If you liked it, then you shouldn’t put a sting on it (also Timpano!)

I have been away. Wait, there’s a reason.  Well, there are several, but one of them was this-

The Brown Recluse

I know s/he looks rather menacing there, but like many mind-bendingly venomous things, in actuality s/he is quite small.

(Though I be but little, I am fierce).

So every time I would try to type, this spider, let’s call him Sven, would slap my hand away.

Some of the spider posse are obviously missing limbs, which means they’ve seen some action. And they’re bitter. I was loathe to incite them to further violence.

The irony of a reclusive spider having an insane spider posse is not lost on me.

No, but actually it went more like this – What’s truly ironic is that I have long lived in fear of getting a brown recluse spider bite.  They can get really nasty.  Don’t google it.  Really, don’t.

I warned you.

So anyway, the morning after I was like, “What’s this painful raised lump on my leg that seems to have sprouted since I was roused from slumber?  That’s weird.”

That was stage one.

Stage two (later that day) – “Hmm… wow this sure is painful.  It’s really big on the pain, this lump.  Like it was a depressed young tweenager and pain was a picture of puppies in a basket, that’s the relationship here.”

Stage three (late that night) – “This couldn’t be.  Because that would just be ridiculous.  To have this paranoiac fear of this rare spider bite and then…No.  I’m being hypochondriacal.  I mean, sure it hurts to walk, but that must indicate that it’s healing. Searing pain = on the upswing. I’m almost positive.”

Stage four (really late that night) – “Ok, googles.  WTF.  Help a sister out.  Apply a paste of baking soda to draw out the venom?  Well, alright. If you say so, googles.  You do know all.”

Stage five – “Would gnawing my leg off be slightly less painful?  I think maybe yes.”

Snippet of conversation in the car
from when my parents came for dinner

Jaime- I think I got bitten by a brown recluse spider.
Mom- I think I got bitten by something too, right here under my arm.
Jaime-  Does it hurt to walk?
Mom- No.
Jaime – I win.  I win the insect bite contest.

Snippet of conversation from everyone who saw said bite

Other people – Have you thought about maybe seeing a doctor?
Jaime- It’s something to consider.
Other people- Because um… that looks…
Jaime- I’ll go if it gets any worse.

Snippet of conversation with friend on the third day

Gabriel – Hey, I brought you Doritos.
(which I may or may not have manipulatively mentioned I would really, really, really like, in the abstract, for recovery purposes, naturally.
Also brought: medicinal beer. Not mentioned.  Gabriel is a medical visionary.)
Jaime – Want to see my spider bite?
Gabriel – Um, hrmm.  Look at…that.
Jaime- Yeah, see that dark spot?  I don’t really think it’s black.  I think it’s just dark red.  It’s clearly not the Necrosy.
Gabriel- Have you considered seeing a doctor?
Jaime- See the thing about that is, my staggering lack of insurance.
Gabriel -What about the minute clinic?
Jaime- Zuh?
Gabriel- They have them in CVS. It’ll be like 20-30 bucks.
Jaime- Well, hot damn.  Let’s go!

So off we ventured.  Enter CVS nurse.

Jaime- I think I got bitten by a brown recluse spider.  See?

Medical professionals should probably not recoil in horror.
It also doesn’t inspire confidence when they frantically flip through a binder…

Nurse- Um. Yeah. That’s.  I could be wrong.  But I’m pretty sure that’s the Necrosy. (Ok, fine, she said ‘necrotic’. It’s more fun to say ‘the Necrosy’).  I’m really not qualified.  I need to send you to urgent care.

So, off I went to urgent care.  There may have been a few minutes of hysterical crying, a la *sob, sob*, “Gabriel, I need my leg!  I use it for things.  Like biking and walking and kicking orphans! Those orphans aren’t going to kick themselves.”

Snippet of conversation from urgent care

Doctor- Do you mind if I bring a student in to see this?
Jaime- Sure.
Doctor-Do you mind if we bring in the nursing assistant as well?
(Doctor also has a posse.)
Jaime- Um, ok.
Doctor, (while examining, calmly)- See this, guys?  Clearly the only thing we can do is amputate.
Jaime- WHAT???
Doctor- Just kidding!
(Doctor has jokes.)

Another thing you never want to hear from a medical professional – “Do you mind if I take a picture?  I’ve never seen this before.”

[favorite other snippets from brown-recluse-spider-related conversations]

So, all said and done – steroids were prescribed, beer was drunk, legs were elevated.  And, as the summer wind filtered slowly through the leaves… I began… to heal.  Just kidding, but I did begin to heal.  A couple of weeks later, it’s almost back to normal.  Maybe another week or so.

And it didn’t stop me from having a dinner party!

If you have never seen the movie Big Night, you should.  There’s a dish in it that, for all I know, Stanley Tucci made up.  And if he did, he’s a genius.  Timpano!

In the movie, it’s made in a pasta crust.  But I make mine… in a pie crust.  So when I describe it to people I say, “It’s a pound of noodles, a pound of mozzarella, a pound of meatballs, a half pound of salami, two pounds of sauce, in a pie crust“.  This is pretty much enough information to get people to any dinner party you’re having anywhere, even at your weird aunt Thelma’s, with all the cats.  This recipe just basically culls together a bunch of existing recipes on this site, but here are some pics.

Pie Crust


Take care to cook noodles only 1/2 to 3/4 of the time indicated on package, or they will get soggy. Toss 1/3 of the sauce with noodles, save the rest for the layers.

Save scraps that fall to patch the top at the end.


Fold crust over top and patch.

Bake covered in foil for 45 minutes.  Bake uncovered another 30-45, until golden brown.

Serve with enough liquor to get everyone to play Cranium later…

Reluctantly deal with aftermath.

(If possible, blame reluctance to do so on vestiges of pain from a brown recluse spider bite.)