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Renegade Chef: 'Ancient recipes' or 'Does the grim reaper deliver my mail?'

I don’t enjoy going to the mailbox any more. All I receive are bills, threats, sales ads from Kohl’s and Target and a variety of letters from AARP and many other places that need to remind me, on a daily basis, that I am getting old.

The last piece of mail I received came from a noble company, warning me the government will only chip in $255 for my burial expenses. That should be more than enough, I thought — after all, I saw an ad for self-cremation in the last edition of Gout Monthly, for only $99.95.

But this letter told me I could save my loved ones $15,000 if I bought their policy, for a small, monthly fee.

OK, let’s see — a mandatory concrete vault and an elegant cherry-wood coffin, or maybe a rare, porcelain urn from Mesopotamia that had been blessed by Moses — how much does that cost?

Add on mortuary fees, clergy fees, soloist and accompanist. Don’t forget the ladies who make the sandwiches and bars. How about gas for the hearse?

But, hey, 15 grand — really?

And then it hit me. Wait a minute, am I sick? Do they know something I don’t know? Does my wife know? I felt like a double-agent in a sea of triple-spies. I didn’t trust anyone.

“Congratulations, Mr. Hallbeck, it’s been more than a year and you’re cancer-free,” said my doctor/surgeon, at my last appointment.

Perhaps I should have responded, “You’re a darn liar! The U.S. Postal Service has delivered ample evidence to dispute your analysis! I’m already making monthly embalming payments! I demand a polygraph!”

It is Father’s Day as I write this column. I thought of gathering my three sons together (my kids, not Fred McMurray’s) to tell them I might not have long to live, at least according to the information I’ve gathered from the mailbox.

My first-born would probably say, “Was it marked bulk-postage? Did it say 'Occupant' or 'Current resident'?”

“It’s probably just an ad selling pre-funeral arrangements,” the middle son would say. “You know, so we kids don’t get shafted.”

The third one, who is only 10, would no doubt scream, “Oh, no! Dad’s gonna die!”

But I’m not. At least, I don’t think I am. In fact, I can’t — I don’t have enough money.

In honor of advancing old age, I’ve rounded up three relatively healthy recipes. I had to dig deep, so citing sources has been challenging.

The recipe for Chilled Cucumber Soup is believed to be from the ancient best-seller, “Please Don’t Eat the Hemlock” by Socrates, circa 399 B.C.

The Flame-Grilled Lamb Chops recipe allegedly came about by accident, when — way back in 64 A.D. — Emperor Nero forgot about the lamb chops he had marinating on the counter during the burning of Rome.

The simple dessert offering was inspired by the sweet-tooth of King Tut. A similar recipe, featuring orange blossom water, was allegedly found in his tomb.