Monday, December 15, 2008

Monkey Food.. or how to use up food ruined by a monkey- Apple Pie, Bread and Doughboys

On New Years Eve in 1963 or 4, my brother was drinking Manhattans. God knows what I was drinking, but as I was 11 or 12 years old, it probably was not Manhattans. I think he was a little miffed that he had no place to go on New Years Eve. It may be that he had come back from Maine Maritime Academy or one of his early merchant trips to find that people had made plans and he arrived without a date and no one home. Whatever the cause, there were Manhattans, a little brother and New Years Eve. I think that he had indulged in a couple of Manhattans too many(More on Manhattans later) and he was in a rather suggestible mood. Mom and Dad had gone to bed long ago. Little did they know that they would pay for that mistake for over ten years.
Dick was into Argosy Magazine. There were all sorts of ads in that magazine that appealed to the adventurous soul. I was thumbing through it and came upon an ad for "Pet Monkeys...$19.95" Of course I wanted a pet monkey. I was not going to say that though. I said something to the effect that Mom would love a pet monkey. Dick's resistance was down. This must have clicked somehow. Of course my mother needed a pet monkey! How long had this fact been staring us in the face?! At midnight on New Years Eve I was walking to the mailbox on the corner with a letter containing my brother's check for $19.95...perhaps plus shipping...
Weeks go by without a word. Then, on January 27th an open delivery truck arrived on one of the coldest days of the year with a box about the size of a boot box. The front upper corner was cut off and chicken wire had been stretched across the opening. The poor thing...a green, gold and black squirrel monkey with a white mask around his black brown shoe button eyes, sat shivering in one corner. There was no water, and the only food was a few monkey treats that were hard as a rock and as big as his little head. If he had stopped shivering for a minute, he would have frozen solid and we could have driven his tail in the ground and used him as a garden ornament. He had Pneumonia. Mom was not pleased at this turn of events, but her mothering instincts took over. THIS CREATURE WILL survive...The Gauntlet had been thrown down. The Vet..who had never seen a monkey in his life was about to enter into a new phase in his life. How to care for a monkey with Pneumonia. He knew how to treat Pneumonia. But how do you treat a primate that weighed less than a roll of pennies. The poor thing liked heat and high places, fruit and insects. He had to make do with Mom's recipe for baby health.

Mom's Monkey Food. Good for anything small that is ailing. May be habit forming.

Put one cup of whole milk in a saucepan.
Add two tablespoons of white sugar.
tear up two slices of cheap white bread(It was the sixties after all)
Bring the milk and sugar up to just short of a boil.
add the bread and allow to cool to baby food temp or a little more.
serve to your monkey in a parrot cage cup.


