I know this drawing is weird, but the story that goes with it is even weirder.
This is an image of "apple-berry grunt," a dessert in one of Dreena Burton's books. You put two cups of berries and two chopped apples in a frying pan with maple syrup and lemon juice, heat that to boiling, and then dollop big scoops of biscuit mix made from spelt and oats on top. Put the lid on and basically steam-bake the biscuits. The house ends up smelling like the very best berry-scented candle, and the dessert is warm, sweet, and soothing.
You're an idiot like me.
Okay, I'm not an idiot, but I am busy, and I was proud that I managed to make a healthy dessert, but I was so focused on getting stuff done that I didn't pause to think.
Health Inspector Alert: While baking "grunt" in a cast iron pan may be okay, the lemon juice and acidic berries will leach out the iron, so do NOT let the dessert sit in the pan after it's baked. Don't even consider letting it sit in that pan for an entire day and then eat the dessert the next night.
It will taste delicious. Only your husband will notice a "metallicy taste" when he sips water after taking a bite of the re-heated grunt. But, when you turn to each other to talk, he will over-react (you think at first) to your stained teeth and tongue.
"Why is it staining your teeth so much tonight? It doesn't normally do that," he'll say. But, you'll be so focused on finally relaxing at the end of the day that you'll brush it aside ... that is until you go to brush your teeth:
Seriously. I should've taken a picture, but I was too panicked. My lips were black, my teeth, especially my bottom teeth, were purple-black as if I'd devoured a bowl full of calligraphy ink, and my tongue ... oh my tongue ... streaks of vivid iris-purple and black. I looked like a really bad movie make up job for someone playing a rotten-toothed street urchin-turned-zombie in Charles Dickens's London.
I brushed twice, flossed, and was relieved when most of the stain went away, but as of this morning, there is a pale blueberry hue to my teeth.
Worse ... far worse ...
My husband researched how this happened. Basically, the acid leaches out the iron in the cast iron pan, which when cooking pasta sauce is nice because it adds iron to your meal, but when leaving it to sit in that iron for 24 hours turns into an iron-rich stew that can actually lead to iron toxicity and even liver failure.
We finally called the advice nurse to make sure we hadn't sickened ourselves, and it sounds like we would have had to eat a lot more of the "grunt" to do real damage, but my husband joked this morning that when he walked by the radio it changed frequency and picked up stations in Japan. I keep waiting for the refrigerator magnets to leap out and stick to me.
In my darkest moment, tired late last night, I thought about how I see cooking food as something sustaining, nourishing, loving, generous, strengthening, but that it can also sicken and harm and even kill ... I feel lighter this morning, but at one point last night I felt like a royal idiot, a dangerous idiot. Plus ... in my rush of chores and accomplishment the night I made the grunt, a tiny voice in the back of my mind, pushed out by my need to mop the kitchen floor, studied the cast iron pan and thought two things -- it would make a nice drawing, and: we don't normally leave anything in this pan, should it be scooped out into Tupperware?
Blue teeth and some chagrin are thankfully all that resulted in my black maiden dessert.