Friday, May 22, 2020

Let's Get Cookin' Flash Fiction contest!

I love the 101 Things I Learned series with all my heart.
I've been a huge fan since the very first book, and my devotion has only increased over the years.

But, just because I love it, why should you?
Because it will teach you stuff you need to know. And not just about cooking.

Like how to boil water (Lesson #15). And no, I'm not kidding.

I've been cooking for a while now, and I learned that you should salt boiling water AFTER it's boiling, not while it's heating up! Who knew!

And if you're cooking a lot more since the pandemic, there's good info here for you too. Like Quick Fixes for Kitchen Problems (Lesson #58) which comes in handy if you can't just dash to the market.

And the one on dating eggs (Lesson #50) will be useful to all.

To celebrate the new and improved Second Editon let's have a flash fiction contest!

The prize is a copy of the book. US mailing addresses only for prizes (but anyone can enter).

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

(NO Steve Forti extra prompt word this week. I have retired from the field of battle. Forti Thwarts the Shark!)

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

9. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE.

10. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.

Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

11. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!"). Save that for the contest results post.

12. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

13. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: Saturday, 5/23, 4:15am
Contest closes: Sunday, 5/24, 9am

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?
Not yet!
Sorry, contest is closed!


Alyssa R said...

Eggs. Cinnamon. Arsenic. All ready and waiting.

The chef picked up her knife and sliced into the loaf of bread.

She would make French toast like no one had ever tasted before.

Perhaps the next king would allow salt in the kitchen.

If not, well, even a king had to eat sometime.

S.D.King said...

He knocked again.

“Go away! Where’s your mask?”

He smiled.

“I am not opening, now go away!”

58 days safe into quarantine - she was not about to talk to some salesman.
“Listen! I have too much to live for– I’m a chef. Best salt bread and sourdough in the city!”

He rolled his eyes.

“And I still have time to meet somebody – I have a few good eggs left – maybe kids.”

He pulled out a pocketknife.

“I’m calling the cops!”

He carved a mark on her doorframe and turned away.

The Angel of Death was allowed one per shift.

Steve Forti said...

The irony was great. Timmy flashed a peace sign held sideways. The look on his faces as Mike then sawed off Timmy's hand was delicious.

Timmy thought they were just playing a game. They were not. Nor was he playing when he took the last slice without asking. The pizza Mike paid for. Beggars Mike tolerated. Thieves he did not. The penalty for theft was ancient, well-known, and very much effective at preventing repeat offenses. That Timmy Finkle didn’t expect the reprisal tactic just now wasn’t Mike’s fault.

I mean, he did agree to play rock, paper, scissors, bread knife.

Craig F said...

Spring had finally rolled around. It was time for the Cliff Chickens to lay.

I dropped down the cliff face and fought those mothers off to steal their eggs. Got a half dozen.

We could have something we never knew we would miss, baked goods.

The cook used some sprouted groats and made bread. It smelled heavenly. I got the first pieces, took a bite, and my eating knife pinned that damned chef’s hat to the wall.

Cook refused to desecrate his cookbooks, they came from Earth, again forgot how salty Cliff Chicken eggs are and added even more.

Casual-T said...

"Ever stabbed someone with a bread knife?" asked Wilson, currency dangling from his lip.

"Wouldn't be a proper chef otherwise," Koch replied, gripping the whisk tighter. "Patron asked for salt, once... At Chez Janou!"

Wilson inhaled, sounding like a prison gate in need of lubrication.

"Said his Brandade de Morue needed some livening up." A dollop of semi-scrambled egg splattered onto the floor. "Told him, if he'd like some ketchup with his gratin, I'll gladly serve him some red stuff."

Wilson's eyes as wide as the road to perdition. "What then?" he exhaled.

"As I said, he only asked once."

Tess Rook said...

The birds started murdering each other at noon.

Could be that one of them oopsed and broke somebody’s egg. Or maybe a chickadee got a bit too big in the wing and tried for a share of the duck’s bread.

The whole sky was clotted with them as they tore into each other with knife-point beaks, tail feathers fanned in aggression. Their bodies fell to our lawns by the dozen.

The neighbors were horrified.

But I was hungry.

I grabbed the salt and preheated the oven. You don’t need to be a chef to manage roasted squab.

Beth Carpenter said...

“…our daily bread...”

Her leg grown numb, Blanch shifted Pumpkin to the pew, enabling escape. Blanch snatched her daughter’s dress, but Pumpkin slithered out of it.

“Amen.” All eyes opened to see Pumpkin tugging the altar cloth, raining candlesticks.

“This altar’s not for climbing.” The pastor held the almost-naked preschooler at arm’s length. People rushed to stomp out flames.

“Kick, ‘n’ if ‘e don’t leggo, kick again,” Pumpkin yelled.