It was plain that medication was needed to get the little beggar back to health. Mom sat with him most days for hours. We tried him on fruit with a mediocre response. It turns out that their real passion is protein in the form of bugs. Sorry, not an option in January. He needed Teramycin to combat the Pneumonia. We found that he liked Mandarin Orange sections from a can. The medicine was in a liquid form, so we would just pump a little into a slice with an eyedropper. Bananas were all you saw in the cartoons about monkeys. We tried that too. A bit of medicine in the banana worked too. He recovered. Mom would put a towel on her lap and sit with him curled up and covered by a cloth. He compacted himself into a ball with his tail coming up between his legs, beside his head and over his shoulder to his back. It looked like he was wearing a fuzzy Serape. This was hilarious when he was trying to eat or something because he would constantly shove this seemingly unconnected thing out of the way to perform a task. It was always in his way. He spent the nights in his cage. Like a child, sometimes he would be tired enough that he would wait in his cage to be covered for the night, and other nights he was so tired you could not get him in there for love nor money. (Not that we advocated caging children...I love English) His little white eye mask would lose its pink flush when he was tired and you would know immediately there was to be a battle to get him to sleep. He had a passion for the hot air vents. Maine is not much like South America. He would crouch on the register half the winter. When it was warmer, he would climb the stair rail to the top, then jump to a window casing and climb to the curtain rod to spend the day. Needless to say there were few curtains in his favored areas of the house. When his health improved, he abandoned Mandarin oranges for the most part, and you could rarely tempt him with banana. I suppose the flavor of the medicine had spoiled them for him. However, the ritual of the bread and milk lasted for the rest of his life. Every morning you would hear him chittering softly from inside his cage. The first person up did the monkey breakfast. I did a fair number of them, but much of the time Paul(my stepfather) or Mom(when she was able) did that. One day he became so impatient waiting that he jumped to the stove to steal a bit and walked on a hot burner...Now that was a screech! There was a mark, but he was very fast so the damage was minimal. Anyway, the cup full of milk and bread would go into the cage and he would fish around in the cup and come up with a big, dripping chunk of sodden bread and rush back to the swing to consume it. He would repeat this till he was satisfied. His day was simple...find a warm spot!
He loved Queenie. She had been Dick's dog, but we all inherited her when he left for school and work. She was patient and willing. A nice calm dog. Monk would jump on her back and ride her like a jockey on a racehorse upstairs in our huge Victorian house to Grammie's apartment, where treats would be offered. When Queenie died, the new tenant was not quite so receptive. Monk jumped on his back the first time and the dog shook fiercely. Monk was thrown across the room and hit like a cartoon animal back against the upper part of a cabinet door. You always see such things in slow motion, and he seemed to stick there spread-eagled on the door for just a moment then slid to the floor. He picked himself up off the floor, having been stunned. He rose onto his feet(Yes, built much like a human, big feet and strong little arms with delicate but strong hands) like a diminutive King Kong and fairly stomped across the kitchen searching for his prey. He walked up to the unsuspecting dog. Monk, at full height was standing under Major's chin. He reached up and grabbed him by the fur under his chin and shook the poor dog up and down while screaming at the top of his little lungs. The dog's head and ears flapped up and down for at least 30 seconds. I think that neither suffered any serious injury, but the result of the event lasted forever. When the dog walked anywhere near a chair with the monkey on it, the monkey would aim as carefully as he could and send a stream of his excrement at the dog. Often brown mustard dripped from his head and ears. After a while the animosity cooled, but they were never the friends that he and Queenie had been. Monk had to be bathed on occasion, and great care had to be observed. A chill could have finished him. Dick had a movie camera with huge spot lights on it. We tried a couple of times before the advent of hair driers to dry the little guy with the lamps. They got pretty hot. The second or third time, Dick(I think) was looking away for a moment when we heard a distress call from Monk. The little guy was smoking! That was the end of the movie lights.
He did have a fondness for light bulbs though. Much of his later life was spent on the back porch. This was unheated, but as long as the light was on, he would stand on a rope looped near the bulb and suck up the heat. Even at 20 below zero on the porch he wanted to be near that bulb. It was a good staging point for him to get to anyone entering the house. He would fairly run along the clotheslines on the porch to the beam near the door and jump down on anyone he found interesting. This was not everyone. He especially favored women. He would jump down on their shoulders and grab them by the nostrils. He would pull their head around and kiss them on the lips in a rather alarming way. If the victim stood still for that, he would arrange himself so as to display his rather diminutive manhood in front of their faces and purr loudly. Needless to say, there was much screaming coming from inside when you passed our house on the street. Women with white or blond hair were especially attractive to him. My niece Diane was terrified of the monkey. She was small, pretty and had nearly white-blond hair. A luscious morsel for the oversexed monkey. Being on the porch was also a great opportunity to prepare his favorite meal. See, you were wondering why this was in a recipe section. He loved June bugs!

June bug Tartare

Put a belt and leash on your monkey. He will be very willing if he knows his favorite meal is lurking outside the door.

Take him to the door and torture him a few minutes to whet his appetite by watching him try to catch them through the screen door.

When he is chittering loudly, you know he is ready.

Open the door and let your monkey climb out and catch the bugs.

Always eat the June Bug head first. Good manners dictate that you crunch them like corn chips.

As time went on, Major(the new dog) and Monk came to terms. Never was there the camaraderie that the other dog had, but they had an understanding. This only means that the dog provided the monkey with a certain amount of entertainment. One Autumn day, we went out for a drive as a family. Something that was increasingly rare as my mother got sicker. We ended up at an orchard, where we bought with a large paper bag full of apples. We brought them home and put them on the kitchen table while we went out again for lunch. When we returned, I was first to the door and I noticed that there were a number of apples on the floor. Before I had a chance to open the glass door, an apple flew through the air and rolled across the floor with the dog chasing it. Mom and dad joined me at the door. We noticed a furry, green and black question mark sticking out of the partially empty bag. One side of the bag was somewhat crumpled. Soon an apple flew out of the bag, followed by two tiny hands crumpling down the side of the bag and a tiny head popped over the edge and watched as the dog chased the apple across the floor. The head and hands disappeared and repeated this act twice before I opened the door and the monkey high tailed it out of the room leaving the dog looking guilty in the middle of an apple littered floor.

Apple Pie

This is the crust from Mom's book. It is not quite as big a recipe as I usually use.

1/2 cup butter or half butter and half lard.
1 1/2 cups flour
a pinch of salt
5/8 cup of ice water.

Work butter into flour with knife and fingertips. Moisten to a dough with ice water, turn out on a floured board, and knead well. Pat flat as possible, then roll thin enough to be used. This paste may be kept in Mechanical refrigerator for 2 or 3days. Use for pies, tarts, and patty shells. For a richer paste, mix as above, pat on floured board, dot with butter generously, fold dough together, and roll and fold, and roll, until all the extra butter has been well blended.

