If All My Friends Jump Off a Bridge, I Hope They Have a Collective Funeral

Because I really only have one outfit that’s funeral appropriate, and I don’t feel like getting it dry-cleaned over and over. Also, if all my friends jump off a bridge, that’s a hell of a sign that I am a poor judge of character.

(NB: I wrote this long-winded post, and when I went to read it over before hitting “publish,” couldn’t figure out why I had such a bee in my bonnet over a totally insignificant issue. Probably it’s a personal problem. I ignored it while I watched The Daily Show and now I’m too tired to write something entirely new, so I’m leaving it. You should feel free to ignore it. In the future, I will try and restrict craw-stickage to issues of substantial import.)


3/28/12 – ETA: I think I just figured out a much shorter way to get my point across!

Dear Gentle Readers,

You know, I don’t much care for the Pioneer Woman.


Seriously, who knew all my friends were lemmings? And why did it take until they literally engaged in lemming-like behavior for me to figure it out?* Jeez.

I guess that’s where the saying comes from: “Fool me once, shame on you. Jump off a bridge, who’s the asshole now?”

*Hands up if you remember the “Lemmings” video game. Hands up again if you are shocked by how long the Lemming video game article on Wikipedia is. Someone has a LOT of free time.


To be clear, I do not believe that, at this time, any of my friends are lemming-like. But it IS the case that there seems the be a pandemic of giveaways in the foodblogosphere all of a sudden. Like, of BIG things. KitchenAid stand mixers. iPads.* Digital cameras. I tend not to enter them because I already have a mixer and camera I like, I don’t want an iPad, and no one ever gives away things that would be truly useful to me, like a gross of Old Navy plus-size linen capri pants (they wear out fast, dontcha know) or a year’s worth of Paxil.

Giving out prescription medication to a randomly selected internet stranger probably isn’t legal in the United States – which is just one more reason bloggers should colonize the moon before Newt does – but you take my point.  People are giving away a lot of shit.

*I just had a ten-minute argument with myself about whether or not the “i” in “iPad” should be capitalized if the word comes at the beginning of a sentence. Two out of two members of the TNS household grudgingly agree that it should not. CONFOUND YOU, APPLE.


Now, it may well be the case that I am just a grumpus because I never win giveaways (in addition to all the non-blog related things that make me grumpy, which are legion). And goodness knows I’ve been known to give away a book or two as a thank you to my readers, usually on TNS’s anniversary.

But I can’t help but think that paying out of one’s own pocket* to throw handfuls of free iPads to a frenzied crowd is not entirely unlike Sara Rosen giving me all her Jem dolls in the fourth grade so I’d be friends with her; that is to say, genuine generosity with a deep undercurrent of palpable desperation.  Also, truly, truly, TRULY outrageous.

*Know that if some company wanted to use me as the conduit to provide you with fabulous prizes, I would totally do it. HINT HINT, any major global brands who may be reading.


I didn’t take the dolls and I was friends with Sara Rosen anyway, because we had fun playing together and even a nine-year-old knows there’s something fishy about having your love bought. Even a nine-year-old whose parents wouldn’t buy her Jem dolls of her own even though she wanted one REALLY REALLY badly.* That’s saying something.

So give away whatever you want. I’m not the boss of you. But know that people will like you anyway if you’re interesting and genuine.** If people don’t seem to like you, take a minute to consider whether any of the following apply:

  1. You are dull.
  2. You are an asshole.
  3. You don’t talk to other people, so why should they talk to you?
  4. Your site starts playing music when it loads and has a 10-minute Flash intro.
  5. You are seriously a giant asshole.

*Also, they bought me an off-brand Cabbage Patch Kid, but I eventually worked through that in therapy.

**Also, STOP OBSESSING OVER YOUR STATS, because we all know that’s the real reason.


You can have one of those characteristics, just not multiples; I’m kind of an asshole (to wit: this post, reprimanding other bloggers for doing something that’s not really that big a deal like somebody made me the Queen of Food Blogs, even though I do NOT want that responsibility). But I’m ONLY an asshole and am otherwise interesting, so people stick around. Granted, I’m not nearly as famous as I deserve to be, but I’m assuming it’s only a matter of time.

For example, between long-winded diatribes, I show you how to make things like this croissant breakfast strata with artichokes, bacon and asiago. It’s great for brunch, because you can assemble the night before and bake in the morning, but it’s also easy to throw together if you feel like breakfast for dinner. And if you don’t like artichokes, bacon or asiago, you can use the basic bread-and-custard recipe and add whatever extras you want. (Also, think about whether your dislike of bacon and cheese might not be another reason people don’t like you.)


