Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Gambling With The Amish

Today, Hillshire Farm is helpin' Mama pay the bills.

Serge likes to joke about how insane I get about Blackjack and, okay, pretty much any kind of gambling. The last time we went to Las Vegas I could not stop gambling. Could. Not. Do you see how I put periods there to accentuate just how dire my gambling problem? One of these days I'll tell you the story of how I won then lost $23,000 gambling on basketball games in Vegas WHEN I WAS 19. True story. Point is, I get In The Zone and just cannot stop.


It was the weekend of the 4th of July. Our first weekend, really, here in our new home in the Pennsylvania countryside. Serge's mom and stepdad had invited us to a pancake breakfast/Amish auction type thing that was going on a few villages over. Yes, there are "villages" here. You'll pass signs that say "You are entering the village of Belleville" or whatever village, all over the place. I was just sitting down under a large pavilion, digging into a rather largish stack of flapjacks swimming in a syrupy, buttery pool, when I noticed a commotion on the other side of the place.

There was a stage on which a man in a hat stood. He was the auctioneer. He was shouting gibberish into a microphone. Surrounding the stage were hundreds of people holding small, white cards with numbers printed on them. When an item came up for auction, if someone wanted to bid they'd hold up their number.

After listening for more than an hour I was barely able to decipher what the auctioneer was saying:

"I have a beautiful chest of drawers for sale here. Handmade by Josiah Yoder. Let's star the bidding at fifty dollars. Do I see a fifty dollars? FIFTY DOLLARS. Can I get sixty. Show me sixty. Sixty sixty sixty. SIXTY! Who'll take seventy? Seventy, seventy, SEVENTY. EIGHTY!"

And so on. I saw beautiful, antique furniture and handmade quilts going for half the price they'd likely fetch in a specialty shop somewhere. The Vegas gambling vibe washed over me, much like I imagine cocaine affects its users and IT WAS ON. I was bidding right and left, you guys. Plants for my porch - BOOM. An Amish, handmade wooden Adirondack bench for the porch - BOOM. I couldn't stop. Giant flats of colorful flowers - BOOM. I filled up my stepdad's pick-up truck and anxiously awaited an auction that was to be held the next week.

I arose early that next Friday and headed over to the giant barn where the second auction takes place on a weekly basis. This auction had less furniture and more produce. Squash, watermelon, raspberries, peppers picked straight from the gardens of nearby Amish farms. I'm talking, zucchini the size of my leg. Seriously.

Once again, Vegas came over me and my brain kicked into overdrive. I had visions of me cooking all sorts of brilliant dinners with zucchini and squash... Seriously people, at one point I envisioned canning tomatoes and making jam in my kitchen. Me. Making jam. Visions of me whipping up stir fry, salad and concoctions that would leave Serge wondering at my new found culinary skill. We would no longer alight nightly on the doorstep of the pizza joint down the street because we would be home, gathered around the kitchen table anxiously awaiting the unveiling of my latest food creation.

So I raised my number and raised it again and again and again and again until I outbid everybody in the place and won that big, beautiful zucchini. It was mine. All mine. For mere cents. Fresh from the garden. Win-win! I can get my gamble on and cook my family healthy meals!

I brought it home filled with healthy dining dreams. You guys, I even made Serge take a photo of me with my auction winnings, so sure was I that I would soon be regaling y'all with hilarious tales from my kitchen. Recipes, gorgeous photos. I was prepared to go all Pioneer Woman cooking blog post on y'all.

That damn zucchini is still sitting on my kitchen counter.

Mocking me.

Taunting me.

Laughing at me each time I dial the pizza joint down the street. But pizza has lots of vegetables so it's pretty healthy, right?

Hillshire Farm who is kicking off its "So Good They'll Think It's For Them" campaign. Starting August 1 you can go to the Hillshire Farm Facebook page watch a funny video and download a coupon for 55 cents off. It's a win/win! If you share the link with your Facebook friends or enter three friends' email addresses you can upgrade your coupon to a $1 off. I'm still eyeballing this recipe for my enormous zucchini.