An Essence Of Five: Recipe Writing

A guest post by Carrie Anne Ebner

(W-OZ note: There is a genre of autoethnographic exploration that focuses on food, on using recipes, cookbooks, memories of meals, and other food-related investigation to aid self-understanding. Ebner’s writing inspires this kind of autoethnographic—and autobibliographic/autoculinary—thought.)

Are you with me here in this forest?  Will you light a match to frame your face in the eerie dark, one familiar to wanderers on the brink of curiosity and cold?  And then throw that flame in the pile of sticks and dried moss for the start of a campfire?  It will ignite.

You thought you heard something rustle in the cold dark night.  And you were right.  Ten enflamed eyes shine at you from the forest.  You are startled and aware of your vulnerability; the precariousness of existence.  Your soft-skinned frame is, by your estimate, dwarfed compared to those eyes standing above your own height.  Or are they perhaps in the trees?  You have heard of these mythical creatures; you are sure they exist.  Legend has it they are dangerous.  Quests have been set out to kill them.  You are not yet immune to fairy tales, young-at-heart that you are.

And it is now your knightly quest to chop and blend the fire-breathers, for it is the Five Dragons recipe that has set your imagination aflame.  One tail curls around a scaly body of Onion.  Another, red this time, nods the don’t-touch-me head of Cayenne.  An enemy it is not, the Garlic creature, as its exhale reminds you of so many dishes that don’t need artificial ingredients for perfection.  And it is not without love that the Horseradish monster, its raw supermarket rarity finds its nose-nipping expression in your concocted quintessence.  Along with Ginger, belly soothing and bright, these five towering entities of the real and incorporeal, beckon you further to create.

But you think, fleetingly, of some other dragons, the shadow ones not with you on this night. Time, Space, Doubt, Perfection, and Death are also with us.  The slaying of these, and their relatives, is impossible.  We can only stave them off as best we can.  The five dragons understand this.

It is shortly morning and we are now walking in this forest of medieval light.  The fire-breathers accompany us down the path, not talking, but bounding, lurching from tree to tree, flapping their scaly wings in voluminous gusts of power; in effect, they are animating.  Together they are a dance, a story, a symphony, a body of five, unified.

They perch on tree branches, and observe us from above.  They disappear and reappear at leisure and with cheerful play.  Or one will walk behind, like a loyal old dog.  I glance back at Onion, his tail twice the length of my body.  Cayenne is shyer and hides further off, not making much contact with the underbrush he steps on, like light floating on motes, disturbing nothing below despite his elephantine bulk.  Ginger, naturally, is a girl, and has long eyelashes that bat at us mischievously. She is sweet.  And Horseradish is stoic, like an ancient statue unearthed from a buried city of soldiers.  Garlic is just and, therefore, good.  Garlic is always good, and will let you sit on his back and fly off into the sunset for our mutual happy ending.

When working with dragons, it is best to give them equal weight, so they do not become jealous of each other.  I chop them up equipollently then add them to a blender topped with apple cider vinegar.  The elixir formed is then thickened into a dressing with mayonnaise.  When they are together, they compliment coleslaw beautifully, and you may add chicken and almonds. Try this, and go beyond your imagination.

Five Dragons



Ginger Root (scrape with a spoon)

Horse Radish Root (peal with a potato peeler)

Cayenne Peppers (remove tops and use whole pepper & seeds)


Put equal amounts chunked into a blender and add enough Braggs, Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar™ to cover.  Blend well.

Five Dragons Cole Slaw (with & w/o Chicken)

2 cups shredded Cabbage

1 grated Carrot

Apple/Chicken Slaw:

1 cup shredded Cabbage

1.5 chopped Apple

1.5 diced Celery

1 large cooked Chicken breast (pulled apart into very small pieces by hand)

Five Dragons Dressing:

2/3 cup Grapeseed Veganaise

1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

½ dropper-full of liquid Stevia (add less if using mayonnaise)

1/2 cup Five Dragons


1/2 cup chopped Sprouted Almonds


Add 1/3 of the dressing to the Slaw and the remaining 2/3 of the dressing to Apple/Chicken Slaw.