All you need are six croissants (preferably day old), some whole milk, eggs, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper, plus whatever add-ins you want. You layer the whole thing kinda like a lasagna – halved croissants, bacon and artichoke, cheese, croissants, etcetera etcetera – then pour the simple custard over the whole thing and bake.

So fine, it’s really just like a breakfast bread pudding, but you don’t have to admit that when you serve it.


We gave the leftover strata to Brian’s parents. His dad brought some to work and gave it to colleagues, one of whom gave me the best compliment ever, saying it tasted just like her Italian’s grandmother’s. Winning!

Because really, how could this be bad? It’s custardy, buttery, gooey and satisfying, with pops of salty bacon and tangy artichoke to give it more life. Fantastico.

Okay, flame away and tell me what a jealous harpy I am.

Breakfast Strata with Artichoke, Bacon and Asiago
3 c. whole milk
8 large eggs, well beaten
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. white pepper (but don’t buy it just for this, use black if that’s what you have)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of salt
6 day-old croissants, sliced in half
1/2 lb. good bacon, chopped, crisped and drained
1 10oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
2 c. plus 1/4 c. grated asiago cheese (fontina would also be tasty)

Whisk together the milk, eggs, mustard, pepper, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl, preferably one with a pour spout.

In a 9 or 10-inch round casserole dish, start layering the other ingredients. Lay down four croissant halves to completely cover the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of bacon bits, a layer of artichoke and a layer of cheese. Continue until all the ingredients are used up; you’ll have three layers of each.

Slowly pour the custard over the croissants; you may want to do this in stages, giving it a few second to soak in before continuing to pour. Add custard until it comes to the rim of the casserole dish, you may have extra. Sprinkle the extra 1/4 of cheese on top.

Now you have a choice: you can stash in the fridge overnight, or let it sit for 30 minutes and then bake.

Whenever you’re ready, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the strata on the middle rake for 45-55 minutes, until it’s puffed and golden and set. Serve either hot or warm, but not cold – it gets all congeal-y.

31 thoughts on “If All My Friends Jump Off a Bridge, I Hope They Have a Collective Funeral

  1. My husband won’t eat artichokes; if they are in something he eats and he doesn’t know it, retching begins. I like to avoid that.

    Can i substitute something for the artichokes in that extra yummy looking dish?
    Or should i just leave them out? Maybe tell him that this recipe is MINE, ALL MINE !

  2. Oh, that looks so good. I think it’s going into my brunch repertoire.

    Also, I was going to ask for links to all these sites giving away stuff, and then I got to point 4 in your list, and decided it probably wasn’t worth it.

    Stay awesome!


  3. I’ve always wanted to do a giveaway. If I offered free stuff, that would mean people other than my mother would be reading my blog. More people commenting on my blog would mean more audience, which would mean more more companies would want to provide me with free stuff to give away, which would make me even more popular, which would mean even more companies would want to provide me with free stuff…

    I considered doing a Pioneer Woman and developing some kind of persona if I had giveaways. I just couldn’t get that act together. Middle-Aged, White, Suburban Woman in the Kitchen. Not much of a ring to it. (But I have PONIES!)

    I actually have won things from blog giveaways, but those were from the cool people, people I like, and none of my prizes were anything I could plug in.

    Does anyone ever consider that in blogs we give away the most important commodity we can offer – our precious recipes! We give away for free those marvelous creations from our heads. You just gave away a drool-worthy breakfast recipe and I didn’t have to tell you my favorite color or whether I celebrate Easter or Passover, or tell you my favorite song to obtain it!

  4. My grandma was really excited when she gave me a Cabbage Patch Kid that her friend had made out of pantyhose. It had reddish-orange yarn hair. God, I hated that thing.

    I guess I don’t much like anything with reddish-orange hair now.

  5. 1. i DO remember lemmings and am shocked at the length of that wiki. 2. i am disappointed this post does not delve further into a discussion of how much you don’t care for the PW 2a. maybe i’m kind of an asshole.

  6. but… if you became Queen of the Food Blogs would you still have time for us lowly hangers on? I like feeling that I have tripped across a true gem!
    btw, good looking chow, as usual!

  7. 1.) I think I just found what I’ll be making for Easter brunch. Yum! 2.) I’m convinced that I’m the most perfect person there ever was and everyone else is just a jealous asshole because they’ve recognized my greatness. But that’s probably just me being an asshole, though. Oh well, here we are.

  8. Hands all the way up! I used to play Lemmings on the old, old, OLD Mac my first stepgrandmother had–I loved it so much I even ignored the weird rubbery keyboard cover she had that got all gummy from finger residue. I can tell you that my loyalty to her only other game, SimAnt, was not that strong.