“Pumpkin, you apologize!”

Pumpkin grinned. “I sorry.”

“It won’t happen again,” Blanch effronted.

Outside, he waited.


“Three Rolexes and a diamond bracelet. Stockbroker’s funeral in Waxahachie Thursday?”

“We’ll be there.”

Erin Scruggs said...

At sunrise, tapping on her window awakened her, she jack-knifed up in bed to meet his gaze. A handsome fellow bold in his greetings. His visits meant more now that she lived alone.

He’d occasionally bump wind-chimes too, creating sounds like a psaltery. “Rise and shine”, her mother’d say.

Her tired feet now meeting hard wood. Stumbling downstairs, she’d prepare eggs and spread avocados on bread to pair with black coffee. No stranger to culinary arts but not a chef either.

She sat at the patio table outside. Her fiery red-feathered friend gathered near, stole her toast and flew away.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

“You’ve cut the bread too thin. We’ll need another loaf.”

He shook his head while I suppressed a sigh. Some retreat. It was supposed to be Zen, but it was more like hell with Chef-Zilla. Nonrefundable hell.

My jaw hurt from clenching. I turned back to the stove. “No, no!” he shouted. “Don’t salt the water till after it boils.”

He set the eggs I’d bought in a bowl of cold water. They floated. “These are old,” he growled. “Can’t put them in.” He turned his back to me, muttering, shaking his head.

“But I can put the knife in.”

Colin Smith said...

Salt bread
Egg laid
King sick
Egg cracks
Chef knifed
Egg breaks
New chef
Chick born

Steph Ellis said...

Walking on eggshells, I offered you the bread and salt of tradition, skirting round the elephant in the room, the memory not forgotten of your crocodile tears.

You never could talk straight, couched our time in metaphor and idiom, proverb and poison. You’ve rubbed off on me. Now there’s a rat in my kitchen and too many cooks.

I want to be Head Chef - top dog. Time to cut the dead wood.

I even bought the knife for the job. Sheffield steel. Like me.

My future is a stab in the dark. I would say the same of yours.

John Davis Frain said...

Benedict allowed a smile. The coldest of cases, cracked.

Horses altering the crime scene hadn’t helped , but Benedict persevered.

“Amazing,” his Colonel said. “How?”

“Each effort brought us closer. Now, we have our suspect. This leggy fella.”

Sanders’ chin dropped. “The gingerbread man? How’d he hold the knife-—the piece of evidence we withheld from the public.”

“A red herring, sir.”

Sanders nodded. “Always thought it was self-inflicted.”

Benedict shook his head. “Turns out, he didn’t fall. Using Virtual Reconstructive Technology, we rebuilt him. Extracted DNA off his back.”

“You mean…”

“Yes. Humpty was pushed. Alert the king’s men.”

Matt Krizan said...

So strange, Katie thinks, passing masked faces.

Beggar, tycoon, king, and vassal—they’re one and the same in the end.

How many are like her, longing for a hug, an ache for the smallest touch?

Skeletal hands clasp those of flesh.

A new normal: ordinary activities bringing anxiety like a knife.

“What we were, you are. What we are, you will be.”

She keeps her hands away from her face, stays six feet apart at all times.

So begins the Danse Macabre.

Adrift among a sea of anonymous shoppers, Katie winds her way to the checkout lanes.

Karen McCoy said...

Long-suffering brides choked the store’s dressing rooms. I wasn’t a bride, but I’d suffered plenty.

“It’s like I’m wearing a chef’s hat,” Sophie whined.

I handed her a gown with a puffy chiffon skirt. “This one?”

A pause. “Too bippity-boppity-boo.”

I sighed. “We should try this some other time.”

“Don’t be so salty. Bring the egg-colored one.”

I shoved it through the door just before she closed the knob.

y now?” If she didn’t like it, I’d look for a knife to put us both out of our misery.

“Yes. It’s perfect,” she sighed. “Now if only he’ll propose.”

hildieblog said...

“Hey – kitchen boy!” Jose materialized by the dumpster as Santi was hauling out the trash. “Nice pants!”
“Back off --”
“Aww, just ribbin',” Jose flicked the smiling pig on Santi’s chef’s jacket. “So salty, friend--”
Santi grabbed Jose. “Where’s my money? I worked for it, cough it up.”
“Dude, I got no bread, hoping you had some. But I do got this,” Jose produced a switchblade.
“Call that a knife?" Santi produced a cleaver from his jacket.
Jose spun out of Santi’s grip and took off down the alley.
“Run, gallina! Now you got egg on your face!”

Steve Cassidy said...

She’d been watching a supercilious chef on TV explain why a bread knife is serrated.

