon you. And wonder, often aloud, why you can’t just be like everybody else.

Your successful-looking peers may sneer at your laziness and lack of ambition. And flaunt the things they “worked so hard” for.

But they’ll let themselves go as they recall their glory days and snore through their last decades. They essentially finished life ahead of time and have little left to do. Because little was expected of them.

One day, you’ll outrun your detractors. But you still may not be appreciated or respected. They’ll tell you that you made a mess of your life anyway or that you waited too long and nobody cares now. They may not understand what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter.

You’re going to win, so get ready to celebrate.


Audio inspiration: “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles

Taking Myself Apart, or How to Have a Nervous Breakdown

About a month ago, I had a nervous breakdown. No out-of-body experiences or hallucinations were involved. I didn’t check into a hospital. I simply stopped. Everything. And cried.

Cried for three days, in fact, and didn’t get all my work done on time, even though I conveniently managed to align part of my breakdown over a weekend.

I did, however, send incoherent text messages in the middle of the night along with music videos of depressing songs. Nothing I’d never done before while under the influence of Ambien, but this time, the same behavior felt embarrassing instead of funny. For no logical reason.

It wasn’t the first time I’d gone Donald Trump. After many years of covering up who I am and trying to pretend (badly) that I’m flawless, I decided to own my mental state. I confessed to a friend, “I had a nervous breakdown.” Oh, the shame.

If I’d had the flu for three days, I wouldn’t have thought twice about posting about it on Facebook, complete with photos of a pile of used tissues and a bowl of chicken soup. Something like:

“Mowed down by the FLU this weekend, OMG!” — :/ feeling sick.

But how many times do you read:

“Lost my mind and CRIED all weekend, WTF?” — :/ feeling crazy / confused / heartbroken / overwhelmed / etc.

If you ever have come across a post like this, I’m betting you scrolled down faster than you can count the number of Z’s in “Prozac.”

As I’ve been told many times before, “That’s not what Facebook is for.” In other words, Facebook is for happy moments only. As in maybe half an hour out of every 24.

But I digress. How about confessing to a breakdown via ANY means of communication? Why is it so scary, both for us and for those who have to listen to us (we assume)?

What is with the stigma against mental illness? The term “mental illness” automatically implies serious conditions such as dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia. Aren’t there mental illnesses that are the equivalent of a cold or flu?

Of course there are. I’ve been there many times. But I’ve never been brave enough to call out of work due to “mental illness.” Or to use that term in relation to myself ever. Even though I struggle with persistent depressive disorder and recurrent major depression, which qualify as mental illnesses. And which a hell of a lot of people, by my untrained observation, suffer from.

Whether you differentiate between mental and physical weakness or have a more enlightened, holistic point of view, sometimes things, both inanimate and animate, just need a rest.

I recently read that potted shamrocks need a few months of dormancy each year. Our human instinct tells us to keep pouring water on houseplants to make them GROW GROW GROW. In fact, overwatering may be the fatal flaw of most black thumbs.

My own shamrock was looking scraggly, so I cut all the leaves off, stopped watering it, and put it in a closet for the next couple of months.

It looked like the shaved head of a shock-therapy victim à la Vanessa in “Penny Dreadful” or Ellen Burstyn’s character in “Requiem for a Dream.” But the plant is doing its thing, getting what it needs. Like a lot of average people in the short-term mental ward, I suspect.

To give you an even worse analogy, think about rebuilding an old car that doesn’t work well anymore. You can’t put new parts in without taking out the old ones. You have to remove things, and at some point, the car won’t run at all. Maybe for months.

You don’t freak out about it. You have a car up on blocks. Maybe somebody makes a crack about it. But you know you’re going to make that vehicle better than it was before.

Sure, you’re going to argue that car parts are physical and have nothing to do with the human brain or spirit. That’s fine.

My point is that things need to rest. Animals hibernate. Plants stop growing. Only we people run around continuously 24/7/365, despite the fact that days are cold and short in winter or that we’re loaded with stress and keep telling each other that we should be doing MORE MORE MORE. Because we don’t want to be lazy losers or hell-bound sinners.

Don’t slow down. Don’t question anything. Don’t stray from the road well traveled.

And by God, do not tell anyone you had a nervous breakdown this weekend.




Unmarried (for Now) and Proud (Always)

Dear world:

I have never been married, and as of today, I will no longer let any institution, group, or individual classify or treat me as a second-class citizen.

Maybe I’m more interested in working through my crap (hint: you have some too, or maybe even a lot) *before* committing my life to someone else than I am in having a crisis *during* the marriage, “finding” (or possibly losing) myself, and forcing my partner to adapt.

Maybe I’m more interested in sharing love, romance, and companionship than home repairs, bills, and child rearing. And shame on me for that last item, because we all know that this planet is desperately short of people and I’m not doing my part to fill the remaining empty spaces with humanswithphones.

Maybe my goal is to spend some wonderful time, however short, with somebody who honestly appreciates me, not merely to *be married* (read: approved of by society and the Commonwealth of Who Cares) for as long as I can stomach it so I can … win a prize (hint: there is none).

Maybe I’ve been more interested in winding down and exiting life with a partner by my side than in starting out with one.

Maybe not everybody who fought to the death (read: stayed married for life) felt as successful or rewarded as you gave him or her credit for.

Maybe I don’t want to be in a place where having an affair or getting a divorce might even cross my mind.

Maybe I hate being bored and would never want to be tempted to blame another person for my boredom.

Maybe I prefer commitment by choice to commitment by obligation.

Maybe getting married doesn’t make a whole lot of sense anymore.

Maybe I choose hope over resignation. Maybe I prefer to keep my options open for a miracle.

Maybe I’m stronger than many married people.

Maybe there’s nothing wrong with me.


Wedding rings and … is that a noose? I like it! [Image courtesy of nuttakit at]