    I probably won’t make a strata anytime soon–for some reason the bread/egg thing sounds weird to me–but you HAVE inspired me to make a Spanish tortilla! Egg and potato for dinner, here I come.

  9. Wow, there must be a crawlspace inside my head that you’ve been curled up in, because I could’ve near-on written this myself – well, actually, I don’t know that I would’ve come to the succinct, elegant solution that you did in the grey paragraph, I probably would’ve written line upon line of back-and-forth, “this is really just my opinion” waffling, as well as all the giveaway discussion stuff. That said, I wouldn’t mind doing just one giveaway to see what it’s like – however as a reader I find them kinda off-putting so got to balance that out too.

    Not only do I remember lemmings – my style was either to win at any cost or to cruelly make them dig to nowhere only to have them turn around and start digging properly just when they were about to fall off a cliff – I also had an off-brand Cabbage Patch Doll, made by my aunty. However, it had these awesome magic eyes which shut when you lay her down and opened when she was sitting up. Who’s laughing now?

    Babein’ strata, btw.

  10. Wow. Used to play, and love playing, the lemming game, and had no idea that anyone had that much to say about it.

    As for Giveaways. I do them. But, with stuff I make, not stuff I pay huge gobs of money for (though I do pay a little for materials to make stuff). I think they are fun. I like it when other small bloggers do small giveaways, and I have won stuff doing that. It is part of the fun of blogging. When people with thousands of followers do giveaways, I don’t even bother to enter (and generally, when most blogs get that popular, I tend to stop reading them anyway, because they are doing a lot more pandering and a lot less of the blogging that got me to read their blog in the first place).

  11. Lemmings was the bomb.

    I feel that this is the most natural point for me to say that as a web developer, I really love your site in all the dorkiest ways a web dev can love a site. The internet is awash with musicy, flashy site that make me want to punch someone in the face. I like the clean, uncluttered layout, and the typography is fabulous. Your web folks know their shit, yo. Props to them, and/or you. Yours is one site that I regularly click to from my Google Reader. /nerdery

    Anyway, I certainly don’t mind that you aren’t showering us with high-end electronics. Just keep being awesome.

  12. 1. I must’ve lived under a rock, ’cause I had to Google Lemmings!
    2. I hate PW, too.
    3. Your writing is so good and the topics so interesting, you don’t need to buy our love and give away shit we don’t really need.
    3. Your strata looks yummy, but I probably won’t ever make it because I hate to cook.
    4. I’ve been told I’m more a Bitch than an Ass-hole.

  13. @bev, it’s too good not to share. mushrooms would be good, as would sauteed spinach with all the excess water squeezed out.

    @rachel, so true about giving away the recipes. but i really think the best way to draw people in is to post interesting content and make sure you’re an active participant in the community – commenting elsewhere, or being in places like food52, whatever.

    @kristie, i know it’s a fine distinction, but i think of you more as a shit-stirrer.

    @kate, there are a bunch of reasons i don’t really like her (endless photo posts, hackneyed recipes, uninteresting recipes, constant self-promotion…it’s just kinda dull), but i’d rather not devote a whole post to picking her apart. she does her thing, and people like it. i’m sure there are people who think *i’m* a hackneyed writer with a sailor mouth.

    @cynic1, there’s always time for the OG readers.

    @mia, what’s wrong with bread and egg? shocking! also, throw some chorizo in that tortilla.

    @crystal, for the record, i think giveaways of stuff you make are awesome.

    @megan, thanks! i’ll take credit for the design and typography, which i modified from a free theme i found, and give additional credit to my wordpress guru, who makes it all happen.

  14. that strata may be second only to peanut butter & jelly sandwiches as the most perfect food ever. it has bacon, and cheese, and croissants, and can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, supper, or midnight snack (pb&j can also be dessert, so it wins).

    as i have decided that i have an uncanny knack for winning food blog giveaways (i have won two, after all), i enter some of PW’s giveaways knowing thatmy special powers can buck the odds of 47,000 to 1. it’s gonna happen. i’m sure of it.

  15. Oh Michelle honey, Your blog is too fab for words! I look forward to reading it because I can depend on you saying something that will make me belly laugh, big time. I don’t know how I feel about PW. There are so many things and people on my “I loathe you/this” list, PW wouldn’t even be in the top hundred. I do love a good rant, however. I am tempted to yell: “Assholes of the world unite against things and people who piss us off”. But I don’t think a group of assholes could get along long enough to accomplish anything. Anyway, never stop being you and saying exactly what you think. I love it, and I don’t care who doesn’t. I love the breakfast strata recipe. I’m gonna try it tomorrow morning, for sure.