His thoughts were in hyper drive. Nonsensical. Nonsequitorial. Pinging, careening, crashing against the walls of his head. Splintering into gazillions of infinitesimal droplets, fragments in shark infested waters.

“We’re all scuba divers in a septic tank full of sharks. Voyeurs facilitating our own carnage,’’ he thought. ‘Sharks’.

“…...and viola, your eggs are perfect with just a dash of salt.”

He ran the blade slowly across her patellar tendon and began disarticulating her knee. The chef was right. A long serrated blade required less effort.

flashfriday said...

“Six cups bread flour.”

“Six? Yeesh. Got it.”

“One tablespoon salt.”

“Tablespoon salt, got it.”

“Three tablespoons sugar.”

“Not four???”

“Three. One package yeast.”

“Same as a small cake, yeh?”

“Yes. Two cups warm water. Two eggs.”

“Two and two, got it. That all, chef?”

“All but the meat. With a boning knife, prepare the dragon.”

“With a boning knife, prepare the knight, got it.”

“Unfunny, caller. DRA. GON.”

“But isn’t this the Knights Recipes hotline?”

“Yes! Surely you didn’t think—”

“Wait. You mean--?”



“Let’s pretend this call never happened.”

“This call never happened. Got it.”

smoketree said...

1 loaf bee bread
1 dozen sea turtle eggs
1 pillar of salt
1 ceremonial knife
1 appropriately chastened chef

Combine in medium-sized planet and heat until ingredients begin to break down, approximately 100 years.

Set aside indefinitely. Snack on shark fin soup or bison jerky.

Using knife, sever fire alarm from wall as oven spontaneously combusts and kitchen floods.


Dismantle pillar of salt and spread over flames.

In separate bowl, hatch turtles and swim to freedom.

Using bee army, construct 1 wax culinary palace.

Serve farm-to-table fare to expanding shark and bison clientele.

Don’t look back.

travelkat said...

“Did you gather the corn, dear?” she asked, offering a gentle peck.

“Ran around like a chicken with his head cut off.”

“Don’t be gruesome,” his wife squawked.

“Just pulling your leg. I scratched about, and made a farmer’s country cornbread,” he crowed triumphantly.

She clucked with approval. “Fitting. Knife sharpened?”

“Fine as a feather, this one’s a tough old bird,” he answered, with a sly cackle.

“Well, best get cracking, as it were. Almost little Eggbert’s bedtime.”

Behind the coop, eyes wild in his weathered salt-of-the-earth face, the trussed-up farmer thrashed as the rooster chef approached with the blade.

Megan V said...

Acting is my dream. Food is my love. So when I see the open call for a TV chef, I fly to the auditions. They give me a hat, say it’s for character, but the white pipe on my head isn’t enough. I swish my mustache and put on a fake accent. A little flourish can’t hurt—all the best chefs have a distinct sound. Like Julia Child.

"Makin' ze bread," I say.

Crack the egg. Sprinkle the salt. Wave the knife. The directors want me to sing as I slice. Can I oblige?

"Bork bork bork!"

This audition’s mine.

RosannaM said...

“At last. Dining out! I am so sick of your cooking.”

Sam fixated on a speck of lipstick stuck to Victoria’s front tooth; polished his butter knife.

The waiter arrived. “Chef’s special: apricot glazed head cheese, followed by garlic sea salt geoduck, a choice of Scotch eggs, pecan-crusted sweetbreads, or pan-fried Rocky Mountain oysters.”

“Ooh, gooey duck! I love duck. And the oysters. Seafood is to die for! And the black pudding for dessert. Dark chocolate is so healthy!”

Two bites later, she retched and stormed out.

“Casa de Revoir” sign swung madly.

The waiter winked. Sam tipped a fifty.

Tain Leonard-Peck said...

We’re coming in on target, two hundred klicks to go.

The glory of modern bombing. As clean and precise as a chef’s knife.

Radar is still clear. No evidence of SAMs or MANPADs on the ground. We’re good to go forward. One hundred klicks.

Wouldn’t matter if there were any. Our smartbombs can make them go splat like rotten eggs.

We’ve taken light gunfire, HMGs being shot in our rough direction. Another fifty klicks to engagement range.

Request final permission to engage.

A bright flash. Searing white, salt on the eyes.

These things are the best invention since sliced bread.

C. Dan Castro said...

"Unusual Tastes" provides curbside pickup. Vanessa and I prep the kitchen, despite our anniversary.

Did she bring extra salt?


C'mon, Beautiful, show you care.

Only gift I requested.

I grab eggs. Bread. Make us French toast.

Vanessa looms, chef's knife flashing. Against my throat. Forcing me to sit.

My heart rate goes to infinity.

Vanessa drags the blade, scratching skin, until...

...she slices my toque blanche tattoo. I grunt.

