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The Brian Loo Cookbook… Brian Loo carrots
by Kurt True

I'm at that age where I wonder what's going to happen when I die.

carrots

My French, not as great as my vaguely Gallic appearance might lead you to believe.

carrots
My French, not as great as my vaguely Gallic appearance might lead you to believe.

I don't mean "Will I meet Josephine Baker in heaven? Should I try to speak French, or will I embarrass myself?"

Not that kind of wonder.

No, I mean, I wonder if my friends will remember what I told them to do at my funeral. Usually we're on the third bottle of Grocery Outlet chardonnay by the time the subject comes up.

Which is why I've put Brian in charge of my funeral. For one thing, he's not a wine drinker, but, perhaps more importantly, he's reliable. I can't tell you how many times Brian and I have started out on opposite ends of one state and met up at precisely the agreed upon hour, at such and such a campsite in some completely different state, often one possessing challenging topography and an abundance of large, unpredictable mammals.

OK, maybe not precisely the agreed upon hour, but close enough that we still have enough daylight to set up the tent and bearproof the granola.

Also, Brian is literary. That's important to me. I told Brian to read "pity this busy monster manunkind" and the Prayer of Jonah. Aloud, I mean. At my funeral. That's tricky for somebody who doesn't have a solid foundation in the humanities.

Anyway, carrots.

You're going to need some fresh carrots. Maybe a dozen or so. Two dozen if you have a large family, or you're expecting vegans.

I guess in a pinch you could use frozen carrots. But not canned. Canned would probably get mushy on you.

We're not going for baby food here.

Chop them up (assuming they're not pre-chopped), oil a skillet or a wok, then throw in your carrots, then turn down the heat.

Keep an eye on them. You don't want them cooking too fast. They're dense. They require patience, and a certain air of jaunty unconcern.

Once they soften up a little, throw in some salt and pepper, and perhaps smoked paprika, if you're feeling adventurous, or even turmeric.

Try to get them a little brown, unless you want them really really brown. Maybe you have one of those kids who like everything just this side of burnt. Brian Loo carrots are good for that.

But you're going to need at least 35 minutes to get them that brown. If your kids can't wait that long without going petulant on you, you can always speed up the process by throwing a quarter cup of water into your skillet or wok and covering your carrots for a few minutes.

Or you could try to shock your children into silence with some outrageous exaggeration about unspeakable cooking times that you endured with quiet dignity when you were their age. There are no hard and fast rules.

Also, remember that carrots come in a wide range of colors these days. Orange is not your only option. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

I use mostly olive oil for my Brian Loo carrots. To oil the pan, I mean. But butter works great too.

But think about the oil you're using when you're cooking for somebody with allergies. Don't just reach for the first grease streaked jug you see that's got a picture of fried chicken on it.

Examine the label. Ask yourself "Am I familiar with this language and writing system?" The illustrations are only going to tell you so much.

Read the ingredient list. Don't assume your oil is 100 percent of whatever the biggest word is on the front of the container.

And that goes double if the allergy sufferer you're cooking for is somebody who you're counting on to outlive you, either because that person will inherit your dog or be expected to emcee your funeral.

I'm not planning on having a funeral, exactly. Just a scattering. Under the Doggie Diner head on Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco.

I figure it's the ideal final resting place. It's easy to find, for one thing. It's the first thing you see when you step off the L-Taraval. Plus, there's tons of free parking, and it's right outside the zoo, so, if you bring your children, you don't have to worry about them getting bored.

Which reminds me. Maybe your children think carrots are revolting. Well, before you give up on carrots altogether, try feeding your kids Brian Loo carrots. Especially that kid who likes burnt stuff. Or the one who won't eat bland food. Maybe try shaking a jigger or two of Tabasco in there. Sometimes it's not the ingredient, it's the preparation. Remember when you hated mushrooms because you thought that they tasted like that condensed cream of mushroom soup that your mother used to put in every casserole?

Or maybe you weren't around in the Seventies, but you know what I'm talking about.

Fun fact: Tabasco is made out of three ingredients (peppers, vinegar, and salt) that Brian is not allergic to. He loves the stuff.

I'm not leaving the dog to Brian. I have another friend who gets the dog. Not that I don't trust Brian with my dog. It's just you want to leave your dog with somebody who has a backyard.

But Brian is the person you want herding all your friends around the Doggie Diner head at the break of dawn after you die and making sure everybody has a copy of the lyrics to "The Glory of Love."

That's my funeral song, "The Glory of Love," accompanied by a single ukulele.

Well, if more than one person brings a ukulele, I guess that's OK, but, please, no "Amazing Grace," and no bagpipes.

I don't want people getting out of their cars and thinking they're at the wrong funeral.

Kurt True
14 jan 2018