  16. Lemmings was a great game…but I really just loved to watch them splat in lovely splotches of red.

    I am sometimes an asshole, and I love bacon, custardy stuff, and breakfast. Sign me up!

  17. Screw the giveaways! I happen to be a big fan of anyone who can swear like a sailor and still put out fantastic recipes. PW kinda makes me queasy; I think she may be the bastard offspring of Sandra Lee and Toby Keith. Or the anti-Christ. Of course, they may be one and the same.

  18. Thanks for the perfectly-timed recipe! I was stressing about what to do with an ill-considered buy of Costco croissants – while delicious, a single person living alone should.not.buy Costco foodstuffs.

    Quick question – as far as texture/taste, would Monterey/Cheddar work, you think? Thanks!

  19. @junecutie, not unless everyone could agree on a head asshole, and you know that’s never gonna happen without bloodshed.

    @jen, i think either would work, although i would stay away from cheddar that’s super sharp.

  20. “Even a nine year old know there’s something fishy about having your love bought.”

    The lemmings would have taken the Jem Dolls and not bothered with playing with Sara after about a week. Thanks for expressing how you feel about PW from a food bloggers point of view. It’s got to be tough NOT to feel the pressure to keep up with PW’s OBSCENE giveaways.

    As for readers thinking you might be a jealous harpy? Doubt it. That accusation usually comes from devout PW worshippers who have yet to come up with a better term for “those who have seen through the crap of the PW machine and have had the balls to say so”.

    If you ever decide to give something away, I understand that it’s business and all, but know that there are a lot of us out here who would just read you because you are you.

  21. @barncat, the thing is, it’s NOT business, right? i mean, i’m a blogger, not a brand, and i like it that way. if you want to be a brand, that’s completely fine. but i don’t know that you can have it both ways, y’know? are you “a l’il ol’ blogger” or a “global juggernaut”?

  22. Okay – first of all, love the recipe. I’m thinking of trying it with asparagus.
    Second of all – I visited the PW blog once. I wasn’t impressed. On the other hand, the first time I visited your blog, I was hooked. You are a woman who isn’t afraid to let us know exactly what she’s thinking about. I admire that honesty. You aren’t pandering to the masses in order to gain approval. And….full disclosure….I’ve won one of your giveaways, but even if I never won a thing, I would still keep coming back.

  23. I used to really like The PW – until I came to the conclusion that she cannot be doing it all by herself. She’s got to have an IT person, a housekeeper, a chef that fills her fridge with meals her family eats when not on camera. It also ticks me off that they can leave their home and travel to “The Lodge” which is always sparkly clean with a full larder. Who maintains that? Just sayin… it’s not real life. Oh I still follow her, I just don’t believe it all.

  24. Two things here:
    I miss lemmings so much. Why can’t they make a version for me to play with my kids now? Sometimes. I hate technology.

    And then,
    Wait … You make strata with croissants? I’m … My mind, it’s reeling with the genius, I think I’m going into shock, coherent thought has fled. I don’t know when I will be making this version of strata, but make it I shall. Thank you. Bless you. May joy, health, and pleasure haunt your every moment.

  25. I totally feel you on the off-brand cabbage patch doll. I got one for my 5th birthday. Her name is Violet. We were poor, and had no TV, so it was years before I realized she wasn’t a real one.
    This looks delicious, and you routinely make me laugh until I almost wet myself. And that’s better than an iPad any day.

  26. That looks utterly delicious.I don’t usually make things like that since I live alone but now I’m trying to think of some deserving person I could share it with.

    I always save your site for last because it is the best. You are a good writer and you’re really funny. And you sometimes post cute pictures of your dogs. I know I’ve visited PW’s site but I obviously didn’t find it very compelling since i haven’t been there in years. I can’t imagine why she’s gotten so popular.

    Generally, I try to avoid all give-aways as they want too much of my personal information and I don’t trust them. (Any of them!) I did, however, enter a recipe contest a couple of years ago and sort of won a free subscription to La Cucina Italia. The magazine was disappointing but the bragging right are great. And last forever.

  27. Strata is delicious — been making it for many years with the recipe from my 50 year old big red cookbook (the perfect food for feeding a family with small kids — cheap, plain, no trip to grocery necessary, and can be put together the day before if needed).
    But making it with croissants is brilliant and no doubt worth the trip to the grocery.

    and Michelle, I’m pretty sure you don’t have a staff of many hiding behind your blog (maid, housekeeper, admin in charge of giveaways, admin in charge of deleting inappropriate comments, etc.) and I pretty sure that all those people would NOT improve it!

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