From nowhere, Vanessa produces a saltshaker. Uncaps it. A waterfall of white crystals inundates my wound.

I growl in ecstasy.

Unusual Tastes. Where more than the food is delicious.

french sojourn said...

“Hey Bob, read this!” he held out a battered book.

Bob leaned over, his reach effortless, and took the book.
He set it on his leg, getting a comfortable position, and started leafing through it. He picked up a bookmark from the side table and knifed it into the first chapter. “This should be perfect for my honeymoon on St. Lucia, thank you Frank.”

“The sandy beaches, and the azure saltwater should be heaven.”

“Well, thanks,” he laughed looking at the title, Death by honeymoon. “Seems a bit grim though.”

“Well truth be told; my wives hated the book.”

Marie McKay said...

The aroma of freshly baked bread drifted through the freshly scrubbed rooms, egg shell blue still drying on the walls.
On a knife edge, the chef and her husband straightened pots and plans, in a kitchen where they spun sugar and stories:
"We need to move to Salt Lake City to-"
"-be with your mother."
"We've loved every minute living here-"
"- your daughter will love it too. Good schools."
After the viewing, they both sat quietly, grateful there'd been no sighting: the little ghost had stood dead still in the hallway fascinated by the little girl with long, braided hair.

Sunnygoetze said...

Chef Sunny

Sunny was a culinary genius. Her first attempt at cooking found her and the younger siblings over the can scraping ash from the charred bread."Culinary correction is also an important skill."
Sunny became a culinary correction specialist, but there were some things prowess couldn't correct like the birthday cake with the uncooked egg in the middle. "That's filling."
Or the banana bread with grandma's butter knife baked in the center. "Happy Birthday!"
The cupcakes made with salt mistaken for sugar. "Yum!"

Who needs that book more than Sunny?

Mallory Love said...

We used to take everything Horace said with a grain of salt. He’d never been pegged as someone intelligent but was always good for a laugh. His panache for conspiracy theories was something to behold. He’d don tinfoil helmets, create bulletin boards full of newspaper clippings and string, and sleep with a knife under his pillow. His breadth of knowledge on aliens often helped him as a featured expert on crackpot podcasts. It was all funny until the predictions started coming true. First the pandemic, then the murder hornets. Now we take everything he says with a shot of whiskey.

NLiu said...

Famine declined?" roars War, smashing his boiled egg. "Outrageous!"

Death examines the bread knife. "Apparently he considers feasting inappropriate."

Pestilence coughs over the oysters. "You wouldn't understand the metaphor about rubbing salt in wounds."

Death glares.

A woman enters, bearing a tray.

"Ooh, who's this?" Pestilence leers.

"Rache, for your information, my daughter," declares War. "Hands off."

Pestilence takes the ice cream Rache offers him; sups, licking scabbed lips.

"Know what's sweet, Pestilence?" asks Death.

"And best served cold?" adds War. "You crown-stealer."

"If this is about Coronavirus, I can expl-" Pestilence gags. Keels over.

Rache smiles. Sweetly.

Just Jan said...

1. Enter freezer. (She never changed the code after you left.)
2. Disable camera. (Keep face hidden with chef’s toque.)
3. Retrieve the envelope she stowed under the Baked Alaskas. (Use penknife to confirm contents.)
4. Look at all that bread! (No more walking on eggshells around your boss--you’re RICH, man!)
5. Time to make your escape. (Bring passport; she’s meeting you at the gate.)
6. Don’t panic. (Walk-ins are required to have interior release mechanisms.)
7. Assess alternate escape route if mechanism non-functional. (Maybe she’s just not that into you.)

C. H. Reaver said...

Hamilton refused to tell the whereabouts of the Key, but begged her to give a note to trusted Chef as last request:

"Turkey (1/2 serving)
Chop two stalks of onion with a knife, squeeze two drops of mayo in a tin. Remove both filling layers from bread in the leftover BLT. The only slices that remained serve with side dishes, plates removed; add saltless table salt. Pour two remaining drops of gin; the sole content of a can; a cup of coffee nearly full, last cube of sugar added in."

She replied:
"Did you think I wouldn't notice??"

Michael Seese said...

Both my coffee cup and stomach effiercingly barren, I willed my eyes to force down the next stale morsel of "knowledge."
"Jean-Paul Salt, a close friend of Francis Bacon, examines man's true eggsistential dilemma in his classic work..."
My red pen adorned and scorned the top of the page with a scarlet letter F.
"Consider Occam's Butter Knife, a bread-and-grape-jelly example of…"
I rubbed my own bleary eyes, and dashed off a quick missive.

Dear Dean HAMmond,
I would like to respectfully request that, going forward, the university schedule Philosophy 101 at some time other than 8:00 a.m.