Saturday, February 19, 2005

by Mark Russell

1. Remove entrée from cardboard box.

2. Peel back film covering chicken-fried steak portion. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.

3. Remove chicken-fried steak from plate, place gravy pouch in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on MEDIUM HIGH for 3 minutes.

4. Return chicken-fried steak to plate. Stir mashed potatoes. If mashed potatoes are not stirred, over-heating may occur. Over-heating may result in a pocket of boiling steam forming underneath mashed potatoes, which may explode when pierced by a fork. Said explosion has been known to be so violent in nature that it has expelled potato matter like volcanic ash, burning the flesh of all who stood near. We believe that this is an acceptable risk in order to enjoy what we consider to be the best microwaveable mashed potatoes the industry has to offer. Microwave on HIGH for 4-5 minutes.

5. Remove gravy pouch from microwave oven, keeping gravy warm in a saucepan or toaster-oven. If gravy is allowed to cool, it may congeal, animate, and take the form of a small minotaur-like creature. If this occurs, the new entity shall be called "Thorbald." Section off a small portion of your pantry or breakfast nook. This shall be Thorbald’s domain. You may try to incorporate him into your family if you wish, but do not taunt or tease young Thorbald. For though a minotaur made of gravy, he has feelings just like the rest of us. You may train him to perform light household chores such as fluffing pillows and braiding your children’s hair, but understand that this is undertaken at your own risk.

6. Replace film cover over chicken-fried steak, continue to Microwave on HIGH for 2 ½ minutes.

7. CAREFULLY remove plate from microwave oven and peel back film cover. PRODUCT WILL BE HOT. Stir potatoes and serve with gravy. Hope for the best.

8. Again, be aware of over-heating. If, upon removal from microwave, the green beans begin hissing, discard product immediately. If mashed potatoes explode, or chicken-fried steak unexpectedly scalds you, do not cry out, as this may be interpreted as a sign of weakness. A weakness that Thorbald may seek to exploit later during a moment of vulnerability.

Mark Russell publishes zines, including one on the apocryphal adventures of Superman, and co-edits The Penny Dreadful website out of Portland, Oregon USA. Contact him or Thorbald at pendread (whereit'sat) hotmail dott com.

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