Roll Paste 1/4 inch thick, and a little larger than the pie tin, to allow for any shrinkage during baking. A pie tin is never greased, for good paste greases its own tin. Fit lower crust to pie tin, fill with fruit or custard, and cover with upper crust, pressing edges together, and fluting edges of crust with fork, lightly.
Pierce upper crust at intervals with a fork.
Squash, pumpkin, and custard pies are baked without a top crust; so are many fruit pies which are served with a meringue, such as lemon pie or prune pie.
In baking pies, set in hot oven for about 10 minutes then reduce heat and bake about 30 minutes more. Top crust should be well browned.

This recipe is from Mom's "Quality Cook Book" from the thirties. I know nothing more about it.

I always thought that you handled pastry as little as possible, but this would probably be very flakey in the second recipe option.

Grammie's version

Take one half cupful of lard, one half cupful of butter, one quart of sifted flour, one cupful of cold water and a little salt. Rub the butter and lard slightly into the flour; wet it with the water, mixing it as little as possible. This quantity will make two large or three small pies.
About 1905

Grammie's Pie Crust Glaze

To prevent juice from soaking undwer the crust, beat up the white of an egg, and before filling the pie, brush over the crust with the beaten egg. Brush over the top crust also, to give it a beautiful yellow brown

Following is the Pie Crust recipe I use now and have done so for about 45 years.

2 1/2 cups of flour(unbleached white flour)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
3/4 cups of shortening(I used to use butter, but I am learning to use shortening for a better all around pastry...Lard is best, but who uses that now?)
6 to 7 tablespoons of ice water.

Stir dry ingredients together
add the shortening in chunks or spoonful dollops
Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes till thoroughly chilled and the shortening is hard

Pinch the shortening into the flour. Smear it and toss it round, attempting to end up with flat platelets of shortening all through the flour. Do not make the mixture too fine. bits of shotening showing is fine.

add the water a bit at a time. Toss the flour mix after each addition so that no one part gets too wet. About three additions would be right. Try to keep it as light as possible. Put it back in the refrigerator to chill again and gather into two masses patted into disks, one larger than the other.

Put back in the refrigerator and chill for at least an hour closely covered with plastic wrap or in a couple of tupperware containers. This helps the moisture distribute more easily.

Dust the counter with plenty of flour. Beat the larger disk from all angles to flatten the disk eavenly. Dust the top of the pastry with flour and roll lightly turning the pastry often and adding flour to the top and bottom as needed. Work very quickly. When it is at about 1/4 inch, roll the pastry onto the rolling pin and unroll onto the pie plate. Fit it into the plate and trim to about an inch beyond the edge. Put it back in the refrigerator while you roll out the top the same way. When the lower crust is filled, roll the other pastry on top after moistening the edges of the lower creust. Fold the upper and lower crusts together tucking the raw edges down the inside of the plate. Flute the pastry and cut vents. For apple pie, bake at 425 degrees F for ten minutes and reduce to 350 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes. The bottom should be browned well. You can brush the top with milk and dust with sugar if desired. Cool completely before cutting. I try to put the pie on the bottom rack at the beginning so it will brown on the bottom.


Peel and halve 6 apples. I like Cortland apples, but any thing the monkey got into will do. Take the core, flower and stem out of the halves and slice uniformly across horizontally to the original apple. Put the slices in a bowl and add:

1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of Cloves(ground)
1/2 teaspoon of Ginger
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 Tablespoons of cornstarch or flour
3/4 cup of sugar

Toss all together and arrange in the chilled bottom crust trying to fill all the voids. Dot with a couple of tablespoons of butter(salted is OK) and put the top crust on. Cut as many of the monkey and dog bruises off the apple as possible.

Not long after this happened, Mom decided to make some bread. She did not make bread very often. I think that the process hurt her back. Being only 5 foot 2, I think that the counters were all wrong for her. The MS was, of course, taking its toll on her body. These were also the years when compressed yeast cakes were common. It was not at all unlikely that batches of bread would fail to rise, either from old or badly stored yeast or from drafts in our 19th century house. Mom had a huge white enamelled pot. It had a red pin stripe on all the edges, and was large enough to cook pasta for a crowd. She made a very large batch of bread, thinking that some would go to Uncle Phil and to Grammie upstairs. She buttered the spaghetti pot and put the bread in it to rise. She covered the pan with a dish towel and then the cover. An hour or two later, she returned to find that the pan was undisturbed, but there were dozens of tiny pinch marks all over the dough, and it was as flat as a pancake. The little darling had lifted the cover and cloth, reached inside up to his armpits and felt around bringing samples out to taste. We had doughboys for supper. My favorite!(Doughboys are fried bread made, usually, when the bread failed to rise or did not rise well.  Pizza was another option.)

Doughboys or bread See the recipe in the bread section.

Grammie's Potato bread.

Not long after


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