Layer the Apple/Chicken Slaw on top of the Cabbage/Carrot Slaw.

Top with chopped, sprouted almonds.

(Note: Can be prepare ahead of time but add the almonds just before eating.)

Note: “Five Dragons” is adapted from “Dr. Richard Schulze’s Super Tonic Formula” by Paula Baer



Filed under autobibliography, autoculinary, autoethnography, guest post

4 responses to “An Essence Of Five: Recipe Writing

  1. Katie Ward

    I Wasn’t Raised to be a Reader

    I wasn’t raised to be a reader. Of course reading was required for school, but I have no recollection of friends prioritizing reading over socializing, eating, watching television, playing outside, and so on. I don’t think outside of my teachers an adult ever read a book to me in my adolescent years. I think this lack of exposure influenced both my struggles as a reader and my disinterest to do it for pleasure.

    It was my second grade teacher that realized I was challenged with reading. She got the hint when I would spontaneously become sick, or need an emergency potty break every time it was my turn to read out loud. My avoidant behaviors quickly placed me in Chapter One. Every day for one hour a day I would go down to a sectioned off room in the library and get one-on-one help while I read out loud.

    This help was essential in getting my reading level up to grade level and helping me build confidence in my reading ability. Most wouldn’t know it, but to this day I am still a slow reader. I have to read every word deliberately. However, when I read a chapter I can tell you the smallest details. This has worked to my advantage as a student and scientist. I still read out loud to help my mind stay focused on the content I’m reading. If I don’t my mind wonders to the things on my to do lists.

    I long to be an avid reader but I can always find something else to do. I desire to be a reader because I want to be a lifelong learner and my mind associates one with the other. Currently, I can share that the only things I have read, besides hundreds of textbooks and other required readings, are magazines (for recipes), cookbooks, and most recently children’s books.

    Until I saw this post I wouldn’t have included my passion for baking as part of my literacy. I love recipes. They are like poetry to me. They are great for developing vocabulary because you can come across ingredients and have no idea what they are or where to get them. This requires research which mandates more reading.

    Regardless of my personal reading habits I want to raise my son and any future children to be readers. In light of this, I believe I need to model this for my son. To do so we have as part of his bedtime ritual story time. At one and half years old he already likes to take books and sit and act like he is reading them. I like to think it is because of my encouragement that reading is fun.

  2. I so enjoyed reading this, especially recipes being like poetry. What an insight this is! There is a whole genre of autoethnographic exploration that focuses on food. I imagine you’d enjoy these memoirs, many of them laced with recipes. I am so glad you’re raising your son with reading! W-OZ

  3. Christina Sartain

    Reading has always been a chore for me.
    Though I have had a few books that really caught my einterest, most have been assigned and unpleasurable. I think because they have always been must do’s, reading has become associated with school work. I really want to have a change of mind, and am going to start reading for pleasure once I’m graduated this July.

    This post was awesome and caught my attention because cooking has also always seemed like a chore to me. I don’t want to think of it that way though. Reading recipes to decide what I want to cook seems like a bland, borning and repetitive task. When I read this story recipe I found myself smiling and really enjoying the reading session. It makes me want to create a recipe book that is in story form that I can use in my future and maybe pass down to kids I might have one day. I also wonder about looking for this type of book for my mom and grandma’s because thye would make incredible gifts. If I make the story cook book they would probably cry because it’s homemade, specialized for them, and done in a creatively unique way.

    This post is awesome because it helped me see that both reading and cooking can be more than a chore. I am thankful to have a new view on those issues and hope my current attitude sticks with me and doesn’t fade away. 🙂

  4. I love your idea and encourage you to get started on it–even one recipe/story will give you something to return to. I’m looking forward to seeing one (and posting it here if you’re kind enough to send it along! W-OZ

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